Empowering women: ‘The List’

Posted by on Apr 28, 2014 in Inspiration | 0 comments


There is a strange condition that pervades social media circles. It’s called ‘The List.’ This list is much like other lists in our lives except that its purpose is to highlight the most powerful, most influential, most knowledgeable and most successful. The List represents the peak of achievement and it is important. It can lead to business opportunities, financial reward and self growth. Yet, The List has not changed much since I  took my first steps on the social medial path five years ago. The List, like a lot of social media hype, may be becoming stagnant.

Mind you, the people who make The List rarely choose to be on it and more often than not, they have worked hard to earn the recognition being afforded to them. But recently, every time The List shows up on one of the various platforms with which I engage, I start to hear the dim of noise; in fact, I posit that The List is falling on deaf ears and blind eyes.

And so, I have to pose the question: when does The List start to do a disservice to those it honors and to those to whom it is directed? And what is its actual purpose?

A friend pointed out to me that at least this week’s iteration of The List focuses on women and that we truly have enough of that focus, even in social media which is, for all intents and purpose, another arm of marketing and communications. And while I agree to a certain degree, it is the same list of great women that has been published time and again. Moreover, The List is devoid of a balance of amazing women of color, young up and comers and women from all corners of the earth who may be doing wonderful, important, attention-warranting things but much more quietly and with far less accolades.

Are these lists that continue to pervade our lives a good thing?

In so far as shopping and reminders and buckets, I would say unequivocally, yes. Reminders are important for those of us in particular whose hormones tend to cause a condition called ‘menobrain.’ However, the other lists, the top 10s, most important, most influential, powerful gurus, rockstars, visionaries and like are akin to being chosen first for a game of kickball in grade school. While most people watch and wait on the sidelines, anxiously biting their nails in case they are the last to be added to a team, the same people are revered and awed time and again.

I strongly believe that women need more recognition professionally. I know some of the List women personally and I am grateful and happy to call some my friend. Others, I have crossed paths with at various business functions and I am proud of their achievements. However, I have also witnessed firsthand what exclusion does to a person’s drive and feelings of self worth. I have heard women of color discuss how the tech world treats them, and their regular exclusion as speakers at conferences. And I have met young women who believe that they’ll never ever achieve what X person on The List has achieved. And to each and every one of these women, I want to share that The List is irrelevant, not the women on The List but The List itself. It doesn’t matter; no one is paying attention anymore.

To those of you who feel an inclination to recreate the wheel over and over again, I challenge you to look outside the box and truly engage with others who are doing great things on a smaller scale. To the women who worship The List, I challenge you to start recognizing how wonderful and powerful you are without someone telling you that you are. And to women of color, I apologize because I find it appalling that we continue to discuss the challenges that you face without doing enough about it.

As women, we owe it to the next generation to find a way to communicate that making The List is not empowering; what is empowering is recognizing the sum of our achievements as women. Less noise, more signal.


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