As a woman, lacking confidence in my personal and professional life is nothing new. Am I really as strong, beautiful and successful as the woman next to me?
The more I share my struggle with others, the more I realize I’m not alone. Every woman I know has faced these feelings and issues at some point in their lives. Yet, instead of encouraging one another, women are tearing each other down! They’ve sown seeds of doubt with their harsh words and narcissism, leaving many on the brink of giving up and throwing in the towel.
Is this really how women should treat their sisters? Of course not! We should be uplifting those around us and paving the way for the next generation of women. Only by empowering other women will we truly empower ourselves.
Therefore, if we truly want to lift up our fellow females, we must be willing to work together.
Here are just a few ways we can plant seeds of confidence and courage in other women — and why it’s so important to do so.
Share Your Story
Women’s History Month is all about honoring the past and sharing stories of those who came before us. However, Rosa Parks, Marie Curie and Amelia Earnhart aren’t the only ladies you should be talking about. You also have a unique story to tell and this month is the perfect time to share it.
Tell your daughter why you still chose to work after having children. Share your earliest struggles with your grandchildren. How did you overcome gender bias, sexualization, stereotypes and the patriarchy to get to where you are today? Sharing your story with the women in your life will encourage them to fight the good fight and press on, even when society tries to put them in a box.
Give Her a Voice
We can also empower other women by elevating their voices. After all, your story is only one in billions and everyone deserves a chance to share their own. If you have a public platform — hello, social media — point your followers to other strong women and share their stories on your page. This has been a popular approach for elevating black voices during the Black Lives Matter movement and can be just as effective for uplifting and empowering women.
Men can also take initiative and give women a voice in the workplace. Invite female employees to sit in on meetings and allow them the time and space to share their perspective if they wish to do so. Give promotions to those who deserve it and create a diverse leadership team of both men and women. Choosing to elevate women and let them lead will bode well for businesses and activate change both in and out of the workplace.
Call Out Discrimination
More than 60% of employed U.S. adults have experienced or witnessed discrimination in the workplace. Meanwhile, 50% of employees in the UK, U.S., Germany, France believe their employer should be doing more to increase diversity and inclusion. But what are team members doing to address discrimination and innate gender bias in the office?
Unfortunately, many stay silent and assign their boss that responsibility. However, if we never step up and call out sexism, nothing will change. So speak up when you witness or experience discrimination and raise awareness for gender bias in the workplace. The more you openly discuss these topics, the less taboo they’ll become and the more women will feel comfortable sharing their own struggles.
Provide the Tools
Girl power isn’t about tearing men down, it’s about building women up. Nearly 75% of women were interested in science and math when they were younger. However, they only make up 25% of the tech industry. Sadly, this disconnect is deeply rooted in a culture of bias, discrimination and gender roles.
As women, we must encourage our female coworkers, friends and family members to follow their dreams, even if that means breaking gender stereotypes to pursue a predominately male profession. More importantly, we must provide the tools to get there. Share books, classes, videos and other resources with women who’s odds are stacked against them. Dig deep into your network and help them connect with other professionals in their field.
Be a Cheerleader
Twenty-one percent of middle and high school girls report being bullied online compared to less than 7% of boys. Sadly, girl against girl bullying is becoming increasingly common in the U.S., reflecting a slew of troubling societal issues. Not only are women envious of one another, but they actively tear each other down when they don’t enjoy the same success, wealth or beauty as friends, coworkers and celebrities. How can we expect to escape sexist oppression when we are taking on the role of the oppressor?
First, we must understand that every woman’s success is a reflection of the potential in each one of us. Once we realize that their achievements pave the way for us and women everywhere, we can celebrate them instead of competing with them.
Building a Brighter Future
Empowering women is one of the most important things we can do right now. In a world where unequal pay, gender bias and underrepresentation are still taking place every day, women must continue to build each other up. After all, we’re stronger together. We are the carriers of culture, the ones who will teach the next generation who and what a woman should be.
It’s our responsibility to raise them right and invest in the collective success of women everywhere. Because, when we do, we ensure our own success and build a brighter future for ourselves and others.