In 2005 I introduced our new female Governor, Christine Gregoire to a group of over 100 Washington State business women gathered at the state capitol in Olympia. I was representing Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) a non- partisan group national organization advocating for policies and initiatives that help women in business. I remember stating that I was so proud that Washington State was the first in the nation to have a female governor and two US Senators in Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. Barriers were falling for women and the dismal 14% representation in US congress at the time was changing for the better. We had made so much progress, everyone in the room was excited to see what the next ten years would hold for women in business.
Now we know. Boy, was I wrong. The country has just elected the most unqualified, misogynistic old white guy in the history of our country as our next president. One who openly brags about grabbing women’s genitals “because he can.” Apparently, he was right because although he did not win the majority of votes in the election by a long shot, almost 3 million fewer votes than his female counterpart, he won enough to win the outdated electoral college which means he’s our new Groper-in- Chief. If the current cabinet appointments hold, women will represent less than 5% of the highest offices in our country. Although the overall numbers of women in power have increased slightly to about 20%, in most areas of women’s leadership, we have gone backward. As women, we are 52% of the total population. It is time for us to be represented at all levels of government, business, boardrooms and non- profits. Yes, we are also mothers and raise the nation’s children and we can and will take those leadership skills to all facets of the public and private business sectors.
Women who lead get things done. Women who lead, make a difference. Women who lead are change makers, deal-makers and do good by doing right by ALL.
The day after the election I asked a group of working women in their 30s if they thought Hillary lost because of sexism and they universally said NO. That was a shock to me, having been in the business sector as a woman for 30 years, I still experience sexism today. What it said to me was that much like my naiveté 10 years ago, that we had made so much progress, they too are mistaken and complacent about what is really going on in the working world for women. We must never let our guard down. We must always fight for equality in ALL leadership positions, including the Presidency and we can’t stop until we have equal representation in all seats of power. In 2016 we are still fighting for equal pay for equal work and because we don’t have enough seats at the decision table, we keep losing.
I will march to show that I am not giving up. I believe that women leaders are every bit as qualified as men and that we can have equality at every leadership table in the nation. We will be a better nation for it.