We’ve Come A Long Way: Women in the Workplace

25 Oct


The situation for women in the workplace may seem bleak at times, but it’s improving. Rather than mentioning the oft-cited 77 cents statistic (which may not even be accurate), here’s a more inspiring number: the number of female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies has increased by 65 percent in just three years. This year, there are 22 female CEOs on the list across sectors, and it’s time we celebrate that.

Whether discussing equal pay, equal policies or empowerment, the dialogue about women in the workplace needs to take a more positive tone. While focusing on the work to be done can encourage progress, celebrating how far we’ve come while looking to the future has the dual effect of pushing for further advancement while inspiring others. Let’s celebrate progress without resting on our laurels. Here are three landmarks in the march toward equality.

June 10, 1963 – President Kennedy signs the equal pay act into law. At the time, women earned an average of 59 cents on the dollar compared with men. Today, the battle is far from over, but the Department of Labor continues to keep tabs on the amount earned by women each June on National Equal Pay Day.

1971 – Phillips v. Martin Marietta Corp. I tackled the issue of working dadslast month and how the phrase itself is almost an oxymoron. Few attach the label “working” to a the average father; it’s assumed that he’s employed outside the home. Ida Phillips found herself in the opposite situation over forty years ago. The Martin Marietta Corporation had a formal policy of not hiring mothers with preschool-age children because they were assumed to be unreliable, while fathers with children the same age were readily hired and promoted. While parents of either gender face a fair amount of discrimination, legally, the outlook for working mothers is much improved.

Read the rest of my article here on Forbes.


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