I was out in the wilderness with my daughter and a few of her friends and their moms—our masks on and socially distant–when we found out.
Suddenly one of the moms said: “RBG died.”
She had got a text on her phone with the news.
We all gasped in surprise. WHAT?
I immediately denied it, pulling up my phone. “There is NOTHING on Washington Post yet,” I exclaim, “can’t be true, if it’s not in the Post.” I hit refresh. Ten seconds later, the headline pops up.
Only a moment earlier we had been happily chatting around the campfire. We hadn’t seen each other in months. Three of us had been forced out of our careers to stay home with our children because we needed more flexibility to juggle schooling. Two had decided virtual schooling was not working out and were doing what they never thought conceivable, homeschooling their kids. Another, a high school teacher, lamented how hard it was to teach teenagers virtually. Then the topic changed to the books we were reading, and for a few moments, life felt normal again.
Then we got the news.
I sat there stunned. Another mom started quietly sobbing. “What is wrong with 2020,” she mumbled between her tears. The fear multiplied as questions start being thrown out, would she immediately be replaced? Who would legally uphold and champion for women when 2020 had hammered us all? Would the next election already be decided?
This was devastating.
We had wanted to escape from the world for a few hours. Get out of our homes that had become like prisons with never ending virtual school, late nights working from home, and bored kids with few outlets. Maybe some elusive day in the future our children will return to school and a safe vaccine will arrive. Maybe.
RBG taught us that women belong everywhere decisions are being made. Her work is the foundation for Women in Business Education. While 70% of administrative and office support staff at business schools are women, only 25% of women are represented at the top levels of leadership, making important decisions that affect us all.
We are dedicated, brilliant, clever leaders who should be represented at every level of leadership.
Women belong at the table where important decisions are being made at business schools.
Later that evening as we departed the camp, I made a wrong turn. I got turned around on twisty dirt roads and the Google map only showed our single red dot in one large black square of dark bleakness. We were so remote it didn’t recognize a single road. We reached a dead end and I realized I couldn’t see through the pitch black to back up. My phone had almost lost power and my charger is at home.
I was about to lose it at this point. We might not make it home until daylight and we lost RBG. We are officially lost in the woods with no way out.
At this point my daughter realized we were stuck and is starting to panic. I looked in the back mirror and she was yelling that she sees my battery is only at 10% and that nobody would know where we are. I don’t want her to go out in the dark woods alone to help me turn around; I want to get us safely to the main road.
Determination set in. We made it in, we’ll make it out. No matter how long it takes or perhaps at least until we run out of gas.
I squashed the tears and buckled down, executing a 20 point turn, Austin Powers style. A few more circles and I recognize a sign post. Twenty minutes later (it felt like hours) we finally arrived at the main road with a huge sigh of relief.
The path forward is murky and dark and winding. Google maps can only inform us so much on the road of life, and sometimes it takes several attempts to turn around. Sometimes our energy may only be at 10%. But when we see our girls sitting behind us, panicked and scared for their future, we know what we have to do.
We have to keep going.
RBG will not die in vain. We won’t let her down. We will keep driving. There will be meaning in her untimely death. We will remain determined to get through the darkness and back to the main road. We will get home.
And when we do?
We will be at the table where we belong, making the decisions that matter.
Founder & CEO
Women in Business Education
Follow along the newly launched Women in Business Education, or WiBE (pronounced We-Be) an international community to champion women’s leadership in business academia. Subscribe here to receive new inspiring blog posts and virtual events.
Lisa Leander is an international development and management expert with eighteen years experience managing higher education initiatives in 22 different countries. In addition to leading WiBE, she currently is a Senior Advisor to the Global Business School Network where she previously spent a decade working to improve management and entrepreneurship education globally. During the day you might find her advising U.S. multinational companies navigating complex market opportunities in the Middle East, creating complex art creations with her two daughters or attempting to train a high energy german shepherd.