Women can make a difference in all phases of life

January 21, 2017 was a day that changed the lives of many women across the world. What started out as a small outreach campaign driven by social media to send a message about women’s rights to newly elected president Donald Trump on Inauguration Weekend grew into the largest single-day protest in U.S. history.

Media reports place the size of the signature Women’s March on Washington between 400,000 and 500,000 people, with estimated worldwide participation at up to 5 million. Following the marches, organizers reported that over 400 sister marches were held in cities large and small across the United States, and almost 700 across the world on all seven continents. Despite the huge crowds in many large cities, the marches were peaceful and purposeful. Women across the world wanted their voices heard.

For many women, it was also both a political and personal awakening, as evidenced by the tidal wave of women who subsequently demonstrated an interest in running for political office. She Should Run is a nonpartisan 501(c)3 organization founded to help expand the talent pool of elected women that provides an online program to help women envision themselves in public leadership roles. According to their website, “women of all backgrounds should have an equal shot at elected leadership, and (that) our country will benefit from having a government with varied perspectives and experiences.”

In a New York magazine article in February, She Should Run co-founder and CEO Erin Loos Cutraro said that since the November election, 8,100 women had signed up for the organization’s incubator program to learn how to run for office. Of interest is that Cutraro also said one of the common characteristics of women who run for office is that they run to accomplish something specific, versus simply to gain power.

VoteRunLead is another nonpartisan organization offering online training and support for women interested in becoming involved in politics by supporting “the aspirations of women who want to transform our country and democracy through their participation as leaders.” Since the last federal election, over 6,000 women have signed up to run for office on the site, which provides workshops, webinars, fundraising tips and training.

The common denominator between these two organizations is that public service matters, and they provide women with the training and resources to expand their horizons. But just as important is that the availability of their training and workshops provides the women with the confidence to step out of their comfort zones to achieve something that is meaningful to them.

At Global Gaming Women, our mission, while not to directly change the political landscape, is equally as important as we understand how critical confidence is to achieving ambitious goals, and our educational programs are designed to provide women with the power to believe in and have ambition for themselves. We work in the gaming industry to give women this same confidence in their abilities as these organizations do in the political arena.

In their “Get to Know Gaming” public affairs campaign, the American Gaming Association highlights the fact that the gaming industry is a diverse workforce, with women comprising nearly half (48 percent), which is higher than the national average, according to the 2012 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau.

But while women represent nearly 50 percent of the gaming workforce, their numbers are much smaller in the management ranks, with the number dramatically decreasing in the C-suite and at board levels. While lack of opportunity plays a huge role in the disparity, women not feeling that they are qualified for promotions is a significant factor as well.

An educational pyramid is the cornerstone of our programming at Global Gaming Women, and is designed to provide critical skills training for women at all levels in our industry to increase their confidence.

Our educational topics include planning and goal setting, time management, team building, coaching, communication skills and conflict resolution, among dozens of other business subjects taught by experts and the leading women in the industry. From the Emerging Leaders program for women not currently in management but interested in acquiring the skills for advancement to the W Development Conference for senior executives, there is a program specifically tailored for women who want to advance.

The programs are offered regionally across the United States to make programming available close to home, and nearly all Global Gaming Women programs are offered free except for personal travel expenses. Our founding sponsors support our mission to develop the next generation of female leaders in gaming and include a coalition of major commercial and tribal gaming companies, private donors and major industry suppliers.

Just as She Should Run and VoteRunLead are providing the training for a female future in politics, Global Gaming Women is providing the educational opportunities that provide the path for upward mobility for a female future in gaming as well.

Come join our GGW movement, make your voices heard in your own organizations, and sign up for your future at globalgamingwomen.org.

Author: Virginia McDowell

Virginia McDowell retired as president and CEO of Isle of Capri Casinos in April 2016, after a 35-year career in the gaming industry. She currently serves as president and board chair of Global Gaming Women.