Black women are the most educated group in the United States, yet black women are still not equally represented when it comes to leadership in this country. In 2009, companies in the fortune 500 experienced its first African American woman CEO, Ursula Burns of Xerox. It is now that cities such as Boston and Illinois have their own “first Black Women” stories, as Ayana Presley and Lauren Underwood represent their communities from powerful elected offices.
A Black woman’s capacity to build her business, wealth, and lead in this country is ultimately constrained by the intersection of racial and gender disadvantages. Women of color want to be leaders in their communities, they want to lead a successful business and make differences in the world, yet they aren’t given the same opportunities as white women or men. As I have grown into adulthood, I have realized that opportunities for women of color must be provided by other women of color who see value in the representation we hold. The visibility of black women in leadership is to the young black girls looking for an example of who they could one day become.
In August of 2015, I successfully completed a 6 month co-op at Medtronic; as I was pursuing to be an engineer at the time. My experience there allowed me to see first hand what life could be like after college and although I was grateful for the experience, I couldn’t get over the fact that women and more so black women were hardly represented in companies like Medtronic. I knew that companies needed a different representation of leadership and I know that women like me have a lot to offer. I decided to start Get Girls Going that summer as a way to encourage and empower black women and girls to be leaders and entrepreneurs. I have always believed that if someone doesn’t invite you to sit at their table, you build your own table and you invite other people to sit at it. America may never fully understand the importance of having black women at the table but if we can show other black girls that building our tables is a possibility then she can show them that they too have the ability to make an impact despite all they have to endure.
We know that when we teach black girls how to tap into their entrepreneurial spirit, they create marketable solutions to problems in their communities that work not just for themselves but for everyone. “Entrepreneuring the future of leadership” means establishing a world where our representation of leadership is equitable, prosperous, and impactful. Being an entrepreneur is the ultimate leadership experience because it means being able to take risks, make sacrifices, and leading a team in order to create positive change in this world. Get Girls Going will use entrepreneurship as a tool to bridge the gap between potential and success for young black girls and women in this country.