Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors


More Women Should Be on Top

Posted: 08/21/2013 3:00 pm

One of the greatest economic challenges facing women in the United States is the lack of women in top management positions. Only 4.2 per cent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Regardless of the slim statistics, many of us are led to believe that women have already succeeded in breaking the glass ceiling because of the shift from women in the home to women in the workforce. Now more than ever before, more young women are enrolled in colleges in the United States than men. It has also been reported that the family dynamic is changing in terms of women holding jobs and becoming the breadwinners of their families.

I am here to join the many voices that say that equality has not yet come. When more women are sitting at the head of the conference table alongside their male colleagues; when more women hold highly influential political positions; and when bossy little girls are referred to as "leaders," as Sheryl Sandberg says, we will then have achieved something closer to our goal of equality.

I attend a women's college in western Massachusetts. Recently, in one of my college courses, I was stunned when a fellow classmate told the class about an article published in the Wall Street Journal. The article discussed how women are holding women back from progress in the workspace. Although this inter-gender conflict is just one of many potential sources for women's lag in the workplace, I could not help but speak up and question this theory.

Though the theory that women are holding women back in the workplace may be true to some extent in specific circumstances, I reject the idea that this is an overarching problem. When we spread these detrimental messages, we are not only undermining women as a powerful supportive force, we are also helping to perpetuating this message to younger generations of girls and women.

As opposed to teaching the next generation of women to be wary of their fellow women, we should teach and warn them of the nuanced discrimination and oppression that can happen to powerful women. Dispelling these myths about workspace environment is important in creating a positive and empowering message. This message should talk about what women have to look forward to when they collaborate with other women. If we accurately report and propagate what is actually happening, perhaps more people would see that women are indeed making progress and that we are not our own enemies. When we do this, more women will be better equipped with the right environment and tools to rise to the top.

We need more women leading our workspaces, our corporations, and our country. We should not be satisfied with the statistics that say women are now in more managing roles than ever. This statement simply suggests that we should be happy with what we've got. It is important to acknowledge our gains thus far, but it is even more important to ask questions like, "How can I support my female colleague?" Or, "How can I better the conditions of women in the economy by negotiating for myself?".

When I look around and see whom my greatest supporters are, they are my mother, a close friend and empowering female filmmaker, and my close friends at college. The thing is, when one of us stands up and speaks out for our own condition as women in the workplace, we are actually speaking for every woman out there. I would like to see more women on top, leading our economy and our people, not taking the backseat because we are told we only deserve so much success.

Jenni Lee, 2013 G(irls)20 Summit Delegate, represented The United States of America at the 2013 G(irls)20 Summit, June 15 - 19 in Moscow, Russia. Visit www.girls20summit.com to watch the G(irls)20 Summit.

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  • Alexandra Chong -- Founder and CEO of Luluvise

    Chong is the founder and CEO of <a href="http://www.onlulu.com/" target="_blank">Luluvise</a>, which <a href="http://www.thegoodwebguide.co.uk/lifestyle/shopping/interviews/alexandra-chong/14650" target="_blank">The Good Web Guide </a>described as a “male database which allows female users to shame or praise potential dates, exes or simply men they know." It's more colloquially known as a "Yelp for Men" and, according to <a href="http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/06/17/rate-the-date-online-lulu-app-lets-women-review-hookups/" target="_blank">Time</a>, has been downloaded over 75,000 times.

  • Poornima Vijayashanker -- Founder and CEO of Bizeebee

    Bizeebee helps fitness studios and other membership based businesses across the world grow. According to <a href="http://bizeebee.com/about-us/" target="_blank">Bizeebee's website</a>, Vijayashanker was inspired to start the company after consulting with local businesses looking to improve their management practices. She is also a dedicated athlete -- she practices Bikram Yoga and runs half-marathons.

  • Leah Busque -- Founder and CEO of TaskRabbit

    Busque <a href="http://lifehacker.com/im-leah-busque-founder-of-taskrabbit-and-this-is-how-496031842" target="_blank">describes TaskRabbit </a>as a service "for automating your most annoying errands and outsourcing your chores. Whether it's getting groceries, putting together furniture, or picking up a Craigslist purchase, Task Rabbit's network of reliable do-ers will take it off your hands." According to <a href="https://www.taskrabbit.com/team" target="_blank">TaskRabbit's website</a>, "since bootstrapping TaskRabbit in 2008, Leah has expanded the company nationally, grown the team to more than 60 employees, raised nearly $40 million in venture funding."

  • Amy Sheng -- Co-Founder of CellScope

    According to <a href="https://www.cellscope.com/" target="_blank">its website</a>, “CellScope builds disruptive hardware and software systems for mobile disease diagnosis." According to <a href="http://www.inc.com/ss/christina-desmarais/11-women-watch-tech#1" target="_blank">INC.com</a>, CellScope "also gives doctors the ability to capture a patient’s visual history over time…[it] ultimately aims to build a digital first aid kit for the home."

  • Dr. Michal Tsur -- Co-Founder and Presidentof Kaltura

    Kaltura, according to its <a href="http://corp.kaltura.com/About-Kaltura" target="_blank">website</a>, is "the world's first and only Open Source Online Video Platform." Tsur has also written for The Huffington Post about <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michal-tsur/how-to-employ-women-in-th_b_1877917.html" target="_blank">employing women in the tech industry </a>and how <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michal-tsur/video-is-the-new-frontier_b_2696975.html" target="_blank">video technology is the new frontier </a>for schools.

  • Shikoh Gitau -- Founder of Ummeli

    <a href="http://www.ummeli.com/" target="_blank">Ummeli</a> is "a mobile network that helps communities create their own employment opportunities." <a href="http://www.ihub.co.ke/blog/2013/04/top-5-upcoming-tech-women-in-kenya-to-watch/" target="_blank">Kenyan tech blog iHub</a> called Gitau, "passionate about technology especially mobile phones and their possible catalyst effect in empowerment and development," and wrote that, "Shikoh provides mentorship and support to various start-ups and research efforts in Africa both in the academia and industry that strive to make technology relevant, usable and useful in the everyday life of African users." Gitau was also the first African to win the <a href="http://www.expatriate.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=66:kc-rottok&catid=38:profiles&Itemid=48" target="_blank">Google Anita Borg award</a>.

  • Mary-Alice Brady -- CEO of MosaicHUB

    A graduate of Boston College and Boston College Law School, Brady worked as an attorney and in a venture capital firm before founding MosaicHUB. The <a href="http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/techflash/2013/04/2013-women-to-watch-mary-alice-brady.html?page=all" target="_blank">Boston Business Journal</a> described MosaicHUB as "an online community created to help entrepreneurs find the people and resources they need to succeed."

  • Prita Uppal -- Founder and CEO of Hooked

    Hooked is a game recommendation app which,<a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexkonrad/2013/04/26/hooked-meetme-mobile-game-ads/" target="_blank"> according to Forbes</a>, "uses machine-learning algorithms to suggest apps with the highest potential relevance to users up to an exact percentage." Hooked has an impressive 24 percent conversion rate of apps suggested to its users (as compared to the more typical 3 percent response rate of mobile ads).


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