Why? To help propel changes in the business world for the future.
I have just written my third book! Following On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights and Rethink: Smashing The Myths of Women in Business, I recently teamed up with fellow business experts Edie Fraser and Robyn Freedman Spizman for Women Mean Business: Over 500 Insights from Extraordinary Leaders to Spark Your Success. Out now and available on Amazon or from your favorite bookseller, this groundbreaking book features 102 trailblazing women who have conquered the business world and now want to share their wisdoms and insights to help other women accomplish greatness. “As I rise, I lift others.”
Showcasing these remarkable women and featuring their stories would be a respectable accomplishment in itself, but my goal as an anthropologist was to write a book about what we can learn from successful women that can help us bring about real change in the world of business, for women and for the men who work with them and for them.
Anthropology, the study of human societies and cultures, is uniquely positioned to shed light on the need for change in today’s workplaces and provide a powerful lens through which we can analyze and understand the complexities of gender dynamics and societal structures, especially regarding how we treat each other in the structured environment of work.
The underrepresentation of women in leadership positions and the persistent gender disparities within industries have become pressing issues that demand our attention.
To address these challenges and bring about meaningful change, we have much to learn from those who have achieved success in their respective fields in the midst of barriers, such as the 102 women featured in Women Mean Business. What specifically contributed to their success? By examining the cultural, social and historical contexts, anthropologists such as myself can uncover patterns, norms and biases that shape the experiences of women in the workplace, especially those dominated by men. We can also study the strategies successful women have used to overcome these obstacles so we can pass these along to other women.
Successful women possess valuable wisdoms that can guide aspiring women leaders who hope to follow in their footsteps.
Anthropologists are trained to observe how people, in this case, women, have risen to the top. How have they navigated their careers, overcome barriers and created opportunities for themselves and others? By documenting and sharing these stories, we can challenge the prevailing narratives, disrupt gender norms and inspire new generations of women to pursue their ambitions unapologetically.
The systemic roadblocks that hinder the progress of women in business need to be exposed and dismantled.
Through their ethnographic research, anthropologists can uncover the deeply entrenched biases, discriminatory practices and cultural expectations that stand in the way of gender equality. By revealing these important issues, we draw attention to the need for systemic change, not just cosmetic or temporary. We also can be a powerful voice advocating for policies and practices that promote gender diversity and inclusion by getting management to really “see” what is going on in their companies.
“The words you speak are the worlds you live.”
Humans are storytellers, and we live our stories as a community and a culture. Stories give context to our existence. They establish our beliefs, values and behavior. It is by amplifying the compelling stories of successful women in business, like the ones in Women Mean Business, that anthropologists engage people’s emotions, challenge preconceived notions and inspire action that will bring about real change.
Success is rarely achieved in isolation.
Women who have risen to the top of their industries were often supported by support networks, mentorship and collaborations. By studying these supportive environments, anthropologists can identify the factors that contribute to women’s success. We can identify and call into question the unique challenges faced by women from marginalized communities, ethnic groups and sexual orientations. We can also work to ensure that the lessons learned from successful women are relevant and applicable to all women, regardless of their backgrounds.
By examining the progress made by women in business, anthropologists can identify key turning points, policy changes and societal shifts that have influenced gender dynamics over the years.
Our observational research-based historical perspective helps us all understand the progress women have made, not just in business but in life, and the work that still lies ahead.
I believe that my decision as an anthropologist to write a book about women, business and change is both timely and crucial.
My goal is to help bring about a more inclusive and equitable future for all women and men, where gender does not limit one’s opportunities for success. I hope that Women Mean Business will inspire other women to pursue their dreams, in spite of obstacles and gender bias. Join with me in celebrating and elevating successful women everywhere. May we all work to create a world where women’s voices are heard, valued and celebrated. The time is now. Let us not wait, or waste, a moment.
WOMEN MEAN BUSINESS® is a registered trademark of the National Association of Women Business Owners® (NAWBO)