March is Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate all that women have contributed to culture and society in America and throughout the world, as well as to reflect on the progress made and obstacles that remain on the long journey to women’s equality.

The annual celebration grew from a local movement in Sonoma County, California in 1978. The county school district established “Women’s History Week,” which itself was an extension of the already globally established “International Women’s Day,” held annually on March 8th. The following year, President Carter proclaimed the week a national observance, and seven years later, the United States Congress expanded the observance from a week to a month. March has been designated as National Women’s History “Month” ever since.

Growing up outside of the United States, I wasn’t always aware of the official celebration, but my life and career journey has largely tracked the timeline and historical growth of this movement. As I’ve navigated my way through education in the male-dominated major of Chemistry, on my way to earning an MBA alongside mostly male graduates, then taking several executive roles in finance, sales and management, and eventually reaching my current post as president of Pitney Bowes’ 100-year young Sending Technology Solutions division in the male dominated industry of shipping and mailing, I have been acutely aware of the unique challenges that face aspiring female leaders.

My personal career journey inspired me to write a book (Nurmohamed, S. Outshine. FAQ Books, 2017) and give a Tedx Talk to share advice with aspiring women leaders. Experience has taught me that while we certainly need to harness the power of our social institutions, governments and corporations to accelerate progress toward workplace equality at scale, there are also simple actions and mindset shifts that each of us can take as individuals. It starts in our own minds, homes, offices, enterprises and industries.

Our industry has plenty of opportunity in this area. A 2023 Gartner survey of supply chain leaders, which include shipping and parcel logistics businesses, found that women comprise 41% of the supply chain workforce, but only 26% of the industry’s C-suite and executive level roles. The number is up significantly from 19% in 2022 and 15% in 2021. Still, 26% should not meet anyone’s definition of “equality.”

What is holding women back, particularly in our own industry? While social dynamics and unconscious bias play a large role, it is also true that many women are simply selling themselves short and opting out of opportunities prematurely.

An often-cited study by Hewlett Packard found that when identically well-qualified men and women were presented with an opportunity for a promotion, men believed they could step up to the challenge if they met 60% of the stated job requirements, whereas women only felt capable if they met 100%. Undoubtedly, many of these men ultimately landed the jobs that more qualified women didn’t think they had the choice to pursue. Their sense of “the possible,” in terms of their career, was profoundly and unreasonably restricted.

In these final weeks of Women’s History Month, let’s be conscious of this kind of limiting mindset and work to change it, especially in our own industry. Aspiring women leaders – be more courageous in going after the jobs you want, even if the qualifications seem just beyond your current experience. You bring more to a job than your present capabilities. You bring your potential and your capacity to learn. Men and women who lead, or mentor aspiring women leaders – encourage them to consider a wider range of leadership roles, regardless of their life stage, family plan, or recreational aspirations. Flexible work options are expanding opportunities for career advancement. Ask for what you want and need.

Everyone, men and women alike, benefit from a workplace where diversity of perspective is celebrated. Let’s work towards a future where talent and capability are the biggest predictors of career success. During Women’s History Month and every month, exceptional women should be just as likely to shine as exceptional men.

Shemin Nurmohamed is EVP and President, Sending Technology Solutions at Pitney Bowes, a global shipping and mailing company that provides technology, logistics and financial services to more than 90 percent of the Fortune 500. She is dedicated to helping working women progress in their careers and has authored a book (Outshine published by FAQ Books, 2017) and given a TEDx Talk on the subject.