My sister and I were very fortunate to be raised by two phenomenal women - my grandmother and my mother.
My grandmother Millie was one of the first women I saw as "being bold." She was born in 1914 and grew up in the depression era South amid racism, sexism and classism. She overcame many hardships including being orphaned at the age of three due to her mother's murder at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan. She was forced out of school in the sixth grade to work in cotton fields. As an adult, she struggled through an abusive marriage, had three miscarriages and was eventually abandoned by her husband - left to raise 10 children on her own. She worked as a nanny, a cook, a maid and whatever jobs she could get to provide for her family. Through many trials and tribulations, she persevered and found ways to stay positive and give love to everyone in her life. My grandmother's stories and compassionate heart are things that have stayed with me all of my life. Her bold choice to keep moving forward, even when the odds were stacked against her, is something I am very proud of. She passed away the day after Thanksgiving in 2001, but her love and life lessons continue to make me the woman that I am today!
My mother Joyce was the youngest girl and the second youngest child in the family. She was surrounded by brothers and had to learn very early how to handle herself around the guys. She was strong, in mind and body, and one of the smartest people I've ever known. She was the first person in our family to go to college and she graduated summa cum laude. She was a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) scholar and eventually found her way into nuclear chemistry. My mom and dad divorced when I was two years old. We went to live with my grandmother and she helped raise us. While my mom traveled the country working on projects with various nuclear power plants, my grandmother provided stability for me and my sister. Often times my mother was the only woman and person of color working in a male-dominated field. She faced her fair share of discrimination, but she never let it stop her. She fought hard to break color and gender barriers during some very challenging times in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. With all of the accomplishments and accolades she's earned, she still says her proudest and best accomplishments are being a mother and grandmother.
I am very passionate about gender inclusive behaviors and the celebration of excellence. I'd like to recognize and thank all of the women around the globe, who go into work everyday believing they can make the world a better place. Wherever you are in the world, whatever job you do, you are making an amazing difference! To all the men who believe in gender partnership and are fighting each day for equality and inclusion, I salute you as well.
Together we can really make a difference! Keep sharing your stories and keep asking yourself these questions:
What action will I take today to show up?
What action will I take to have a seat at the table and make sure everyone else has one, too?
What message will I share with women (and men) to be strong and brave?