A few weeks ago, the world received the news of Margaret Thatcher’s death at the age of 87. She was the first female prime minister of Great Britain and that country’s longest-serving prime minister of the 20th century.
My first memory of Thatcher isn’t really a memory of her at all, but it is symbolic of what it meant to have a woman in such a prominent leadership position. In the early 1980s, I was in elementary school. My gym teacher said something to the effect of “men are better than women at almost everything.” As I think back, I hope he was joking. But my sense of fairness was threatened, and I spoke up. “That’s not true—women can do anything,” I replied.
He thought for a moment and then asked me if I knew who was the prime minister of Great Britain. I was in the second grade at the time, and global politics were not at the forefront of my eight-year-old world. But, I knew it was important to get this question right, although I couldn’t identify exactly why. I hesitatingly replied, “Margaret Thatcher.” I remember that gym teacher’s look of surprise that I knew the answer; I was surprised myself. I was also proud.
As I think back to that experience, I’m grateful my second-grade daughter is living in a different time—one where these kinds of “jokes” meant to put down people are unacceptable. I’m also grateful that, in my personal and professional life, I work with leaders—both male and female—who stress the importance of education and life-long learning.
Internationally, despite many successes in women’s empowerment, a gender gap still exists. In fact, Amnesty International reports that gender-based discrimination puts women at increased risk of poverty, violence, ill health, and a poor education. Recently, I was privileged to see “Girl Rising,” an extraordinary film that tells the stories of nine girls from nine countries. The movie showcases the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to change the world. If you can, I urge you to see the film. Visit girlrising.com.
Maybe you haven’t thought about how education can change the world, but we in the APICS community know education and knowledge building are the underpinnings of a successful career. We also know the importance of connecting with others.
In this issue of APICS magazine, I’m excited to introduce you to three women who are leaders in supply chain. (The article begins on page 34.) Consider the following quote from Margaret Thatcher herself: “What is success? I think it is a mixture of having a flair for the thing you are doing; knowing that it is not enough, that you have got to have hard work and a certain sense of purpose.”
Read about the path these influential businesswomen took to get where they are today—and get inspired to work hard and find purpose in your own professional life. Then, I challenge you to find ways to encourage others to find purpose through education.