Let’s Celebrate the Women Who Lead The Way

4 months ago
Karianne Munstedt
Don’t be fooled by the dating app Bumble’s soothing honeycomb yellow wallpaper:  each swipe is an earthquake.  Men have to wait; women make the first move.  Sounds so simple until you really think about it.  Women get to choose rather than be chosen. 
 
It nudges aside something so old it feels prehistoric.  We go from women demurring—from girls playing princess waiting for the handsome prince to the Faustian bargains we make when we agree to notions like mommy tracks and expecting men to get on their knees and propose —to women taking on the mission of equality, full stop. That shift is what we need today, Equal Pay Day.  I am calling for women to make it #EqualAskDay.
 
Look around. What other seismic shifts should we pay attention to?  Here’s one: Earlier this year a distinguished list of corporations pledged to work towards rebalancing the parity numbers at the top of their corporations and putting more women in leadership roles.  Others have made salary listings transparent or are working toward that end—Buffer, Whole Foods, GoDaddy and more.  After women struck for equal pay, Iceland celebrated International Women’s Day by passing legislation that requires both public and private companies with 25 or more to prove they are rewarding salaries regardless of gender.  
 
So on this day where women are reminded how much more they should be earning, I want to celebrate the disrupters, the ones who are creating those seismic changes and leading the way to a more gender balanced world.  Bumble’s Whitney Wolfe is one of a generation of young women starting businesses that change the models. Some won’t become as successful—but those who push forward will help to fracture practices that have no practical capitalist underpinning, only hoary social conventions.  Here are some of my picks:  let’s cheer them on and follow their cues.
 
YouTube star Lilly Singh began amassing fans amongst the young demographic who populate YouTube’s channels starting with preteens and up.  Her comedic chops, her fearless challenges of dress codes, beauty, career choices and more shows how breaking language can start to break other barriers.  Her new book says it out loud:  you can be a boss, or you can be a Bawse. 
 
She won the Nobel and she took more risks than hopefully most of us will ever have to:  Malala Yousafza with her One Child, One Book is fighting on her own terms for girls to have an education.  For those of us women in the West who are now earning more college degrees than men, let’s not dishonor her struggle by discounting the worth of those degrees when we negotiate our pay.   Let’s do the homework and make sure that we buck the trend of women asking for less at the start.
 
Reesma Saujani who founded Girls Who Code for one reason:  to fill the pipelines with women engineers.  A non-profit that started with 20 girls in New York City, it now helps more than 40,000 girls in over twenty cities.Partnering up with some of the biggest companies, Saujani’s organization ensures that the girls her organization teaches and mentors have a place where they will be valued in the corporate world when they finally graduate.  And we’ll see an industry long dominated by men—and male culture—accede to the swell tide of young women and the culture women bring along.
 
If legislation is part of the solution than making voter oversight simpler and engagement more effective is also key. Rachna Choudhry and Marci Harris presciently created POPVOX before the last election.  The site is nonpartisan and allows voters to see every bill, connect with their representatives, and easily stay on top of the issues.  Read Sarah McKinley’s piece in Forbes and you will follow along on how two non-engineers took on political engagement.  Along the way the company has won industry awards aplenty.  
 
And back to Whitney Wolfe. She not only extended our Sadie Hawkins holiday to all year long, she did it after she survived a public storm of gossip and innuendo.  One of the founders of Tinder, Wolfe went through a difficult in-house romance, break-up, and subsequent sexism and harassment.  She didn’t back down, she persisted and to this day she retains her share in Tinder.  Her company Bumble rose not out of revenge but out of understanding how the practices could be bettered, how a simple ask if switched from women to men could spark a whole new attitude and respect between the sexes.
 
Today, instead of looking at the statistics that have kept women caged in a decidedly ungilded cage, get online and do some homework on what the going rate is for your job.  Start over at Fairygodboss  who has partnered today with Payscale so you can use a special calculator to see what you are worth.  Go to my organization’s site, Take The Lead  and spend some time on our Close the Gap App created in partnership with SheNegotiates.  It’s free today with the code free2day, and gives you a seminar on understanding your strengths—the skills that make you uniquely you—and how to use that to negotiate anything, any time. Check out our training and mentoring programs while you’re there and help us get you and all women to leadership parity by 2025.
 
Make today count towards something bigger.  Lead the way in your life—dare to think beyond what you’ve thought you could do to do to get ahead.  What needs change from where you are stand and how can you make that change? Who do you need to help you get there? 
 
What the young women above all have in common is just that:  they saw something that they could imagine working better and they didn’t wait to be asked.  They chose to make their own plan, they investigated and found the information and help they needed and they persevered.   Let’s make this the year you shift the world too.
 
Let me know who your favorite female disrupters are and follow me on Facebook and Twitter @GloriaFeldt.
 
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