The IBJ Women of Influence are trailblazers, innovators, and leaders in their field with a host of wisdom to share. During her featured talk at the event honoring this year’s award winner, Jennifer Rumsey, Vice President and Chief Technical Officer of Cummins, talked about when her husband gave up his career to support hers and what she learned during that experience. She explained as women that we tend to try to take on the world, which can be overwhelming and unrealistic. After some time, she realized that she wasn’t meant to be superwomen; that would never work. She was meant to find constructive ways to promote equality that benefitted both men and women at the company. “Don’t try to be superwoman; try to be real and make an impact,” said Jennifer.
As women, we have a unique, but underrepresented perspective that can contribute to the success of our industries. Men cannot solve the world’s problems on their own, though women continue to occupy fewer leadership roles and receive lower compensation than their male counterparts. A level playing field in business and industry would lead to a positive impact on our world in so many intricate ways. Equality for women means progress for all.
IBJ Women of Influence have taught us not to blend in with the crowd, but rather own the fact that we are women in male-dominated roles and industries. Some are still surprised when a woman has a technical job or a high-powered position, but we hope to become a world where that is as commonplace for a woman as it is for a man. To accomplish this goal, “we need more diversity and inclusion in STEM fields,” Jennifer told the Indiana Business Journal. “We need to leverage all the talent available to solve the tough challenges in our world. That means we need to attract more students to STEM education and careers, as well as creating workplaces that recognize and work to overcome biases, empowering all individuals, valuing differences, and encouraging all employees to best use their talents.”
Empowering and encouraging others is another focus of IBJ Women of Influence. Raising others up instead of tearing them down is an important step to aligning our current systems and structures to a more just and fair standard. Surround yourself with people that can help you make a positive impact on others. This also means standing up for those who are victims of our broken systems. Instead of ignoring our own or others’ latent biases, call them out. We cannot strive for growth without being stretched out of our comfort zone.
While things are far from perfect, the world does seem to be shifting in the right direction. In our most recent election, we saw the House of Representatives elect a record number of women. Historic “firsts” were achieved: the first two Muslim women and the first Native American woman elected to Congress, Tennessee’s first female Senator was elected, and many more. It can be easy to position these women, and others in leadership roles, as “superwomen” who can offer more than an average woman, but no one person is capable of doing it on their own. What we can do is be real with one another. We can empower and build a foundation for ourselves and the young women that come after us.
Thanks to all of the Women of Influence for positively impacting the communities you work and live in, as well as driving workplace diversity. We value you!