My mom and I had an interesting conversation recently about how women have been given the freedom to do and say whatever they want whenever without apologizing for it.
Actually, we weren’t given it. We fought to get it, and that’s freaking awesome. Case in point: Emma Watson standing up for gender equality to the UN and Jennifer Lawrence calling Hollywood’s hand on paying her less than her male co-stars.
When I pointed out that women got it because they fought for it and that I get excited over it, she said she never imagined me to be a raging feminist (not in those exact words, but the point was there). Well, no, I’m not a raging feminist; I won’t be the woman that lets my armpit hair grow wild and free to show that I’m my boyfriend’s equal.
I’ll just be the one that says no to being paid 33 cents less than a man for doing the same job and the one that won’t let anybody else tell me what I need to be and do and when.
I’ll never forget what my mom said to me that night: “You’re lucky to be your age right now. You have so many opportunities. I think it’s the fact that you can do what you want and not feel any pressure to conform or to worry about a timeline.”
That excites me, and what excites me even more is that women (especially those in Charlotte) are owning it.
Today’s Charlotte Woman describes the Charlotte Woman as “savvy and self-assured,” as well as goal and achievement driven, with a majority of us holding a college or post-graduate degree.
A study done in 2013 cements the idea that Charlotte women have earned the right to live life the way that they want to.
Women in Charlotte are brilliant. 31% of women over the age of 25 hold a bachelor’s or post-graduate degree – did you know that only 28% of the nation as a whole can say that? Their college education raises earning potential, but, interestingly enough, doesn’t close the gender gap when it comes to pay (women are making $0.78 on the dollar).
But it doesn’t stop us.
Career-wise, 64% of Charlotte women are in the workforce and making more than women working in other parts of North Carolina as a whole. Of women with families, 75% are ditching the idea of being a stay-at-home mom in favor of raising their kids and advancing their careers at the same time.
I used to nanny for a family whose parents both worked full time, and they’re living proof that it works. Who said you can’t do both? But you don’t have to. Nobody thinks less of the woman – or man – that puts children ahead of career.
The numbers prove it. As of the 2007 census, 31.1% of businesses in Charlotte were owned by women. That number’s grown, and today, some of the biggest businesses in Charlotte are women-driven: The Greene Group, with over 4,200 employees, is 51% owned by Tana Greene, Integra Staffing & Search, with 780 employees, is 100% owned by Michelle Fish, and CEO Inc./Xcentri, a CEO company with over 500 employees, is 99% owned by Debby Millhouse.
The coolest part about being a young adult woman with a dream in Charlotte is that it really feels like we’ve got each other’s backs. Take the Pink Social Girl Tribe: Carrie Barker and Sarah Baucom began their own business and rather than compete with like businesses, they’ve helped build each other up – and that’s how the Tribe originated. Over 1,000 women now call the Pink Social Girl Tribe home and for them, it’s about ending the girl-on-girl war that seemed to stick with us after high school and instead root for each other’s businesses and success.
Tell me that’s not cool and doesn’t make you feel warm and supported inside.
I’m so excited and inspired by these stats and the women around me that I feel too big for my body. Now more than ever, I’m itching to get out and make my mark on Charlotte. My mom’s right: there is absolutely no better time be a woman and no better place to do it.
Ladies of Charlotte, we’re killing it.
Cover image via Pink Social Girl Tribe.