• Olivia Graham

The Importance of Role Models in Equality

I find this is a very auspicious time to be reflecting on Women’s Equality. It is hard not to smile when picturing our very first female vice president, hard at work to make this country what it can be. In the words of the late, great Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” It is hard to imagine that only this year, in 2021 we have finally made room for a woman in the house where decisions are made daily that affect our lives. I think I speak for many many women when I say, it’s about damn time.

To fully appreciate Kamala’s achievement, we must look at what obstacles she had to overcome to get to where she is and the people who helped her get there. If the pandemic taught us anything, it is that even the strongest individuals need support if they want to make a lasting difference. Born in Oakland, California, Mrs. Harris comes from both Black and Indian heritage. As a biracial woman attending college in the 80’s Kamala had to work harder and exhibit more discipline than most to get just as far, making her 2016 Senate appointment historic.

As the first Indian American to serve as a U.S. senator and the second Black woman, Kamala represented a possibility to many, which had not existed before. We have to ask ourselves how, without crucial role models in positions of power that resembled herself, Kamala was able to forge a new path. When somebody grows up with superheroes or movie stars that look like them, it makes them think that their potential is limitless.

It is easier to picture yourself in positions of power when you are shown that it is possible for somebody like you. Yet even today in 2021 when you google superhero, CEO, or President you see an overwhelming amount of a very similar thing. Why don’t we share stories of the women who stood in line to vote to make it possible for Kamala Harris and Joe Biden to have been elected? Or the women who have taken great risks to get resources to others who don’t have the same opportunities? We keep recycling the same stories of the same role models and wonder why they all look the same.

This Women’s Equality Day we must challenge ourselves not only to celebrate the women who have broken barriers or achieved success, but also to support the next generation of women trying to do the same. Cheer Partners was founded and continues to be run by women. Our leaders understand that it is our job as women who have been supported by women before us to pay it forward. This year and every year to follow we must seek out and identify opportunities to lift female professionals up at every level through amplification and making more room at the tables we’re at. That said, make no mistake, to achieve true parity and equality for women we need the men who are in positions of power to make some room. Anybody who finds themselves in a position to take a chance on somebody who looks different, sounds different, thinks differently or shows up differently should be doing so. We will achieve equality when every child has a role model that they can see themselves in to aspire to.