The world celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8th. In addition to celebrating all the various achievements of women, this day serves to raise awareness regarding the lack of gender equality. The day is intended to celebrate the need for equality and yet ironically the day itself perhaps does not receive the equal treatment it deserves. I must admit I had never heard of Women’s Day until after the day had passed. The first Women’s Day occurred in 1911 in Austria and since then it has popped up here and there around the world as spikes of renewed interest in advancing gender parity took the form of rallies and women’s marches.
How far have women come in recent years to achieving workplace equality, particularly in the US? Is a push still warranted? Grant Thornton, a global tax, auditing and advisory firm has been tracking the progress women have made into senior leadership roles since 2004. Globally, in 2004, women held 19% of the senior executive leadership roles while in the US, for that same year, women represented 20% of those roles. In 2017 women’s global representation has gained ground and stands at 25% while the pace in the US has slowed a bit and now stands slightly below the global average at 23%. Despite the increase, gains have been very modest in the last thirteen years. Perhaps more startling is that in 2012, 30% of companies in the U.S. had no female senior leaders while in 2017 that number has not decreased but increased slightly to thirty-one percent. Advances are slow or even non-existent in areas. Furthermore, women have not broken through in many other areas of business and government.
Following are 15 jobs women have yet to hold in the U.S.:
· President of the US
· Vice President of the US
· Head coach of a major big 4 sports team
· Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
· FBI or CIA director
· Senate Majority Leader
· Member of the Joint Chiefs
· Secretary of Defense, Treasury and Veterans affairs
· Governor in 23 US states
· CEO of a top 5 Fortune 500 company
· Secretary General of the UN
Presently women on average earn only 80 cents for every dollar that men earn, however women do out-earn men in some professions. The top five are:
· Physician advisor
· Purchasing specialist
· Research assistant
· Social worker
These are however not the occupations in which women earn the most. The top 5 and their median pay are as follows:
· Corporate counsel – $115,000
· Pharmacist – $119,000
· VP of Marketing – $123,000
· General pediatrician – $152,000
· General practice physician – $173,000
Women are obviously successful and though one hasn’t piloted a top five Fortune 500 Company, Mary Barra currently helms #8 GM. Yet the gains women have made are barely measurable from year to year. A woman’s desire to manage both work and family is a frequently offered explanation. Catherine Hill, The American Association of University Women remarks, “Yes, the choices we make are a big part of it, but it’s also the choices people assume we’re going to make.” Meaning that yes, many women’s careers suffer when they take time off to care for children or family members but those who have no such aspirations are still penalized.
Mark your calendars for next March. Women’s day will be coming back around and we all have the opportunity to celebrate women’s gains or lack thereof with a blog post or at the very least, a shout out on Twitter.