Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

Reflecting on Be Bold Seattle

On International Women’s Day — March 8, 2018 — I attended Be Bold Seattle. I heard about the event via Twitter. I wish I remember who posted about it so I could thank them. This was the third anniversary of the event, and the first time I had heard about it.

The event featured a number of speakers and performers sharing their experiences and insights. The speakers included founders, investors, authors, and executives. This was one of the most inspiring and empowering events I have been to in a while. Some of the key takeaways for me:

Two statistics jumped out at me:

  • There are more CEOs named John than there are women CEOs.
  • 43% of women with college degrees leave the workforce after they have children.

The first statistic appears to be from a New York Times article from 2015 that examined CEOs in S&P 1500 companies. In 2016, a similar analysis was done for FTSE 100 companies, with similar findings. The difference in the UK was the name: more men named David (8), Steve or Steven (7), than women (6).

The 43% statistic was mentioned in Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, published in 2013 and I haven’t been able to find any more recent stats on that. There was an interview with Sheryl published in 2017 discussing how women were not better off four years later in many areas, but this statistic was not updated. Based on the progress of other stats, I am guessing this one hasn’t moved much either.

With nearly half of college educated women leaving the workforce after they have children, it is no surprise that there are more men named John, David, Steve or Steven, running large companies than women.

Press for Progress

The global theme for this year’s International Women’s Day was “Press for Progress.” And after listening to these statistics and speakers more progress is needed. Here are some things you can do to help drive the change you want to see in the world.

Treat people with dignity. Treger Strasberg co-CEO at Humble Design described how her company has been able to reduce the number of families that return to homelessness by treating them with dignity. Listening to family members wants and needs and helping them furnish a home makes them have a more vested interest in their new homes and take pride in ownership. A little dignity goes a long way.

Treating people with dignity and respect makes them want to stay. Stay in their home, stay at their company, stay in the workforce.

It won’t be easy but I can do it. Nothing in life is easy, hard work and dedication will result in amazing results. Adriane Brown shared her career path at companies like Honeywell and the internal mantra she repeats. Knowing it won’t be easy can prepare you for the struggles and obstacles you will face and give you the boost you need to overcome it.

The Domino Effect. Change isn’t easy and it definitely isn’t easy if you are battling for change on your own. Tell your story and recruit others to join your choir. MJ DePalma and Mike Tenney revealed how you never know who or how you will find others to help you in your efforts to effect change. If you are authentic and are willing to share your story you will inspire others. If you inspire one person and they inspire one person the domino effect will slowly build.

Know Your Value. If you don’t place value in who you are, what your provide, or what you can do, nobody else will either. One of the 10 keys Sophia A Nelson, author of The Woman Code , shared was that nothing else matters if you don’t know your value. When you know your value you have the power to speak, to negotiate, to inspire, and to press for progress.