businesswoman climbing career ladder2014 is the “Year of the Woman.” That’s a pretty bold statement, but we have the data to back it up. And here to help us do that is one successful woman who has made quite a name for herself in the business world – Dr. Tracey Wilen.

As a prominent thought leader on the impact of technology on society, work and careers; an author of 11 books; named 2012 Most Influential Woman in Bay Area Business by the San Francisco Business Times; and with a slew of media appearances under her belt, Wilen definitely knows a thing or two about women and the workplace.

Read on to discover 10 of the most exciting trends for women and why Wilen believes 2014 will be such an influential year for the ladies.

What is women’s history month?

According to womenshistorymonth.gov, in 1987, after petitions from the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9, which selected the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.”

Wikipedia explains that during this month each year people around the world celebrate the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. The U.S., UK, and Australia all celebrate during the month of March, corresponding with International Women’s Day on March 8 (which started in 1911).

Trend 1: Women “sharks” on the rise

Shark Tank is a popular U.S. TV show that showcases a growing trend in the U.S. toward entrepreneurship.  Are women participating in this movement?

Yes. I am very excited about the reports and updates from the Kaufmann Institute, The Small Business Administration (SBA), and  modern day shows like Shark Tank as it confirms that women (and men) of all ages have many career options and starting and owning a business is a viable option.

  • Women-owned businesses present the fastest growing segments in the U.S. economy; they grew 44 percent from 1997-2007, which is two times as fast as male owned firms.
  • Around 8.6 million women-owned firms generate 1.3 trillion in revenue and employ 7.8 million people.
  • VC firms that invest in women-led businesses performed better than all men-led businesses, according to the SBA Office of Advocacy.

Trend 2: Women in the driver’s seat

Mary Barra becoming the CEO of General Motors was recent news; however, the number of women as CEOs in Fortune 500 firms are not increasing as fast as women hoped. What is your perspective on women taking control of the driver’s seat?

According to the Catalyst group, women currently hold 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions and 4.6 percent of Fortune 1000 CEO positions.

I think it is important to look at trends that are occurring in real time. For example in the 2000’s we have seen women pursue and move into leadership and Fortune 500 firms CEO roles such as:

-Meg Whitman (Ebay 1998-2008) who ran for governor (2010) and then become the CEO of HP in 2011;

-Ginny Rommety CEO IBM  (2012);

-Marisa Mayer CEO Yahoo(2012); and now

-Mary Barra (Jan 2014) and upcoming Susan N. Story will become CEO of American Water Works Company, Inc. on May 9, 2014.

Just looking at Fortune 500-100 firms, a study by Grant Thornton indicates that pipeline is important—higher percentages increase the likelihood and line positions. Women’s expectations have increased. (Women in senior management, 2013)

I view that women are moving into the driver seat in Fortune 500 firms but I think they are already there in non- Fortune 500 firms and that is where the job growth is in the U.S.

Trend 3: Young firms offer jobs for women

Can you explain your statement on young firms as leadership opportunities for women?

I think it is important for us to look at where job creation is coming from for us to understand where the leadership trend is heading and will be in the future. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the younger firms (under 5 years) are the more jobs they create regardless of size.

This is an important trend to note because many of us assumed that the only employment is with large firms when in reality the growth and opportunity is happening with young firms of all sizes.

Trend 4: Women are going for the gold

We just watched the Sochi Olympics and you note that women are going for the gold. How so?

In the recent Sochi Olympics, a Dutch female athlete won the most medals of any athlete at that Olympic- 2 Gold and 3 silver medals. And, in 2012 the U.S. had more women than men participating in the summer Olympics (269 vs. 261). You might remember that American women teams accounted for 56 percent of the U.S. medals and 66 percent of the gold medals. This challenges three myths about women: they don’t like to compete, they don’t like to win, and they are not team players. Women are going for the gold.

Trend 5: Women are becoming “tech heads”

How have women adapted to technology?

The research shows that women are fast adopters of technology, particularly technology that they find useful such as mobile devices, social media, and online shopping. Women also influence consumer electronic purchasing. One of the electronic association notes that 70 percent of jobs by 202 will have a technology component. I think that women adapt and use technology and this is important for employability.

Here are a few examples:

  • Women are the top users of Instagram, Pinterest, and other social media on mobile phones.
  • Women account for 58 percent of all total online spending.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this article for the next five trends!



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