What Women Do You Celebrate?

March is Women’s History Month. According to the National Women’s History Project website (http://www.nwhp.org/blog/), this year’s theme is “Women Inspiring Innovation through Imagination, honoring women throughout history who have used their intelligence, imagination, sense of wonder, and tenacity to make extraordinary contributions to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.”

Last week, I heard Gloria Feldt, who is 71, speak.  Ms. Feldt is the author of No Excuses – 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power and a prominent women’s activist.  

Another inspiration is Sheryl Sandberg, the 43 year old COO of Facebook, who recently released her book, Lean In – Women, Work and The Will to Lead.  The book shares personal stories, uses research to shine a light on gender differences, and offers practical advice to help women achieve their goals.

I wondered if Women’s History Month looks different through the lens of a 71 year old and that of a 43 year old woman? 

While they were born 28 years apart and come from different backgrounds, there are many similarities in their messages. Ms. Feldt asserts that women often take steps forward and then fall back.  She encourages everyone, not just women, to look at power differently – think about the POWER TO … rather than POWER OVER.  Ms. Sandberg believes that there aren’t more women in the board room because women unintentionally hold themselves back.  She encourages women to lean in, “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto.

In honor of Women’s History Month, both women remind us to take a renewed look at what women can do, instead of what they can’t do.  A lot can be learned from these two women about women becoming powerful leaders. 

Much attention has been given to gender and generational differences.  To avoid relearning the hard lessons that people before us learned, we need to make an effort to know and celebrate our history.  We need to seek out role models and mentors.   If you want to learn how to be a leader, consider immersing yourself in leadership.  Spend time with leaders you admire.  Read about leaders who are no longer with us.  Learn about your family history.  Keep a journal about your journey.  The journal will be helpful when you have taken steps forward and fallen back.  All of these tips can help with your career development and achieving your goals.

We would love to hear about female leaders that you admire!

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  1. Jason Alba's avatar
    Jason Alba
    | Permalink
    I immediately think about one of my first bosses. When I was an intern, doing web development, the boss of my boss was an amazing person. She was getting her second masters degree and had a quiet but powerful personality. People regularly were in her office asking advice, from strategic direction to programming code to networking... all stuff they might have gone to someone else for. She was the wise guru. She was kind, a teacher, but very competent and one to get things done. She was responsible for so much of the progress in our company, many times "getting her hands dirty" by jumping in and helping, instead of waiting for someone else to do it. In IT there isn't a lot of time to wait, especially when execs don't understand what you are doing, and why it is so good for the company.

    More than that, in my internship she gave me real responsibilities and allowed me to grow professionally. I had many learning experiences with and because of her.

    I owe her a lot. An awesome lady, boss, mentor, leader and a genuinely good person. Thank you J.M., wherever you are!
  2. Gerriann's avatar
    | Permalink
    Jason, thanks for sharing this. Hopefully J.M. knows how much you appreciate her. Maybe she will see your post. You remind me how much we can do to enrich the lives and working experiences of others.
  3. David Galvin's avatar
    David Galvin
    | Permalink
    Eleanor Roosevelt: Following her husband's death, Eleanor remained active in politics for the rest of her life. She pressed the US to join and support the United Nations and became one of its first delegates. She served as the first chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights, and oversaw the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Later she chaired the John F. Kennedy administration's Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. By her death, she was regarded as "one of the most esteemed women in the world" and "the object of almost universal respect"... A True class act & leader.

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