In 2015, women were paid just 80 percent of what men were paid, and this gap is not expected to close until 2125, according to the American Association for University Women (AAUW).
The research also states that women face a pay gap in most occupations, making it potentially discouraging for women to move forward and launch their careers.
Corporate America is one of the many areas in which women continue to face discrimination. While this discrimination may make it difficult to break into the field, these five women are leading the charge and making it possible for women like me to feel like they could one day make it too.
Sheryl Sandberg is an activist, an author, the chief operating officer of Facebook, and so much more. From graduating with an economics degree from Harvard to helping to launch Google’s philanthropic arm, Sandberg proves that the possibilities are endless. Most inspiring to me, though, is her activism. The Lean In Foundation inspires women to accomplish their goals through community, empowerment, and advice. Her ability to give back while moving forward makes her an inspiration to women in business all around the globe.
In 2009, Ursula Burns became the first black-American women CEO to lead a Fortune 500 company. Starting as a summer intern at Xerox in 1980, her hard work brought her to the position of CEO. She grew up in a New York City housing project, raised by a single mother. She now has a wonderful career and advocates to improve STEM education in the United States.
Anne Sweeney is the former president of the Disney-ABC Television Group. What inspires me most about Sweeney is beautifully captured in this article, written by her daughter Rosie Miller. She writes,
“To me, my mom has always been first and foremost my mom. I am beyond proud of her accomplishments. Seeing her named [The Hollywood Reporter‘s] Most Powerful Woman in Hollywood showed me firsthand that girls are powerful. However, my main source of empowerment from my mom does not come from any title she has earned but from the guidance, love and support she has given me throughout the years.”
Sweeney’s ability to be a role model through both her career and her character, is extremely inspiring.
Giving back is one of the most important part of Pamela Bell’s career. Bell is currently the founder of Prinkshop, a company that creates merchandise representing important causes, then gives back to those causes. Before starting Prinkshop, Bell was a founding partner of Kate Spade. Now, along with running Prinkshop, Bell is the co-founder of the Bowery Arts Project, a project that works to teach art classes to homeless individuals struggling with addiction. Her continued activism and involvement in the community makes her a true shero.
Anna Maria Chávez
Anna Maria Chávez was the first women of color to be CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. She used her role to encourage the participation of Girl Scouts in STEM related fields. Currently, she is a leader in the community, a writer, and an activist who uses her voice to make change. She was a leader in the Ban Bossy Campaign, an initiative that encouraged young women to speak up and lead. Her commitment to girls is what makes Chávez stand out.
All of these women have unique career paths that are extremely inspiring. Who else would you add to this list?