I can't imagine a time before now - a time when I couldn't vote or hold a job outside of the home, let alone run a business. It is my duty as a woman to thank those who came before me, those who were brave enough to speak up about what they believed in and pave the way for equality.

To celebrate what we've accomplished, let's fast forward to the workplace.

LinkedIn studied data over the last 40 years and although the numbers show gains in all sectors, they admit that the progress has been slow. The study states:

"Over the past ten years, the proportion of female leaders in the workforce has increased by an average of just over two percentage points among the 12 industries we studied."

Although a higher number would have been nice to hear, I'm a strong believer that slow and steady wins the race. Outside of the leadership, women representation in predominately male industries and roles have increased significantly.

Since 1978, more women are entering the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) sector than ever before. What are the specific roles that have seen the biggest increases?

  • Test Development Engineer (+243%)
  • Automotive Salesperson (+154%)
  • Technical Sales Professional (+133%)
  • Architect (+127%)
  • Physicist (+116%)

From there, LinkedIn discovered which industries showed a major increase in women representation as well.

  • Public Safety (+118%)
  • Construction (+77%)
  • Consumer Goods (+71%)
  • Design (+70%)
  • Agriculture (+67%)

Last, but not least, there were the industries with the highest rate of change among women leadership hires and their top skills.

  • Software & IT Services (+27%)
    Top Skills: Business Development, Leadership, Management, Project Management, Strategy
  • Manufacturing (+26%)
    Top Skills: Customer Service, Management, Microsoft Office, Project Management, Strategic Planning
  • Entertainment (+24%)
    Top Skills: Entertainment, Film, Social Media, Television, Video Production
  • Hardware & Networking (+23)
    Top Skills: Business Development, Leadership, Management, Project Management, Telecommunications
  • Public Safety (+21%)
    Top Skills: Government, Leadership, Management, Microsoft Office, Public Speaking

So, what does this all mean? Right now, they're just numbers. They tell us exactly what trends are taking place in the workforce and to be honest, it makes me happy. Sure, they can be higher, but that's the expectation we can set on anything. I am personally thrilled to see that women are becoming fearless in pursuing their passions, whether it be a traditional role or male-dominated one.

What matters most to me are moments that can't always be captured by data sets. I think about the women who tried to enter one of these industries or applied for a job or maybe actually made it through - but were immediately undermined on the job. It's moments like these that make my heart tense up and wonder if it's a fluke or if it's a trend.

To that, I can only say this: just keep pushing.

No matter what stage you are in your career or business, make sure to implement these three things to keep progressing women into new and well-deserved territory:

  1. Become a mentor and don't be shy about connecting talented people together. 
  2. Stand up and say something when something is not right. You don't have to be in HR to make a difference.
  3. Continue to strive and lean in wherever you are. Ask for that raise, apply for that promotion, and take the lead on that project. 

At the end of the day, the biggest impact a person can make is to keep on following their dreams, no matter what they may be. Gender aside, that will be news of its own.

Cheers to the last 40 years of incredible change and progress, and an even bigger cheers to what we will accomplish in the next 40.