When it comes to female roles models, we often think of historic figures, groundbreakers, and anomalies. Why is that? Often times it is because forging a path that has yet to forged can be the most difficult step when it comes to progress. Having an outlined set of circumstances makes it easier for the next generation to build upon what was done before by following the established path and taking up the mantle where the previous person left off. In short, these people become the foundation for future groundbreakers to build from.
Thanks to the hard work of our ancestors, women, and people of color today have the ability to achieve positions of power and responsibility like never before. A great example of this is Broward County’s mayor, Barbara Sharief. As the first African American female and the first Muslim Broward County mayor on record, Sharief continues to be humbled and invigorated by her own success.
“As a leader—to change the status quo—you must agitate and be flexible to allow growth in your personal and professional life. Change is good and the evolution of the female role in executive leadership and entrepreneurship is improving.”
But more than just as a way to challenge the status quo, providing women roles models in positions of authoritative power, especially ones that look like and can represent the young girls watching them, has had proven benefits towards establishing gender equality for entire societies. For example, a scientific study conducted in India in 1993 placed qualified women into political positions amongst several communities where it was extremely uncommon for families with young women to seek out higher education for them. Now, nearly 25 years later, the gender gap in adolescent educational attainment has been completely erased and young women in those communities spend less time doing household chores and learning homemaker skills.
“Our young girls need strong role models to let them know they can achieve anything they aspire to. Leadership roles in high visibility jobs or political offices breaks the cycle of stagnation and gives them hope for their future.”
By continuing to pave the way as an entrepreneur, activist, and political figure and by working with high-profile organizations like the National Association of Black County Officials, the Urban League of Broward County, and Minority Women Business Enterprises, Inc. Sharief demonstrates her drive to provide the best resources possible for her community and the multitudes of young men and women that look to her for inspiration.