The Impressive Legacy of the Woman — Join the women-for-women initiative
Alone, we hold power. Together, we change the playing field.
– Carreen Schroeder, CEO, GIM Content Management
Women. From birth right through our lives, they comfort us, teach us, encourage and inspire us. When we are children, they are likely the first people we see when we rise in the morning and the last person we see when we close our eyes at night. They teach us everything there is to know about self-dignity, respect, bravery, and perseverance against all odds.
I happen to be one of these women, and I have a fairly strong suspicion that you are too, or if not, you at least have intimate knowledge of one – if not several – who fits the bill.
I’ve raised and nurtured three young women, and I continue to unequivocally believe in our unity, our collective power, and our innate ability to rise above all obstacles. We do this not as lone wolves but as a community. When one woman rises, we all rise, even if just a little. We believe in each other. We act as role models for one another. When one hurts, we all hurt, and when one falls, we all fall. No matter our age or our walk of life, we are all role models, and this is not something to be taken lightly. This is an honor, but it should also be our collective responsibility.
A Legacy of Strength, Wisdom, and Determination
The road women have traveled has been anything but easy. And yet, there is a legacy of feminine strength, wisdom, and determination that dates back centuries.
Cleopatra, the last ruler of the Macedonian Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, is probably the best-known warrior queen who ruled Egypt for 20 years. She had an impressive intellect, was highly educated for her time, and fought hard to keep Egypt both strong and independent. Catherine the Great overthrew her own husband and became the beloved ruler of Russia, conquering lands and implementing new laws in the name of education and social reform. Elizabeth I of England reigned for an impressive 45-year span, defeating the Spanish Armada from invasion in 1588. Never married, Queen Elizabeth promoted England’s international political presence, strengthened their economy, and fortified the country’s reputation as a place of great intellectual accomplishment.
In Nigeria, Queen Amina was a great military leader who not only united surrounding lands but opened trade routes to the south, enriching her country’s economy. Queen Mbande Nziga of Angola was known for her great resistance against continued Portuguese advancement. She organized a guerrilla army to halt the invasion. In the end, though she thought it wiser to enter a peace treaty, she never once paid tribute to the Portuguese king.
Agustina de Aragon was shocked to see the Spanish army retreating from that Napoleon during the Spanish War of Independence. As history would have it, she single-handedly ran to the battleground, loaded the cannon, and lit the fuse, forcing Napoleon’s men to retreat temporarily. Joan of Arc, a French heroine dressed in warrior clothing, bravely led Charles VII’s army into battle against the English. She cut her hair off, put on a suit of armor, and captained troops against the English during the 100 years of war.
Indira Gandhi, the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, became Prime Minister herself in 1966. Indira ruled India with an iron fist and a tender heart. She commandeered her Indian troops against an alleged Sikh terrorist threat that would end her life. Golda Meir emigrated from Ukraine to Israel in 1921. She was a key player in the labor movement and rose to political positions. Meir became Prime Minister in 1969 and will forever be regarded as a pioneer for Israeli women and for women worldwide.
The Denial of the Feminine Principle
Up to the present day, women continue to lead by example. Women continue to inspire and pave a path forward in politics, business, finance, sports, entertainment, literature, and more. So, how is it then, with such an impressive legacy, that women still face an uneven playing field in just about every aspect of their lives? Perhaps Eckhart Tolle has the answer in his book, “A New Earth”:
The suppression of the feminine principle especially over the past two thousand years has enabled the ego to gain absolute supremacy in the collective human psyche … If the balance between male and female energies had not been destroyed on our planet, the ego’s growth would have been greatly curtailed … “
Tolle makes the compelling argument that a human, regardless of gender, is innately equipped with both the feminine and masculine genius, yet somewhere along the way, these innate qualities became unbalanced. It is this loss of balance, this loss of the feminine “self,” that has led to an uneven playing field in business, leadership roles, government and politics, and virtually every aspect of a woman’s life.
It’s time to bring back the balance
Under-representation in Language Services
Being that I focus a great deal of my time and energy devoted to all-things-language-services, I thought I’d delve a little into this space and examine leadership roles among the top language services providers in three main regions:
- The Americas
- Asian-Pacific Region
North America, Europe, and Asia combined currently comprise just over 97 percent of the global translation industry. That amounts to one heck of a lot of opportunities for those pursuing a profession in this field. But, regardless of experience and education, how many women are represented in top leadership roles within the language services sector? How many men dominate these positions? Is it fairly even?
The language services industry touches practically every field, and language specialists are now required in any number of disciplines. There is a growing need for language services, from IT, technical writing, life sciences, and government services to media localization, video game localization, and healthcare. Not only are more and more LSPs required to meet the language service demands of a growing global market, but many domestic laws and regulations now require companies to ensure language access is provided to the clients they serve. In short, LSPs are needed – everywhere – and that means business is booming, right? With plenty to go around for everyone, male and female alike? But that’s just it. The playing field is still far from even.
When I compared head positions for 67 LSPs in the Americas, 79 percent were occupied by males. In Europe, out of the 66 companies examined, 86 percent of the leading roles were held by men, and in the APAC region, 88 percent of head positions were male-occupied – a somber reality indeed.
