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Video: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz on Empowering Women

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

In a keynote speech at AS/COA's Second Women's Hemispheric Network Forum in Miami Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz talked about her personal path to the House of Representatives and spoke on how young women can advance to leadership positions today.

The congresswoman shared some stark figures: women represent only 5.9 percent of the world's heads of state, 4.8 percent of Fortune 500 companies, and in Florida, women make on average 83 cents for every dollar a man earns. "These realities demonstrate the subtle ways institutional sexism discourages women from entering, staying, and achieving in the workplace," Wasserman Shultz explained, saying that numbers like these can send a limiting message to women about what they can do professionally.

For Wasserman Shultz, women today should "sit on the shoulders" of previous generations and try to take younger women under their wing. "When we as leaders encourage other women to step up to positions of leadership we are ensuring that the barriers that we are breaking down today are not just rebuild all over again tomorrow," she said.

She urged senior women present at the event to find young women to mentor and with whom to share their experiences. But she also called on the younger professionals to actively search for opportunities. "Don't wait to be asked. Don't wait for an invitation to run. Don't wait to be asked to apply. Don't wait to be asked to mentor or be a mentee."