In this great article from Ellevate, Alison Williams looks at Female Role Models: Changing The World By Telling Their Stories.
It’s important now more than ever for women to support each other. Utilizing the power of community is truly the catalyst that will evoke change and equality, helping women flourish in our careers and personal development. It is through these bonds that we learn to appreciate and become inspired by the stories shared of the women we call #FemaleRoleModel.
What constitutes a female role model, and why are they important?
There are many qualities used to determine Female Role Model and everyone’s definition looks different. At Ellevate, there are many qualities that we value and strive to emulate. The women we admire are a diverse group who share some of our core values and work to create unity and equality. Our female role models take “women supporting women” very seriously. Lifting women up and encouraging each other to reach their fullest potential is the only way we can make change. Reaching out to women can make a huge difference, and the women we admire are constantly lifting others up.
A female role model does not have to be a celebrity. She is ANY woman you look up to. She is a woman who makes a difference, whether it is in the little things she does in her everyday life or the grand gestures made in the public eye. Being a female role model requires a confidence not rooted solely in career or status, but in seeing the value in herself. This quality is exactly why female role models are so important, and at Ellevate we’re committed to celebrating it.
Since we are still working to close the gender gap, it’s important for younger generations and those who aspire to great things to see the women they look up to in prominent roles. Having positive images of powerful, intelligent women making change in the world sends the message that your opportunities are limitless, regardless of your gender. This attention to female role models will bring about some great leaders (and positive change) for years to come. It’s about time we give women the credit they deserve.
Last year, we looked at some of our female role models and how they make a huge difference for women everywhere. This year we’re taking another look at some more fierce women who inspire us every day, are rewriting history, and are paving the way for the next generation.
Women & the Community
Creating a space for women’s voices to be heard is key since historically they have been overlooked and silenced (see Rosalind Franklin, The US Presidents, Shirley Chisholm, Amelia Earhart, any history book). Women oftentimes have to work much harder than their male counterparts just to be heard. Because of this, being a community leader takes incredible determination and resilience.
Elizabeth Warren, the first female senator of Massachusetts, has been making waves in the media. Her strong beliefs in affordable and accessible education as well as gender equality have led her to be the voice of the future. Senator Warren is a big proponent of bringing young people into the political conversation and fighting for legislation that often gets overlooked. Her dedication to the community and determination to make change gives us serious confidence that women’s voices will be heard.
Gretchen Carlson, former Miss America and TV commentator, chooses to speak out when society suggests we stay silent. As a woman in television, she’s faced her fair share of criticism and sexism. When Gretchen spoke out against sexual harassment in the workplace, she made it easier for other women to do the same. It is women like her, who are brave when others try to silence her, that help others feel their voices deserve to be heard.
Part of being a female role model is being true to yourself. Being able to stay true to your values and what you believe in can inspire others around you. The female role models we applaud also use their platform to highlight others whose voices are often overlooked.
When we look at female role models, we’ve been looking at women who are well established in their careers, but actress Yara Shahidi is using her burgeoning career to speak up on women’s rights. With her strong social media presence, Shahidi has been making headlines as she uses her platform to represent those young women who feel underrepresented. She speaks up about representation of women of color on TV and how important it is for girls to see themselves on the screen in a positive light.
Shahidi speaks candidly about her experiences as a mixed race actress in the industry. In a conversation with Teen Vogue, she discusses her hopes for the future roles for women of color. “I want to see somebody who looks like me as the doctor and the criminal and the successful businessperson and the woman barely making a living. I want to see the spectrum.”
Including diversity in the conversation is important in helping all women feel represented. Many times discussions of feminism can exclude some groups, but many women are working to bridge that gap.
Tina Tchen, Former Executive Director of The White House Council on Women and Girls, is a woman who fights for gender equality every day and strives to make the government reflect the population. In an interview with Makers, Tchen said, “Our public officials should reflect the diversity in our country and when women are half of our population, to have them not even close to half of our public officials is a problem.” Her work and drive to bring diversity into the government has led her to be the Executive Director of the Council of on Women and Girls. She also recognizes that there is work to be done for the transgender community and wants to ensure safety for ALL women.
Seeing such a diverse group of powerful and revolutionary women is truly inspiring. It is easy for girls to look at the media and become discouraged when they do not see themselves represented. However, our female role models continue to show us that women are making tremendous strides in our society and are the catalysts for change. Celebrating these women is one of the ways we can appreciate female role models, but supporting women in our everyday lives is how we can take action. We cannot succeed alone, but with a support system and mentors to help, success is inevitable. At Ellevate, we believe developing this support is key in accomplishing our goals, gaining success and connecting with incredible female role models.
Who is your #FemaleRoleModel? How has her work impacted you and those around you?
Let us know your thoughts on the importance of female role models in your network.