I recently read an inspiring article written by the amazing and insightful Margie Warrell of forbes.com. The article, titled “Glass Ceiling Or Glass Cage? Breaking Through The Biggest Barrier Holding Women Back,” discusses that there is definitely biases and negative views against women in the workplace, but “the bigger barrier holding women back from growing their influence is not a ‘glass ceiling’ but a glass cage of our own making.” Warrell then states that this glass cage is made of the self-doubt many women unknowingly hold on to. The solution? Dream bigger, forge your own path, rock the boat, know your value.
I wholeheartedly agree with many of the ideas and suggestions Warrell outlines; however, I believe the underlying problem of the biases, the lack of confidence, and even the lack of influence comes from the image the world portrays women as. And the sad thing is, so many of us believe it, accept it, and even replicate it in our own lives.
This portrayal seeps into everyone’s thinking in one way or another–a teenage girl’s Pinterest board may be full of Marilyn Monroe quotes (I’m totally guilty of this, by the way), or her favorite show might be Keeping Up with the Kardashians. I know, I know, those are stupid things, subtle things. But I honestly think it matters and that it effects girls in negative ways because “we are what we think.”
I think so often women can become extreme about this topic of equality and want to throw all the blame on men for a woman’s failure to succeed or the unfair prejudices one might hold. In some cases this can ring true, but I also think that the lack of influence can stem from the way women view themselves and what they have to offer. Just search “women business outfits” on google and I think you’ll see what I am suggesting.
With that being said, imagine a society where instead of teaching young women about Kardashians, Ariana Grande or Miley Cyrus, they were taught about Queen Esther, Joan of Arc, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Can you even begin to grasp what that would do for a girls’ self-image, self-worth, and self-confidence?
I recently read this talk given by Elder Faust, and it is actually what inspired me to write this post. Below is his account of Joan of Arc–her accomplishments, courage, and contribution.
“Young Joan of Arc, one of the great heroines in history, became the unlikely standard-bearer for the French army in the Dark Ages, long before the gospel was restored. Joan had the Light of Christ and also the courage to follow its promptings and make a difference. Joan was a peasant girl who could neither read nor write, but she was bright. At 17, sensing her life had a purpose, she left home, determined to help liberate her oppressed country. Naturally, people scoffed at her ideas and thought she was a little crazy, but in the end she persuaded them to let her have a horse and an escort to go and see the king.
“At first the French soldiers did not want to obey her, but when they saw that all who followed her succeeded and all who disregarded her failed, they came to look upon her as their leader.
“Clad in a suit of white armor and flying her own standard, Joan of Arc liberated the besieged city of Orleans in 1429 and defeated the English in four other battles. Twice she was wounded, but each time she recovered and went on fighting. [Eventually] she was imprisoned, tried as a heretic, and then burned at the stake in 1431.
“Although this is a sad ending, it does not take away from Joan’s greatness. She was courageous enough to follow the personal inspiration to which all of us are entitled.”
(“Your Light–a Standard to All Nations,” James E. Faust, April 2006)
If women want so badly to be valued for their brains and insights, then we must place women like Joan of Arc as our role model and idea of success. She sincerely desired to do what God had planned for her, and then courageously acted in accordance with that plan.
“To other girls in the fifteenth century, Joan of Arc seemed to be very different. Sisters, don’t be afraid to be different in our century! Sometimes we have to be different in order to maintain Church standards. So I repeat, don’t be afraid to be different, but be as good as you can be. Joan of Arc did not worry about what her friends did, but rather about what she knew she should do.”
-James E. Faust
We must change our mindset and decide that we will be women of faith and women of God, rather than women of the world. In order to break through this “glass ceiling” or “glass cage” then we have to be willing to be different in good ways and act in accordance with what we know we should do.