A fire escape, a medical syringe, bulletproof fiber, and a life raft walk into a bar…Do you know what these 4 LIFE-SAVING designs have in common?! Women created ALL of these absolute game changers! If those heroic inventions weren’t impressive enough, try a few personal life-altering ones of mine: the ice-cream maker, coffee filters, retractable dog leashes, THE FIRST MONOPOLY GAME! (Elizabeth Magie; 1904. We need to give you credit immediately, Ms. Magie.) Women have not only created some of the extremely useful tools we use in our everyday lives, but they have also founded and run incredible companies we all know and love! (Birchbox, Build-A-Bear Workshop, The Body Shop – just to name a few!) With this article, we would like to celebrate women’s history month by celebrating women-owned businesses and culture as well.
Women From Different Cultures
Women of all races and cultures have been shattering glass ceilings and paving paths for others to follow in their grand footsteps since the dawn of time. In the 1800s leading all the way into the 1900s, trailblazer Susan B. Anthony spent the majority of her 86-year life courageously fighting not only for women’s rights but overall equality across cultures. From collecting anti-slavery petitions at the age of 17 to becoming an agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society at age 36, Susan B. Anthony is recognized as a pioneer crusader for her fearless devotion to equality across the board, regardless of gender or culture. If only she knew, 14 years after her passing her efforts were proven to not be in vain, when women were finally given the right to vote with the 19th amendment, which was fittingly nicknamed “The Susan B. Anthony Amendment”, in her honor.
Since March of 1987, the United States has designated the month of March to celebrate the incredible accomplishments and innumerable contributions of women. Between 1988 and 1994 Congress passed additional decrees requesting the President to proclaim March as “Women’s History Month”. This compared to “Women’s History Week, which began March 7, 1982. Since 1995, Presidents of the United States have issued a series of yearly proclamations designating March as Women’s History Month to honor their profound accomplishments, groundbreaking work, and historical success.
Back to Business!
Did you know, according to a 2019 Annual Business Survey, women-owned businesses account for approximately 1.1 million (19.9%) of businesses in the United States today!? By 2017, women-owned businesses produced more than $1.7 TRILLION in profits and employed nearly 9 MILLION people. Equally as impressive, one in five firms with revenue of $1 million or more is…you guessed it; woman–owned! How about them million-dollar apples?! “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made”, the late and beloved, Ruth Bader Ginsburg reminds us. As the notorious RBG displayed throughout her own life, many decisions made by women have led to some priceless accomplishments.
Women-Owned Businesses? – Hey, That’s Us!
I’m incredibly pleased to say Eastern Engineering Group also falls into this category of Women-Owned Businesses. With the help of our fearless, kind, and encouraging leader, Raissa Lopez, Eastern Engineering Group has proudly completed over 9,000 projects over the course of 15 years. Amongst our skilled staff, you can find incredibly talented female engineers brimming with knowledge and innovative ideas. With the perfect mix of education topped with the cherry of incomparable experience, our engineers make dreams a reality.
One of our brilliant engineers, Jennifer Cruz, reminds us not only of the importance education brings but that of experience throughout life as well, that we derive from our “structural roots” – our cultures, our families, as well as our gender. “Family transmits habits and customs. It is a person’s first school”. When interviewing her mother during a Culture Interaction project, Cruz reflected on the fact that she had previously guessed her mother would choose “education” as one of her top 4 most treasured values in life. Although she guessed 3 chosen values correctly (age, family, and race), she was actually not surprised when her mother chose “gender” as one of her top picks.
“Women have been able to break society outlines. Nowadays, they have been included in politics, army, education and health fields”. While her mother instilled in her the importance of education in efforts for success, she has found experiences learned and derived through roots of gender and culture, have also proven priceless. She as well as her mother are proud of being Latin. She sheds light on the fact that Latin American people are emotionally strong. They are able to immigrate to any country in order to attain success and achieve goals.
Business Across Cultures
Let’s talk business. No, I mean let’s talkkkkk, Business! One of the most vital aspects of running any business, regardless of the owner’s gender, is communication. “Culture can have an impact on a person’s ability to communicate with another”, Cruz points out. Cultural norms can affect a person’s experiences in life and therefore their interpretation of the world. Due to this underlying factor, a person predominantly raised in the United States may have a different way of thinking than that of someone raised in an underdeveloped country. It isn’t EVERY country that your undeniable NEED for coffee can be satisfied on nearly every street corner, and your panic can be soothed by the sight of a green and white two-tailed mermaid with a star crown. 😉
To easily interact with people within another culture, or with different beliefs, it is necessary to understand a global concept of some cultures, and avoid ethnocentrism, stereotyping, prejudice, and cultural relativism. “We are only as blind as we want to be” the wonderfully wise, Maya Angelou assured us. We must make the active conscious decision to keep an open mind and open heart. Therefore, enabling open communication and understanding when connecting across cultures. Our minds may not always understand what we hear right away; but if we keep an open heart, we are more likely to bridge the gap between what we don’t understand and what we do. “I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.” The exceptional Ms. Angelou strikes again!
