March is Women’s History Month—an important opportunity to amplify and appreciate the accomplishments of women around the world.

Here at U.S. Travel, we are taking this opportunity to highlight women who have shown immense leadership in the travel and tourism industry.

Michelle Mason, President and CEO of the Center for Association Leadership (ASAE) shared what Women’s History Month means to her and the invaluable role women play in advancing society at large.

michelle mason

What does Women’s History Month mean to you and how do you celebrate it?

Women’s History Month affords us all an opportunity to reflect on the invaluable role women play in advancing society writ large. Given this year’s theme of “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope,” I’ll take time to think about the role of women caregivers and front-line workers during this pandemic, as well as the female workers and industry leaders who are helping to ensure our nation’s industries and professions not only bounce back economically from the pandemic, but are positioned to lead in a rapidly changing world. I’m also very conscious of the significance of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s recent nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Should Judge Jackson be confirmed, it would not only bring the first Black woman to the highest court in the land, it would also mean four women would simultaneously serve on the Supreme Court for the first time in its 233-year history, rendering near gender parity on the nine-person bench. We are witnessing history in the making.

How have you witnessed or experienced the roles of women change in society over the past decade(s)?

Women have certainly made important gains in the workplace and in the C-suite, although there are still too many capable, deserving female leaders who remain marginalized, still fighting to have not just acceptance, but a sense of belonging. I firmly believe associations can and should continue to play a leadership role in confronting pervasive inequalities in hiring practices, leadership advancement, compensation and organizational culture.

Data shows that women are leaving the workforce at the highest rate in decades. What do you consider the biggest challenges for women in the workforce and what can be done to address them and empower more women?

Data shows that women in the workplace are significantly more burned out after two years of this pandemic than men in similar roles and have experienced a harder time with work-life balance. Women are also more likely than men to encounter microaggressions that undermine them at work, and women of color experience these microaggressions at an even higher rate. We as association leaders have to step up our commitment to and investment in DEI. At ASAE, we are aggressively developing a new strategy around Conscious Inclusion to provide organizations with the tools they need to develop their systemic, integrated approach to the business of advancing DEI.

Can you tell us about a role model who has inspired you? What’s your favorite piece of advice you’ve received or like to give?

I stand on the shoulders of amazing women and men who have guided and inspired me throughout my career.  These role models have paved the way for me in the association community through their leadership examples of accountability, humility, hard work, positivity and integrity. It is my endeavor to make them proud through my unique leadership style, paying it forward and making a difference in the lives of others.

Success isn’t about how much money you make. It’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.  – Michelle Obama

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