Contributed by Ashley Still, Senior Vice President of Digital Media Product Marketing & Doc Cloud Product Management, and lead of the Adobe & Women Employee Network
This month we celebrate not only Women’s History Month, but also the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Taking a moment to reflect on this important milestone, what strikes me is that as our society progresses, it’s easy to take for granted fundamental rights – like voting.
It’s important to remember that it was not a forgone conclusion that women’s right to vote would be achieved. In fact, I was recently reading a trivia book with my son, who was appalled to learn that it was illegal for women to wear pants in Paris in the early 1900s. His outrage at the “silly” pants laws of years past shows how far many societies have come, and also puts into context just how hard the mission of the suffragettes was to achieve. Beginning in the mid-19th century, several generations of suffrage supporters lectured, wrote, marched, lobbied and practiced civil disobedience to achieve what many Americans considered a radical change of the Constitution. Few early supporters lived to see final victory in 1920.
That’s a long way of saying that we all need to vote. For many women in the world, this freedom remains elusive and the very least we can do is exercise this fundamental right. And, it’s completely your choice whether you wear pants to the voting booth!
This year, Adobe is celebrating Women’s History Month by featuring speakers, videos, and other event that celebrate women who continue to lead change and help women succeed. Through digital channels, we are showcasing women globally who exemplify Adobe’s Capabilities for growing their careers and making an impact. These capabilities include creating what is next, focusing on tomorrow, and leading others to achieve. I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded and inspired by women who embody these attributes and demonstrate mastery in their chosen field – here are few of my favorites:
Create – As a young girl, I adored the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her ability to transport me from suburban Maryland to the plains of Kansas and the idea that a young girl could be so free and adventurous inspired me. Since then, I’ve become a fan of many other creative female writers like Jane Austen, Joan Didion, Harper Lee, Margaret Atwood, J.K. Rowling, Alice Walker and countless others. In their own ways, each of these women created worlds which invite us to learn and grow.
Focus – To me, the ability to focus means bringing a singular emphasis to one field or area and through that focus, participate in changing the status quo. Susan B. Anthony is a great example. Her persistent and unfailing commitment to women’s suffrage constituted her life’s work. Similarly, Mother Teresa’s humble but remarkable service to the poor of Kolkata exemplifies a similar, powerful focus. I’m also inspired by Kiva.org which focuses on micro-financing to entrepreneurs, 85% of whom are women. To celebrate Women’s History Month, Adobe is extending its partnership with Kiva through an additional Adobe & Women employee-network directed contribution.
Lead – I admire many leaders and many of them are women. They are remarkable not for being women, but for leading with excellence. Having just returned from India, Indira Gandhi is top of mind. Becoming prime minister of India in 1966, she led with strength and compassion to help build the world’s largest democracy. With a background in economics, I’m always interested in the way finance plays a role in society—it’s one of the reasons I’m so impressed by Christine Lagarde’s leadership at the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund. In these positions, she has redefined the role these institutions play in arresting climate change and enabling opportunities for women and young people in developing economies.
Closer to home, the Adobe & Women employee network is launching a new video series called Adobe WE (Women Executives Leadership series). These videos will feature candid conversations among female leaders at Adobe about topics of importance to us all, like navigating your career, building influence and exercising your seat at the table. These are great examples of women who create, focus and lead.
Watch the first episode in which Gladys Liu (Sr. Director Service Life Cycle and Product Operations), Lisa Graham (Sr. Director, Education GTM) and I discuss our non-linear career paths, how to find mentors and sponsors, when to make a career pivot, and how to navigate different seasons of your career. We had a lot of fun recording these conversations and hope you’ll gain some helpful insights and encouragement from them.
Something magical happens when strong, competent and honest women get together to talk. I emerged from the discussion feeling excited and challenged by the creativity, focus and leadership of these women and I hope you will too.
Happy Women’s History Month!