Unsurprisingly, however, more women than men are employed in the language services industry. In fact, Common Sense Advisory (CSA Research) conducted a quantitative survey on gender and family that involved just under 2,200 respondents in 71 countries. The survey found that roughly two-thirds of language professionals are women – and no, contrary to popular belief, this isn’t just referring to the number of interpreters, linguists, and translators.
The CSA Research survey found that women hold 52 percent of positions with “localization” in the title and that women “often outperform men in localization.” Since localization can often be the “most engineering-centric portion of the language services industry,” women holding these positions likely specialize in any number of technical skills.
The survey’s findings also revealed that LSPs run by women are “significantly more productive.” In fact, they claim that female-led LSPs bring in nearly 40 percent more revenue per employee. CSA’s research points to two possible reasons, stating that women CEOs:
- Tend to be more experienced in operations than their male counterparts
- Are generally more educated than their male counterparts and have a “greater knowledge of the technical side of the field”
So, why are women so underrepresented in senior positions and leadership roles within the language services industry? Arie Lommel, a Senior Analyst with the CSA research team, likely hits the nail on the head:
… it is socially acceptable for men to take on extra work responsibility to deal with family problems, but women feel pressure to cut back and stay in the home during such times. As a result, women often find themselves excluded from many leadership roles and their percentage decreases as they move into executive and senior management positions, even though they outperform their male peers in these roles.”
Women For Women Might Just Be The Answer
To anyone reading this article, there is likely nothing written here that has been overwhelmingly shocking, and that’s disheartening. It’s almost as though we, as a global society, have somewhat normalized gender inequality. Yes, this topic has been covered before. It has been examined in a number of ways. But still, the imbalance continues. It’s time for another discussion. It’s time to promote the women-for-women initiative.
Women CEOs are beginning to recognize and promote other women’s skills, talents, and work ethic in their profession. They are opening up opportunities for women to advance in their careers. Women who have traditionally been passed over for promotion are finally being recognized for their invaluable contributions to their respective fields of expertise.
Perhaps it is a combination of shared experiences and the awareness that the under-representation of women in leadership positions will continue without support. It is through this collaboration that all women grow stronger together. It is through our mutual support that we begin to rise above the cultural and gender stereotypes. And it is because of solidarity that we all rise.
Shelley Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient and a true pioneer championing gender equality, wrote an amazing article entitled, “Power of the Pack: Women Who Support Women Are More Successful.” Not only do I want to shine a spotlight on some of these women, but I’ve added a few of my own. This Mother’s Day, I give great respect to women pioneers who have carved the path forward and encourage all women to continue the legacy. This Mother’s Day, I promote the women-for-women initiative. Won’t you join me?
We rise when we rise TOGETHER.
Erika Irish Brown
This is not easy work, it is not easily measured, and you have to be bold and take risks in order to be an agent of change. – Chief Diversity Officer, Goldman Sachs
I spent many years mentoring talent and being black and Latina and lesbian, it really puts me at a crossroads of many different worlds, and so it’s really important to me that the next generation sees avenues and opportunities … Mentoring young people is something I tend to do naturally. – Head of Global Diversity, LinkedIn
Now that many more women are entering the workplace, we’re finding our voice. We’re also building circles of trust with one another.” – CEO, Sider Road
Not only do we support each other, but we act as connectors to people and opportunities. Whenever one of us comes across a great opportunity, we immediately send it to each other. It is amazing to be part of a group of women who want you to be your very best and actively help you to succeed. – President, Viacom/Nickelodeon Global Consumer Products
We have an opportunity – and a responsibility – to provide more mentorships for women. When we share our stories, we normalize some of the challenges – a great first step in detecting patterns and finding solutions that will drive change for individual women and for women in general. – EVP & Chief Customer Experience Officer, Cisco
We know that women are underscored by senior men and may need to compensate by developing strong professional relationships with other women … these women are effectively acting as mentors and sponsors for one another. – Founder and CEO, Diversio
I’ve always been passionate about advocating for and helping other women who are or aspire to be business leaders because I understand first-hand the challenges we face. CEO and Co-Founder, Akorbi
There’s going to be a little upheaval and discomfort, but I think it’s up to the women out there to say, ‘Sorry. Sorry that you feel uncomfortable, but I’m now paving the way for the next generation. – Former First Lady of the United States
Justice is not a concept we read about in a book. Justice is about the water we drink. Justice is about the air we breathe. Justice is about how easy it is to vote. Justice is about how much ladies get paid. – Congresswoman, 14th District of New York
I highly support the idea of promoting technical fields among women. On behalf of memoQ, I organized our company’s involvement in the Hungarian Girls’ Day for ‘Women in Science Association’ (Nők a Tudományban Egyesület, Lányok napja). The real key though is in providing opportunities for all those who are interested, and then encouraging them to be brave and confident.” – Inbound Marketing Manager, memoQ
Build other women up! If you see your co-worker doing a great job, give them credit … tell your boss or other co-workers … At first, it may seem like you’re taking attention from yourself, but you’re actually showing that you’re a supportive team player as well as an inspiring leader.” – Co-founder, Womaze
I always say a woman alone has power; collectively, we have an impact.
– CEO, The Female Quotient
Do you have a woman in mind whom you’d like to honor and recognize? Contact CEO of GIM Content Management, Carreen Schroeder, and help me promote my women-for-women initiative.