By Dawn Onley
With all of the progress that has been made with gender equality over the past 100 years, and there has undoubtedly been progress – from the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote in 1920 to Roe vs. Wade in 1973, gender inequality persists in 2016.
The fact remains that in today’s workforce, women earn – on average — 79 cents to every dollar a man earns. If that woman is black or Latina, she fares even worse. (63 cents and 54 cents, respectively) Women also trail men in key leadership positions.
This is in spite of women now earning more undergraduate degrees than men – the first time since the Census Bureau began keeping track. It’s in spite of the law. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 makes it illegal for employers to pay a woman less than what a man earns for doing the same job.
And it’s also in spite of considerable research that shows, for example, women outscoring men in 12 of 15 core leadership competencies (Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman); companies with women on their boards tend to outperform boards that consist of men only (Grant Thornton); and a McKinsey Global Institute report that found that $12 trillion could be added to the global gross domestic product by 2025 if women achieved their full economic potential.
Yet according to the StatusofWomenData.org, at our current rate, we will not achieve equal pay until 2058. Some think tanks and research organizations place the year even further out than that.
At the tail end of Women’s History Month, I thought it made sense to not just celebrate our significant gains and accomplishments as women, of which there have been numerous, but to also highlight the challenges, like pay inequity, that still need to be corrected. I thought it was important to recommit our focus and efforts on righting the wrongs and leveling the playing field. We have come a long way, but we haven’t reached the finish line.
In May, the White House will host a summit on “The United State of Women,” to look at the advances women have made in the United States and globally, and to expand efforts to help women confront the challenges we face.
I’ll be tuned in, looking for opportunities to engage. I hope you will as well.
We have a vote. We have the law. And we make up 50.8 percent of the country’s population – which by my math means the majority. It’s about time we start making all of this count.
What’s stopping us?