“Don't let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It's your place in the world; it's your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.” - Mae Jemison, first African American woman astronaut in space
The theme of this year’s International Women's Day is #BreaktheBias, and seeks to spotlight the individual and collective biases against women that fuel gender inequality. According to the International Women’s Day website, “whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, action is needed to level the playing field.” As I think about bias in the workplace, there is no industry where gender bias is more apparent than in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), where women make up only 28% of the workforce.
While I chose a career in the business world, I have always been fascinated with science, math and medicine, and chose to minor in Calculus in college. And my two daughters have been drawn to the sciences, with one pursuing an undergraduate degree in neurobiology and the other in environmental sciences. During separate conversations with both of my daughters this month, they brought up the lack of women in their chosen fields. My eldest daughter recounted how she had yet to have a female teacher in her major, and my younger daughter spoke of presenting at an international science fair, only to see the male judges ignore her project and instead, focus on the projects with male exhibitors. I am on the one hand shocked and amazed that such bias and underrepresentation still exists today, and on the other hand I am not surprised.
As the female founder and CEO of a drug company, I ask you to join us in celebrating and promoting women in STEM. I realize that all progress is made in incremental steps. Yet I see those steps being made. As I look across our direct supply chain, it is filled with women. On our almost-all-female team, I see a female fulfillment rep, brand manager, bookkeeper, social media manager and customer service rep. And there are the female chemists who develop our products, graphic designer who creates our packaging, account manager who oversees our product production, PR team members who promote our product, freight broker who ships our product, and women-owned and run companies who complete our pre-market and post-market testing. And I remain hopeful as I see women helping us move forward, one step at a time.
I, along with all the women at Brush On Block, ask you to do your part in helping create a world where women are equally recognized for contributing to the success of their families, society and the world, and join us in celebrating the achievements of women everywhere. And we encourage you to recognize and honor the women who are important in your lives, not just on International Women’s Day, but every day.
PS - If you want to see some cool work in support of women in STEM, check out the Lyda Hill Philanthropies #IfThenSheCan exhibit, hosted by The Smithsonian on and around the National Mall in DC this month. These life-sized orange sculptures, previously displayed in Dallas and at the New York Zoo, are 3-D printed statues of actual women who have excelled in STEM fields and is what the Smithsonian is calling “the largest collection of statues of women ever assembled together”