President’s Message: Empowerment

‘Empower’ is a buzz word that has almost lost its meaning in its ubiquity. It’s nearly everywhere you look and used by every group you can name.

Still, the word has ‘power,’ if you’ll forgive the redundancy. What if we could give women the authority to change society, the ability to solve problems in our community, and the confidence to take action in their personal and professional lives? That would be extraordinary. That would be accomplishing the vision of the Women’s Roundtable.

Authors of the book, Who Owns the Ice House? Eight Life Lessons from an Unlikely Entrepreneur, say, “the ability to choose the way we respond to our individual circumstances is perhaps the single most powerful ability we have as human beings.” And once we realize we have choices where previously we thought we were stuck in a helpless, hopeless situation, we are empowered.

The first step, then, to empowering women in the Erie region is to awaken them to the power they already have, the power to choose. In the midst of adversity, in the middle of lower pay for the same work, in the center of political and societal disadvantages, the power to choose is alive and well.

The authors, Taulbert and Schoeniger, go on to say that, “We presume that success requires us to possess rare talent or to have access to money, power, and privilege…. And by assuming that this is how it works, we inadvertently blind ourselves to opportunities as well as to our own untapped potential.”

When this blindness occurs we experience a phenomenon identified as learned helplessness. The definition of the psychological term is long but it boils down to this, we experience a disadvantage or hardship which blocks our success and later, when in a similar situation, faced with a similar disadvantage or hardship, we assume we have no choice but to accept the same result we had before. In fact, each additional time we face this we stop sooner. After awhile we don’t even try because we assume there is no way around the obstacle to achieve the success we once desired.

As the Women’s Roundtable moves into our thirtieth year our goal is to get better at accomplishing our mission, to connect, empower and recognize diverse women who share their knowledge and abilities with others; and to support the professional and personal development of women as leaders throughout the northwest PA region. As a board we are asking the questions, how do we empower ourselves and others? Are we missing opportunities? Are there places we have been stuck because we are blinded to our own untapped potential. And finally, how do we bring value to other women and in a significant way empower them to change society, solve problems in our community, and have the confidence to take action in their personal and professional lives?

We think this is an exciting and compelling conversation. Engage with us as we celebrate the last thirty years and explore the untapped potential of the next thirty years. Together, let’s see what empowerment really looks like.