By Tress Fereday, Expedition PR
In honor of Mother’s Day and all working women (whether that is inside or outside the home,) we’ve been discussing the state of women, their influence in business, and purchasing power. My viewing habits of late have helped put some of these thoughts in perspective.
Rosie the Riveter vs. Stupid Girls
I watched (two times) the documentary Miss Representation, which outlines how the media’s misrepresentations of females have led to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence. Some of the stats in the film are sobering and a bit scary.
Perhaps Pink in her song “Stupid Girls” illustrates this minimization and sexualization of women with the lyrics “What happened to the dreams of a girl president? She’s dancing in the video next to 50 Cent.”
Then I saw the PBS series MAKERS: Women Who Make America, which tells the story of the social revolution mighty women have fought to gain a full and fair share of political power, economic opportunity, and personal autonomy.
My mood improved by being reminded of the pioneering females who drove and expanded the horizons of women. But, it is interesting to note that much of the work and legislation against atrocities such as domestic violence and sexual harassment in the workplace didn’t come into place until the 1970’s and 80’s … not that long ago!
So, my question is ‘should we be optimistic or pessimistic about the current role of women?’
The Oracle of Omaha Strikes Back
Then, the “Oracle of Omaha,” Mr. Warren Buffett came out with his speech and essay on how women are the key to the nation’s prosperity
As a new member of the Twitter universe, one of his first tweets directed followers to his essay in Fortune Magazine, where he outlines how today’s empowered and confident women (unlike in his generation) are the key to the future of American business.
And, Mr. Buffett, I couldn’t agree more. Plus, there are stats to support this over and over again.
Women Speak Up/Tweet Up
According to Time, women are using their rapidly increasing spending power to impel changes in the way companies operate. Also, when it comes to earnings, in 47 of the 50 largest metro areas, single, childless women in their 20’s make more than their male peers.
For example, Hawaiian Tropic finally dropped their ridiculous bikini contests (born in the go-go 80’s) realizing their buyer is female. Thank goodness!
According to Marketing Zeus, 85% of purchases and purchasing influence reside with women yet 91% feel that advertisers do not understand them.
It’s time to speak up (and tweet up!) The team who produced Miss Representation are encouraging people worldwide to use the hashtag #NotBuyingIt to call-out sexism in media and products. They have a list of “All Time Worst Offenders” that include some well-known brands.
They recently were a part of the campaign to get Disney to remove sexist Avenger t-shirts from their stores. The boy version said “Be A Hero” and the girl version proclaimed “I Need A Hero.” Yikes!
Women Powering Business
Just check out Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and you’ll see that many of the major global brands have women at the helm.
The top three are Ginni Rometty as President and CEO of IBM, Indra Nooyi is Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, and Meg Whitman as Chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard. Also, you’ll find Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer on the list.
So, whether you aspire to be the CEO of a multinational company or the CEO of your household (or a combination of both), there are inspiring, hardworking women who have blazed the trail.
While we don’t have our “girl president” yet, I am optimistic it will happen in my lifetime.
And, back to our friend Buffett who described how women from his generation were “brainwashed” into thinking men were better in business where today his daughter would laugh and never believe such a silly notion. He also reminded the students during his speech to not define success strictly in monetary terms.
“When you get to be my age … if the people you want to have love you, love you then you are a success.”
A statement to make a Mother proud.