What does 5% look like?

Turns out all we needed to know about gender equality in leadership, we may have learned in kindergarten.

I recently found myself explaining the idea behind CEO WATTAGE to some single-digit-aged children. It began because they, boys and girls, were learning how write, and wanted to know what I was writing about. Hmmm, how could I simply synthesize the concept of ‘gender equality in leadership’ to these future leaders?

I started out with a sticky note and drew ten stars. I explained that if the ten stars represented all the boys and the girls in leadership today, the boys were represented by more than nine stars. Conversely, the girls in leadership were represented by one half of one star.

Immediately, surprise registered, from both genders. Questions ensued. What? Why? It just didn’t make sense.

The only answer I could give them was that many smart leaders are working together, to make sure that girls have more than just one half of one star out of ten.

I mentioned this powerful interaction at our recent CEO WATTAGE Network dinner, and that the conversation helped me think about how our network could visualize the imbalance of gender imbalance in leadership. If there are only 5% of women in leadership, what did that look like?

So, borrowing from the universally recognized yin and yang symbol, this is what 5% looks like:

Today.

5% of women in leadership.

How are we going to change that ratio?

Our WATTAGE Network is growing every day, as we learn about women leaders and their companies. Organizations globally are working on gender equity, and specifically gender equity in leadership. Recently, the Rockefeller Foundation announced their 100×25 campaign, aiming for 100 women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies by the year 2025.

We are telling our stories and reading comprehensive, data-filled analyses about why the gender gap in leadership. For example, see Debunking the Myth of the Woman Card in Silicon Valley.

We are inspired by the organizations, large and small, working for balance.

Balance. Sharing. Simple concepts that kindergartners already know. Let’s learn from them, the tiny ‘line leaders’ of today are the c-suiters of tomorrow.

What can you do to change the ratio? Join the CEO WATTAGE Network as a subscriber, mentor or nominate a great company for acceleration.


This post was originally published on CEO WATTAGE, a platform to help achieve gender equality in leadership. Sarah is the Founder and CEO of RightPatch, a Seattle-based biotech company. She is lucky to be from a long line of inspiring women.