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How One 15-Year-Old Girl Is Changing the Future for Women in Business


A young lady by the name of Adora Svitak wants nothing more than to eradicate the gender inequalities that continue to impede women’s progress. We’ll take a look at how this 15-year-old feminist is changing the landscape for women and young ladies in business around the globe.

tedtalks on vulnerability

(Photo Credit: XPRIZE Foundation/Flickr)

Adora Svitak first made her mark on the world in her 2010 TEDTalks presentation where she urged adults to learn from younger generations, rather than dismiss their abilities and ideas. In life, adults tend to lose that child-like innocence that made them the fearless, curious, and happy kids they once were, which can gravely affect their career potential. Svitak encourages the adult population to listen, learn, trust, and expect more from kids so that they can turn out to be “better adults” than today’s grown-ups, because “the way progress happens is [when] new generations and new eras grow and develop and become better than the previous ones.”

Do You Know What You're Worth?

In addition to being a voice of her young generation, Svitak also is a proud feminist whose true calling is fighting for women’s rights. In fact, at the tender age of 14, Svitak won the Women’s Media Center’s Girls’ State of the Union video contest, which had a panel of judges that included Gloria Steinem, Carol Jenkins, Kyra Sedgwick, and Marisa Tomei. Svitak’s winning video entry addressed the many stereotypes and inequalities that women are subjected to on a daily basis that contribute to gender biases plaguing the professional world. 

Studies show that women, as a whole, earn less than men, but there’s more than what meets the eye when you look at the facts. According to PayScale’s infographic that examines the fallacy of the gender wage gap, “[M]en and women gravitate towards different careers,” and “[t]he most popular choices for men tend to pay higher than the most popular choices for women.” For instance, two industries that have the greatest earning potential that are also dominated by males are the tech industry and the financial services industry — however, that’s not to say women aren’t making a name for themselves in both of these fields. In order to see more females in leadership and C-suite positions, there needs to be more powerful women role models succeeding in male-dominated industries, just as Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg did for the tech industry and Beth Mooney did for banking.

Society has become so consumed with outward appearances and petty matters when it comes to females, especially powerful ones, that many women are judged on how well they style their hair, or how perfect their bodies are, and not on how well they lead a company or fight for a worthy cause. As Svitak points out in her Girls’ State of the Union video, the successful women she looks up to probably didn’t gain their success from “Barbie-esque figures.” She believes it “took smarts and persistence and hard work,” but unfortunately, “these aren’t the traits that are emphasized” for little girls. How do we expect young ladies to grow up and become leaders of the world if society continues to glorify the atrocities that are the women of modern day reality TV and gossip magazines? Something needs to change.

What does Svitak’s ideal world look like? She told Forbes in an interview that, “Success on the front of women’s rights will look like a world not only with obvious advances — where no girl is denied access to education, for instance — but also one with more subtle changes in how we regard gender and gender stereotypes.” A girl can dream, right? We all hope that those dreams become a reality someday soon, too.

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What other female role models have inspired you throughout your career? Share your thoughts on Twitter or in the comments section below.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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