An event I attended this fall was a life-changing moment for me. It was an amazing evening discussion in someone’s home with one of my Mom’s best friends from Dartmouth, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. During the conversation, I learned about the dramatically fewer numbers of women in positions of importance in both government and business. It was meaningful to me because I realized how far women’s rights still have to come and was shocked by how many fewer women than men there are in leadership roles in this country.
As Senator Kirsten Gillibrand states, “The most important thing for women to do is get off the sidelines and understand their voice matters.” I’ve had the wonderful experience of growing up surrounded by powerful women, and I know that if I work hard I can be whomever I choose to be. As I think about the issue, it’s not a woman versus man conversation (or that anyone is better than anyone else), it is the idea that government and business would be stronger if there were equally represented voices and opinions that women and men bring differently to the table. After spending time with Kirsten, I was so inspired by her perseverance in making America a better place.
Also this fall, I went to one of Hillary Clinton’s smaller events with my mother who worked in the Clinton/Gore administration. Hillary is one of Kirsten’s biggest role models, and they believe in the same things, like equal pay for an equal day’s work. I had no idea that was not already the case! America still has a long way to go, especially in the matter of equal opportunity and it certainly seems amazing that there has never been a woman U.S. President.
Women are 50.8% of the U.S. population and hold almost 52% of all professional level jobs. Yet, women are only 14.6% of Executive Officers, only 8.1% of top earners, they hold only 25% of University Presidencies and only 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs (source: Center For American Progress.) America will not have an equal say until an equal amount of women and men are leaders. The Senate is only 20% women and Kirsten is 1 of the 20. Meeting with Kirsten has helped spark my brain towards this issue, and I will try to contribute in every way toward positive change. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, my mother, and many of my Mom’s amazing friends are an inspiration and great example of leadership.
I am already committed to being part of the work that needs to be done. I’ve accepted Senator Gillibrand’s invitation to be part of her “Off The Sidelines” group of younger woman, who will work with her and others to let women know their voice matters. I have committed myself to spending more time and gathering friends to the service of others. I aspire to be one of the people standing up for others, creating equal rights for everyone, and doing something that makes a difference.