Women in Sustainability Are the Heroes We Need #WomenEntrepreneurshipDay

#WomenEntrepreneurshipDay


Women are remarkable. We are nurturers, lovers, sensual beings, and the life-givers to humanity. Yet for centuries, women have been subjected to discrimination, oppression, and inequality; treated as: you should be seen, and not heard.


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, I’ll briefly discuss gender inequality; I’ll talk about the difference between male and female leading; and I’ll highlight some female entrepreneurs who are doing some amazing 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, girlfriend. I’m not saying women are better than men. This is not about being “better than” anyone. But women—you—are just as valuable and important as men.


Humanity needs men and women equally 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 mother, but not everyone wants those things. And men have also been forced into pressures to be a “tough” guy, and show little emotion. Yet men are only human, and feel just as women do.


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-million-meter hurdles race of a lifetime.

 

Our confidence—or lack of—stems from centuries of oppression. Oppression that has existed since the beginning of time. Even in Ancient Greece, oppression was rife. Women didn’t have equal rights, and their sole purpose was to breed, nurture, and serve men. Even Greek Goddesses were oppressed. Goddesses were often dominated by their male counterparts, and barred from embodying their own powers (3, 4). 


I’ve read many old texts and stories about women, and even some more modern publications written by men, where 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 the reason 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 very possible—but unlikely. Women just want equality.


While most of us—at least the couples I know—are in relatively healthy relationships with their 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 don’t realize that it is actually an injustice against them.


And how do men control women? Through physical strength and violence. Physical strength is the only way a man can overpower a woman. Women have an equal, and sometimes higher emotional intelligence than men, and also perform better academically (8,9). This doesn’t necessarily mean women are smarter than men, but it's incredibly sad that men who oppress women can only do so using brute force.


If society had given women the same amount of power as men from the beginning of time, we would never revolt against men. We would never feel injustices. We would never protest or make bold claims against men. We wouldn’t need to, because we would coexist in a healthy, equal partnership.


In any case, it’s evident that incredible things happen when girls are encouraged and nurtured. There are so many inventions and creations and businesses that were discovered and founded by women, and without them we would 100% be in a very different place right now. 


Planet-First, Profit Later 

Back in the old corporate days, when it was a “man’s world”, empathy and compassion in a corporate setting was seen as a weakness. 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 that they created in the first place—and only because they have to. The existing corporations that got us into this predicament were mostly founded and run by men. While not blaming men, I do believe in my heart that if more women had held higher positions of power, perhaps we wouldn’t be in such a dire situation today.


Though, 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 fiscal gains above anything else. 


Reports show that Exxon—the fifth largest pollutant in the world and has always had a male CEO—knew climate change was real 40 years ago—11 years before it became a public issue—and spent millions to promote misinformation (5). Let me repeat that for those in the back… Exxon knew about climate change, and lied to everyone so they could keep making money. Just as the tobacco industry lied to us about the health implications of smoking tobacco. And Red Bull promised to give you wings, when all it did was give us all heart problems. 


Gone are the days where corporations can think with a one-track mind. Profits are not the most important thing anymore. Without a planet to run our businesses on, we’re basically screwed. So a planet-first mindset in business is needed now more than ever.


Would a Female-Run Planet Be Better Off?

One of the questions I have often asked myself is whether or not the world would be better off if women were to run the show. There are conflicting opinions on the matter, as told in The Guardian’s interview with female comedians, writers, politicians and CEOs (6).


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. While 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 in the world, 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 the privileges of parenting. Unfair stereotypes and standards imposed upon men to ensure they fit into an iron scaffold of masculinity will be lifted.


Other popular opinions were that women are less violent—so less wars, they are more collaborative, and make decisions more holistically than men do. There would be equal pay; stronger penalties and jail terms for rape, sexual assault, and crimes against women and children; and free sanitary products for everyone. 


Women Who Are Leading Sustainability

One area we are seeing women absolutely dominate as of late is the sustainability space; in particular, 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. It’s great that they want to change and improve, but they’ve had their chance to shine, and now need to step aside and let the MVPs take the lead.


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 Buzzatto | Dew Mighty

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.


Racheal Miller | Cora Ball (13)

Did you know that every time we wash our clothes, microfilaments from our clothing can make their way down the drain and into our waterways. If your clothes are made from unnatural fibers, like polyester, this can be a problem for our environment. Polyester is a type of plastic, so 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 of the lint and microfilaments that would normally end up down the drain. Simply toss your Cora Ball into the wash with each load of laundry. 



Julie Ahrens | Miakoda

The fashion industry is arguably the worst contender when it comes to pollution—for our air and water. Julie Ahrens has created a brand that combats the fast fashion crisis. She uses sustainably sourced fibers, organic cotton, which is non-GMO and harvested with less water than standard cotton; certified organic bamboo, a renewable resource that doesn’t require much water to grow, no pesticides, and is an effective CO2 extractor; repurposed soy fibers from the soybean industry that would usually end up in landfill; and modal from sustainable beech trees.


Miakoda was founded on the grounds of sustainability and building a better future. They are a socially responsible slow-fashion company that is leading the charge to a more responsible fashion industry. 



Tiila Abbitt | Āthr Beauty

Innovation seems to come easily to Āthr Beauty founder Tiila. The makeup industry produces over 120 billion units of plastic 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 set forth to design the industry's very 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 are what matters most. Tiila has become one of the beauty industry’s leading innovators.



Conclusion

In truth, we will probably never know what Earth would look like if women were running it. And I don’t believe women leading is the answer. A planet with equal contributions from women and men, where we look at their strengths as a person rather than a gender, is the best way forward.

Regardless of whether or not we have male or females running the world, one thing is certain; women in sustainability are the heroes we all need.

 

Emma Masotti is an Australian now living in Austin, TX, and 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 make any profit from mentioning them in our blog. #CollaborationOverCompetition



1 https://assets.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2016/09/FT_Marriage_Age_Appendix_2016_09_08.pdf

2 https://www.investopedia.com/terms/o/one-child-policy.asp

3 https://time.com/5542893/women-ancient-rome/

4 https://www.thecollector.com/the-tragedy-of-greek-goddesses-feminism-in-ancient-greece/

5 https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/exxon-knew-about-climate-change-almost-40-years-ago/

6 https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/jul/05/what-if-women-ruled-the-world

7 https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/05/the-confidence-gap/359815/

8 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/07/opinion/sunday/girls-school-confidence.html

9 https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2014/04/girls-grades

10 https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/10/17/afghanistan-girls-struggle-education

11 https://www.coraball.com/

12 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412020322297

13 https://www.coraball.com/

14 https://www.miakodanewyork.com/pages/sustainability