Women are remarkable. They are nurturers, lovers, sensual beings, and life-givers to humanity. Yet, women have been subject to discrimination, oppression, and inequality for centuries.
Women have proven to be just as capable, intelligent, innovative, and influential as men when given the opportunity, even when all odds are stacked against them. We’ve seen women in history books leading the charge in innovation and technology — although not widely celebrated, they do exist. And in recent years, women have been taking more of the lead in business and paving new pathways for humanity and our future on Planet Earth.
In this article, we’ll briefly discuss gender inequality, talk about the difference between male and female leading, and highlight some female entrepreneurs who are doing some fantastic things in sustainability.
Women And Equality
If you think that, because you’re a woman, you’re not as strong, not as intelligent, not as [fill in the blank] as men, you are so wrong, lady. We’re not saying women are better than men. This is not about being “better than” anyone. But women are just as valuable and important to our existence as men.
Humanity needs men and women for it to thrive. But we’re conditioned to fit into our gendered boxes, which is an issue because not everyone fits. In fact, most of us don’t.
Women have been subject to pressures to become a wife and a mother, yet not everyone wants those things. At the same time, men have been conditioned to be “tough”.
For generations, boys have been told to “man up” and stop crying. Any sign of emotion was a sign of “weakness.” We raised boys in toxic environments, and now as adults, they’re running corporations. So it’s no wonder the culture of many companies is toxic.
But enough about men; this is about women. Because of the conditioning women have endured for centuries, when it comes to the workforce, there is a confidence gap (7). Women are inherently less confident than their male counterparts. This is just one hurdle women face in the four-hundred-mile hurdles race of a lifetime.
Our confidence—or lack of—stems from centuries of oppression. The oppression has existed since the beginning of time. In Ancient Greece, oppression was rife. Women didn’t have equal rights, and their sole purpose was to breed, nurture, and serve men. Greek Goddesses were oppressed. Goddesses were often dominated by their male counterparts and barred from embodying their powers (3, 4).
In old texts and stories about women, and even some more modern publications written by men, women have often been perceived as these alluring and mysterious creatures that men can never fully understand. So perhaps this fear of women’s power is why our whole existence throughout time has involved ways to minimize our potential.
Are men afraid women will overpower them with their beguiling, mystical, mysterious, feminine energy? It’s possible—but unlikely. Women just want one thing; equality.
While many of us are in relatively healthy relationships with our partners, if you look at women globally vs. men globally, we are at war. In many countries, men still have all of the control. Countries like Afghanistan have made it difficult for girls to have the same education as boys (even before Biden exited) (10). Women are not treated as equals from birth in many countries, and it’s so ingrained into the culture that many women (and men) don’t recognize that it is an injustice against women.
Women have an equal and sometimes higher emotional intelligence than men and perform better academically (8,9). This doesn’t necessarily mean women are more intelligent than men. But in most instances, the only way men have been able to oppress women is through physical threat and violence.
If society had given women the same status as men from the beginning of time, women would never revolt against men. Women would never feel injustice. Women would rarely protest or make bold accusations against men. They wouldn’t need to because women and men would coexist in a healthy, equal partnership.
In any case, incredible things happen when young girls are encouraged and nurtured. There are so many inventions and innovations and businesses that were discovered and founded by women, and without them, we would be in a very different place.
Planet-First, Profit Later
Back in the old corporate days, during the “boys club,” empathy and compassion were seen as a weakness in a corporate setting. Yet today, it’s something many companies strive for in their core values. Showing employees empathy and compassion makes for a stronger company and better employee morale.
In the current climate, as we watch the world burn around us, companies are scrambling to fix the broken systems they created in the first place—and only because they have to. The existing corporations that got us into this predicament mainly were founded and run by men. While not blaming men, there is a genuine possibility that if more women had held higher positions of power, perhaps we wouldn’t be in such a dire situation today.
We will never know what the world would look like if women were running it, or even if women always had an equal seat at the table. Yet, history has proven that male leaders are more concerned about financial gains than anything else.
Reports show that Exxon, the fifth-largest pollutant globally, knew climate change was an issue 40 years ago, 11 years before it became public knowledge. At this time, Exxon spent millions to promote misinformation (5) by conducting research on climate change.
The head of Exxon has always been male, and while it’s speculation to assume that a woman CEO at the time would have done things differently, it’s certainly something to ponder.
Gone are the days when corporations could think with a one-track mind. Profits are not the most important thing anymore. Without a planet to run our businesses on, we’re essentially doomed. So a planet-first mindset in business is needed now more than ever.
Would a Female-Run Planet Be Better Off?
Many have wondered whether or not the world would be better off if women were to run the show. As told in The Guardian’s interview with female comedians, writers, politicians, and CEOs (6) there are conflicts of opinions.
