Education is the bedrock of societal progress, personal growth, and fulfillment. Women, despite advanced levels of education, still lag behind men in executive leadership positions, board memberships, and monetary compensation. Even today when women enter the workforce they may meet obstacles that keep them from achieving the highest levels in their chosen careers. In some instances, there still exists an institutional bias against women and their abilities. For women, often there is a need to first prove that they deserve to be there before they are heard on their own substance or merits.

It is important for women to avoid unconsciously reinforcing the stigmas that may still exist by accepting them so we don’t “rock the boat” or by being grateful just to be invited into the conference or board room. Success starts with confidence. Women deserve to be in positions of authority because of skill sets, high level of competence, and abilities. Women need to define how they are perceived in the corporate and professional worlds. By relying on competence and intelligence to set standards on how they should be treated, women in turn will be respected more, taken more seriously, and advance further.

Education can help women learn how to be assertive in a professional environment and plays a vital role in resolving gender inequality. Education can help teach women to become more successful by giving them the tools to succeed in corporate America. Such tools include how to self-promote attributes and obtain what is wanted by realizing that women must ask for it and not wait for what is wanted to be bestowed upon us. Also, women must take advantage of connections with other women. These connections are key in providing mentoring and support to help achieve goals. Mentoring through educational programs is also important, especially where women who have achieved a high level of success can share their experiences and insights.

Women must take charge of their own destiny, forge their own paths, and not wait for organizations to change to fit women. In doing so, the organization can further prosper as women move to positions of authority where they can bring values and assets to the forefront. And once we achieve a level of success, we must pay it forward by mentoring other women.