By Gayle Martz-
In a world that is striving for gender equality, professional women continue to face unique challenges and barriers. However, the stories of trailblazing women who have defied the odds can serve as a beacon of inspiration and provide valuable insights.
As a former TWA flight attendant, I found myself facing adversity when my career was abruptly disrupted. At age 37, I was without a job for the first time in my adult life. I didn’t know what I was going to do, and then I had an idea—which actually came to me in a dream—that changed my life forever!
The idea, the Sherpa bag—the first soft-sided pet carrier—was a solution that filled a void in the marketplace. The bag was the inspiration of my loving, loyal companion Sherpa, the dog. I went on to revolutionize airline policies, allowing pets to be brought into the passenger cabin. Based on my journey, this article will share my experience and hopefully offer advice for other professional women.
Embrace Resilience & Adaptability
As a professional woman, it’s essential to cultivate resilience and adaptability. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Setbacks are inevitable!
When I faced adversity after losing my job, I refused to let it define me. I have always continued to pray for resilience and strength, which I truly needed at this time to adapt to the ever-changing circumstances. This allowed me to pivot my focus towards initiating loving, meaningful, positive change in the pet and airline industries.
One must continuously challenge gender stereotypes. The world is filled with male-dominated industries that perpetuate gender stereotypes and create additional barriers for women. To overcome this, it’s crucial to challenge these stereotypes and break through the glass ceiling. My success in revolutionizing airline policies and designing the Sherpa bag was not an easy feat, but it definitely shattered preconceived notions about women in the industry. They did not know what to do with me, but I remained undeterred.
By confidently asserting your expertise, knowledge and unique perspective, you can inspire other women to pursue their dreams. We are all, at times, concerned and afraid, but we must focus our lives on living fearlessly.
Build a Supportive Network
Building a strong and supportive network is vital for professional women. Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals who believe in your capabilities and can provide encouragement and guidance during challenging times. Seek out mentors, both male and female, who can offer valuable advice and share their own experiences. Additionally, connect with professional organizations and attend networking events to expand your circle. Remember, the power of networking extends beyond professional opportunities—it opens many doors for personal growth and development.
Pursue Passion, Commitment & Persistence
Passion, commitment and persistence are the driving forces behind any successful endeavor. As a professional woman, it’s crucial to identify your passions, strengths and weakness, and harness them to fuel your ambitions. When I embarked on my journey to change airline policies, my passion for improving the travel experience for both humans and their pets served as the foundation for my work. It’s important to stay focused, believe in yourself, and persevere through all obstacles and setbacks. Your determination will inspire others and pave the way for future generations of professional women.
The story of my journey from a TWA flight attendant to the founder and CEO of a global, multi-million-dollar company demonstrates the power of resilience, the challenging of gender stereotypes, building supportive networks and pursuing passion with persistence. Professional women face unique challenges, but armed with determination and the right mindset, they can break barriers and achieve remarkable success.
As you navigate your own professional path, remember that your gender should never limit your aspirations. Embrace your strengths, amplify your voice and empower others to join you on the journey to gender equality. As I have always said, “Do what you love, in the places you love, with the people and the pets that you love.”
Gayle Martz invented the iconic Sherpa bag and is founder of The Sherpa Pet Trading Company—creating the soft-sided pet carrier category. She is the author of No Pet Left Behind: The Sherpa Guide for Traveling with Your Best Friend and It’s In The Bag: How to turn a passion into a new business. She continues to advocate for a world that responsibly welcomes pets wherever their humans go, and advises companies and government agencies on pet-friendly policies, just like she did with American Airlines when she first revolutionized pet travel.