I Am A Woman, Phenomenally

Today was my first session as part of the 35 under 35 Women’s Leadership program. I was excited to start and I assure you, I was not disappointed. In just one short day, I met incredible, vibrant women from so many walks of life. There were marketers, small business owners, freelancers, chiropractors, advocates, mothers, wives, soldiers and more.

Yet as I sat in the midst of these incredible women who made me proud to be among them, I was shocked as I heard about the plight of women in the working world. Did you know that:

  • Women make up approximately 50% of the population, yet women have yet to consistantly hold leadership roles in any industry.
  • In the corporate sector, only 16% of leaders are women.
  • In the nonprofit sector, only 20% of leaders are women.
  • There are only 12 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

So how do we rise up? How do we become leaders? For me, it started with a definition. What exactly is a leader? What does leadership mean? After all, my desire has never been to lead a company (a marketing department yes, a whole company, not so much). Can I still be a leader?

As I struggled to answer that question, United Way President Sherri Thomsen gave this definition of leadership. “Rather than define a leader as someone who leads a group, what if we define leadership as an outcome?” she said. “Lets define leadership as the power to produce a result or to have an effect. This is truly transformational leadership.”

So as the program progresses, I am taking it upon myself to decide what transformational leadership looks like for me, both personally and professionally. How can I become a more effective leader? How do my values and my talents contribute to making me the best leader I can be?

I don’t have the answer to all these questions yet. For now, I’ll leave you with a poem quoted by a 35 under 35 alum that has stuck with me. From Maya Angelou:

“It’s in the click of my heels,

the bend of my hair,

the palm of my hand,

the need of my care.

‘Cause I am a woman


Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.”



4 thoughts on “I Am A Woman, Phenomenally

  1. Phenomenal women, that’s we! 😉

    I remember hearing Maya Angelou read that prose during a visit to my college… It has stuck with me, but hearing it yesterday reminded me how powerful it really is!

    I am floored by the amount of information you retained *verbatim* from yesterday, Katie. You are amazing!

  2. Great read! Thanks for sharing and I look forward to following it through this year’s program. Enjoy the ride and embrace what it is it all means to you.

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