Google’s Ivy Ross, Fearless Girl creator Kristen Visbal and James Foley’s mother Diane Foley tell Moneyish how they’re breaking barriers in an empowering new exhibit.
These are real wonder women.
The new book and storytelling exhibit “200 Women: Who Will Change the Way You See the World” celebrates a diverse group of fierce females past and present from around the globe who have delivered strong messages about gender and financial equality, women’s empowerment and hope for the future.
The basis of the book, created by Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday, was inspired by the simple idea of getting women representing all races, religions and nationalities to be photographed and filmed while answering a series of five questions that describe what is most important to them. That dream has been realized with 200 original interviews in the book available now, along with the accompanying images on display at a free exhibit running through June 30 at NYC’s Pen + Brush gallery and presented by BMW Group.
The roster of remarkable women includes: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the late South African anti-apartheid activist; supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; the late animal rights activist and anthropologist Jane Goodall; Kaylin Whittingham, the president of the Association of Black Women Attorneys; and Linda Sarsour, co-chair of the Washington Women’s March.
Moneyish spoke with some of the female movers and shakers featured in the book about gender equality, entrepreneurship and breaking barriers.
Ivy Ross, Vice President of Design for Hardware Products at Google
If Ivy Ross listened to her father’s career advice, she’d be a school teacher. But she pursued her passion to build things like he did, and was hired by Google in 2014 to work on its revolutionary Google Glass effort, and now oversees all of the tech giant’s hardware product design.
“I always have stayed true to who I was. Up until 10 years ago, I didn’t even understand the concept of the glass ceiling, because to me, there was never any,” she said. “Maybe that’s how I broke it.”
Ross looked up to her industrial designer father, who taught her investigate the way objects work. But when Ross told her father that she wanted to do what he did, she says he told her, “Oh Ivy, get married and be a school teacher, and have your summers off.”
“And when he said that to me, I remember the feeling in my body of, ‘How dare you rob me of my dreams?’” she recalled. “I know he did it out of love, because he wanted me to have an easy life … but it’s not about having an easy life; it’s about having the life you’re supposed to live, and that made me even more so want to be who I truly was.”
Ross launched a jewelry business out of college in 1978 — the first jeweler to use titanium, tantalum and niobium metals charged with electricity — and went on to work in fashion accessories and hardware, designing and developing products for the likes Swatch, Coach, Calvin Klein, Gap and Mattel before getting a call from Google.
Her advice to young girls pursuing STEM jobs is to brag about your achievements.
“Women often don’t make it to the end of the competition, or fill out the application, because they get intimidated when they’re asked to boast about their achievements,” she said. “Be proud about whatever it is you’ve done to date, because it’s really important that we step up and show who we are.”
Diane Foley, mother of slain American journalist James Foley
That’s what Diane Foley, mother of James Foley, the American journalist who was beheaded by ISIS militants in 2014 during the Syrian Civil War, is trying to do. Within three weeks of her son’s brutal murder, she established the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation to advocate for hostage families.
“Love and mercy are most important to me in the world,” said Foley, who draws her strength from her faith in God. “Our son was brutally murdered because of the hatred. We are challenged to love one another. It’s not easy, but it’s essential.”
When it comes to advice for other mothers suffering great loss, she says it’s important not to lose sight of love.
“I would recommend that moms keep loving. It’s not easy being a mom, especially when you experience a loss and you see your kids suffer pretty bad,” she said. “My mission is to help people become more aware.”
Kristen Visbal, the Fearless Girl statue sculptor
Being fearless takes on a lot of meanings for Kristen Visbal, whose 50-inch tall bronze “Fearless Girl” statue stands with her hands on her hips.
“It’s about owning your own power, and asking for what you’re worth. Being fearless is being persistent and brave,” she added.
“Fearless Girl,” inspired by Wonder Woman, was installed last year on International Women’s Day opposite the “Charging Bull” statue on Wall Street to call out corporate America’s gender gap, demand equal pay and to encourage more companies to include women on their boards. Its new home is the New York Stock Exchange.
When asked how women can be more assertive at work and get paid what they deserve, Visbal says simply, “know your worth.”
“Women very frequently don’t ask for what they’re worth. If you’re going to go and interview for your job, you need to know what your position and your skills are actually worth, and ask for it,” Visbal said.
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