These days we see and hear a lot about the Me Too and Times Up movements. We may have participated in one or more of the Women’s Marches occurring around the country, and in other parts of the world. The common thread tying these movements together is the desire – and the coordinated push - to see women treated equally with men. Certainly not as victims of abuse, and not relegated to silence and acceptance – but afforded equal opportunity and treated with respect, fairness and equality in all aspects of life.
So it may appear that these movements sprung forward very quickly and in response to isolated events. While those events may have indeed spurred many to action, the events in and of themselves are not the only stimuli; and certainly not the only movements created to end inequalities. History teaches us that change often comes in waves, and while change may at times appear sudden, it is more often the result of the combined effect of many efforts and their impact in aggregate.
Some years back, I earned the privilege of participating in a year-long national executive leadership development program exclusively for “high potential” young women. The program included many differing elements of education, and learnings in both classroom settings and “real life” experiences. As part of this program I, along with 19 of my class mates, had the distinct honor of spending a weekend with Betty Friedan. The author of “The Feminine Mystique” and first President of NOW (the National Organization of Women), Ms. Freidan is often referred to as the Mother of Modern Feminism, and is credited with starting the second wave of feminism beginning in the 1960s and 1970s. (The first wave occurring when the so called Suffragettes fought for women to receive the equal right to vote in this country). This weekend experience was truly life altering – not only career changing.
When you have an opportunity to hear the stories and experiences of Betty Friedan, or Gloria Steinem, another key figure in the modern women’s movement, or Katherine Graham, the first female Publisher and CEO of a national media outlet, the Washington Post - you listen and learn! These women and others like them have inspired generations of young women – and enlightened men – to look around them and seize the opportunities to change for the better. When I began my career, I was regularly the only female in the room at management meetings – except of course for the perfunctory “secretary”. There was therefore no way for me to gauge the best route, style or behavioral method to accomplishing goals, except by emulating the male model. That just doesn’t didn’t sit well with me. So what were my choices? Within the companies where I worked, I had no female mentor or coach – no one to look up to as a role model for how to best move forward. My recourse was to look for answers inward, employ trial and error methods, or go outside to find the rare examples of women who had successfully forged paths in the corporate business world – which is where I resided. The answer was often a combination of the aforementioned.
Look around you to see where those champions for equality are. You’ll find some great ideas, inspiration and empowerment to forge ahead on your own path!
Still forging ahead,
Ms. Krzywicki is the Principal and Owner of Krzywicki & Associates and has over 30 years of business and management experience. She has worked in larger companies and for entrepreneurs, and has been an entrepreneur small business owner herself. Take Notes people, she is a powerhouse.