Women Count

by Emily Jasper on September 9, 2010

When I previously wrote “I want to make a dent on this world,” I truly believed that I have every opportunity to accomplish that. I just need to do my part. What I may not have said is that sometimes it gets a little hard to remember that kind of a goal when you get in the thick of it. It can be especially hard when you feel like a woman with a minefield in front of her.

You start tiptoeing. You play it safe. You lose yourself.

Finding yourself isn’t has hard as you may think. Recently, I was sent an advanced copy of Susan Butler’s Women Count: A Guide to Changing the World. I was in a time of transition from the working world to my MBA program, moving from St. Louis, MO to Blacksburg, VA. When you become consumed with moving details and class schedules, you forget about the big picture.

To my surprise, this book was the centering force I needed. It’s a reminder that I can’t let life get in the way of living. As a woman in business at a time when we’re all approaching the line of equality, there’s a risk of us taking the backseat to let someone else do the work. Last week, I said we must be active in our pursuit of establishing our place. Susan reminds us we’ve always had a place, but either we couldn’t be recognized or haven’t bothered to ask for the credit. We need to change that.

Did you know the cotton gin was invented by a woman? Eli Whitney had to submit the patent application on behalf of Catherine Littlefield Green because she was a woman. Does the fact that Hilary Clinton ran for the Democratic Presidential nomination a big deal because equality for women is old news, even if we still have never had a female president?

If the advancements of women stop being a big deal before they happen, will they ever happen?

Most of us don’t want to be part of a self-fulfilled prophecy where we dismiss the meaningfulness of our accomplishments before they happen. I don’t know about you, but I kind of like to get credit for what I’ve done. Teams usually want credit, too. If it’s already dismissed, then why do it?

Susan’s book outlines the history of women who have been bucking the system since the beginning, even if they never saw any credit: “Pioneers defied sexism and other odds to help shape countries and pursue their beliefs. Inventors changed the world, even if they didn’t receive recognition. Daredevils and risk-takers paved the way for the future. Revolutionaries never gave up on their dreams, even if their dreams weren’t reached until after their deaths.”

Did you notice that terms like “pioneer,” “inventor,” “daredevil,” and “revolutionary” are often used to describe men? Did you see how easily they fit to describe women?

That’s what you need to remember.

If reflecting back on history to see the women who have changed our world inspires you to have an impact on the world yourself, spend a few moments with this book. Susan delivers impact in a small package, one that you can read over and over again when you need to find yourself, to be inspired to make change.

So how will I be a woman who counts?

I will continue to strive to make an impact on this world, but doing what I can to never do it alone.


Susan Butler’s Women Count: A Guide to Changing the World can be purchased online and in bookstores.