4 Things I’ve Learned from 2013’s Debate of Women
Perhaps one of the most intensely discussed issues of the last year has been women and their role in the workplace. Between the several books and articles written on the subject, and the numerous celebrities and other prominent people in business and politics who have spoken out for and against feminism, 2013 was clearly a year with an overwhelming wealth of debates on women’s issues.
Here are four things I’ve learned from the debate:
- Women actually know what they’re talking about. Exhibit A: The different views between Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and Anne-Marie Slaughter, former Director of Policy Planning in the White House. Sandberg gained praise while also raising eyebrows when her book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, addressing the many issues with women and work. She urged women to “lean in” and shoot for the highest positions in their companies. Slaughter, on the other, who held a coveted position in the Obama administration, resigned from her job in politics and returned to her position as a college professor in order to spend more time with her children, subsequently publishing an article in The Atlantic, entitled, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All.” Both women made valid points for their arguments and life choices. Later, we heard views from Debora Spar, president of Barnard College, in her book, Wonder Women: Sex, Power and the Quest for Perfection, and also from Becky Blalock in her book, Dare: Straight Talk on Confidence, Courage and Career for Women, not to mention the many columns written about the authors and their books. Clearly, this was one subject we couldn’t shut up about.
- Sometimes you just have to do your job and not worry about what others think. In 2012, Marissa Mayer, then a vice president at Google, made national headlines when she was tapped to become the new CEO of Yahoo, while 6 months pregnant. She gave birth in September and returned to work just two weeks later. The public’s response to this seemingly bold move extended well into 2013, and much of it was criticism for her decisions in motherhood and career. Instead of responding to the criticism or taking to social media to express her frustration, Mayer just continues to live her life and do what she was hired to do, thus setting an excellent example for colleagues and women alike.
- Women’s voices are being heard—even in the smaller, lesser known cities. Cake & Whiskey, a magazine geared toward women in business, was founded in Lexington, Kentucky by Megan Smith. Now, as editor and publisher of the glossy-paged publication, Smith is telling stories of women in business of all areas, genres and generations through amazing stories and wondrous photography, traveling not only locally and in the states, but globally. The magazine also hosts several speaking and networking events throughout the year. It indeed lives up to its manifesto, which explains, “Whether a recent college graduate looking for her first job, a corporate executive climbing the ladder or an entrepreneur looking to start or expand a small business, Cake & Whiskey believes that all women have a valuable story to share and seeks to share these stories with you, our readers.”
- As long as we keep talking about it, we will keep progressing. Women’s issues are continuing to be discussed and features in the media and progress is in motion. 2013 saw the appointment of many women to C-suite roles and boards. If we keep talking about it, who knows where we will be at the end of 2014?