Respect in the workplace is hard to come by as a woman. Women have to do more in order to get the same amount of respect as a male counterpart. This lack of respect is merely a microcosm of a much larger issue. It hasn’t been long since women first entered the workforce, let alone a male dominant field. There still is lingering discrimination, especially towards women in high le vel positions. High le vel positions are currently dominated by men. This creates a large problem where women do not have other women as role models and will believe that high level positions are not achievable.
Having more women in higher positions inspires their female counterparts to work harder and strive to attain similar positions. The more inspiration there is for women to join the workforce, the greater number of women that will enter, decreasing employment rates and creating a new workforce with creative ideas and different perspectives. With this goal of increasing the number of women leaders in her community, Isha Uppalapati created a 501(c)(3) non-profit that advocates for young female leaders, A Girl’s Frontier. By organizing a mentorship matching program, sponsoring education around the world, and running book and iPad drives, she is able to jump start young girl’s education to guide them to become future leaders.
Giving Wings to Young Girls
A Girl’s Frontier is Isha’s attempt to create a business solution to the issues she has encountered in her community by introducing new resources to capitalize and grow from. From their growth and future success, the small impact she hopes to make on their lives will be inevitably paid back to their communities as they become leaders and eventually take other young girls under their wing to continue the cycle.
Learning From Mentors and Leaving a Legacy
Isha’s mentors have provided a priceless foundation for her learning and growth. Their views and experiences coupled with her allows her to bring not only her perspective but theirs as well. Although Isha has been blessed to have exceptional role models personally close to her, the most influential role model for her is Sheryl Sandberg. Isha states that Sheryl’s professional prowess is remarkable and revered, and Sheryl is the woman who inspired her. With ideas and dreams bubbling in Isha, she opened Sheryl’s book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead where the ideas Sheryl expressed created an inspired community of women to become leaders. Sheryl’s perspective and words fueled Isha’s desire to help young women find the right support, education, and unity to achieve greater heights that will positively impact their future and help them fulfill their dreams—regardless of the challenges in their way. Sheryl Sandberg taught Isha to stand up for herself and make her voice heard. Sheryl inspired Isha to speak out and take the initiative. Her words and influence are evident throughout Isha’s life. Over this past summer, as Isha interviewed seven women leaders to create a set of tools for girls to keep with them on their path to leadership success based on their advice, the hints Sheryl Sandberg left with her were also voiced by these prominent women. Sheryl was the very first person to prove to her how undefeatable women are, and Isha is grateful to Sheryl and other mentors for inspiring her to follow her passion. Isha also encourages to pass on the knowledge one has acquired to next generation.
Driving Passion to Help Young Girls
The outreach that Isha has done at A Girl’s Frontier – from building the nonprofit to seeing dozens of girls aided – is her driving passion. Through book drives, she provided educational opportunities to girls affected by COVID-19 with reduced access to libraries and their resources.
Subsequent iPad drives ensured that these girls could continue their educations virtually through a pandemic. By sponsoring young girls throughout the world, Isha ensured that their leadership and academic potentials were not hindered by a lack of funds. Through mentorship programs, she connected girls with female mentors in their field who guided, advised, and inspired them to lead. Over the course of these efforts, Isha has worked with giving and brilliant women who see themselves in these younger girls, and she has met the most talented and creative girls who inspire and motivate her every day. A Girl’s Frontier led book drives and iPad donations in her community to provide educational opportunities to families affected by COVID-19 so that underprivileged girls could continue their educations even when school resources were more difficult to access. A Girl’s Frontier’s mentorship program also connected girls with a female leader in their field who would guide, advise, inspire them to lead, and continue their education even without in-person teaching.
Encouraging Positive Work Culture
A positive work culture encourages everyone to do their job the best they possibly can. For a successful small business, it is absolutely necessary. In A Girl’s Frontier Isha strives to ensure that everyone knows how incredibly thankful she is to all of them, so that they know that what they are doing makes a difference.
Pushing Past the Glass Ceiling
In Isha’s community, women are at the forefront of almost all the endeavors. The principals of all the schools Isha has gone to are women and moms in charge of the PTA who help guide the decisions of the school. Yet even with all these women in charge of such crucial moments of the community’s lives, there are far and few women in the higher levels of the process: the county board, the state legislature, or even eventually the national legislature. Isha states that, “It’s clear that we learn from and respect women, but it is time for women to be in charge of the decisions they are implementing.” In Isha’s community, she encourages girls to become entrepreneurs, to ask and fight for the promotion, and to start running for public offices. With Isha’s nonprofit organization, A Girl’s Frontier which is dedicated to providing young girls in Metro Atlanta and throughout the entire world with the opportunity to nurture their leadership potential via education, mentorship, and outreach programs, Isha hopes to encourage young girls to have this vision and explore their leadership capabilities. Isha encourages young girls, and herself, to push past the glass ceiling by looking up to the women leaders who have accomplished great feats, and take the story of successful women leaders as an inspiration to create one’s own, where one writes every page.