I've read lots of articles analyzing whether the Year of the Woman is alive or dead. Neither is true. There has to be a strong Year of the Woman in order to kill it, which I've yet to see. In truth, the Decade of the Woman is just starting. As a woman, you should prepare now for the power you will have in the next few years.
Intuit Inc. commissioned a study to forecast the trends expected to change the way women live and work over the next decade. In addition to the powerful worldwide consumer force that women represent today, factors such as urban migration, increased access to education, mobile technologies, micro-credit and low-market entry costs will create a global "she-conomy" where over one billion women will enter the workforce or start businesses by 2020. The study suggests:
- In the next 10 years, Gen Y women across race and ethnic lines will dominate the professional workforce, expanding their roles in upper management in professional services firms and in professions such as law and medicine.
- Women, especially those in emerging markets, will be the dominant force in the global market -- taking on increased leadership responsibilities across business and education.
- On a global scale, 970 million women who have not previously participated in the mainstream economy will gain employment or start their own businesses.
We are a force to be reckoned with. Some unconscious men and non-progressive women may try to hold us back, but we have the numbers to make a difference. If we stand together, we can also have the voice.
As we enter 2011, we should start calling the shots. We should stop trying to fit inside a man's world. Gloria Steinem recently said, "Don't think about making women fit the world. Think about making the world fit women." If we live by choice --choosing to wear stilettos or flats as we please, choosing to adapt to earn respect before we make changes or to opt out and do our own thing, or choosing to work and raise a family or do them one at a time -- then as the primary consumers, the world has to meet our needs. Steinem challenged women to "pursue the life choices they would most enjoy, regardless of societal expectations."
We don't have to compete with men or participate with them on their terms. We can create and live by our own expression of business, leadership, community and family. This doesn't mean we exclude men. We move forward when:
- We model inclusion and collaboration which is our way.
- We don't back down when we aren't acknowledged.
- We create businesses and communities based on our own rules.
Our capacity to love, to allow, to express emotion and to create beautiful spaces to live and work in should attract people, regardless of gender or age.
Do you think this is a fantasy? I believe there are many men who prefer mutual respect over domination. I travel the world for my work; I see these men growing in numbers around the world.
I'm not suggesting that women control men. I'm saying it's time we stand strongly as their equals living on our own terms. With the support of conscious men, this can be a reality.
Men created the companies, the leadership models and the systems that are breaking down in today's world. Here in the United States, the rate of change is so pitiful that I am afraid for my country. I think our best shot is to quit trying to fix the old way and look to create an exciting, collaboration-based, innovation-run new way. Since it will only be a few years before women will outnumber men in the workplace, in degrees held and in privately held companies in the United States, shouldn't the executive staff of our major corporations strive to mirror the workplace and consumer base? Corporate leaders should start by asking women to help draw up the plans for the future of management. It's time let go and move on.
And if the leaders don't ask for our help, let's do it ourselves.
We also have to focus more on politics. Female representation is sorely lacking. Again, shouldn't our leadership mirror its base? Even if they are conscious, I don't count on male leaders to understand my needs and fight on my behalf. If politics is bad, then let's stand together to change it with a fresh spate of strong progressive female candidates.
The numbers are in our favor. I'm imagining a world run cooperatively by conscious men and women. How about you?
Marcia Reynolds, Psy.D., is president of Covisioning, a leadership coaching and training organization working with a variety of people and organizations around the world to increase emotional intelligence and collaboration. Can she help you and your organization move forward?