As I sat in front of these world class female CEOs in Zurich discussing the importance of gender balance in the workforce, it became clear that more powerful women were needed for Mindthis to truly become significant. Upon returning to Canada I started to ask how could Mindthis improve itself? Everyone pointed to the lack of women representation in both columnists and topics.
I needed to make some bold moves to improve the image of Mindthis among both nonreaders and readers alike.
In the following two months, the world saw a 35% increase in female columnists and Erica joined senior management as our Director of International Affairs. We expanded our fashion coverage to include women in the context of feminism. We continued our journey to become the leading source for young professional women with Erica’s Don’t write like a woman. Furthermore, I am putting the finishing touches on my Board of Advisors comprised of international women from various walks of life sharing their input on the future of our online magazine.
Today, I would like to introduce our new columnist Chiara who will solely focus on female leadership. Chiara is the voice of Italian youth and European Youth in various institutions: she was a candidate for the Young European of the Year in 2009 and has been chosen to represent Italy in the high level program Global Changemakers by the British Council. She also has been working in social entrepreneurial projects worldwide and has organized over 15 conferences like Model European Union and the Fifth Ministerial Conference for the WHO.
After reaching many achievements at such a young age, Chiara has been the pioneer of youth representatives in high level summits like the World Innovation Summit for Education, chosen by HH Sheika Mozah and the Qatar Foundation to represent students worldwide. She is the youngest panelist in the history of the Women’s Forum on Economy and Society, ranked among the top five influential forums worldwide by the Financial Times. Along with her commitments within conferences, Chiara is a One Young World Ambassador sponsored by Barclays and the Social Media Director for the Washington DC-based foundation I Live to Lead. In her first article she will be focusing on leadership issues geared towards women in the workforce.
Months after the inclusions of such women, the success of Mindthis has been spectacular as we now reach over 154 countries in the world. All of this would not have been possible without the women of Mindthis.
Easy reads. Hard topics. Powerful women.
Emotional. Irrational. Acrobats between work and family duties.
Limited working potential related to the actual time they will be on the job market.
Much ado about nothing. Limited experience.
The weak counterpart of the heterogametic sex, called XY.
These are the assumptions the workplace has put effort in building up against women, or better called: real prejudices. Far from reality and closer to a world which seems too often to be a misogynist one, why in the world of nearly 3 billion women, women themselves find difficult to reach a leadership role? Male readers will now possibly refresh the page or check notifications on Facebook. Possibly, women will keep on reading as this is the topic we find most controversial.
I have been an activist for female leadership for some years now and many of the answers to this apparently cliché question were found at the Women’s Forum on Economy and Society, where I have been speaking at as the youngest panelist speaker of the Summit, ranked by Forbes as one of the top five influential Summits in the World.
No, it is not the usual ‘suffragette’ gathering, dear guys. It is more of a place where women’s creativity meets men’s concrete approaches within the forum. Over 2000 women entrepreneurs, activists, businesswoman, professionals and decision-makers from all over the globe met in Deauville to give a possible answer to the above mentioned dilemma which is far from being answered in a definite way.
The answer to the big ‘why’ we picture in our mind seems to have a multifaceted reality itself, equipped with a multitude of reason why women find it hard to hold leadership positions. The world has changed much in the last decade. There are a lot more women leading charge: a smiling Hillary Clinton candidate for the US presidency, a determined Saudi Royal Highness Princess Basma Bint Saud Bin Abdul Aziz in Saudi Arabia, three women Nobel Prize for Peace, an enthusiastic catalyst of change in the field of Education like HH Sheika Mozah in Qatar, and the faceless thousands women who have led the Arab Spring, whom were awarded by the Times as the face of the Year.
Old mindsets are changing. Yet the process takes time, mutual effort, and multicultural synergies. It is possibly clear only now to the world that only the world stage can give a real solution to regional issues.
Women find it hard to reach leadership positions because of three main reasons.
1) Biologically, a woman is destined to give birth, to children and raise them. Not much of a news, really! However, the actual time a female employee is active in the workplace, statistically does not exceed the 25 years. A real danger for the job market, especially in such a fragile time for global economy.
2) Approximately, a woman is not employable in heavy work fields (although exceptions apply). This factor cuts them off from a good 20% of the workforce.
3) Unfairly , women are considered weaker than men when it comes to leadership positions. Big thumbs up for the newly elected female presidents of Brazil Dilma Rousseff and the long lasting president of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Thus, here is a bit of confidence to spread to all the young women out there who need to discover their leadership potential.
1) Women are needed in the workplace. Their ethical approach and long term thinking can only benefit corporations, companies and institutions. And, regardless what you might think of her political actions, Angela Merkel is the icon of self-confidence, woman style.
2) Women are needed in leadership positions to inspire other women to rise up. Even Hillary knows that!
3) Women are needed in the economic stage. Just have a look at the most powerful women CEOs of the world, such as Oprah, Indra Nooyi Chairman, CEO of PepsiCo, Irene Rosenfeld Chairman, CEO of Kraft Foods.
Even the UN seems to head towards UNconventional approaches. Just have a look at the Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. The conclusion to a question which many seem to deem a cliché one is heading towards an endless debate. However, reality seems to be shifting from an illusionary and depressing one to a highly optimistic perspective. Women are rising up.
Or at least, the take off is ready.