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What Is the Impact of Young Women on Economic Growth?

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Women seem to be trending. Or perhaps more appropriately put: the study, analysis and case for the inclusion of female perspective and participation on a deeper and wider scale is trending. From the expanse of gender-related programs within the World Economic Forum to various initiatives from organizations with perhaps a bit less prominent brand recognition, we seem to be witnessing a collective awakening, both domestically and on some levels, internationally, to the fact that it's time for women to advance to the next level of the game. Whether we're realizing that economic restoration, let alone new and sustained growth can only truly take place in a society which consistently embraces strong, new participation from all its human resources or perhaps due to the fact that female Millennials are out-performing males academically, we are all about to witness some titanic changes in both business methodologies and cultural creativity as the shift toward women unfolds.

This is not just a future phenomenon, but one which is offering very interesting areas for observation right now. Areas that, if one is paying attention, can position for huge benefit both today and beyond. For, as I borrow a bit from physics principles, all the economic atoms do not align simultaneously behind each other nor rapidly, when something new first is created; thus it is in this space where the business opportunity resides, the space in which the old coexists with the sometimes yet unformed, not-yet-dominant new.

For example, observe how at the same moment we have the cry for something greater for women, many of the "reality" shows forcefully shaping our popular culture still tend to rely on the throwback behavior of defining women in terms of their husbands/husbands-to-be or now even as glorified assistants to their male mogul bosses or even the suggestively clad reality stars whose main, sole focus seems to be that of self-promotion, fashion and dating. While, of course, we need these images in order to possess a full representation of the scope of the modern female experience, one also might begin to ask what are those who are poised to take part in the great "reception" of women, particularly on a business level, to do as they look for cool, power images for inspiration? Who are to be the role models for these women; and why does it even matter when, say, a female observer in a scene during an episode of "Running Russell Simmons" says she wants to be just like him when there are few female business "him"s celebrated with whom she can even appropriately identify with in popular culture? What does that do to the psyche and how does that psyche impact current and future economic growth, particularly from the sheer numbers represented in Gen Y?

As the recent Barnard College -sponsored opening of the "Greek Heroes" exhibit New York City's Onassis Cultural Center took place, it seems an appropriate time to ponder such questions, particularly since the exhibit examines the importance which mankind has traditionally placed on heroes as role models. Surely across what was considered that era's media: Athena, honored as a goddess based on her warrior skills and depth of wisdom; was celebrated. A cool role model for young female Greeks of the time. But is it quite possible that there is a need for the unearthing of more such Athenian types today -- young and hip in business to assist with our age's latest female movement? And could there be a huge opportunity in getting in on the ground floor of filling such a need, if in it fact exists?

As the December issue of Elle lightly examines if Washington, D.C. female power is diminished by a sense of fashion(!?!), as writer/director Nora Ephron recalls not-so-long ago adventures of serving male-only Newsweek writers; and as I interact with no fewer than 5 senior digital executives at 20th Century Fox -- all male -- who each have a female assistant more accommodating than the next, could we make the case that this new generation of consumers and future leaders are looking for more varied pop culture-business images?


Watch how savvy businesses will begin to offer different types of pictures and topics for females via digital platforms as well as other media avenues. The action will help not only their own companies but the larger economy overall. These offerings will also feature more females of color since that demographic is one of the fastest-growing, the new rising class who will contribute to economic rebirth. They already Tweet more from mobile phones and out-index in social media usage, make most of buying decisions and many absolutely intend to be at the table as CEO's or moguls making major decisions. Organizations that discover a symbiotic way to address this particular set of women's needs have the possibility to become a major player in shaping both female and male perspective of the new, Millennial woman and all the revenue benefit which that brings. Those who elect to sit back will simply end up being caught off guard, unable to truly interact with her; and thus will lose probably loose market share let alone witness a disturbed internal corporate environment. How we choose to participate in this phenomenon will, no doubt, have quite a large impact on our economic future.