There’s a female revolution taking place dismantling patriarchal systems and it’s not about to stop. The rise of female leadership is on display for the whole world to see and so it should be as history is being re-written.
The uncovering of discrimination, social injustices as well as recognising women who have broken barriers and risen to once inaccessible leadership positions has been focal in giving women a voice. Through access to worldwide news on the progress of female leadership many women have found the strength and courage to stand in their truth and take up roles as leaders in varying capacities. In this article I will look at how documenting and showcasing the progress of female leadership in public forums serves to amplify the voices of women as we work to create a new normal where a women’s ability to lead in any capacity is no longer questioned.
One of the ways in which publicly acknowledging women who take up leadership roles progresses female leadership is that it finally starts to give women recognition where it is deserved. Throughout history women have been instrumental yet for the most part it is our male counterparts who have benefited from public recognition with women being cast to the background.
If we look through history there was a time where a woman couldn’t freely walk in her truth without fear of prejudice as was experienced by English literary sisters Emily, Charlotte and Anne Bronte who are responsible for novels such as Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, poems amongst other work. They chose to publish their work under the masculine pseudonyms Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. The 1840s was a time where female authors were not taken seriously as they were seen as more suited to holding traditional roles of mother, wife and all other stereotypical roles applied to women, so it was quite common back then to publish under males’ names to project masculinity.
There were many women who were instrumental to the civil rights movement that have probably not been given the recognition they deserve. For instance, Ella Baker who played more of a role behind the scenes advising and mentoring the likes of Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa Parks. How about Septima Poinsette? Known as the ‘Mother of the American Civil Rights Movement’ she was a teacher and advocate for education starting citizenship schools teaching adults literacy in order to help many African Americans register to vote.
For years women have been made to take the backseat and watch men be glorified and celebrated on the biggest platforms and now we are living in an era where women are being publicly credited for their work. Women are finally being seen and heard and that is an accomplishment. In no way am I saying this is enough, but it is one in many giant leaps for women that we can look upon proudly.
Another way in which public exposure progresses female leadership is that it addresses the false labels that have been placed on women by society seeing women just as wives, caregivers, domestic goddesses and not capable of holding high power roles and creating successful businesses. By showing what women are doing it works to dismantle these false notions. It shows the dynamism and uniqueness that women possess in being able to wear many different hats. We now see women holding high ranking roles within corporations, creating businesses out of their passions, leading change programmes within their communities and fighting against injustice openly. Women are showing it is possible to use the very things that have been used against us to lead and change the course of leadership, creating opportunities for others.
Data being published, shared and spoken about on public platforms as to the progress of female leadership can also help to inspire and encourage innovation and creativity that can bring balance economically, socially and politically. For instance, In the UK the country where I reside, research has highlighted that one the greatest sources to help boost the economy is women with a projection that supporting female entrepreneurs could contribute £250 billion to the UK economy. This example just goes to show how important women are in building the economy around them and why it’s important to invest in women. Through the existence of research such as this and case studies showing women of successful businesses it is an incentive to support and invest in female leadership. Having information like this helps women to realise the opportunities that exist, it encourages women to start the businesses they’ve always dreamed of. It provides a much-needed encouragement to women that there is room for our creativity, ideas and solutions we might have to world issues.
Another reason I think the progress of female leadership in the public eye is important to amplifying the voices of women is that it helps women to address inferiority complexes that many possess as a result of how we’ve been brought up to see ourselves, our abilities and success. Seeing the progress of female leadership helps women to unravel the lies that have been placed on us by society. How many of us were aware of things such as imposter syndrome prior to the rise of discussions around female leadership? How many of us can say we thoroughly examined our issues of anxiety or not feeling good enough prior to an awakening that we could possess roles or opportunities that were once seen as out of our reach? Female leadership being discussed publicly through conferences, events, article publications and other media outlets has brought greater self-awareness and self-actualisation.
Being able to read about and listen to the experiences of successful women in leadership has been helpful for many of us in answering questions about not feeling qualified for certain roles or starting a business. Having insight into the journeys of other women has helped us fill in the gaps as to what’s needed to get to the next level, how to communicate with c-level executives and other pieces of information that many of us didn’t have access to before. It removes this idea of exclusivity when a successful female leader shares their journey both the highs and lows and you begin to realise that no leaders journey is plain sailing and without moments where they question whether they are fit for purpose. As we witness female leaders share it begins to remove a lot of the perceptions we had as to what it takes to be a leader. We start to imagine ourselves in the roles, businesses and positions we desire because it’s no longer presented as some foreign concept only for the elite or requiring access to an exclusive members club.
For many it has sent us on an intentional journey of self-discovery to uncover the gifts, talents and skills within ourselves. It has sent us on a journey desiring greater and wanted to get that next promotion, wanted to lead teams, wanted to create our own businesses, our own roles. Without the publicity, without the push through media coverage, through the creation of digital platforms, events and more many of us might still be in the dark, unable to understand what’s holding us back, why we think we’re not good enough to lead or work within a certain industry. The public exposure seeing other women’s rise in leadership helps in building confidence in many of us as well as challenging us to work on our mindset, change our language from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can’.
Lastly, publicity on the progress of female leadership helps to instil desire, will and determination in the next generation of female leaders to come. Many of us have all but dreamed about being leaders in our chosen fields but it is important for the development of young women that we create an environment where they can do more than dream; they can aim towards it and see it as a goal this that is more than achievable.
We’ve all been glued to our devices as we’ve waited to hear how the US elections would go and it has been confirmed that Joe Biden has won the US presidential race however, I would say more importantly for women all over the world Kamala Harris becoming the first ever female vice-president of the United States of America is a huge accomplishment for the progress of female leadership. Her rise to leadership on a world platform is something young women can look at and aspire to. Being able to witness such significant moments in history is inspiring. Seeing this public rise to leadership removes this idea of female leaders in prominent positions being the works of miracle or a once in a lifetime event and makes it possible for a young woman to aim beyond her wildest dreams realising that nothing is out of her reach.
Public exposure is key to the rise of female leadership. For long we didn’t get to celebrate our accomplishments. It wasn’t seen as ‘ladylike’ to have certain interests or work in certain industries. We weren’t allowed to boast about our achievements or be the best at something as it could be seen as a form of emasculation for the men around us.
Female leadership should always be publicly seen in order to inspire women locally, nationally and globally to go on their own journeys of discovering the leader within them. Through public acknowledgment, it shows that our abilities matter and we have a profound purpose. It shows that we’re essential to fixing some of the imbalance and lack of synergy in the world, that women’s voices in every area of work and business offers the fresh perspective the world needs.
Salome is a business consultant working with businesses to strengthen their client relations, workforce management and their product/service strategy positioning within the market.