Women’s History Month is a spectacular way to remember, honor, and celebrate women of various backgrounds and cultures who bravely demanded and paved the way for women to have the right to vote, equal pay, pursue educational dreams, and break the glass ceilings in various industries. Due to Covid-19, this year’s theme is a continuation of 2020 and is entitled, “Valiant Women of the Vote – Refusing to Be Silenced.” All of these sacrifices and commitments have made a positive and enduring impact on lives as well as made our country a better place for women and girls. However, the fight for these rights continues, and many women continue to make inroads in all aspects of our country.
There are many websites, such as Women’s History Month and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, that discuss the humble beginnings of Women’s History Month as well as celebrations and more about these historical accomplishments and future endeavors. In addition, there are a number of books that may be great sources of interest and inspiration to learn more in-depth information about a historical female figure. Several selections can be found at BorrowReadRepeat.
Shattering the Glass Ceiling
International Women’s day was recently celebrated on March 8, 2021. This is the day when we globally focus on celebrating women’s achievements in a variety of areas. This is also a crucial day to discuss and see what areas women still need to be included instead of being the gender that continues to be ignored or steered away from leadership roles and opportunities. Women have been fighting pay equity and equitable opportunities for many years.
In 2020, Meyers-Briggs shared a research study that indicated 2030 will be the year that “gender parity in management levels” will be reached. However, in the year 2070, the same study reluctantly believes the level of men and women in upper management will be equal. Business Insider shared the number of female CEO’s leading Fortune 500 companies reached a record high of 41, but only 3 women of color are included in that overall number. According to Guide2Research, in 2020 there were 31 female CEO’s listed from the S&P 500 by industry. This site lists the 31 CEO’s. Currently, there are 30 female CEO’s and one of them is a Black female, or approximately 8% of all Fortune 500 companies as reported by Business Insider. Not only is this trend moving in the wrong direction, but what does this say about the very slow progress of getting women of color into CEO positions? What does this trend tell our female students about their future and what types of programs can help create and accelerate the female CEO pipeline? Let’s take a look at a few programs that are working diligently to ensure our future female leaders feel confident and are equipped with the skills and knowledge to do just that.
Programs for Women and Girls
There are many, many programs and non-profit organizations that devote their time, energy, expertise, and money to work with and empower women and young girls today. These programs provide presentations, training, women leader speakers, mentorships, hands-on-activities, job opportunities, and outreach to various communities. Girls in Tech, Dream It Be It, and Shero’s Rise are three that I am highlighting below.
This nonprofit organization was founded in 2007 and has over 50 chapters globally with the mission of “changing the look of tech” to include more women of all backgrounds and nationalities. Adriana Gascoigne, the founder, is “dedicated to eliminating the gender gap in tech.” She strongly believes in diversity and inclusion as part of the mission to effect change in this arena. The organization offers free membership/newsletters, podcasts on varying topics, webinars and training, blog posts to name a few. It is especially wonderful to know there is an opportunity for one to start their own Girls in Tech chapter if there is not a chapter in the same area. The phrase, “Tech needs you. As you are” is a positive, supportive, and empowering call to any woman who believes she wants an opportunity and/or career in the tech field.
Soroptimist/Soroptimist International is also a volunteer organization that was formed in 1921 in Oakland, California, as a service organization. There are over 160,000 members and supporters. There are also clubs in more than 120 countries. Its mission is to “provide women and girls with access to education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment.” Dream It Be It is an important program because it’s a program that focuses on 10th and 11th grade female girls. The eight-week program works with female students who face some type of obstacle. The weekly program emphasizes the importance of self-esteem, planning for a career, graduating and pursuing post-secondary education, training or entering a career field. At the end of the program, the students complete a scholarship packet that is reviewed and evaluated. At the annual spring luncheon, students who have won scholarships are acknowledged during the luncheon. For the past 5 years, the local chapter I belong to has brought the program into three high schools, and we hope to eventually increase that number.
This nonprofit organization launched in California on October 20, 2020, despite Covid-19 to an excited audience via Zoom. Sonali Perera Bridges, founder and president, shared the purpose of Shero’s Rise is to empower girls to become their own shero. This goal will be accomplished by providing programs, workshops, events, and mentors that will help each girl from ages 8-19 discover who they are by learning and mastering 12 pillars. These pillars are empathy, self-esteem, self-respect, self-reliance, trust, self-confidence, kindness, compassion, love, joy, gratitude and courage. Another powerful message on the website states, “Research shows that girls learn best by doing and as a result, each young Shero will learn how to create a narrative for themselves that might be counter to what is often championed.” Currently, Shero’s Rise is piloting their program at a girls’ school in Los Angeles, California.
Women’s History Month is an excellent opportunity to shine the light on the sacrifices and accomplishments of women who came before us as well as women who are currently movers and shakers. In addition, there are young women who are also finding ways to attain prominence in a variety of industries. With the help of programs shared in this article as well as countless other wonderful programs, mentors and other nurturing relationships can help foster the belief in all women and girls that they can accomplish what they set their minds to do. Of course, diversity, equity and inclusion must also be at the forefront and visible in all aspects of industries, not just in words written as part of mission statements, but in actual mandatory practices. All women and girls need to see other successful women who look like them in order to aspire to reach the highest point of their goals/careers.
Perhaps at some point, we can all celebrate women each day instead of highlighting these role models during one month of the year.
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