“You cannot easily fit women into a structure that is already coded as male; you have to change the structure." ~ Mary Beard
I believe there are two ways we can look at putting more women in positions of power. One is to change the power structure (as Beard suggests) and the other is to empower women.
Mary Beard, author of Women & Power writes, "above all it means thinking about power as an attribute or even a verb ('to power'), not as a possession... [it is] the ability to be effective, to make a difference in the world, and the right to be taken seriously, together as much as individually."
The way I see it, to stand up for your right to be taken seriously you have three choices -- empower yourself, empower other women, too and/or work on the power structures in your life.
In order for you to have the strength, permission, knowledge and resources to claim your right to be taken seriously (in all areas of your life), you have to do the work:
- Educate yourself.
- Work on your limiting beliefs.
- Confront your fears.
- Advocate for yourself.
- Speak your truth.
- Use your voice.
- Be willing to make mistakes along the way (and forgive yourself for them).
- Get back on the horse when you fall off.
Empower Other Women
If empowering yourself isn't enough for you (and I hope it isn't), bring other women along with you:
- Promote and give raises to the women in your company.
- Advocate for the rights of other women in your social circles, workplaces and politics.
- Stand up for another woman when you see injustice.
- Share your ideas with other women.
- Organize a group of your friends or start something like a Superwoman Society in your community.
- Encourage your female friends and colleagues to speak their truth, stand up for the themselves and advocate for their rights.
- Speak positively to and about other women.
- Mentor a woman in your community and be generous with your resources to help them.
Change the System
Changing the culture in your workplace, shifting the economy through your purchasing power, overhauling compensation packages to be more family friendly, reforming sexual harassment protection rules and regulations, and transforming the dynamics between men and women at work require you to:
- Take on leadership positions in your company.
- Advocate for changes in the systems in which you operate (whether that's your family dynamic, organization or state) .
- Organize on a local, national and/or global scale to fight injustice as the women in Hollywood have done at Times Up.
- Vote, vote, vote for women and individuals who support women's rights.
- Buy products and services designed for women by women to support the female-driven economy.
- Donate money to causes that support the advancement of women.
- Show up as a fully empowered woman (refer back to that section) and change the system one woman at a time.
Phew. As you can see, there's a lot of work to be done.
How are you going to show up in 2018 so that you feel more powerful, bring other women along with you and/or change the way power structures are designed in your immediate surroundings?