Inspiring You to Lead~Transform~Perform!


Young Women Leaders: The Future looks Bright!

Last week I had the honor of spending a couple of hours with two amazing young ladies thanks to an introduction by my friend John Kunhart – thanks John!   First let me describe Sara, a student at MIT studying Math and Computer Science.  She is spending the upcoming summer in New Zealand as one of the programmers for the special effects for the Hobbit movie that is being filmed on location – how cool is that?!  And she’s training to run a marathon while there so she’s taking care of her fitness as well.  The next young woman equally as amazing is Erin.  Erin has recently returned from Russia where she was on a Fulbright Scholarship.  She is a grad student and professor at UC Davis and speaks multiple languages as well.  This was not my typical coffee house meeting; this was inspiring on a whole new level.

What led to this meeting was a conversation that John and I were having about the dilemma of very low percentages of women in top level positions – board of director seats and executives – in California.  The recent study released by UC Davis shows a three year decline in these positions in the top 400 companies in California – down from 10.6% in 2008 to 9.5% in 2010.  We talked about why this is and what needs to happen.  We are both in agreement that part of the solution is to ensure that there are women ready for these positions when the jobs become available.  This starts very early in the process with ensuring that girls are prepared at a young age to enter into college and go on to develop their skills at the same rate and opportunity as their male counterparts.  It is also important to ensure they are entering studies that were previously male-dominated.

The good news is that there has been an increasing number of women attending and graduating from college.  According to an article in the National Bureau of Economic Research, “In 2003, there were 1.35 females for every male who graduated from a four-year college and 1.3 females for every male undergraduate. That contrasts with 1960, when there were 1.6 males for every female graduating from a U.S. four-year college and 1.55 males for every female undergraduate.”  The article gives an explanation of possibilities to why the shift has evolved.  Whatever the reasons, the fact is that the pipeline of talent is being primed with both men and women.   The article also cites studies that show there is close to an equal number of men and women in business schools.  This is encouraging and a big step in getting women the opportunities to grow and be prepared for higher level contributions throughout their careers.

Meeting with these two amazing young women, Sara and Erin, was like looking at the future.  They are the example of highly accomplished young people who have no limits to what they can do.  And, they are doing it, not because they are women, but because they smart, hard-working, focused and goal driven in everything they do.  Go for it Sara & Erin – you both rock!

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