A few months ago I attended one of the Women Rule events put on by a partnership between the Tory Burch Foundation, Google, and Politico. I was so glad I made the effort to attend because it reinspired me to write a post about something that had inspired me last year — the MAKERS documentary on PBS. It’s a 3-part documentary worth watching every. single. minute. Not to mention the two panels at the luncheon were packed with rockstar women. You can watch the first panel here.
The second panel was with PBS News Hour co-anchor Judy Woodruff, Tory Burch, and Melanne Verveer. The discussions at this luncheon were a little more focused on business and women in business rather than politics. During both panels, the discussion reminded me of something Gloria Steinem alluded to in the MAKERS documentary that struck a chord with me as a women, as a business owner, as an entrepreneur. She said something to the effect of by us (women) bringing attention to the fact that we are women in business or women entrepreneurs and making the fact that we are women doing whatever it is we are doing, it can further separate us from men. Meaning, instead of calling myself a female entrepreneur I’m just an entrepreneur like all the other men and women entrepreneurs. We are all just entrepreneurs.
Any female in any role is just that role. Not a female CEO, or a female President, but just a CEO, just a President. You would never refer to someone as a male CEO when just referring to the CEO of a company, so why would you refer to anyone as a female CEO? Tory makes a comment about this after I asked a question in the panel (see below).
Hearing this concept from Gloria and letting it sink in really changed the way I talk about myself and other women in business. So when it was time for questions at the end of the panel, I wanted to ask Judy, Tory, and Melanne their opinion and thoughts on how women define themselves. You can hear my question and their answers right at the 30:10 time (it’s last question). I thought it interesting that they still see the need to gather together and use the word women — hence Women Rule — until we are equal. I do agree with this where necessary, but I do try to not define myself or other female entrepreneurs by their sex whenever possible.
Because I am a female entrepreneur, I am a huge advocate for women in business. I make it my mission to help other women make good business decisions, take risks, be daring, ask for the rates and salaries they deserve — I deeply care about this subject.
When I watched MAKERS it made me realize just how recently in our history women in the United States did not have the same rights as men. I don’t know if my generation realizes just how recent it was. One part of the video that continues to stick with me is when Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to enter and run the Boston Marathon in 1967 was running in the marathon alongside her boyfriend and running coach when one of the race directors (a man) jumped off a press truck and tried to pull Kathrine out of the race. Literally pull her out so she couldn’t finish the race. Can you imagine that!?! It’s crazy to think that women weren’t allowed to run in the Boston Marathon until 1972!
As a woman born in the early ’80s, by the time I went to high school, college, and entered the workforce, many of these obvious discriminations were not as obvious to me and my generation. Women are definitely still discriminated against in the workforce and in business, but I don’t think many of us realize the amazing women that got us to where we are now. We need to make sure we are still working hard for equality for women in business but not by further separating ourselves either. This doesn’t mean I don’t think we shouldn’t say the word woman or female ever, and I do think we need to work together and help each other. But I don’t think we need to define ourselves as separate from anyone else (men) in business when it’s not necessary, and I do think we need to go out of our way to support each other. I think men do that without even thinking about it.
Women still only make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. There are only 20 women out of 100 Senators. 78 women in the house out of 435. So, women are only represented in our Congress 20% and 18% yet we are 51% of the U.S. population. Women currently hold 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions and 4.6 percent of Fortune 1000 CEO positions. Four point six percent!?!?!
Watch the MAKERS documentary. It will inspire you. We are so lucky to have had all of those women fight and forge a path for the rest of us. And we are also lucky to have people like Tory Burch, and all of the other amazing women who spoke that day, to continue to lead us.
Something Diane von Furstenberg has said she does each day is the perfect example for the rest of us. Diane says she sends one email each morning that doesn’t benefit her. If we all did that even just once a week just think of possibilities…
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Have you ever thought about it this? Have you seen MAKERS?
To the men that read my blog — I have absolutely nothing against you and I think you already know that. It’s not your fault that women are discriminated against, as long as you aren’t actively doing it! It’s been a cultural thing passed down for many years. The discrimination I’m talking about mostly has to do with promotions and equal salaries in the workforce — women still only make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. Can you imagine only making $77,000 a year when your co-workers with the same job, same experience, and same education as you, all make $100,000 a year? Doesn’t seem fair just because you are a different sex, right? I just challenge you to ask yourself — Do I treat the women I work with the same as men? Do I fully support the women around me in their work, businesses, and ideas? If so, great!
Also note that I grew up in a family where I was completely supported by all of the men in my life. My dad, my brother, my husband, my grandpas all supported and continue to support me the same as they did/do the boys in the family. I’m also very proactive in my career and always have been. I’ve always discussed raises and promotions with previous bosses whereas many of my female friends felt uncomfortable doing this. This is just my take, my opinion, my experience with this subject.