As you know, my goal on this site is to empower, encourage, inspire and challenge every reader to strive for the greatness you have inside. I fully recognize that I may not necessarily be the person who will most exemplify your kind of greatness. As such it’s my goal to share with you the great people who I learn from and admire; the people who help me to be empowered. You got a taste in the fitness mini-series where I shared the stories of some people who helped me to realize and embrace the things I know about fitness. (If you didn’t catch that check one out here.)
Starting with the parents who taught us to talk by simply talking to and around us, we have all spent our lives growing and learning from the examples of others. Whether their examples taught us what to do or what to make every effort to avoid, these examples had the power to change our entire lives, if we paid attention and applied ourselves to find the right lessons. I have found the same to be true in personal growth. In my work to grow and make the life I want I have constantly found it vital to have clear examples of people doing the thing that I want to do. None of my grand ideas of development and change have come from pure inspiration, they were born from observing others and their results.
I have a home library, podcast list and Instagram feed full of these role models. The family that travels with their small children, the vegan who makes the most incredible looking plant based meals, entrepreneurs, fashion forward jet setters, people who spend more time in the gym than their own homes… Far from making me jealous and belittling of myself, these people remind me that what I am working toward is achievable, and that the steps that I am taking have worked for others. One of the most powerful factors that helps my vision to go from “hey that person is doing that amazing thing” to “Hey, that person is doing that amazing thing, I could do that too!” is if that person is a woman, like me.
This partially comes from growing up in the generation just before “gender norms” and breaking them became a mainstream topic, and partially from human nature. We most easily identify with people who look, act, sound, behave, identify, and are like us. Knowing this, I have a tendency to draw attention to the disparity in the exposure and notoriety of women who are accomplishing astounding things in society. I whinge about the lack of women exhibiting power in movies, and can’t stop myself from yelling at the screen in the theatre when women become completely useless when in danger. Articles where high-powered women are referred to as “So-and-so’s wife” make me grimace. My husband has probably asked me “do you want me to turn it off?!” in exasperation in 25% of our TV watching time because of my need to point out the issues with the portrayal of women. Thankfully society as a whole is talking about this and more and more people are paying attention. We’re all starting to read articles that draw attention to the portrayal and discussion of women, and notice the way women’s stories are shared in the media and ask questions and wonder where the stories of strong, intelligent, powerful women are. And many media outlets are listening. More women are writing books and starting blogs and giving speeches. In the US, the three highest grossing movies in 2017 were all films which strongly featured powerful women (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Beauty and the Beast, Wonder Woman). As women gain more and more power in more and more companies, so we will hear more and more of their stories. But we still aren’t hearing, seeing, and reading enough about the accomplishments of women.
Now, I don’t in any way think that women deserve attention in the media simply because they are women. Just as men don’t deserve notoriety, respect, admiration, or positive regard above what every human is due, just for being male. I don’t think that we need to drudge up barely interesting stories about women so that they are equally represented in publications and movies. I do, however, know without a doubt that there are millions of women in the world doing hugely noteworthy things, who deserve credit. And we deserve to hear their stories.
As I’ve shared before, there’s no point in complaining about something. Either there is something that you can do about the issue and you should find a way to change it, or there isn’t anything you can do and complaining will just keep you in a negative frame of mind about the issue. In attempting to apply this to my complaints with sexism in journalism and a general void of boss women in much of media, I started thinking about what I could do to help this change. I realized that there is something that we can all do about this. It didn’t take me long to recognize that while there are a number of women who I admire for their character, accomplishments, contributions to society, and general boss qualities, I myself am not actually a fount of positive stories of women doing amazing things.
If you asked me about people who have made significant contributions to science, medicine and technology in the last 100 years, I could name hundreds maybe a thousand. And two of them would be women. Actually three, because there was an Ada Lovelace Google doodle last year. I can name a few female CEO’s, mostly of fashion companies. I can tell you some great stories of female athletes now, because I’ve worked to hear them. While I am certainly not the most educated person ever, I read tons of non-fiction and go to the library and work with powerful women and listen to female podcasts and come from a family of educated people who learn every day. And I can only think of three women in science. There are obviously millions, and we are only told and taught and reminded to be amazed and grateful for a handful.
We want to hear about women doing incredible things, pushing the previously believed limits of their fields, rising through the ranks, and making strides for social justice, so we have to be the ones to talk about them. The most important thing that we can do to bring outstanding women into the societal spotlight is to give them attention in our conversations and personal lives. If we want to see stories of incredible women in magazines and on the news, we have to start sharing them in our workplaces, social media pages, and with our friends.
So let’s start now.
If you are looking for an incredible woman to learn from, tell your kids about, prove to a boy that girls can do anything, check out the women below. Each are doing amazing things in their own right, and I have learned from each of them. May they empower, encourage, inspire and challenge you as they have me, and may they remind you that our society is made of incredible women who are doing powerful things. May you find more women like these and share their stories.
These are obviously only a handful of the vast array of dazzling women in our world, but it’s a start.
Brene Brown: Research professor at the University of Houston, speaker, emotional intelligence genius.
Joyce Meyer: Christian author and speaker who encourages and empowers women to embrace freedom and power through faith.
Caroline Paul: Writer, former fire-fighter, and extreme athlete who works with girls and women to decide that they are more powerful than fear.
Sheryl Sandberg: Technology executive (code for having too varied and impressive a career in the tech world to fit into a bio), Facebook COO and author of Lean In. https://www.facebook.com/sheryl
Maria Sharapova: Winningest women in tennis, CEO of Sugarpova candy company, UN Ambassador, author.