As this issue headed out to press, El Paso Inc. enjoyed an early deadline so that our staff could attend the Women of Impact awards on Friday night.

I can’t report on how the event went by press time, but event-planning anxieties aside, it’s always a personal highlight – especially in 2020. It’s been a bright spot of pure positivity when sorely needed.

To accommodate the pandemic, we took our awards ceremony outside, drive-in style with plenty of social distance. The usual breakfast format didn’t feel right, so we turned it into an evening affair and invited the El Paso Symphony Orchestra to underscore the celebration.

The fall is usually packed with events and fundraisers so in a nod to the season we figured we should give El Paso a tiny semblance of normalcy.

But my favorite part of the whole project is the front row seat I get to these women and their stories. This is our 10th Women of Impact celebration and I have learned about 61 outstanding local women and their countless projects that have made El Paso better. I’m still in contact with many of them and get great advice, support and a lot of inspiration.

One of my hopes this year was that people would take advantage of the evening schedule when our event doesn’t conflict with school and bring their kids, especially daughters.

I’d love it if more young women heard about these community role models. For example, that they would learn how hard Dr. Ann Quiroz Gates has worked to make technology-related careers available to them. Or that you can be a young woman and start a nonprofit like Angelica Rosales, or build a whole business around racing like Gabriela Gallegos.

Around this time every year the Wall Street Journal does a special report following the results of “Women in the Workplace,” a joint effort by McKinsey & Co. and LeanIn.org that is the largest annual benchmark of women’s progress in American corporations.

The report shows that over the last six years women have gained some traction in the workplace. Little by little the gap between men and women in senior positions has narrowed. Still, the report says that while women represent 47% of the entry-level workforce, they only make up 21% of senior level jobs, a 22% improvement since 2015. There is still a shrinking pipeline of women on their way to the top.

But the COVID-19 crisis is threatening to undo this progress. Women in particular are having a hard time juggling it all, and there is concern that many mothers will get pushed out or opt out of the workforce. The report shows that greater numbers of women feel pressure to work more and are exhausted and burned out.

There are many things to be done, starting with education and rounding out with inclusive employers. But the other thing we can do is highlight women when they do great things to show support and inspire others. We can show the many sides of what success looks like – whether our young ladies aim to climb the corporate ladder or become super volunteers.

One final congratulations to the 2020 Women of Impact and also a huge debt of gratitude to El Paso Electric for presenting the Women of Impact, in addition to our gold sponsors, WestStar Bank and MIMCO, and all the additional sponsors and people who came out to make this year’s project a success.

Thank you!

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