I often receive emails from readers asking about my college major and how I transitioned that into my current career in design. I majored in American Studies. Which in many ways is completely useless professionally unless you are a professional dinner party partner; you do learn some interesting facts and anecdotes. I absolutely loved it though, and while it might not have directly led me to my current work, it was useful in honing my writing skills and developing a broad perspective to how different cultural, historical, and political elements converge. And so, I am excited to dust off my skillz to start a little discussion over here at Peppermint Bliss this week.
I have recently been thinking a lot about parenting, working, marriage, the economy, and societal norms surrounding these things. When I was traveling to our mill a few weeks ago I was able to finally meet Jamie Meares after many years of looking up to her and developing an internet friendship through our shared love of a colorful interior. Over a beverage we talked about lots of things, and a bit about female ambition and women owned businesses.
For instance did you know that:
- U.S. Companies owned by women generate $1.3 trillion in revenue and employ 7.7 million people. But they lag when it comes to the million-dollar club: Just 1.8 percent of women-owned companies hit that mark vs. 6.3 percent on the male side. 1.6 million female-owned companies have annual revenue of more than $50,000.
- “190 heads of state—nine are women. Of all the people in parliament in the world, 13 percent are women. In the corporate sector, women at the top, C-level jobs, board seats—tops out at 15, 16 percent”-Sheryl Sandberg
- “Consider that 17% of women-owned business owners don’t have employees- a major influence on why they can’t increase revenue, Merlino says, citing U.S. census statistics”
- “Consider that women entrepreneurs are the fastest-growing group of small-business owners. What’s more, women own nearly a third of all businesses (29 percent), but they bring in only 4 percent of all U.S. revenue and 6 percent of all U.S. jobs”
This last point, if not any of the others, is why we should all care about this. There is a huge potential with women here to be a larger, positive force in the economy. I mentioned in my post on visiting our mill that I had become more motivated to succeed with Biscuit after seeing the tangible affect of manufacturing- or not manufacturing- in the United States. These realizations have expanded our goals for Biscuit.
As with all things in life now, I can’t think about any of this without simultaneously relating it back to my role as a mother, especially the mother of a baby girl. I have received some generous praise from readers for my seeming ability to do it all, starting Biscuit while also raising Grace. And while I very much appreciate that kindness, I don’t think I have been as transparent as perhaps I have a duty to be about what that reality actually looks like. Spoiler Alert: I have help. But it is still a hard balance. Sometimes the balance is a disaster and I cry, and sometimes I feel Beyonce-level badass.
One of my most powerful motivators in starting Biscuit has been Grace. I want her to be proud of me, I want her to see how fulfilling hard work and dreams can be. We have some unique personal circumstances Grace will have to process in life, I don’t want her to be burdened with guilt. I want her to feel comfortable with who she is and the life she was born in to. I have come to believe that the best way for me to give that to her is to work as hard as I can to be worthy of the blessings in my life, so that she will hopefully have an innate understanding that what she has is only as good as what she can do with it for others; And that will be empowering to her.
I have put an enormous amount of time and considered thought into this. I feel strong in my convictions and motivations, but that doesn’t make it easy to spend time away from Grace. There are certain tools and behaviors I have learned in the past few months to make me more successful at it, but again I am plagued by a great deal of guilt and anxiety about being away from her and what the consequences of my decisions may be.
I recalled an article I had read awhile back about female ambition, and re-read it. I talked to Jamie, and my business partners, and other women in my life and they recommended articles that I then read as well. Articles on having it all, parenting, traits of successful female business leaders, female ambition, and gender roles in our society. Here are some of the best, your recommended reading for our discussion. Please feel free to direct me to other great articles in the comments, I would love to know what you are reading on the matter.
So what do I want to do here?
I want to talk about it. I want to talk about the experience of being a woman, working out of and in the home. I want to talk about female ambition, and the disparity between male and female roles. I want to talk about women in business. Although I will be citing some of the articles that I found particularly insightful, I know I am really only qualified to talk about my experience. And I want to hear from all of you, about your experiences.
Tomorrow I will be posting on women in business, ambition, and Sheryl Sandbergs claim that one of the three essential tools for women to succeed in their careers is to make your partner a real partner and work to even out gender discrimination in the workplace, and at home. Wednesday I want to talk about what we can do to improve the situation, and what has worked-and not worked- for me so far, as well as the advice I have taken from others. Then Thursday I am debating going HAM on some haters…but we will see where the discussion goes and if that is even necessary.
Whether or not I address that issue, I will say I whole heartedly believe that as many complicated social, historical, and political factors are at play here, the solutions we seek live within us. Sound cheesy enough? It is true. We have to support each other, no matter where we stand on the issues, regardless of whether we spend our days in an office or in the home, We’s a Team, Ladies.
As Ms. Tina herself put it, “You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores.” We have to stop deriding each other for our choices, and work together to improve the choices we have and our chances for success in whatever path we choose to pursue.
Who’s with me?