We’ve come a long way since the days of women’s suffrage and marching our way towards the manifestation of the 19th amendment. However, if contemporary events have shown us anything, it’s that decades of girl power can be thwarted in miniscule moments of madness (i.e. our nation electing a candidate with a past littered in misogyny and sexism) – I mean #FRT seriously, WTF America?
There is no doubt that we’ve made significant progress – we are leaders of nations, CEOS of corporations and some of the biggest, baddest and most bitchin’ entertainers and entrepreneurs across the globe. Yet, still, on average we get paid 20% less than our male counterparts and based on nothing more than…ding! ding! You guessed it — GENDER.
I digress. There once was a time, long, long ago my dear womenfolk when a woman’s place truly was solely – the kitchen.
Scary, I know.
All thanks to our antiquated all-American apple pie, cultural, educational and legal traditions.
Fast forward a century later and we find ourselves in the land of Spice Girls (yay!), Hillary Clinton and Sheryl Sandberg.
We’re working alright – in every sector of every market — and we’re killin’ it.
According to the most recent US Department of Labor Relations data, a whopping 72 million women (that’s 58.6 percent) were participants in the US labor force (working or looking for work) with 47 percent actively employed. Women entrepreneurs start businesses at 1.5 times the national average.
Women participate in higher education at a greater rate than our male counterparts – 68% more – the highest in US history.
We are making waves in every aspect of every industry. Take Sheryl Sandberg for example. Not exactly a household name, but Facebook’s COO is a prime example of women excellence in an industry that is vastly underrepresented by female participants – technology.
Women comprise just about 25% of the technology industry – with “fewer than 5% of startups being women owned” and women venture capitalists making up approximately just 10% of the industry population.
Women entrepreneurs on average also receive about 1/8 of the venture capital funding that their male counterparts receive even though companies which display a more uniform gender representation in upper management reflect on average higher revenue and “better results from IPOs”.
There’s a benefit to including women, there’s a benefit to considering women, there’s a benefit to writing about women, and there’s a benefit to having women included in everything. And it’s ridiculous that this is a situation I have to be defensive about.
– Rachel Sklar, blogger and founder of “Change the Ratio”
Katherine Hayes, co-founder and CEO of technology company Vivoom expounded upon such issues in a recent interview with the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business saying, “Male VCs — and obviously most are — are very comfortable now giving female entrepreneurs capital for ‘girl stuff’…want to rent dresses or sell baby wipes as a subscription? No problem…[but] sometimes I believe if I were a 21-year-old male in a hoodie, Vivoom would be even more appealing to VCs”.
However, despite insurmountable evidence surrounding the benefits of funding female-led companies and fair and distributed gender representation, we still find ourselves in a world where 40% of corporations have zero representation by women on their board of directors. The US isn’t much better, with just 16.1% of companies having female representation on their board as well.
It doesn’t stop just there.
Many workplaces have dedicated themselves to an espoused belief system of gender equality – however it is the practice of such credence where we find we are running into issues.
According to Harvard Business Review, a comparative research study by Catalyst followed 1,660 business school graduates for the purpose of examining “the nature of projects given to high-potential employees”.
What the study found was a very oh so “shocking-but-not-so-shocking” conclusion that on average, men were given projects with two times as large a budget as women, including teams of up to three times as many staffers as their female counterparts.
Furthermore, the study also found that “a third of the men reported that their assignments garnered them a great deal of attention from the C-suite, [with] only about a quarter of the women [saying]…the same”.
Throw in the gender pay gap and issues like less than 12% of American mothers having access to paid parental leave due to the fact that we are the only developed nation (out of forty-one) to not “offer statutory entitlement to paid leave on a national basis”, and one can easily begin to get a little vexed (Bartender! Drink please!).
Regardless – we continue to truck on, pave paths, innovate and dazzle all while looking fabulous on a daily basis.
…okay—maybe not every day…
But with entrepreneurs such as Indra Nooyi, CEO and chair of PepsiCo and Ariana Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post Media Group showing us just how much potential for greatness we all have within – how can we just sit back and not take on the world pink power ranger style?
There’s no denying that we’ve come leaps and bounds from our traditional, humble American beginnings. We are global leaders, we are activists, we are world-class entertainers and some of the most talented, educated, intelligent and capable human beings on the planet.
We save lives, we create global policies, we make babies, and we come home and prep dinner and get the kids ready for bed. There’s nothing we can’t do. So for those of you reading – don’t waste your potential. You can be anything you want in life.
Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the devil says, “Oh snap – she’s awake!
Take it from a woman who went from being a twenty-one-year-old broke, single mother and domestic abuse survivor to an entrepreneur living her life no holds barred and doing what she loves every single day on her own schedule, own time, as her own boss.
Listen to me when I say that if I can do it – anyone can do it. No one said it would be easy – it’s not for the weary – but entrepreneurship and success are worth every single moment of pain, struggle and sacrifice.
I liken it to diving head first off a cliff with all the wild and reckless abandon of your youth and building yourself a jet with nothing more than a handful of dental floss, a swiss army knife and sheer desperation on the way down.
So get out there and make a difference in the world. Grab life by the horns – because great things never came from comfort zones. You are woman. Hear you…us…I hear you…just roar, okay.