Neil Meekin 1

The average woman earns more than 20 cents less than every dollar a man earns doing the same job.

Last year an embarrassingly low 2 percent of venture capital dollars went to companies with female founders.

According to a January 2018 online survey from non-profit Stop Street Harrassment, just over 80 percent of women say they’ve been sexually harassed at work.

These statistics show that pretty much any woman you see at work has had to overcome some challenging circumstances just to be there. This is why compiling a list of extraordinary women who’ve overcome remarkable obstacles to reach success wasn’t that hard.

What follows are six examples of gifted and tenacious women who deserve our celebration. They serve as a reminder that despite a stacked deck, female professionals can and do succeed. Their stories should motivate all of us to make that climb to the top more equitable for the next generation of women entrepreneurs.

Related: 12 Female Entrepreneurs You Should Know

1. Ursula Burns

The daughter of Panamanian immigrants, Burns was raised in a New York City housing project. Her hard work earned her a spot at NYU’s engineering school, and she would go on to graduate from Columbia with a Master’s in Engineering.

After working at Xerox for nearly twenty years, Burns would go on to become the company’s CEO in 2007. She was the first Black woman to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

Related: Xerox to Split Into Two Companies

2. Mary Barra

The woman who would go on to become the CEO of General Motors, worked in an actual General Motors factory inspecting hoods and fenders when she was 18 years old. When Mary Barra became the CEO of GM, during one of the most difficult periods in company history, she was described as inexperienced by critics. Since then, Barra cut losing initiatives and earned praise for dealing strongly with the company’s 2014 ignition switch defect scandal.

Today, GM has partnered with ride sharing companies like Lyft, and is rumored to be working on their own version of it. The GM team is also developing autonomous cars and expanding deeper into international markets.

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