It’s Independence Day here in the US and I question just how independent women really are in this country and around the world.
As I sat in the excellent new Transformers movie yesterday afternoon, I couldn’t help but notice the massive lack of presence of women who “counted”. There were no women soldiers, or navy seals or even women Transformers. This was men with guns, hot cars, aliens, robots and muscles doing what they do best – fighting and blowing shit up.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy these types of movies as much as the next guy, but as it came to an end I was grossly aware of the lack of female role models in this movie, aside from the Head of Defense and of course the gorgeous female lead, actor and model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
She talked sense into Megatron which dramatically changed the outcome of the movie, all while running through the city of Chicago (which was in ruins) in 6 inch black heels and a killer, figure-hugging dress.
Brilliant! That paints a fantastic picture for young girls growing up. Look gorgeous at all times, get given a free $200,000 car by your playboy boss and have a heart-to-heart with an evil deception.
According to one review “Carly does it without a gun, and while wearing high heels. I think that counts as female empowerment in Michael Bay’s world.”
I disagree entirely.
But this post isn’t about bashing male flicks, it’s about becoming women who count. In order to do that we need to change our own equations.
A few months ago I devoured Susan Butler’s book Women Count: A Guide to Changing the World.
Susan’s states that in order to become “women who count” we must think of ourselves, think of others, and think big. As the first woman partner at Accenture she has passionately championed the cause of equality of women in education in the workforce and in society.
She knows that we need to move beyond positions of support (and supporting roles) and into positions of leadership. And it means creating a new vision of how you see yourself – and other women – in the world.
Her book shows us how the world can become a better place with more involvement from women and that we need our unique strengths and attributes more than ever.
“In order to be successful in business you have to pave your own path, make your own plan and find mentors and teammates to help you along the way to your goals. You have to learn to ask for what you want. You have to make things happen for you – rather than let things happen to you”.
She points out that history gives plenty of great examples of powerful women role models who have changed the world, whose lives have counted. I loved reading their heroic ground breaking stories of what they endured in order to push boundaries and break the mould for all women before them.
I’m ashamed to say I did not know several of these women who had done such incredible things in their lifetime, in part due to being overshadowed in the history books and classroom tales by stories of men.
Women like Deborah Sampson, who was the first American woman to ever join the army and fought bravely for her country. She was severely wounded and then shunned by the Declaration of Independence when the US Army found out she wasn’t a he.
Dragon Lady or the Dowager Empress., Tz’u, one of the most powerful women in the world, a concubine to the emperor who brought China into the modern age.
Susan Anthony, born to be a crusader and a defender for slaves rights.
Elizabeth Blackwell, ostracized from the beginning by making it into medical school through non-traditional routes, who went on to become America’s first female doctor and later went on to open a Women’s Medical College.
My personal favourite is the unstoppable Amelia Earhart, who broke so many barriers and was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.
The key message behind all these amazing ladies is this: “To make our own history, to change the world, we cannot sit still and float through life in the wake of the women who came before us.”
“We must all be pioneers, inventors, risk-takers, and revolutionaries.”
While Susan goes on to point out the statistics on why women are still not counting in so many ways she does an excellent job of also pointing out the ways in which we are and shares plenty of examples of leading men who credit the women in their life – mothers and wives, for their success.
Susan also knows the delicate balance of being both a woman with a career and a family and acknowledges this clearly:
“The new world. I believe, is a world where the skills and experiences and strengths that women have – skills like dialogue and compassion; experiences like work and family integration and inclusion; strengths like spirituality and creativity – are more important than ever before.”
I was fortunate enough to have a great phone conversation with Susan who was generous with her time, knowledge and passion. I would love for you to take time to listen to my interview with Susan Butler.
You can simply buy the book – Women Count: A Guide to Changing the World – every woman should read this, and every man for that matter too.
[For more books I recommend check out: Must Read Books. – Natalie]