The Bay Area is the place to be for women who desire to change the world. Not only are Bay Area women moving into higher leadership positions in the workforce, they are lending their influence and expertise to enrich the communities around them. Remarkable women in Silicon Valley have created charitable giving apps, developed groundbreaking technology, founded new companies and resuscitated existing ones.
And although the headlines about gender discrimination in Silicon Valley have been gloomy lately, knowledge is power. The women in these companies are fighting to expose and change the status quo instead of surrendering to it. Women may still be outnumbered in the tech industry, but they are on the front lines of fighting against gender bias on a global scale.
Because we understand that women in the Bay Area want to be led by inspiring women, we have built a dynamic women’s ministry dedicated to empowering women to lead and make a difference. Half of our full-time ministry staff and student interns are women. We’ve found two fundamental characteristics of women who succeed at making a difference – how much they care and what they believe about mentorship.
1. Care, Don’t Compete
But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”
Spiritual leadership is about serving, and many would argue that the same is true in the business world. Competing and vying for status can lead to a lot of self-destructive habits. Many of us need look no farther than our own lives and relationships for examples. That’s why we believe that an integral part of empowering women to lead involves caring about the community, not just getting a title. Fatima, a Human Resources student at Foothill College and member of our women’s ministry, said,
“I used to view leadership solely in the context of school and work, but the women here have taught me about the impact I can also have by serving others and caring for my community. I learned that true leadership is about caring not competing, and that’s how lives are changed.”
We host a series of women’s events in February and March that involve over 2,500 women each year. These events are led by women, for women. Connecting with and learning from influential women around the Bay Area make the events a highlight and favorite of many women in the community who come back year after year.
2. Mentor, and Be Mentored
She wraps herself in strength, carries herself with confidence, and works hard, strengthening her arms for the task at hand.
Proverbs 31:17 (VOICE)
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges many Silicon Valley companies face in developing women leaders is a lack of mentorship. Because there are so few women role models, it’s difficult for younger women to have someone to look up to and to know what success will look like for them.
Sheryl Sandberg recently announced that in order to increase gender diversity Facebook would launch mentoring and support initiatives to encourage more women to study engineering and eventually change the face of the long male-dominated tech culture. Women need women role models in order to make a difference.
We believe that the Bible is full of very inspiring, strong, confident and hard-working women leaders, and we can strive to be like them. Having strong female role models is an important part of our women’s ministry. Cecilia, a wife and mother of two, said:
“We have always surrounded our daughters with women mentors especially as they reached adolescence. My girls have admired and continue to admire the spiritual toughness, resolve, convictions, perseverance and transparency of the women involved in their lives then and now. As a result, today they strive to have similar qualities. Without these older girls to look up to I think it would have been much more difficult for my daughters to successfully navigate their teen and young adult years in the best spiritual condition possible.”
We devote ourselves to training young women to lead and working to inspire the next generation of leaders. Each year, we hold a Special Contribution that goes to support summer internships for young leaders all around the Bay Area. We are grateful for those who contribute in any way because this fundraiser is one of the main reasons we can support ongoing mentorship for future women leaders and continue to empower young people to lead.
Check out one of our six services in the Bay Area to get involved with our women’s ministry or to find out how you can give to our annual Special Contribution on May 31, 2015.