Today is Women’s Equality Day, celebrating 99 years since the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted, guaranteeing women the right to vote. On July 30, 1971, Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY) presented a bill designating August 26th as Women’s Equality Day. That year, rallies, celebrations and political debate filled the country on August 26th. By 1973, Congress passed a joint resolution declaring the day to be observed on August 26th of each year. Every year since each president declares this day as Women’s Equality Day commemorating the certification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. You can read President Trump's "Proclamation on Womens Equality Day, 2019" here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/presidential-proclamation-womens-equality-day-2019/ ).
In less than 100 years, women’s rights in the U.S. has made leaps and bounds since the passage of the 19th Amendment and some progress has been made towards acheiving true gender equity at work in terms of reaching equity in leadership, pay and promotion opportunities. However, lingering worplace inequities continue. Many women still struggle to break through that glass ceiling. Unfortunately, the gender gap in 21st century America has actually expanded. In 2018, the U.S. failed to place in the top 10 — or even the top 40 — of the World Economic Forum’s ranking of 149 countries based on gender equality. In fact, the U.S. dropped to 51st position from its previous rank 49th. (https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-gender-gap-report-2018).
At both Fortune 500 and S&P 500 companies, women are only about 5 percent of CEOs and multicultural women are almost non-existent at the top. The Working Mother Research Institute researched "What's Keeping Women from Leading Corporate America" and found "across the board, junior and mid-level women don’t know what opportunities exist for them or how to pursue them, don’t understand the benefits of P&L experience, don’t understand the importance of networking, mentoring and sponsorship, and are afraid to take risks in the form of job opportunities when they don’t have all the skills required". Their research identified four critical gaps - major areas that are impacting women’s desire and ability to reach the top of their organizations.
1. Women are less likely than men to have a clear vision of how they want their careers to advance, including acquiring P&L experience, and most men underestimate the barriers women face.
2. Far more men than women recognize the critical importance and benefits derived from networking, mentoring and sponsorship in elevating one’s personal profile, developing one’s brand and finding allies to help move up.
3. The importance of being able to visualize oneself at the top, to seek role models and to be encouraged cannot be overestimated.
4. Real implementation—and holding people accountable to drive measurable results—is rare.
(You can see full report "The Gender Gap at the Top. What's Keeping Women from Leading Corporate America" at:
Be it outright or nuanced differences, women still face a number of challenges within the workplace. Ranging from discrimination for promotions or taking time off, the progress of the last half-decade has still not created true gender equality.
During World War II, thousands of women began working in factories and at plants to produce crucial supplies for both the war and at home. As veterans returned home, women were pushed out of these jobs and once more had to page through the gender segregated job listings in their local newspapers. As of the 1950’s, women brought home an average of 40 percent less than men in the same positions. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 made it illegal to pay women less based solely on their gender, with other demonstrable qualifications such as seniority, experience or merit listed as the only reasons to enact differing pay scales.
Since that time, other rulings have helped push the conversation along: by 1990, women earned 71.6 percent of male salaries, while the year 2000 saw them earning 73.3 percent on the dollar. The last 15 years has seen this percentage rise to 79, yet this is still far from equal.
Along with addressing the four gaps identified above, women need to begin working to close the gender gap in their own lives - cultivate your negotiating skills, seek out promotions, self promote don't hold back, challenge each other to step up, and advocate for wage equality by learning more about some of the mainstream initiatives in place to reduce gender-based pay discrimination. Along the same line, men need to be taught similar language skills that value women for their skills and not allow personal opinions impact their ability to work together. It's been well documented that women make certain choices to remain "nice" or "likable" but it's quite common for women to be passively put "back in their place" for acting "aggressive" when they are really voicing their worth and expectations. Both men and women need more evolved personal reflections on how to better communicate with each other to avoid these traps that have been engrained in us from generations gone by.