Blockbuster hit “Wonder Woman” came out earlier this year and in it we see a kick-butt female superhero who is talented, smart, brave, strong and caring, who owns her power and uses it for good.
Audiences loved it. By the end of September, “Wonder Woman” had pulled in gross worldwide sales of over $818 million. It was the top grossing film of the summer, the No. 1 film with a female director (Patty Jenkins), the No. 1 superhero origin film (domestic and worldwide) and the No. 1 DC Comics Extended Universe film.
We want to be like her, too. According to the National Retail Federation, Wonder Woman was the No. 1 children’s Halloween costume this year and No. 10 for adult costumes.
Basically, Wonder Woman rocks.
In Utah a networking organization named “Utah Wonder Women” was founded three years ago “for today’s accomplished women and tomorrow’s ambitious leaders.” Over that time, they have held regular networking events in private homes but, as their numbers grew, they decided to hold a larger event.
So, last week, Utah Wonder Women held their first summit. They welcomed women from all over the state who had the opportunity to listen to speakers like Rosie Rios, former U.S. Treasurer, Alexis McGill Johnson, executive director and co-founder of the Perception Institute working on issues of unconscious bias and Robin Hauser who is directing and producing a documentary on bias. The next day, they also held a summit for teen girls designed to promote and inspire them to leadership.
Whether they belong to a formal organization or not, Utah has many of its own Wonder Women. I’d like to talk about a few.
Former Utah House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart was a prime example of a Utah Wonder Woman. She worked hard, believed everyone should have a voice, even those whose voices were rarely heard in political circles and brought compassion and collaboration to the Speaker’s dais. While not aspiring to become a role model for women in or out of politics, she realized that she was one. She gave an interview shortly before her death and said, “There’s something to the visual, actually seeing a woman as Speaker. There’s something powerful to that because other young girls and women say, ‘I can do that now because I’ve actually seen one.’ ”
Neylan McBaine and Mandee Grant founded Better Days 2020, an organization devoted to celebrating the 150th anniversary of women voting in Utah and the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, allowing all women the right to vote in the United States. They are developing public school curricula, working on a downtown walking tour, a film, ways to honor Utah’s early suffragettes and even trading cards of Utah’s women’s rights leaders. Neylan and Mandee are two more of Utah’s Wonder Women, honoring earlier Wonder Women.
My friend Tammy has a son with Down Syndrome and has become a fierce advocate not only for him, but for all families who have children with disabilities.
My friend Christie is an inspiring author who write beautiful books that touch, lift and help other women to become better versions of themselves.
My friend Michelle, also an author and inspiring speaker, juggles family and multiple businesses but always has time to reach out and serve others, personally and professionally. She is also hilariously funny, won’t hesitate to tell you how she sprayed Mace in her own eyes and how those lessons can apply in your life too.
These women are Wonder Women!
In fact, the list of Wonder Women that I know could fill pages. Most will never be in the public eye, most will never serve on big corporate boards, but all of them exert powerful influence on the lives of people around them. There’s a popular slogan I’ve adopted as a mantra: Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.
Holly Richardson, a columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune, is delighted to be raising a number of young Wonder Women.