5 Fabulous Organizations Sculpting Tomorrow's Female Leaders

In business and politics, in the US, Asia and around the world, these institutions are looking to bring women to the forefront of their fields.

Sep 15, 2014
Special Collections: EXPAND YOUR MIND

Photo by Shutterstock

Women make up 50.8% of the US population; earn almost 60% of university degrees, and hold 52% of professional level jobs – yet the ladies are severely underrepresented in leadership positions, holding just 16.9% of Fortune 500 board seats and 14.6% of CEO positions. Around the world, trends are similar, with the global percentage of women in national parliaments sitting at 21%. But things are looking up – the rapid changes which began in the 1970s and 1980s are ongoing across the board, and today, these five groundbreaking organizations are working to get the gender equality ball rolling once again.  

1. CULTIVATING BUSINESSWOMEN: WOMEN UNLIMITED, INC.

The New York-based Women Unlimited, Inc. partners with top corporations to develop talented ladies in the business world into top level executives. Through three specialized programs – for emerging managers, women transitioning from managing to leading and senior executives – participants can gain confidence, networking skills and strategic training. To boost the effect, women who team up with this organization benefit from ongoing mentoring –preparing them to take the business world by storm.
LADIES FIRST: Women Unlimited, Inc. has worked with Fortune 1000 companies including Colgate-Palmolive, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Cisco Systems, to bring women to the forefront of decision-making in the organizations that sculpt today's global economy.

Photo by Shutterstock

2. INSPIRING ACTION: LEAN IN

Sheryl Sandberg's nonprofit Lean In – a Goodnet favorite - strives to empower women and help them achieve their goals - right now. And if anyone would know how to do that, it's Sandberg - Facebook's hugely influential COO. The online platform is a treasure trove of content, split into three distinct sections – inspiration, education and circles. The inspiration section shares short, motivational stories, the education collection offers a growing library of free online lectures, and the circles component coordinates small meet-up groups to support and empower women.
LADIES FIRST: One powerful feature on the site is a photography collaboration with Getty Images – a library of over 3,000 images devoted to depicting girls and women in an empowering way. From artists and engineers, old and young, smiling and grunting, the images are truly captivating, and inspiring to behold.

Screenshot: Lean In

3. GROOMING EASTERN FUTURES: ASIAN UNIVERSITY FOR WOMEN

With a focus on social justice and empowerment, the Asian University for Women shapes future leaders in South Asia – women who otherwise might not have had access to tertiary education at all. Located in Chittagong, Bangladesh, the institution believes that female leadership is essential to establish gender equality in terms of both status and opportunity, and to redress social, political and institutional barriers to the advancement of women.
LADIES FIRST: All classes at AUW are taught in English - to best prepare students to become regional leaders capable of communicating in the global sphere. The institution provides pre-matriculation programs to help girls from disadvantaged backgrounds get up to speed.

Screenshot: AUW

4. ADVOCATING FOR CHANGE: THE BOSTON CLUB

The Boston Club has a dual mission – to bring outstanding women together, and to advocate for their advancement to top leadership positions. From corporate executives, entrepreneurs, attorneys and financial advisers to marketing consultants, college presidents and nonprofit leaders, the organization believes that the more women there are in significant, visible roles, the better companies will perform and economies will develop.
LADIES FIRST: From its establishment as a luncheon club in 1976, The Boston Club has only gotten stronger, rallying for equal rights legislation, winning corporate sponsorship, supporting community volunteering and running peer-to-peer mentoring.  

Illustrative photo: Shutterstock

5. PREPARING TO LEAD: WOMEN'S CAMPAIGN SCHOOL AT YALE

The Women's Campaign School at Yale University doesn't just teach women – it teaches women to become leaders. The school aims to increase the number – and influence – of women in elected and appointed office, in the United States and around the world. The summer program is purposefully intense, mimicking the hard work of a political campaign. Sessions include sculpting a campaign image, polling, fundraising, ethical leadership and digital campaigns, and ends with mock campaign presentations.
LADIES FIRST: If anyone can speak for this  institution it's WCSYale graduate, US Senator Kirsten Gilibrand, whose recent book Off The Sidelines: Raise Your Voice, Change the World urges women to get involved in the political process. For giggles and inspiration, check out her interview on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart discussing the book.

Screenshot: The Daily Show

As well as managing Goodnet.org, Elana writes happy headlines with a particular focus on yoga, meditation and family matters. She has a background in online journalism and web content.

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