When I graduated from college, there were very few women surrounding me, which is why I was relieved when both of my bosses at my first job were women. However, I soon found out that they were the minority, and that in order to get their positions, they had more than one glass ceiling through which to break. I will never forget the lessons that both of these women taught me and continue to teach me.

According to the US Department of Labor, only 28.6 percent of people in the workforce in 1948 were women, and the median income they earned was just over $22,000 a year. To say that there was not much support for women in the workforce is an accurate statement. Thankfully, times have changed, and 47 percent of the workforce today is female. How did we get here? What has changed?

Knowledge is power

To start, female-focused programs at institutions of higher education have given women more opportunities. Many organizations, such as the National Association of Women MBAs, were launched with the mission of empowering women. Furthermore, mentorship programs where women are the ones helping other women have made a huge difference. And women give back; all over the country, business schools are receiving large donations from women. One example of this is the University of Houston-Downtown’s Davies College of Business, which is one of four business schools in the US that’s named after a woman.

"Though reality television would lead you to believe that women are constantly battling it out with one another, that isn’t the case in the real world."

Another example in the academic world where the number of women in leadership positions has increased is at the Aberdeen Business School of Robert Gordon University, where the entire Senior Leadership Team is female.

At the corporate level

Corporations have also stepped up their game by offering female mentorship programs and leadership initiatives. They are finally recognizing the benefits that women bring to organizations, which must be reflected during the hiring process. Foundations have also made advancements, as many have business start-up contests for entrepreneurial women who are looking to start their own business; the foundation then funds the winners.

But it doesn’t just begin at the corporate level. Beautifully Flawed is an organization that was formed by a student at Ohio State University to help at-risk female adolescents embrace both their past and current situation, and see their potential in life.

Women helping women

I recently heard Marjorie Eastman speak about her position as United States Army Intelligence Officer and Commander, post-9/11, during two tours of duty: Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. As the commander of over 100 soldiers, she spoke firsthand about how many women were in her unit, and how everyone on her team — man and woman — worked together to complete each mission.  

Though reality television would lead you to believe that women are constantly battling it out with one another, that isn’t the case in the real world. Instead, I see women who fight for each other. They are lifting each other up, supporting one another’s initiatives, and telling their stories of success to empower other women who many want to follow in their footsteps.