For the first time, the United States has a female presidential candidate of a major party. Whatever your politics, seeing women in high ranking leadership roles inspires other women to step up to the table and shows that women are capable and willing to serve.
The old adage is that women should be more like men in order to ascend to leadership roles. Fortunately, society is moving beyond this notion to understand and appreciate the unique skills and perspectives women bring to their leadership roles. The future will hopefully yield a gender-balanced workforce at all levels (women make up almost half of the workforce now so this is possible) and hiring will be based on skills and needs.
As a new mom to a beautiful baby girl, I have been giving a lot of thought lately to the life and opportunities I want for my Ellie. I hope that by the time she is joining the workforce she will not see certain jobs as “male” or “female” roles. I want her to know she can be good at math even if she is a girl. I want her to be paid the same as her male counterparts (women’s salaries are still only 77 percent of what men make on average). I want for her to not understand what a “glass ceiling” is. I want her to be able to be a mother (with paid maternity leave) and have a career if she wants. I want her to be able to pursue her passions and happiness without limitations.
I leave you with these wonderful thoughts on leadership from some inspiring women in our industry:
On Women in Leadership
“Numerous fields have been dominated by men for centuries, so women can face significant participatory challenges before leadership positions are even able to be considered. With this knowledge, aspiring women leaders have the opportunity to introduce new approaches to problem-solving that may have been overlooked historically. My advice to other women who are new to leadership roles is to remember it is your own responsibility to be your own best advocate. Speak up and don’t let them get you down!” —Melissa Heeke, CAE, Membership and Communications Director, Midwest Political Science Association
On Serving as an Executive Director
“I believe the key to success as a female working in a predominately male association is having confidence in the unique skill set you bring to the table. Once they see your passion for helping them reach their mission you will earn their respect. That respect begets a great partnership.” —Brenda A. Dant, CAE, Executive Director, Indiana Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors
On Being a Business Owner
“Being a business owner is much like being an association CEO. It can be a lonely role where feedback from peers is essential. Through my time as an association CEO and 30-year-plus ISAE member, I knew value building a “kitchen cabinet.” For me, joining a business owners group provided me with a solid kitchen cabinet.” —Leslie Murphy, CAE, FASAE, President, Raybourn Group International