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March 8 is recognized as International Women’s Day, and this year’s theme is “Press for Progress.” The blurb on the official website reads:
Now, more than ever, there’s a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. There's a strong call to #PressforProgress motivating and uniting friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.
I love it!
During the recent Women of ASHRAE breakfast Erin McConahey, PE, LEED AP at Arup quoted diversity and inclusion expert, Verna Myers: “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”
Let’s dance, ladies! Dance like nobody’s watching, but let the whole world see you do it!
We learned in the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report that gender parity is more than 200 years away. That’s right, 200 years away for economic and social equality between women and men.
The time for complacency is over, and the time to dance starts now. Today, and every day thereafter, I challenge you all to push for progress.
Progress on a smaller scale
I recently saw “Black Panther.” I thought it was a great movie. The story line was good, and the acting was great, but the message was even greater. For starters, how crazy is it to think that we’re in 2018, and we are just now watching a movie released by a major studio that showcases black superheroes? That in itself was a great first. But it wasn’t the only first.
One of the main characters in the movie, Shuri (played by Letitia Write), was pivotal in that without her creativity and genius, Wakanda could have fallen into the wrong hands. Her character, an engineer, was so inspirational to so many young girls and boys that Disney has pledged to donate $1 million of the film’s proceeds to Youth STEM programs.
Write said in an interview with Huffington Post, “I hope young girls will unlock their potential when watching Shuri, especially when it comes to STEM, where women of color made up less than 10 percent of working scientists and engineers in the U.S. in 2015.”
I couldn’t agree more. What a time to be young and female!
Speaking of being young and female. Have you heard about The DIY Girls? A group of 12 teen girls from San Fernando High School invented a solar-powered tent for the homeless.
Daniela Orozco noticed the number of homeless people she saw on her way to school had grown from her freshmen year to her senior year. “Because we come from low-income families ourselves, we can’t give them money,” she said. “We wanted to offer something besides money,” her classmate, Veronica Gonzalez, added.
That’s when they decided to create a solar-powered tent that folds up into a rollaway backpack. They teamed up with 10 other girls in their school and with the help of YouTube, Google, and trial-and-error, they made it happen.
The teens presented their invention at MIT as part of a young inventors conference and won a $10,000 grant from Lemelson-MIT Program to develop the invention. They were then recruited by DIY Girls, a nonprofit that teaches girls from low-income communities about engineering, math, and science, to go after the grant.
I love learning about stories like this. I often look at my two nieces (both 5 years-old) and think the sky’s the limit for them. I know it to be true and will do everything I can for them to know it as well.
If you tell them, they will believe it. If you show them, they will follow it.
Our featured woman this month is Carol Johnson. She talks about being raised by a strong, single mother who always told her, “You are a strong person, you should work hard, and you should stand for what is right.” Johnson adds, “I am a product of a strong lady that allowed me to feel I could be anything I wanted to be. Thus far she has not been wrong.” It was an honor for me to interview Carol Johnson and share her story with you.
As always, my continued goal is to talk to leading women in the industry each month and share their stories, thoughts and insights. So, if you know a woman, or are a woman who should be featured, let me know.
Until then, press for progress, today and always!