Aside from doing well in my current career, I think that one of the most important things I can do as a female in a leadership position is to lead by example. I make a point of working with girls in Girl Scouts, and next year I’ll help lead my youngest son’s Cub Scout Den. I try to mentor and lead young women in my workplace, and be a supportive role model. I want the next generation to understand that they have choices, and that they are privileged to make those choices.
I’ve heard it said before- you can’t be what you can’t see. If our sons and daughters never see women in leadership positions, then how will they ever visualize women in those positions? How much harder will it be for our daughters to have great opportunities, if they don’t see any women in those types of positions? To make matters worse, women are vastly outnumbered in STEM fields, and their numbers have been steadily dropping since peaking in the mid-1990’s. Fewer and fewer girls are choosing to enter into engineering, computer science, and other related fields. The numbers are similarly dismal in other technical fields. How will we have enough qualified people to fill those jobs in this country, if we don’t encourage the next generation to follow in our steps?
I’ll acknowledge that there is a tremendous amount of off-shoring going on. Frankly, there are only so many people in the world who do this type of work, anywhere, regardless of country, and as we develop new technologies, the need for more, qualified individuals will continue to grow. So, why not lead by example? Why not show our girls and boys that it is possible, and even desirable to have women in those careers?
I am choosing to take the opportunity to show the girls I work with, that it is possible to have a family, be a Girl Scout Leader, and a career. It is possible, but if you didn’t see me do it, would you really believe it to be so?
What do you do to lead by example?