This Just In: Women, Good at Fixing Things and Solving Problems
My vision is for there to be as many women as there are men in leadership roles in the United States – for our future children to never question the fact that little girls have extraordinary potential, and should not be encouraged to limit themselves, or later grapple with career choices contingent upon motherhood before ever bearing a child. I need this...but it’s not really about me. Our corporations need this. Our government needs this. Our country needs this. So this is my plea: There is strength in numbers, so the more women that run for office the more we can embrace and encourage gender parity. Men and women alike successful in their careers, must make an assertive effort to encourage our young women to pursue paths of authority. We must continue to change perceptions, hold forums and make our voices heard.
If there is anything we’ve learned over the past couple of months, and I'm certain we will see throughout the day today, it’s that a large group of motivated women with a common goal, can make a massive impact on the world. The Women’s March reached record-breaking numbers, but I can’t say I was surprised. Women have been fostering community, collaborating and communicating in effective ways for a very long time.
Look at Iceland for example. In October 2008, Iceland's three main banks collapsed, leaving debts over 10 times the country's GDP. The value of the currency plummeted, unemployment was at an all-time high and the stock market was abysmal. To say Iceland was bankrupt would have been an understatement. This downfall was caused by a reckless, bullish testosterone driven business culture. Sound familiar? Men were calling all of the shots.
Then the women stepped in to clean up the mess.
Unlike the US, Iceland decided not to bail the banks out, let them fail and hold those responsible for the failure accountable. The country’s first female Prime Minister, Johanna Sigurdardottir, was elected, and led the charge in fundamentally changing Iceland’s banking industry. Amongst other things, banks were renamed and nationalized and replaced with female CEOs, who put measures in place to ensure the protection of customers’ interests. As a result of the transformation, unemployment fell, Iceland became one of Europe’s top growth performers and started paying back its enormous loans early.
Not Close and No Cigar
As many of us know (and as Iceland confirmed), amazing things happen when more women step into leadership positions. However, women are still grossly underrepresented across leadership roles in the US. In the House of Representatives, women hold just 83 out of 435 seats. And in the Senate, women hold 21 out of the 100 seats. Then when we look at Fortune 500 companies, women now hold a measly four percent of CEO positions. I think I speak for a lot of folks when I say: I CALL BULL! So here are three ways to propel more female leaders into the spotlight.
A Call to Action
1. Run for Local Office
Ever thought about running for office? Do you have a vision for schools, non-profits or really any cause? Not sure where to start? Runforoffice.org is a database of nearly every possible positon and its respective eligibility requirements.
2. Volunteer to be a Mentor
This one is for both men and women! There are many existing local and national organization and programs out there that are plugged into young women who are currently in the developmental stages of seeking their paths in this world. A great place to look is Idealist.org.
3. Change the Conversation
Through our testimonials, our conversations and debates we can insight change and if you want to get organized about it join or start a Lean In Circle.
I’ve never been known for being a patient person, not big on the “wait and see approach.” I’m not willing to wait another 100 years or so to get to where we should be or could be. So to all the strong, driven and fed up women out there that know it is high time for parity: whether it’s launching your own political campaign, becoming a mentor or simply speaking up when it’s uncomfortable to do so… Let’s clean up the mess.