117 years from now, we will achieve global gender parity in the workplace. That’s right, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report for 2015, equal opportunities will be accredited to the currently under-tapped and under-utilized female talent pool by the year 2133. Yeah… we’ll all be long gone before we can be witnesses to the closing of the gap.
The urgency of addressing the alarming stats and estimations from this study and many others is emphasized through this year’s International Women’s Day theme of taking the Pledge for Parity to break the boundaries that prevent women from reaching their highest potential. Sure, we can all make promises to join the fight to #changetheratio, but how can we start chipping away at this grand mountain of a problem and begin accelerating progress? What is one tangible step we can take to ensure gender parity is even possible in our lifetime?
For women to begin to make a difference, we have to join forces. Only when we stand up together will we recognize our full potential and utilize our combined powers.
Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling
There are no shortages of examples of women banding together to create change. During this past month alone, the young female leaders of today and tomorrow converged to represent the first Youth Forum at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). At SXSW, First Lady Michelle Obama, supported by a roundtable consisting of Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, and Sophia Bush, spoke up for the 62 million girls around the world who are not receiving an education through her “Let Girls Learn” initiative (and has dropped a star-powered, girl power anthem, “This Is For My Girls” in support of the campaign).
Get in Formation
Just recently, I came to realize how fortunate I am to be part of a work team with women in such prominent roles. When chatting with other women in the startup scene, I often hear about how they lack connection with other women in their field — whether it’s because they feel competitive animosity from other women or there simply are little to no other women in their line of work.
What we need is to foster and establish groups where women can connect with, converse with, collaborate with, and celebrate accomplishments with other talented, ambitious, and inspiring women, thus making opportunities for change possible.
What my professional journey has taught me is that people thrive with other people. If you have an idea that you want to make into a reality, you need mentors, champions, and co-conspirators who will guide you, believe in you, and help you along the way.
A fine example of a supportive sisterhood is a Vancouver-based organization called YWiB (Young Women in Business). Their entire mission is provide personal and professional growth opportunities to emerging female leaders, understanding that all women are in the business of building their own story. Since joining the association during my university studies, the ladies I’ve met through YWiB have motivated me to always be true to my values, strive for my goals, and pay it forward by giving back to others.
If you want to get started with activating your own girl squad, you can start by taking small yet mighty steps forward. Buddy up with a friend and go to that industry networking event you’re ‘Interested’ in attending. Invite that woman you met at said networking event (the one with your dream job) for a coffee chat. Utilize Twitter, Instagram, and your other social media platforms to reach out to those female creators, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders who you think are leaning in and killing it out there (like that girl who wrote that excellent Medium piece you were highlighting up a storm last night). You never know where those interactions will lead to.
The power of women who stand up for each other is the first step towards challenging and changing the dated status quo.
Okay ladies, now let’s get in formation.
What girl tribes are you a part of (personal, professional, or otherwise) and how have they shaped your life?
Elizabeth Rosalyn is a writer and poet from Vancouver, Canada. A lover of stories, she lives to explore and write about arts & entertainment, travel & culture, and people & community, all while sipping on a cup of earl grey tea and singing along to all genres of good music. She is one of the founding directors of the pop culture & lifestyle magazine, The Hudsucker. Visit her personal blog at Elizabeth Rosalyn.