It seems fitting for our team that Week 4 of our experience in the Iowa Startup Accelerator comes to a close on August 26th, also known as Women’s Equality Day.
Women's Equality Day is a day to call attention to the continued work toward real equality.
Over the course of the last month, we’ve had the pleasure to speak with a lot of women about their experiences navigating the world — as newer professionals trying to find their foothold, mothers trying to raise daughters, and seasoned professionals leading companies. They’ve shared stories that have ranged from outright hostility to unconscious bias, all with similar results: women’s voices being excluded.
When we talk to people we’ve just met about Girls With Ideas, the reactions are an interesting reflection of society today. There are those who see the need immediately and want to know more. Then there are those who choose to ignore us completely, pretending we are not there or haven’t spoken at all. Some people, in an effort to seem engaged, make a statement about boys needing confidence too, and that there are already programs out there for girls. In both of the latter scenarios the effect is the same — consciously or unconsciously, we are being told that what we have to say doesn’t matter.
With each of these scenarios, being ignored or benignly antagonized, we have a choice. Do we make ourselves heard? Do we choose to engage? In milliseconds we evaluate the potential harm that could come from doing so; to our careers, our reputations, the business we are trying to start. A lot of time, the risk is too high. Or we just don't have the energy.
As our business grows, more people are learning about Girls With Ideas. Thus, we are having more and more of these bias-laden interactions. Luckily, there have been even more positive interactions that kept us moving forward. After all, these experiences continually reinforced why Girls With Ideas is needed.
So, on this year's Women’s Equality Day, we leave you with our response to the very first question that appears in our FAQ:
Why is this program just for girls?
Data recognizes a leadership bias benefitting boy leaders who often hold positional roles because they feel confident doing so. Our intention is not to diminish the number of boy leaders; rather, it is to increase the number of girls pursuing leadership roles with developed ideas. We believe girls should feel the same confidence that boys feel as leaders, a vision we aim to achieve through our curriculum and Experiences. One day, we would love to re-name our organization "Kids With Ideas" when boys and girls have equitable representation in leadership roles, but equity is not a reality today.
Much like Women's Equality Day, we are here to develop and celebrate equal opportunities for women. For us, that's leadership.
Our mission is to close the gender leadership gap that exists in the workforce. We do that by working with young girls to ensure that they have the skills, empowerment, and confidence to be leaders.
We too are girls with ideas. We too know exactly what it feels like to be treated like our gender isn't as important, isn't as needed, and isn't as credible. Consciously and unconsciously, people tell us that teaching girls to be leaders isn't important.
But many others know that it is.
96 years ago today, our nation made a choice to recognize that women 'have not been entitled the full rights and privileges' of our country. Today, we continue that fight for equal rights. And just like the resolution states below, we will 'commend and support' women's organizations and activities.
We are girls with ideas, and we will foster real equality for girls and women everywhere.
Joint Resolution of Congress, 1971 Designating August 26 of each year as Women’s Equality Day
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States; and
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex; and
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have designated August 26, the anniversary date of the certification of the Nineteenth Amendment, as symbol of the continued fight for equal rights: and
WHEREAS, the women of United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that August 26th of each year is designated as Women’s Equality Day, and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote, and that day in 1970, on which a nationwide demonstration for women’s rights took place.