Let’s face it. We are still living in a patriarchal society.
No, I am not referring to one’s personal home arrangement, where the man proclaims that his only cooking skills rest underneath the cover of his porcelain-lined Weber grill. No, I am referring to that place where we spend over a third of our lives. The place that for some of us brings a sense of belonging and value and allows us to provide for our families. That place that for others is merely a means to support their personal interests and hobbies. Yes, I am referring to the work place.
Women have played key roles in shaping and developing America and the world what and where it is today and, yet, it is beyond fair to argue that their equality in the work place has advanced disproportionately to the time allotted. Sure, today more women hold key positions in highly successful companies. Sheryl Sandberg, former COO of Facebook, Indra Nooyi, CEO and chair of PepsiCo, and Irene Rosenfeld, CEO of Kraft, are just a few among the many. Yet American women who work full time are STILL paid only 80 cents for every dollar paid to men (NWLC, 2017). And sadly, this gap is even larger for women of color.
And the remaining question, yet to be answered conclusively and with justifiable context, is why?
The societally-molded and un-justifiably fostered ‘inferiority complex’ towards women dates back to the beginning of time. According to Greek Mythology, it was a woman, Pandora, who opened the forbidden box and brought plagues and unhappiness to mankind. Early Roman law described women as ‘children, forever inferior to men’ (WIC, 2017). If this does not instill at least an ounce of rage inside of you, clearly this article is not intended for you.
Flash forward to today, where women are not only prominent in the business world but are undoubtedly branding themselves successfully with a red-hot cast iron. A few modern-day stats to help drive home the message. Today, more than 9.4 million firms are owned by women, employing 7.9 million people and generating on average $1.5 trillion in sales annually (NAWBO, 2017). Additionally, 2.9 million firms are majority-owned by women of color in the U.S. and employ 1.4 million people, generating $226 billion in revenues annually (NAWBO, 2017). As if these figures are in your eyes not impressive enough, one in five firms with revenues of $1 million or more are woman-owned (NAWBO, 2017).
What can you do?
Society has shed its layers and evolved progressively in many areas throughout history. So why is it that women’s rights in the work place have yet to reach full fruition?
This status quo-piercing article is not meant to undermine or sweep under the carpet (no pun intended) the many advancements in women’s rights that have transpired. Rather, the objective here is to highlight the elephant in the room and help remind everyone that there is still much work to be done to help close this undeserved gap. There are many ways to help with this process including, but not limited to, participation in the many women’s rights associations and lobbying.
My encouragement to you all is to, at the very least, participate congressionally in support of women’s rights at the work place and to never give up. Find a local association or advocacy group and keep the fight alive. One of my favorite quotes to spotlight the importance of being congressionally active in your areas of interest: If you do not have a seat at the dinner table, you will be on the menu.
National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). (2017). Women Business Owner Statistics. Retrieved from: https://www.nawbo.org/resources/women-business-owner-statistics
National Women’s Law Center (NWLC). (2017). Equal Pay & The Wage Gap. Retrieved from: https://nwlc.org/issue/equal-pay-and-the-wage-gap/
Women’s International Center (WIC). (2017). Women’s History in America. Retrieved from: http://www.wic.org/misc/history.htm