Shared Leadership for the Future
Women continue to start businesses at twice the rate of men, but not every woman possesses the necessary leadership skills to be CEO. Traditionally, men have been taught better leadership qualities while growing up, but that is changing in the 2011 homes across America. Both Moms and Dads know that their sons and their daughters equally need the necessary talents to succeed in an ever-changing gender neutral world economy.
I ask every woman reading this blog to spend this month (March) reading biographies or autobiographies of women in history. History provides perspective for the journey we take each day in our own life. It allows us to view how other women have improved our condition and led us to where we are today as leaders in a free country. My own research for my book HER TURN Why It's Time For Women To Lead in America demonstrated the parallel between women's increased life expectancy and decreased reproductive labor to women's need to seek opportunities outside the home. In other words, in 1800 women had a life expectancy of 40 and bore an average of 7 children. 5% of the women in 1800 were employed. By the year 2000, women's life expectancy was 80 and they bore an average of 2 children. More than 60% of women were employed outside the home in 2000. Ten years later in 2010, for the first time in history, women are the majority of the workforce. The lives of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, founders of the first women's rights convention in 1848 in Seneca Falls, NY, tell the story of women speaking out across America for equality. It would take another 72 years (1920) before women would win the right to vote. Two World Wars, the Great Depression, more war and the Civil Rights Movement held women back after that and before the second women's rights movement began in the 1960s. Read about Eleanor Roosevelt's life and her role as the first chair of the President's Commission on the Status of Women created by President JFK. Mrs. Roosevelt saw women as equal partners with men not just as a benefit to the U.S. but to the conditions around the world. Because of her leadership, admission requirements at colleges became more flexible to admit more women; there was funding for child care centers so more women could work; and the Equal Pay Act (1963) was legislated outlawing different pay scales for men and women doing the same work. Feminism in America took hold in the late 60s led primarily by Betty Freidan and Gloria Steinem. Read how these women changed women's lives in America then and how their leadership makes a difference in how women are viewed today. My list of women in history could go on and on and must include women in business such as Mary Kay, Meg Whitman, Anne Mulcahy, Carly Fiorina; women in philanthropy such as Teresa Heinz Kerry, Melinda Gates; women in politics such as Pat Schroeder, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Madeleine Albright; women in health and science such as Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell and Madame Curie and so many more. Women are making history in America every day so, yes, the glass ceiling is being cracked a chip at a time. But, it is only with the persistence of this generation of women that the glass ceiling will be shattered once and for all for the women of future generations.
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