Upward and Forward

By Kira Perdue

For several generations now women have been slowly advancing our position in business, politics and society in general. First we had to fight for the right to vote. Then to work. Then to work for equal pay. We’ve come a long way, with 22% of the Fortune 500 companies boasting female CEOs today. But on many levels women are still fighting for the right to live without violence, get paid equally for equal work, be elected into political positions and more.

The great thing about TED Talks is that no matter what the issue is at hand, we keep sharing ideas to drive us upward and forward. The same is true for women. One TED Talk can have an effect on how women across the globe view themselves and act against unfairness. Each time we come out and address women’s issues, we are creating a ripple effect that can be heard around the world.

Here are a few of my favorite TED Talks regarding women’s issues: 

First, Leslie Morgan Steiner’s speech titled Why Domestic Violence Victims Don’t Leave leaves me breathless every time I watch it (and I’ve watched it quite a few times). As a beautiful, highly educated, very confident women, she kicks the perception of the abused woman to the curb. She makes us realize that there is no one reason why women are abused but there are many complicated reasons why she chooses to stay. Her bravery in telling her own story can help other men and women be more understanding to a woman in a family violence situation. When one in three women is abused by their loved one, that’s a number that needs to be paid attention to. Instead of judging them for staying, we need to help these women realize they deserve to live without violence.

Secondly, I love Manal Al-Sharif’s A Saudi Woman Who Dared to Drive. There’s no actual law against women driving in Saudi Arabia. But it’s forbidden. Two years ago, Manal al-Sharif decided to encourage women to drive by doing so — and filming herself for YouTube. Despite receiving threats to her life and serving jail time, she carried on, breaking a long held taboo in her country.

Lastly, Sheryl Sandberg’s classic TED Talk, Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders, never gets old. She lays it out in plain speak how we women tend to shoot ourselves in our own feet when it comes to climbing the corporate ladder. When you realize that you can be your own worst enemy at work, then you have the ability to change, to let your career blossom. When you know better, you do better.

I’m so excited to hear what Charleston’s own thought leaders – many of them unknown to us today – have to say at the upcoming TEDxCharleston (April 8). The theme of Ripple Effect will explore about how even the smallest ideas or actions can have the biggest impact on our community. Now that’s “ideas worth spreading.” See you there!


For  over 17 years Kira Perdue has managed the strategic direction of PR programs for both start-up and Fortune 100 companies.  She is an executive vice president at Trevelino/Keller (T/K), one of the southeast’s most
reputable public relations firms. Kira currently manages PR programs for companies in the agency’s Technology Practice.  

 In 2008 she was named a 40 Under 40 by the Charleston Regional Business Journal. Kira has a degree in journalism from the Ohio University E.W. Scripps School.