Today is National American Business Women’s Day!
The date marks the formation of the American Business Women’s Association on September 22, 1949. The holiday itself was first recognized in 1983. Since the association’s mission encourages businesswomen to support and recognize one another, we’d like to take a moment to look at the journey women in business have taken in America.
Before women were able to enter the traditional workforce, they found alternative paths to make a difference. Jane Addams in the late 1800s and early 1900s pioneered the idea of settlement houses with her Hull House, a beacon of community for those disenfranchised. Because of her non-profit business-style approach, Jane became the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Price.
Throughout history, women revolutionized industries previously tailored to them as simply consumers, such as fashion and beauty. Coco Chanel, in the early 20th century, became the first designer to create fashion-centric clothing with jersey material and later, with the launch of Chanel No. 5, became the first to cross from the fashion industry into fragrance. In the mid-century, Estee Lauder founded her own beauty company and revolutionized marketing with the still-used “gift with purchase” deal. A modern day example, Oprah Winfrey built a media empire and international reputation.
Today, women are transforming previously exclusively male industries like finance, healthcare, and technology. However, challenges remain, as indicated by the mere 4% that is female CEOs on the Fortune 500 list this year.
To celebrate those female CEOs that are transforming the Fortune 500, let’s take a quick look at the competitors, market drivers, and regions that are spiking around these top Fortune 500 female CEOs, as detected by FirstRain’s Spiking Topics.
Fortune Global 500 #20 – Mary T. Barra, General Motors. Celebrate with @mtbarra
Fortune Global 500 #82– Virginia M. Rometty, IBM. Celebrate with @GinniRometty
Fortune Global 500 #127 – Indra K. Nooyi, PepsiCo. Celebrate with @IndraNooyi
Here at FirstRain, we are proud of our history of female executives. Our current CEO is YY Lee, who has two decades of experience in leading technology startups and global businesses. Penny Herscher, our former CEO and now executive chairman frequently discusses women and technology both in her speaking and on her blog. Our Managing Director, Aparna Gupta has played a variety of technical leadership roles spanning software engineering, content R&D, and product. These notable women, alongside many others, have helped shape companies like FirstRain, IBM, GM, and Pepsico to become leaders in gender equality in the workplace.
Now, that’s something worth celebrating.
Check out this historical timeline of entrepreneurial women in America made in partnership with Microsoft.