You wouldn’t know it by looking at Az Business magazine’s list of the Most Influential Women in Arizona Business for 2018, but women are underrepresented in business leadership positions.

In the July/August issue of Az Business and AZRE magazines, the comprehensive list of the Most Influential Women in Arizona Business will be published. Be on the look-out for the latest edition of the magazine to arrive in your mailboxes and be sure to regularly check to see the full list and individual profiles of the Most Influential Women in the coming weeks.

“I waited to run for mayor until I had served eight years on City Council,” says Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans. “I considered running sooner, but I worried that I didn’t have the knowledge and experience. I think women often underestimate ourselves.”

Consider this: Women make up only about 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. Previous research has suggested that beyond the “glass ceiling,” which makes moving up in a company more difficult for women, a “glass cliff” exists that represents increased challenges for women who attain leadership roles. But for the Most Influential Women in Arizona, a challenge is just another step along the way.

“The smartest decision I made was to ignore pessimists who didn’t think I could succeed as president because I was a woman,” says Audrey Monell, president of Forrest Anderson Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning. “They repeatedly told me family business succession rate is almost non-existent by the third generation. Instead, I accepted the challenge to make our family business a success.”

To put even more pressure on women leaders, new research from the University of Missouri has found that businesses led by female CEOs are more likely to be targeted by activist investors, who buy shares of a company with the intent to direct management decisions.

“Our results are quite disconcerting,” said Daniel Turban, a professor of management and the Emma S. Hibbs/Harry Gunnison Brown Chair of Business and Economics at the Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business. “Shareholders who buy 5 percent or more of a publicly-traded firm with the intent of changing the direction of that firm must register with the Securities and Exchange Commission as activists, which makes activist investing a very public act. If gender bias is present in such public actions, we have to wonder what other challenges these women are facing that are less public.”

For the Most Influential Women in Arizona, overcoming those challenges to become a leader has been what defines them and helped them ascend to a leadership position.

“ I believe every leader should have passion for what they are doing,” says Lisa Reilly Payton, senior partner at Frazer Ryan Goldberg & Arnold. “Passionate people take risks, step up to the occasion and help their team grow to the next level. All the knowledge in the world is not what makes someone a good leader. It’s the care for the work you are doing and the people that are involved that makes the difference.”

But there is one word that can describe each of the women who made the list of the Most Influential Women in Arizona Business for 2018: And that word is “courage.” Without courage, they would not have been able to shatter the glass ceilings and leap from the glass cliffs to safety.

“A leader must have the courage to try, the courage to succeed and the courage to fail and start over again,” says Amy Altshuler, partner at Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie.

While their resumes, backstories and industries may differ, each woman on the Most Influential Women in Arizona list procured influence in their respective fields through hard-earned track records of professional excellence, leadership, innovation and community impact. The Most Influential Women in Arizona Business are changing the face of Arizona business.

The Most Influential Women in Arizona Business for 2018 will be honored at a reception that begins at 5:30 p.m. on August 23, 2018 at The Camby. For tickets or for sponsorship information, email or call (602) 277-6045.