Women, What's Your Why?

Today is International Women's Day, and 2017's theme is #BeBoldForChange. What does it take to be a world-changing woman? 

Whenever I coach leaders, male or female, one of the first things we do is examine is their purpose--their big WHY.  When they face obstacles, which they always do...when their motivation flags or they question whether to persist, it is clarity and commitment to their purpose that gives them the fuel to continue.   

For women, clarity of purpose and community with one another are especially important because the headwinds can be fierce. 

One of the industries that I do a lot of work in is technology. As I was reviewing the latest statistics about women in technology, I was disheartened, but not surprised, to learn the following, courtesy of Catalyst: 

  • Over half of women in technology-intensive industries leave for other industries (compared with less than a third of men)
  • In the US, only 11% of employed engineers are women
  • Women leave the work environment due to isolation, hostile male-dominated work environments, lack of helpful feedback, and a lack of effective sponsors

As I think about what it means to #BeBoldForChange, I think it's important to take a stand for something as seemingly "squishy sounding" as purpose. 

In other words, WHY are you doing what you are? WHY does your work matter? What's the impact you want to have in the world? 

Your answers to these questions don't have to be grandiose, but they very well might be. They do have to be motivating and inspiring to you. 

As Dr. Seuss wrote in The Lorax:

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." 

That's true professionally, it's true personally, it's true politically. 

It can be lonely being one of only a few women in a room full of male leaders. We need to support one another and talk about the difference we intend to make in the world. And then, we need to go do it!

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