by Carolyn Pineda
Thirty years ago, most women were not going to college. And if they did, no one would have been shocked if they said they were going to college to become a teacher or nurse. That was the expected and appropriate answer for a young woman to give during that time in society. It was not uncommon for girls of that generation to marry straight out of high school and fore go any further education. But my, how things have changed in recent years!!
In 1973, I did exactly what I believed I was supposed to do at the ripe age of 19 by marrying straight out of high school, forcing the thought of college into the back of my mind. Unfortunately, several years later, I realized that I had made the WRONG decision. I know, first hand, exactly how difficult everyday life can be when your spouse doesn’t support you and your dreams; and in fact, he becomes an obstacle that holds you back. I found myself beginning to believe this was the way it was going to be and my dreams were being crushed along with my spirit. Instead of giving up though, I dug deep down inside of myself and told myself that I was better than the circumstances that I was in. Although it was extremely difficult, I mustered the courage to finally free myself from the conditions that were holding me down. We should never forget the difference we can make for ourselves, our children and others around us.
With the love, support, and encouragement of my parents, I was given the best gift that I could have ever received- a second chance to become what I was destined to be. I was not going to fall into the trap that so many other young girls did in those generations. I was not going to allow myself to believe that men were more capable and more qualified than women to have a professional career. I cashed in my ticket to college and began the life I was meant to live.
I did not follow the path of the few other women who attended college in pursuit of a teaching or nursing degree. Instead, I received a degree in both Mathematics and Computer Science, which enabled me to get a computer programmer position with Texas Instruments. Early in my career, I planned to be a programmer for the rest of my life. After all, I was working in a “man’s” world, and most of the leaders were men.
I thought that being a woman would hold me back from being a leader in the corporate world, but I now realize that being a woman is what actually propelled me into success!! I did not, in fact, live out the rest of my professional life as a computer programmer. I recently retired as an executive from Sabre, a Fortune 500 company, and I firmly believe that it was all because of the natural leadership skills that women posses.
I believe we are currently living in a world that is in desperate need of women leaders in the workforce. This is our time to shine and rise above any obstacle that is placed before us. Regina Sacha, VP of Human Resources for FedEx Custom Critical, says, “We’re looking at a different paradigm of leadership, and it plays naturally into the strengths of women. The tide has turned. The leadership skills that come naturally to women are now absolutely necessary for companies to continue to thrive.”
Recent research has found that the “domineering leadership style that men tend to posses is becoming less and less popular. There is a new appreciation of those traits that women use to keep families together and to organize volunteers to unite and make changes in the shared life of communities. These newly admired leadership qualities of shared leadership; nurturance and doing good for others are today, not only sought after, but also indeed needed to make a difference in the world. A feminine way of leading includes helping the world to understand and be principled about values that really matter.” (Lowen, Linda. “The Unique Leadership Characteristics of Women.” Qualities of Women Leaders. )
My life is a testimony to how far women’s roles in the business world have advanced. I believe that there are no limits to women’s success in the professional world. Every woman possesses natural leadership abilities that the world needs now more than ever. With courage and perseverance, we are unstoppable. There has never been a better time for women to advance in the workforce than now. I would encourage every woman to really tap into her own unique talents and skills, and apply them in every situation that is encountered.
Carolyn Pineda's History Carolyn Pineda was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas. After her first marriage failed, she started Lamar University at the age of 25. Carolyn graduated from Lamar University in 1987 with a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science. At that time, she moved to Dallas, Texas along with her second husband of now 27 years. Carolyn started her career as a programmer at Texas Instruments; and later went to work for American Airlines Decision Technologies, which later became Sabre, an independent fortune 500 company. At Sabre, Carolyn became an executive where she managed the software services for all of the airlines around the world. She managed a team of 225 employees across the globe. In 2004, Carolyn founded a non-profit organization called Empowering Women as Leaders so that she could give other women less fortunate a second chance to have a professional career. As of 2008, Empowering Women as Leaders operates in Dallas and Beaumont, Texas and has sponsored 10 women with plans to expand to other cities in 2009. After living in Dallas for 20 years, Carolyn made the decision to come back home to Beaumont- not only to be close to family, but to give back to the community. She has a strong passion to support women in realizing their full potential. Carolyn has started a management consulting firm, VP Consulting and Associates, where she leverages her broad business and management experience to provide consulting services and employee development for small to medium size companies. Most recently, Carolyn has worked with Regina Rogers Gift of Life and Lana Cosby of L Studio Home Design in Beaumont as well as The Paper Plate in Dallas. Carolyn is a strong advocate of women’s development and achievement. She loves to share her life’s challenges so that others may be able to overcome their own.
You may learn more about Empowering Women as Leaders at www.EmpoweringWomenAsLeaders.org