We Are the Change and the Future We Seek
We need women thriving in leadership positions in all sectors—legal, corporate, and government—now more than ever before. Women have tremendous power, driving legal and business strategy as corporate general counsels and executives, but also in daily life, as consumers, voters, and caregivers. We need to recognize and fully leverage our economic and political power in all aspects of our lives to demand progress in the direction of greater inclusion and equality.
We have seen meaningful positive developments in women leading. Yet despite the progress we have made and the power we hold today, there is no doubt that obstacles remain. Women continue to face structural and personal obstacles to obtaining full parity as leaders and humans. We face health disparities and struggle to exercise full autonomy over our reproductive health and choices. We are immeasurably enriched by, but also bear the brunt of, domestic and family responsibilities. The #MeToo movement has brought to the forefront the gendered violence that still threatens our safety and equality. And we as women are not homogenous, nor are the challenges we face. Women of color, women with disabilities, immigrant women, and those who are part of the LGBTQ community face additional barriers. Gender is neither binary nor uniform.
Overt barriers may be lessening. But implicit, cognitive biases are nefarious too. We all know well-intentioned men, and even some women, who may not consciously hold prejudicial thoughts about women’s potential. Yet those same leaders sometimes fail to mentor and sponsor young women as they do young men, because they are simply more comfortable around others like themselves. Many may still subconsciously make gendered assumptions about family, seeing their male colleagues having children as proof of their greater dedication to and need for their jobs, while perceiving women having children as making their career aspirations more suspect or tenuous. As my family’s primary breadwinner, growing our family made securing and increasing my earning potential more, not less, important than ever before.
Those who value women leaders, and those of us who are leading, need to speak up, stand up, and continue to press for change. Women need allies to help propel us forward. But we also need to be allies for each other, for those women coming up behind us, and for those with less power and privilege in our communities. We are the change and the future we seek.