While recent events are a constant reminder of the challenges facing women in today’s world, I am more convinced than ever that 2017 will be our year.
To anyone who has asked me why we still need feminism in the 21st century, I hope 2016 answered your questions. This past year has served as wakeup call to everyone: it showed feminists that our work is not nearly as far along as we thought; it demonstrated to our friends and families (including many men!) why we spend our lives fighting for this cause; and the international women’s march conveyed to the world that this is not an issue we are willing to compromise on.
Essentially, this year highlighted the many challenges that still come along with being a woman in today’s world. From Trump being elected President (and therefore becoming the most powerful person in the world) after stories of him explicitly demeaning women, to continued sexual assaults on college campuses, to venture capitalists only deploying 2.7% of their funds to women, it has not been an easy year for women.
Not to mention the sexism that continues to pervade the workplace. Recent narratives from brave women who are leaving tech giants like Uber grow the collection of stories exposing the rest of the world to what women already know so well: despite unconscious bias trainings, implementing quotas, and well-intentioned people, deep-rooted bias continues to plague our companies. In addition to blatant sexual harassment, women are consistently underpaid for their work and face well-documented disadvantages in hiring and promotions.
And this only highlights the prevalent issues in the United States ― around the world, women are still denied basic rights, and girls continue to be taken out of school to be married off before reaching their teenage years.
So if this is the state of our society today, why am I so optimistic about the future? Why I am so sure that 2017 going to be the year of women?
It’s not just because empowering women is the morally right thing to do. Frankly, this will be our year because empowering women is the smart thing to do, and people are starting to take note. Our economy demands improvements, and investing in women at the helm provides undeniable returns. Here are three reasons I’m optimistic:
1. Investors will put their money on women. A 10-year-report from First Round Capital showed that female founded companies performed 63% better than male founded companies. Additionally, a study showed that companies with executive teams that include women end up with higher valuations at both the first and last funding rounds. Finally, studies show that women are actually rated higher in “overall leadership effectiveness” at every stage of management by peers, bosses, and reports. Why 2017? Women-focused funds, such as BBG Ventures and Female Founders Fund will capitalize on these high potential investments and fuel capital into female founded companies.
2. Companies will hire, promote, + support women. Women will continue to speak up against sexist work environments, and since diverse teams continue to outperform homogeneous ones, companies will have to change if they want to remain competitive. A company’s success will be dependent on their ability to support diverse employees. Why 2017? Platforms like InHerSight will give insight into workplace environments that treat women well (and poorly), and tools like pymetrics, Textio, Humanyze, and Applied will make hiring + promotion more fair, diverse, + efficient.
3. We will shrink the pay gap. Women consistently reinvest 90% of their wealth back into their community (compared to the 30-40% a typical man reinvests). This means that paying women well will lead to higher investments in our society. Simply put: when women have more money to invest, the positive ripple effects will be felt in her family, then her community, and then our country. Why 2017? Companies like Ellevest will give women a platform to invest their funds efficiently + effectively.
This all goes to show: on top of the (hopefully) obvious moral benefits, there is a very strong economic case to be made for 2017 being the year of women. And thanks to the many platforms I listed above, we already have the tools to support catalyze our women’s movement.
To all the men: support the above tools by voting with your dollars, and support your mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends in making 2017 the year of women. This will not only lift up a historically marginalized population, but it will better our economy, too.
And finally, to women around the world: tomorrow, on International Women’s Day, it is our time to stand up, tell our stories, and demand better. While there is tragedy in the strife we have faced this past year, there is also an upside: people are finally listening. And while our potential future is extremely bright, we won’t get there if we don’t fight for things to change.
Let’s show the world what it looks like with women at the helm. 2017 is our year.