When I was little and someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d always say (and truly believed), “I want to be a doctor, just like Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor.” Then, if I was anywhere near my bedroom, I’d whip out my little paperback Elizabeth Blackwell book my parents gave me, just to show whoever was asking, I knew what I was talking about. At that age though, I didn’t really understand the importance of the role Dr. Blackwell played in women’s history, but I just remember being truly proud to know who she was and wanted to follow in her footsteps.
Now, 20+ years into my professional career, I’ve chosen (& thrive) within creative subject matter rather than the sciences, but within a male-dominated technical industry. I can’t help but wonder if somehow, subconsciously, I at least tiptoed in Dr. Blackwell’s essence, and when I’m the only woman in the boardroom if she’s smiling. But, more importantly for me, have I inspired any other women along the way?
This inspiration and the vision of women supporting other women is what resonates most with me when we talk about celebrating Women’s History Month. I can actually imagine Elizabeth -yes we’re on a first name basis now- saying to me, “That’s right, keep going. You’re doing great. You’ve got this, Allison!”
Although Women’s History Month officially started in 1987 (formerly Women’s History Week starting -in California- in 1978), we, us women, have definitely been an inspiration to each other for MUCH longer. Elizabeth Blackwell would have turned 200 years old this year! And the beauty of womanly inspiration comes in many, many forms. You don’t have to be,
- the first woman doctor like Elizabeth, or
- the core rope memory mother’s boss and developer of the on-board flight software for NASA’s Apollo space program like Margaret, or
- the only woman instrumentation controller in the launch firing room for the Apollo 11 liftoff like JoAnn, or
- Develop the “Secret Communication System” patent changing radio frequencies simultaneously and ultimately securing military communications and cell phone technology like Hedy, or
- the first African American female engineer at NASA like Mary, or
- the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history like Amanda, or even
- the first woman, the first African American woman, the first Indian-American, the first person of Asian-American descent, and the first graduate of an HBCU to be sworn in as the Vice President of the United States of America like Kamala,
…you can also be the woman volunteer, neighbor, dance instructor, nurse, teacher, friend, mother, sister, coach, business owner, therapist, farmer; but also, the woman who made a positive difference in another woman’s life.
Along with our duty as women to inspire, we also have the superpower ability to rapidly change our hats as needed and get.it.done. Similar to tech startups, where everyone around you is going 100 miles an hour 24/7/365 with streamlined staffing, and your CEO comes to you with a passion-filled urgent need to find a… rainbow unicorn…, you drop the other urgent product launch press release you’re writing and, somehow, while walking the dog and consoling your heartbroken girlfriend, you find a damn rainbow unicorn with a gold bow to boot. This is just how we women roll.
Speaking of, although Chris doesn’t demand rainbow unicorns (yet), he values the strong, capable women of Cloud Brigade, who keep the ship on course. These inspiring women include:
- UX and Visual Design Engineer
- Greatest superpower is organization!
- Sue’s inspiration: My grandmother, who studied chemistry, told me to never stop learning. It’s been one of my mantras throughout my life. Such echoes the sentiments above and admires those women who keep pushing to break the glass ceilings and then bring other women with them.
- Favorite quote: “There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.” – Brene Brown
- Project Manager
- Greatest superpower is keeping track of many competing tasks and priorities at once, while making sure to keep the needed people updated on progress.
- Stephanie’s inspiration: The women who are usually mentioned as side notes in history books, or overlooked completely. For instance, when thinking of the Apollo 11 moon landing it’s more likely Neil Armstrong will come to mind before Margaret Hamilton, even though she was crucial to the mission’s success. These women deserve more recognition for their work, but have served as an inspiration and paved the way for other women to pursue career paths in historically male dominated industries.
- Greatest superpower is creating order out of chaos.
- Julia’s inspiration: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sojourner Truth, among many many others. They educated themselves, went up against outrageous odds, stood firm for their beliefs and true to their ethics, and yet, did not set themselves apart. They focused on what they, themselves could do to make the world more just and humane.
- It’s worth noting, Julia has been working with Chris for 16 years now and is his longest running employee. “Julia is kind of like the den mother of the business,” says Chris. “She is someone I trust and has helped me throughout the years with all sorts of challenging bookkeeping situations.” “Working for Chris is an exercise in support and teamwork,” said Julia.
- Head of Marketing Communications
- Greatest superpower is my attention to ALL the details!
- Favorite quotes:
- “I think everything in life is art. What you do. How you dress. The way you love someone, and how you talk. Your smile and your personality. What you believe in, and all your dreams. The way you drink your tea. How you decorate your home. Or party. Your grocery list. The food you make. How your writing looks. And the way you feel. Life is art.” -Helena Bonham Carter
- “Be a woman other women can trust. Have the courage to tell another woman she has offended, hurt, or disappointed you. Successful women have a loyal tribe of loyal and honest women behind them. Not haters. Not backstabbers or women who whisper behind their back. Be a woman who lifts other women.” -Anonymous
- “Often its the deepest pain which empowers you to grow into your highest self.” -Anonymous
In a continued effort to inspire and uplift other women, Cloud Brigade would like to spotlight any Women-Owned local businesses within our next monthly newsletter. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.