Woman Power – From Madam Curie to Jennifer Lawrence

I never heard of International Women’s Day on March 8th until this week. My Twitter feed was filled with tweets on this subject, all of which I read. The content helped solidify my beliefs about women in the workforce. International Women’s Day was established in 1908 when there was opposition, unrest and inequality causing women to become more vocal and active. It was time for a change. In New York City, 15,000 women marched through the streets demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. They fought the good fight, but we still work long hours and still do not have equal pay. Well, at least we can vote today.

This is not a national holiday in the United States. There are no greeting cards to send or flowers to buy commemorating successful women or those that aspire to be one day. There was no mention of all the inspirational women who have help pave the path that we now walk on. From Marie Curie, Margaret Thatcher, Eleanor Roosevelt, Gloria Steinem, Oprah Winfrey, and Jennifer Lawrence our collective Voices must still be heard.

Women have come a long distance since that march in 1908. Today, female owned businesses represent 30% of all US companies, and women are 47% of the workforce. Statistics show that it will take until 2085 for woman to reach parity with men in leadership roles in our country. I ask myself why this is true. I believe in parity pay and gender balanced leadership.

While only 4.6 % of S&P 500 companies have woman CEOs, there has been a shift in woman assuming more visible leadership roles. We all need to remember the first female Fortune 500 CEO, Katherine Graham. She held that position from 1973 – 1991 following her husband’s untimely demise. She led the Washington Post through the Watergate scandal and publication of the Pentagon Papers.

Woman in Financial Services represent 54.2% of the labor force. However, only 1.4% of the CEOs in the industry are women. The number drops to 12.4% who are Executive Officers and 18% who are on the Board of Directors. I often speak at Financial Services conferences and realize there has been progress made in Insurance and Banking. Throughout my direct marketing career, I have seen a shift of more women in positions of authority. However, it is still an industry that is over represented by our male counterparts.

I am proud to be an Executive Trustee on the Board of the non-profit organization, Marketing Edge. Their mission is to Educate, Develop, Grow, and Employ college students in the field of marketing. I have been fortunate to come in contact with many college students of both genders who are about to embark on their career paths. My advice would be to embrace the attitude that anything is possible. To the young women I meet, I always dare them to dream big, like I did.

Maya Angelo said it eloquently: “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a Bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” I know I got some ass kicking left I want to do.