Ok Ladies, Now Let’s Get IN – FORMATION!
Alright, I’ve quoted Beyoncé twice now; do I have your attention? At the end of the day, we are all a part of the SAME world. Different cultures, backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences all create the different colors that come together to form one giant stunning rainbow we call Earth. Communication and understanding are key foundations to coexisting as a collective and creating a world to its highest potential. “I’m a very strong believer in listening and learning from others” RBG pointed out. One cannot objectively examine the beliefs and perceptions within other cultures when they are not culturally aware or open to the differences across the world.
If knowledge is power, then information is truly priceless. The more bricks of knowledge one can obtain through learning from others to add to their “sack-of-know-how”, the more foundational tools they will have at their disposal when building and creating the foundations of their own lives, as well as businesses. On the other hand, stereotypes can arrive when you make generalizations about what you see in cultures other than your own. Even worse, you then assume these characteristics are uniform across the entire population of people from this culture. While people from the same culture, MAY have some characteristics in common, this is not to say anyone is identical.
Be Human, Be humane
As humans, we are all exposed to different and ever-changing environments. These cannot be explained or understood by blanketing an entire culture into one category. People from the same culture, are all individuals in their own right. “We all have our purpose, we all have our strengths.” (Three. That’s three Beyoncé quotes of inspiration, all for you!) Embracing these strengths amongst one another, and keeping values of different cultures alive, only creates a life filled with more delicious flavors and delights. Can you imagine a world without Mexican-inspired tacos, Italian-style family dinners, authentic Japanese SUSHI?! That’s just not a life entirely worth living if you ask me.
Acknowledging and appreciating the value brought to the world within the incredible mix of cultures amongst us, help broaden not only our pallets but also our minds, our horizons, and gives us a more open-minded understanding of one another. Thus, cultural awareness offsets stereotypes, with the understanding that although members of any culture may have many similarities throughout, people are individuals with their own personalities, preferences, and experience.
The Women, The Myths, The Legends
Throughout this article are mentions and quotes of strength, knowledge, and enlightenment derived from some of the most influential, successful, and history-changing women of all time. In the order they were mentioned, Beyoncé, Susan B. Anthony, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Maya Angelou- all stem from different roots, yet come together to form one remarkable bouquet of women.
Susan B. Anthony was an American social reformer born in 1820 to a Quaker family, which inspired her belief that everyone is equal under God. Her mother was from a family who fought in the American Revolution, as well as served in the Massachusetts state government, while her father was a farmer.
Beyoncé’s father is African American, while her mother is of Louisiana Creole descent (French, Native American, and African). Beyoncé is not only a chart-topping household name artist, but she’s also the founder of a women-owned business herself! Parkwood Entertainment is an American management and entertainment company founded by Ms. Queen B herself back in 2010.
And the list keeps going…
Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s father was a Jewish emigrant from Odesa, Ukraine, while her mother was born in New York to parents from Kraków Poland. The monumental impact made on American businesses, particularly Women-Owned Businesses, by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, cannot be overstated, and undoubtedly helped gain her the nickname, “The Notorious RBG”.
Maya Angelou’s heritage is of African American descent, which she spent years of her life in Ghana discovering. She has made unforgettable countless strides throughout her life with her incredible efforts during the Civil Rights movements. And with due mention, her memoir “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” altered the literary world and busted open the doors for African American authors and women.
Women are some of the most powerful, innovative, intelligent, courageous, committed, ambitious, heroic beings to gracefully walk the planet. And as you can see, these women are irreplaceableeee!
*And to give the brilliant inventors the recognition they deserve, credit goes as follows:
Fire Escape – Anna Connelly (1887)
Medical Syringe –Letitia Geer (1899)
Bulletproof Fiber – Stephanie Kwolek (1966)
Life Rafts – Maria Beasley (1882)
Ice Cream Maker – Nancy Johnson (1843)
Coffee Filters- Melitta Benz (1908)
Retractable Dog Leash – Mary A. Delaney (1908)
The First Monopoly Game – Elizabeth Magie – OUR GIRL!!! (1904)
Eastern Engineering Group – Raissa Lopez, PE
Birchbox –Katia Beauchamp
Build-A-Bear – Maxine Clark
The Body Shop – AnitaRoddick
Info on Women’s History Month:
Info on Susan B Anthony: