A Glimpse at Where Women Can Be Found in Leadership
In a country as free as this one, it should come as no surprise that folks are beginning to wonder: Where are the women?
We can vote. We’re in at least some political offices. We might not make as much as the men, but we also aren’t banished to wearing useless neckties or long pants. That’s right, not only are we free to own land, but here in America we can also show our knees.
We have come so far and yet women are still denied the same degree of presence and prominence afforded to men.
The New York Times recently featured an article on women in leadership (Reuters 2012). In a nutshell, the piece attempted to explain why there are so few feminine leaders in our world, ultimately surmising that “tight cultures”–where change is discouraged–promote a masculine image of leadership, while “loose cultures” are more open to progress and evolving definitions of gender norms and leadership styles.
For the world to hear I would like to say (without the slightest hint of sarcasm), “Shocking.”
Let it be known that I have recently moved to a very loose culture: Boulder, CO. Among the loosest of the loose, I’d say. A bubble of extreme liberalism, we are a people voting to raise our own taxes to save some open space, employing goats for lawn mowers and walking barefoot down city streets.
Some might be turned off by such looseness, but I, for one, find it all very liberating.
And it is in this bastion of innovation and intoxicating sunshine, that I have recently fallen into an incredible sisterhood of women leaders (a reality that I’m sure would please the researchers as it so conveniently aligns with their findings).
All leaders of non-profit organizations, these ladies may not be changing policies or leading governments, but they are certainly rocking worlds, mine among them.
Ranging in age from mid-twenties to mid-forties, they are building birthing centers, mentoring youth, teaching midwives, leading volunteers, giving loans and building schools. With Boulder as a base-camp, these leading ladies are working in projects in Nepal, Guatemala, Mexico and Haiti.
Just a few years ahead of me in their respective initiatives, they’ve created an awe-inspiring balance of local momentum and international impact. It is everything I hope to someday have–a life here and there, all at the same time. And these women seem to balance it effortlessly.
They work hard (in cute skirts), we vent together in coffee shops and then they catch a flight, touch down, maybe change a life and are always changed themselves. I’m star-struck.
The people in my posse may not be making international headlines, but just give it time. These Boulder babes are, no doubt, following in the footsteps of many women who already have: Waangari Maatai, Hillary Clinton, Melinda Gates, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Mother Teresa, Eleanor Roosevelt, Wendy Kopp, Jane Goodall–need I go on?
It is among these local leaders, these wonderful women that I am looking forward to building a career. Under their wing and on their team I cannot imagine the things we will do and I am so intensely grateful for having been invited into their circles.
They are bold and creative and captivating and productive.
The New York Times article concluded, “The final frontier for women, even in societies, that allow them to lead established institutions, is to be ruthless and to take big risks, essential qualities in world-changing entrepreneurs.”
As far as I can tell, so many already do.
~ This article was originally featured on The Righters.
A global health professional, Kassia Binkowski can usually be found running the trails or stowed away in a coffee shop in Boulder, CO. Stealing fixes of sunshine and skiing in between professional internships and personal travels, she is building a career in non-profit communications and maternal and child health. Kassia is the founder and manager of The Righters (www.the-righters.com), she can be reached by email at [email protected]~Editor: Carolyn Gilligan