A Passion for Empowerment
The military, engineering, and infrastructure are where my early career was spent. Male-centric environments gave me an education beyond the classroom, and built foundations for work environments that were challenging, horrifying, glorious, brilliant, and difficult in equal measure. I left school and continued my education in the military, where every team I was assigned to was previously 100 percent male. They were not impressed to be handed a “girl” or a burden, and likely thought they would surely lose against their competing all-male teams. And on occasion they did. On other occasions they did not. We won.
My early experiences were preparation for the world of work that stretched ahead of me. Those experiences would also open me to uncharted waters, which—aided by my ability to understand priorities, along with the art of humor, silence, compliance, and challenge, in no particular order—I was equipped to navigate. In reality, for me to be considered equal, I needed to outperform my peers. From time to time, I look back and consider that not much may have changed, but at the same time, so much has changed.
I am encouraged by female leaders who recognize they are laying the groundwork for other women to follow in their footsteps. However, we cannot expect that path to be smooth. We must acknowledge our role as a generation of women who extend a helping hand to others around us, bring them on the journey with us, and wherever we can, push them ahead of us. Women often find themselves competing against history, against other women, and against men in a field that does not look fair, even, or navigable.
My call to action for women is to lead and, when you have your goal within reach, allow others with fresher legs to run ahead and continue the journey. You will still reach your goal. For every woman we enable, empower, and support beyond our own goals, we pave the way for the generations to come. We extend our reach and close the gap. There is so much more to be done, so many female managers, directors, and CEOs to be appointed, and so many women to be applauded, if we shine a light on each other, then they shall be harder to miss.