Yesterday, my latest post was published for Entrepreneur: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/318913
Last night, I received a note from a US college student after she read this article: “I am in a Women and Region class at my university and wondered if I could ask you a few questions about your article, as I am presenting some thought and discussion on it for an assignment about current thought/news/events in the sphere of women and religion.”
First – thank you! Glad that my work is being read and having an impact, particularly on younger females. Second – here is what she asked me and my replies…
1. In what ways has your upbringing/experience shaped the way you think about the topics in your article?
I didn’t grow up particularly wealthy or well-off, but it was always encouraged — and ingrained in me — to get a college education. I was told I could go to Harvard and be a doctor. My parents never set any limits on me for my future and so I didn’t set them for myself either. As a child, I started various businesses and found that I really enjoyed that world. Seeing so many people struggle, not only financially, but also with their overall life choices, I knew that I wanted to go a different path. I’ve never let being a woman discourage me, and haven’t found it to be a hindrance in my career. It’s a fine balance of being ambitious and confident while being kind and humble.
2. Do you believe it is easier for you to rejoice in the progress of women now that you are a successful business woman or have you always felt it was the same even as you faced the challenges and obstacles of the industry?
I think in my younger years in the workplace, I was a bit more competitive. It was something of the mindset that there was only so much to go around – not everyone can get ahead and succeed. Sometimes I think that came across poorly. As I’ve gotten older, and more experienced in the business world, I’ve come to realize that someone else’s success doesn’t take away from my success. In fact, it makes me feel really good when I can help others or inspire them. If we all just help each other, our lives will be that much easier. As a woman, and having many female friends who struggle with promoting themselves, asking for raises, interviewing for new jobs, etc — I find it a privilege to encourage them and others.
3. What are the downsides to overlooking the gap and celebrating progress without striving to close the gap further?
I don’t think it’s a matter of overlooking the gap. I know the gap is still there. I’ve seen the many articles about the discrepancy in pay. I know that some countries in the middle east have it much worse and there’s significant violence towards women. We still need to progress and be better. But, often we can focus just on the negatives — the needs. Particularly in society these days, there’s a lot of negativity, and I think we could use more focus on the good and how far we’ve come.