by Leslie Morgan Steiner
Katy Perry’s summer smash hit, California Gurls  trumpets bikinis, stilettos, sex on the beach and melting your “popsicle.”
The song most definitely does not pay tribute to the daily accomplishments, responsibilities and triumphs of California’s women over 21.
Pehaps it should.
California is home to 18 million women. Thirty percent of all businesses in California are owned by women. A UC Davis 2005 study of top executives  showed that 10% of board seats and top executive positions are held by women.
Women run California – literally. Although only 17 of the 100 US Senators are women, both Senators from California are women – Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. Boxer’s challenger this November is a woman – former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina . Another woman who made her fortune in California business, Meg Whitman  from eBay, is running for governor of the state and has spent $139 million on her campaign . And of course, the richest female entertainers in the world  call Los Angeles home, including Jennifer Hudson, Jennifer Aniston, Renee Zellweger, Christina Aguilera, Cameron Diaz, Britney Spears, Judge Judy...and of course, Katy Perry herself.
Hailing from Santa Barbara, California, Katy Perry is a two-time Grammy nominated singer and most recently had two #1 Billboard hits, Teenage Dream and California Gurls. Perry married comedian and actor Russell Brand  in India – not California – this past Saturday. Despite the pop flavor of her music, Perry is far more determined businesswoman than raw talent: a professional performer since 15, she has depended upon controversial outfits and a song about kissing a girl – and liking it – to earn her fame. She clearly understands how to market songs – and herself.
Lastly, she’s no teenage dream herself – Perry turned 26 on October 25. Although she sings about tankinis, she knows a few hard facts about ambition, success, and womanhood.
So is California the best place in the United States to be an ambitious woman? I live 2,670 miles away in Washington, DC, so I’m no expert on California Girls. But the question’s worth asking: what makes California such fertile land for successful American women? Is the culture more open to female talent and drive? Does the state’s outstanding public education system fuel gender-neutral opportunity? Are California’s business people, voters and politicians less prejudiced than the rest of the country? Does the state’s long history of voting democratic  translate into better, and more widespread, prospects for women?
Does California represent the wave of the future?
Let’s hope so.