99 Years and Counting: 5 Actions You Can Take For Women’s Equality Day
Ninety-nine years ago on August 26, women won the right to vote in the U.S., with the passage of the 19th Amendment. It wasn’t until 1971 when Bella Abzug (D-NY) proposed a Joint Resolution of Congress that that day be designated Women’s Equality Day. It was passed two years later in 1973.
The resolution stated, “The women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States.”
This is not news. But what can you do this year for Women’s Equality Day? Take The Lead has some key suggestions for you, but Take The Lead, with the mission to achieve leadership parity across all sectors by 2025, is spelling out why women’s equality is essential.
The statistics show across multiple industries, that the distribution of leadership is far from achieving the goal of parity.
According to Catalyst, out of the 2,451 MSCI ASWI Index companies, women held 17.3% of directorships in 2017, up from 15.8% in 2016. And Catalyst reports, “In Deloitte’s analysis of nearly 7,000 companies in 60 countries, women held 15% of all board seats globally in 2017, up from 12% of board seats in 2015.”
In S&P 500 companies, women account for only 25 CEO spots, or just 5% of the list, Catalyst reports. Women represent 48% of entry level professionals, 29% of vice presidents and 23% of c-suite executives, according to McKinsey 2018.
Distribution in Congress is also highly unequal. Li Zhou reports in Vox, “According to an analysis by Deutsche Bank Securities chief economist Torsten Slok, at the current rate, the US is about 90 years away from seeing equal numbers of men and women in Congress. It’ll happen by 2108 — if we’re lucky.”
Zhou adds, “While women had a record year in the 2018 midterm elections, bringing their total numbers in Congress to 127, much of the data is still grim. For every woman across both chambers, there are roughly three men. And the split along party lines is even starker. Thirty-eight percent of Democratic lawmakers are currently women, while just 8 percent of Republicans are.”
Pay is also unequal. “Women earned 80.5% of what men earned in 2017, based on the real median earnings for full-time, year-round workers,” Catalyst reports. But it has improved, as women earned 60.2% of what men earned in 1980. Women earned a median of $41,977 annually in 2017, and men earned $52,146.
The perceptions, however, do not match reality, and there is a gender gap in perception as well.
“Multiple studies have found that men assume women take up much more space than they actually do,” writes Rozi Jones in Financial Reporter. “One study reported ‘very inaccurate perceptions’ by group discussants; in a group in which almost twice as many men as women had spoken, participants reported that the majority of speakers had been female.”
Jones writes, “Recent research on women in the workplace found that men think women leaders are represented equally, despite only 10% of women actually holding leadership positions. The study found that men are more likely to think the workplace is equitable, but women see a workplace that is less fair and offers less support, with only 39% of females saying their company treats people fairly, compared to 47% of men.”
Here are five action steps you can take to celebrate Women’s Equality Day and move the dial toward gender parity in leadership by 2025, sharing in the goal of Take The Lead.
Join Gender Avengers in tallying the representation of women at panels and conference. You can use the GA app to tally how many of the keynoters or panelists at a conference are women, and also to document the number of women represented in any public dialog. You can take the GA pledge that you will not speak on a panel where women are not represented. According to the site, “Volunteer co-founders, Gina Glantz and Susan Askew, work with great professionals to build a community of activists dedicated to ensuring that women are always part of the public dialog.”
Follow the 5-Point Action Plan from Paradigm For Parity. According to the site, the plan of eliminating bias, increasing numbers of women in senior roles communicating progress and measuring outcomes makes change. “Based on extensive research and best practices, this is the first set of specific actions that, when concurrently implemented, will catalyze change and enable companies to more effectively increase the number of women of all races, cultures and backgrounds in leadership positions,” according to the site.
Speak up locally, nationally, globally. You can point out inequities at your own workplace, documenting if there are disparities in assignments, projects, even time given in meetings. You can also speak up in your community, at local schools, pointing out lack of balance in representation. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, your voice is needed to reach equality. Mentor, speak up for your vulnerable neighbor, share stories of hope or action, and advocate for women’s rights and opportunities through research, policy platforms, and communications with your elected officials. Consider finding a friend or 12 friends like we did; you can connect and conspire for good, together, and really amplify your voice. Your voice, whether written or spoken, is a symbol of your leadership.
Vote in 2020. This will be the 100th anniversary of women having the right to vote. Take The Lead is non-partisan. But many observers note that politics in this country is highly gendered. “When we talk about how gender and sexism affect elections, usually what we’re really talking about is how women fare. But gender has always been an important factor on the campaign trail, even when both major-party candidates are the same sex,” writes Angela Thomson-DeVeaux in fivethirtyeight. She continues, “When two men are running against each other, we end up with a contest between two different versions of masculinity,” said Jackson Katz, an educator and the author of “Man Enough?: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and the Politics of Presidential Masculinity.”
Fund initiatives for women. Even Richard Branson is pledging equal funding, recently announcing that Virgin StartUp, the nonprofit incubator, has a “commitment to become the first business funder to pledge 50/50 gender investment equality for its startup loans by the end of 2020.” Other leaders in this field are Trish Costello, CEO of Portfolia since 2014. As Take The Lead reports, “Her goal is specific and clear: 100,000 women to invest in Portfolia funds in five years. The recently launched FemTech Fund will invest directly or indirectly in equity-related securities of early-stage companies in the U.S. FemTech marketplace. The goal there is to raise a minimum of $500,000 and a maximum of $3 million to invest in institutional systems and services that enable or support the health of women and girls.”
Support Take The Lead’s Women’s Equality Day Pop-Up For Parity Online Store. For 48 hours only, beginning August 26, Take The Lead offers a Women’s Equality Day We're bringing you some of these tools to our Pop-up For Parity — a silent auction style shopping event designed to help you take control of your life and career. Place your bid on a number of exclusive Career Elevation packages. All of the proceeds from your purchases go to support Take The Lead's innovative programming for women leaders.
Head over to place your bids Items range from artwork, to jewelry to business packages and other offerings. These include a She Negotiates package valued at $2,500; a financial planning session with Eve Elli valued at $1,000; Take The Lead workshops for your organization for half-day or full-day valued from $10,000- $20,000; an Alala event package valued at $1,000 and a one-year membership to Ellevate Network, plus more.
Progress is what we achieve when we do the day to day actions. Let’s see what more we can achieve by the 100th anniversary next August.