By Samantha McKenzie
As we enter into the presidential election season, I am glued to the news updates, waiting to hear which candidate said what – the good, the bad and the ugly.
To be honest, I’m not so big on politics, but I take pleasure in voting. Years ago, after working as a summer intern at a weekly newspaper in Washington, D.C., I think my brain got fried on an over-abundance of stump speeches and rhetoric rumbling down the so-called hill.
But here recently, something has caught my attention. After watching both debates, it’s been encouraging to see two women, from both sides of the aisle, taking their seat at the table.
When women allow their voices to be heard, it stills the room. I applaud any woman who throws her hat into the ring and allows her platform, her perspective, her point of view to be heard.
According to writer Steven Hill, at the current rate of political progress, “it will take nearly 500 years for women to reach fair representation in government.” To date, only 20% of congressional seats are held by women, even though we make up a larger portion of this country’s population (50.8% to be exact).
Now feast on these facts:
We earn 60% of undergraduate degrees in the U.S. and 60% of all the master’s degrees. We earn 47% of all law degrees and 48% of all medical degrees. And we are 59% of the college-educated, entry-level workforce.
And then there’s this. We are only 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs. There are no female CEOs in the financial services industry nor the healthcare industry. Although women make up 80% of consumer spending, we are only 3% of creative directors in advertising. For African American and Latino women the gap is even wider.
There are countless non-verbal messages in our society that feed the notion that we are not good enough. There are even more subliminal stories that suggest we aren’t fit to take the helm.
It will probably be months before I will gather enough information to decide who I will vote for. I will read, observe, and read some more. In the meantime, let’s be a part of the solution. Pull up your chair, seek out the big promotion, start your own business, run for office, climb the CEO ladder, and let’s strengthen our numbers.
Grab your own seat at the table and lead on.