The "two hands raised" or "praising hands" emoji has officially secured a top spot in the frequently used section of my iPhone emoji keyboard. At least 95% of its usage has been delegated to praise my girlfriends' news of recent personal successes or successes of women in the press. As we enter Women's History Month there's no denying that women have made a splash in current news and history. In these first months of 2019, we've seen Sarah Thomas become the first woman to referee an NFL playoff game, Ruth Carter make history as the first African American woman to win best costume design at the Oscars, and brands embrace Femvertising, such as Nike's Dream Crazier spot with Serena Williams.
The 2019 Oscars came in hot for my praising hands emoji. From Regina King's speech thanking her mother and fellow nominees to Domee Shi advocating for nerdy girls to be brave and tell their stories, there was no shortage of female empowerment at the Academy Awards. Hannah Beachler especially stood out in her acceptance, giving her thanks to those who supported her and ending with, "I give the strength to all of those who come next, to keep going, to never give up. And when you think it's impossible, just remember to say this piece of advice I got from a very wise woman: 'I did my best, and my best is good enough.'" I can't stop thinking of these words as they speak to all of us, not just Hollywood.
A couple weeks ago an opinion piece in the New York Times by clinical psychologist Lisa Damour was shared around my office. The article discussed that while girls outperform boys in school they don't in the office because boys have learned confidence. I find myself feeling lucky. I attended Barnard College, a women's college in New York City. All-female classrooms not only taught me to become confident in my work and opinions but also provided me with an environment surrounded by other women learning from women.
Both excited and nervous entering the workforce at Outfront Media, I let the fear of underperforming lead to self-doubt and anxiety. I learned that those feelings were unwarranted. I have found myself surrounded by inspiring women who I can look up to for industry and marketing leadership and advice. These women and many others help foster a workplace environment that encourages the development and growth of female talent.
While Dr. Damour suggested the confidence gap between male and females is fixable at school, I believe this must be strengthened continuously in the work force. I have seen that I am just one of many that have progressed under female leaders. I asked a few colleagues to reflect on what it's like as fellow Millennial women in the workplace, how female leadership has impacted their work. Here are their voices.
"Knowing that these women have done so much to pave the way for Millennial women makes me proud to work for Outfront and makes me work harder knowing that one day I can hope to follow in their footsteps." -- Jessica Nichelini, Mobile Specialist
"I have felt motivated in having female leadership at work. It keeps me on my toes and challenges me to never back down or shy away from opportunities that can eventually help me propel in my career. I strongly believe we need female leaders because it motivates and empowers us to never back down. It is even more empowering to have women at the table that look like us." -- Alicia Lee, Sales Coordinator
"Watching and learning from these women has allowed me to gain confidence in myself and my abilities. When I see these experienced women stick up for what they believe in and stand by their knowledge, products, presentations, etc. in the face of criticism, I know that I can do the same." -– Sarah Federman, Research Coordinator
"At Outfront, everything feels within reach -- no ask is too big, and no goal unachievable -- because the female leaders above me have set the example that speaking your mind and getting involved in every which way you can help you break through to the top." -– Briana Draguca, Social Media Coordinator
"It's important to have female leaders at work because women bring a different approach and perspective to business. When I first started working at Outfront I was immediately paired up to a team with a strong female leader. I look up to her because she is opinionated, compassionate, determined and a force to be reckoned with." -– Sam Cruz, Sales Coordinator
"In the two years working with Christine [Rose, Marketing Manager] and under the marketing team, I feel like I have gained so much confidence in myself and my skill set, having positive role models and mentors to look up to! As women, we have a voice, and we shouldn't be afraid to use it!" – Brooke Berka, Marketing Specialist
"It is so important to have female leaders to set the bar and pave the way for all the generations to come. There is the inspiration that comes from women motivating women in this environment that helps mold the next female leader." -– Brianna Foley, Art Director, Marketing Manager
"I think that sometimes women are used to asking for permission before moving forward with their own ideas. It's important to be an example of a woman that is confident in her skills/ideas in the workplace." -– Rachel Sosa, Marketing Specialist
"Female leaders are important in a world where we are underrepresented and taught to silence ourselves. We need more powerful female leaders to show young women what they can be in their future." -– Keierra Wiltshire, Sales Coordinator
"When more women get promoted to higher level management roles, it's a step closer to gender equality and brings more diversity to the workplace." -- Madison Marsh, Marketing Coordinator
Seeing women succeed so publicly is encouraging and provides momentous energy that keeps us going. In the personal sphere, working alongside women and championing females contributes to the development of personal confidence. Sian Beilock, Barnard College's newest president, writes on how to get rid of the very self-doubt I felt when starting work. Her conclusion reflects my experiences and what we can see in all work places: "When women see other women operating on a level playing field, they will be less likely to doubt their capabilities." (Financial Times) This month we celebrate, of course with the praising hands emoji, the award winners and history makers, while also thanking and recognizing personal teachers and heroines who have helped us grow so we may do the same for future generations.
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