Why is this topic important to me?
All of my life, I have been surrounded by powerful and ambitious women. My mom has always been the one working and providing for my family, and when someone was needed at home, my dad took up that role.
I also spend a lot of time around young girls as a babysitter, and it’s amazing to see how many are just as interested in math or science as their brothers are. One time, I asked one of the kindergarteners I was babysitting what she wanted to be when she grew up, and she very confidently said “A geneticist!”. To be honest, I was surprised she even knew what that was, but her confidence inspired me and gave me a lot of hope for the new generation of girls.
It is true there has been a rise in how many women are working: 57% of women ages 16 and above are working nowadays compared to 34% of women in 1950 (Harvard Business Review, 2016). However, this is compared to a larger 75% of eligible men in the workforce (Catalyst). What this means is that there is still a large gender gap in the workforce that we need to work towards closing.
What are the benefits of including women in the workforce?
It has been proven that including women in the workforce brings many advantages. To start, introducing more women into a company means new skills and talents brought to the table, allowing a company to expand and become more efficient. Speaking economically, a 35% increase in GDP can occur when the gender gap in the workforce is closed (World Economic Forum). Forbes collected research that shows business results are increased when women are included: companies with more female board members have a 53% higher return on equity and a 66% higher return on invested capital than those with fewer female board members.
And finally, including powerful women in our workforce means that the next generation of girls will be more interested in pursuing academic and competitive careers because, for the first time, these careers are viewed as opportunities.
What could be the downsides to an increase in the number of working women?
Of course, critics of women will list many reasons why it’s better for a woman to stay home. The top complaint, however, is that since society expects mothers to take care of children and raise them, more women working means future children will be neglected and not raised properly. Children who go home to an empty house at least a few times a week are called “latch-key kids”, and this group accounts for about a third of the population. Parents juggling different caretaking roles will also put stress on the family and could mean an unhealthy environment for children. However, managing a family and a career is something women all across the United States do and having a family is definitely not the reason a woman can’t pursue her career.
What can we do?
So, inspiring girls and fostering their ambitions is clearly beneficial, but how can we start to do this?
Well, it’s important to begin with school-age girls. One way we can encourage them is putting programs in place that make it easier for them to educate themselves. For example, the government of Bihar created a mobility program that gave ninth-grade girls money to purchase bicycles. Studies done on this program discovered that this reduced the gender gap in school enrollment by an amazing 40%. The number of girls who dropped out of schools also fell below 5% (IGC). All this because of one bicycle. Clearly, girls have what it takes to forge a path for themselves, and all they need is a little push. Through education and awareness, more young girls will be encouraged to pursue what they actually want and go against traditional roles.
I urge you to look around at the girls in your life, whether they be sisters, daughters, or friends, and recognize that they have just as much value as any man.
The Story of Ebunoluwa Yussef
I had the wonderful opportunity to interview a very talented businesswoman who also is a perfect example of someone able to be ambitious and also have a family. Here is the link to the full interview if you would like to hear it and I highly recommend you check it out. You can also take a look at her Instagram page to see more photos.
In our interview, she talks about what it took for her to get an education, how she started her fashion business, how a man who promised to help her expand her business only ended up wanting a relationship, and more. It’s a very inspiring story and I hope you have the time to read it.
Highlights from the interview
“We train women on empowerment, we are very passionate about woman empowerment. In my company we have a rule not to turn women away, especially those that kind of fault the training.”Mrs. Yussef spoke about the products she makes and what she wantes to achieve with her company.
“You know, he actually made lots of promises. He promised me he’s going to help me expand my business, he’ll take me places, he’ll take me abroad, everywhere, and, a few months down the line he started asking me for more. Asking to go into a relationship with me. That didn’t sit well with me so, I had to do away with him.”A man who had helped her secure funds for college ended up only wanting a relationship.
“I would advise any young person that wants to make a change in their society to start from where they are. I mean, you don’t have to wait until you’re big you know? That is the mistake that most people make.”Her advice for young people looking to make a change.
“So, I would like more female entrepreneurs to stand up and… it’s not something one person can do, it’s not a job for one person. Collectively, we can make an impact and make a big impact. It starts with me, it starts with you, and together we can change the world.”An inspiring last word to leave you with.