Jane Goodall, primatologist, and author Marjane Satrapi both believe that female leaders would not make a difference. Jane believes that women can be, and have been in the past, just as corrupt as men when they take on leadership roles. In contrast, Marjane says that gender doesn’t differentiate how a person leads.
However, UN Commissioner Alaa Murabit believes it would be beneficial for women to have more leadership globally, as women ensure sustainability for future generations, invest heavily in better education, affordable healthcare, and access to clean water. She also says that empowering women will produce collateral benefits: LGBTQ rights, indigenous people’s rights, children’s rights, religious freedom. Family-friendly policies will be formulated to enable both parents to enjoy parenting privileges. Unfair stereotypes and standards imposed upon men to ensure they fit into an iron scaffold of masculinity would be lifted.
Other popular opinions were that women are less violent—so there’d be fewer wars. Women are more collaborative and make decisions more holistically than men do. There would be equal pay, more substantial penalties and jail terms for rape, sexual assault, crimes against women and children, and free sanitary products for everyone. What a dream!
Women Who Are Leading Sustainability
We are seeing women dominate lately in the sustainability space, particularly sustainable products, from skincare to clothing to tech. Sustainability takes forward-thinking, compassionate leaders who understand that the world needs innovation and change. Continuing with the status quo is not an option.
Existing companies are not innovating fast enough, and in all honesty, they didn’t build their business models with a planet-centric mindset. They built it with a profit-only mindset and didn’t consider the consequences of their actions.
Women in sustainability are what our world needs right now and in the future. They are the movers and shakers of the world, innovating and finding solutions to real-life problems that affect all of us. Here are just a handful of honorable mentions:
Tiffany has done what no other skincare company has been able to do. She’s designed a serum bar that replaces face serums and oils, hair serum, and body lotion. It’s called Bloom Jelly Serum Bar, and it’s formulated using scientifically backed and naturally-derived ingredients known for their healing, soothing, hydrating, and nourishing properties.
The bar comes in compostable paper and recyclable cardboard and also includes an aluminum tin for easy, on-the-go hydration. This plastic-free serum bar is the perfect addition to those wishing for a skinimalist beauty ritual.
Laura Burget + Connie Lo | Three Ships Beauty
This duo launched Three Ships Beauty in 2017 after they met and discussed their passion for cleaner and more affordable skincare. They were tired of greenwashing brands over-charging and set out to change the narrative. Their products are made with minimal ingredients—all sustainably-sourced and naturally-derived. They are also proud PACT members, where you can easily recycle even your difficult packaging through Three Ships mail-back partnership.
Racheal Miller | Cora Ball (13)
Did you know that microfilaments from our clothing can make their way down the drain and into our waterways every time we wash our clothes? If your clothes are made from synthetic fibers, like polyester, this can be a problem for our environment. Polyester is a type of plastic so that these filaments can break down into microplastics. Microplastics are now showing up in our oceans, seafood, and even human placenta (12).
Racheal invented the Cora Ball to capture all the lint and microfilaments that would typically end up down the drain. Toss your Cora Ball into the wash with each load of laundry.
Steph Hon | Cadence
What do you get when you cross simplicity with innovation? You get Cadence, a sleek honeycomb-designed capsule that fits snugly into your handbag or luggage. Take it to the gym, on hikes, overseas, the beach... this travel companion is perfect for taking your necessities safely and sustainably on the go. Use one or many; they link together in a hive formation using firm magnetic edges, making them easy to store, transport, and locate in your gigantic tote. The capsules are made from recycled plastic, saving the planet from plastic and contributing to a circular economy.
Cadence was founded on the basis of sustainability, diversity, and building a better future. They are a socially responsible company leading the charge to more responsible and inclusive industry.
Innovation seems to come easily to Āthr Beauty founder Tiila. The makeup industry produces over 120 billion plastic units every year, with that number increasing. After working for Sephora for over seven years as their product developer, Tiila found that many of the ingredients we were exposed to in our makeup—particularly in the United States—were problematic.
Tiila designed the industry’s first zero-waste makeup palette, made from FSC certified paper and aluminum trays that are all easily recycled at curbside collections. Āthr Beauty has also banned over 2500 questionable ingredients from their products because their customers and the planet’s health and safety matter most. Tiila has become one of the beauty industry’s leading innovators.
In truth, we will probably never know what Earth would look like if women were running it, and we don’t believe women leading alone is the answer. The best way forward is a planet with equal contributions from women and men, where we look at their strengths as a person rather than a gender.
Regardless of whether we have males or females running the world, one thing is sure; women in sustainability are the heroes we all need.
Emma Jade has been a trained esthetician for over 15 years. She is a sustainable skincare writer, educating and building awareness around proper skin health that doesn’t cost the Earth.
Some of the products promoted in our blog are from our online store. Many others are brands we have researched and found to be great examples of sustainable, ethical, and innovative brands in their field, and we don’t profit from mentioning them in our blog. #CollaborationOverCompetition