"On those days when I feel less powerful, I remind myself that there are 2,662,570 women and girls in Minnesota. Surely, if we work together, we can make some changes." -Bonnie Peace Watkins, read her essay
by Kathy Magnuson and Norma Smith Olson
That's a term that carries a lot of baggage and wide-ranging assumptions.
The concept is both exciting and fearful to many women and to our culture. As we've seen in recent political campaigns, we want women to be strong, but not bitchy. We want them to be decisive, but not too cold. How much power is enough? And how much is our culture comfortable with?
"Women can be powerful. Women can be likable. Being both is hard to do," said Fortune editor Patricia Sellers in an online post earlier this year. Those two qualities usually go together for men, but not so for women.
As little girls, we are told that we can be anything and do anything. But along the way we are also told that we should not brag about our accomplishments, and certainly not act like we are ambitious or interested in power.
What's a woman to do?
Go after traditional power. A recent study reported by Catalyst found that Fortune 500 companies with more women on the boards outperformed those with the least women's representation by 42 percent on return on sales, 53 percent on return on equity and 66 percent on return on invested capital.
More women as CEOs and serving on boards is not just the right thing to do, it positively impacts bottom lines and creates a more collaborative environment for problem solving.
As women we need to support each other and
celebrate our successes in business, the arts, in government and the home. When one woman wins, it lifts all of us up. We must encourage each other in big dreams, not hold back or make ourselves and each other small. It's not a competition. When one does better, we all do better.
We must redefine what power looks like. We need to get out of our cultural boxes and recognize the power in raising children, in hospitality and building community. Talk about powerful!
And, we need to pick up our power. The culture can work against women-and sometimes we can work against ourselves collectively and individually. Sometimes our greatest obstacle is inside of ourselves-the little voice telling us we are not worthy, not experienced enough, not smart enough-you fill in the blank.
In the back section of this September issue you'll find powerful ways to support women. Check out the annual Women's Directory and pick up the power in your purse. When you need auto repair, an attorney, massage therapist, computer repairs, a vet or are looking for a new bank-look here. Spend your dollars with women-owned and women-friendly businesses. And tell them you appreciate their advertising in the Women's Press-bringing you this magazine each month and this Directory each year. You are already spending those dollars. Spend them in a way that will make a difference, a statement of your values.
Have you picked up your power lately?
In October the theme is comfort zone. When have you stepped out of your
Tell us about it.
Send a paragraph or two to firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline: September 10, 2011
October Advertising Guides: Grrrls Go Green Guide Health Guide Home Guide Women and Pets Guide
November is all about showing up. When was a time that the way
you showed up mattered?
Tell us about it.
Send a paragraph or two to email@example.com.
Deadline: October 10, 2011
November advertising guides: Education Guide Girlfriends' Guide to Giving Back
Advertising deadline: October 10, 2011
Thank you MWP readers for responding to our readers' survey! Manga Laugerman of White Bear Lake is the winner of a $100 gift certificate to Chocolat Céleste.
We'll be reporting to you on the survey results in a future issue.