Last week saw many celebrations of International Women's Day. I was pleased and proud to be part of them and while at the fabulous Accenture event, I had an epiphany. Women of all ages struggle to be equal with a long path still ahead. In an age where youth seems to be valued over wisdom, there is a danger that we women of Generation D may be overlooked and forgotten. We need advocacy and mentors just as much for ourselves as do the generations of women who are coming behind us.
Why Generation D—the digital generation? Many of us are on the cusp of the Boomers or the Gen X but identify with the wants and needs of the millennials. We may not have grown up with phones in our hands but we are digital natives anyway. We defy the stereotypes, we are still vibrant, well into the swing of our career trajectory and always learning. We have a lot to offer and have struggled with inequality while we continued to be strong and power through, and we still have a lot of runway left. Many of us still have young children because we waited to make partner, get our post graduate degrees or rise to prominence in our industry before starting our families. And nothing keeps you young, hip and digitally savvy like dealing with a teenager.
While Generation D will continue to advocate and mentor younger women, we must also do the same for ourselves. I have decided that it is my personal mission to ensure that women who are like me should continue to have opportunities to grow and prosper. We have a right to our NEW chapter whether it is excelling in our current role or deciding what our next role can and should be.
We have role models we can look to. Women who found success later in life:
• Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t publish her Little House on the Prairie series until the age of 64.
• Grandma Moses started painting at the age of 76 because her arthritis made embroidery (up to that point, her primary creative outlet) too difficult.
• After directing a few small and fairly successful action movies (hello, Point Break), Kathryn Bigelow didn’t really start gaining widespread recognition until she made The Hurt Locker. At 57, Bigelow became known as one of America’s most iconic female directors.
And women who found a NEW chapter:
Martha Stewart had worked on Wall Street and owned a Connecticut catering firm, but her real success came after age 41 with the publication of her first book, Entertaining, and the launch of Martha Stewart Living seven years later.
Vera Wang was first known as an accomplished figure skater and a fashion editor before deciding at age 40, that she wanted to be a designer. She commissioned her own wedding dress and opened her first bridal boutique the following year.
My advice for the Women of Generation D:
1) Stay resilient and gritty. It’s what got us here and what keeps us here. To paraphrase Nietzsche, “That which does not kill us only makes us stronger.”
2) Every day is an opportunity to learn something NEW. With the pace of technological advancement, we are both novices and masters. We learn and teach simultaneously every day.
3) Don’t be afraid to switch up your career. Gone are the days of staying in one job for the rest of your life. Find your passion, be flexible and take new opportunities as they come.
4) Trust that Everything happens for a reason. If it doesn’t feel right, then maybe it isn’t. Sometimes the answer to a prayer is no and sometimes the answer is to wait because something better is on its way.