Women’s History Month
By John F. Schutz
The title of this blog is a misogynistic slogan of an ad campaign from the year before I was born, and unfortunately encapsulates the reality of the intervening half century. As a father of two teenage daughters, I no longer fear anything except for their future. I am keenly aware of the challenges women continue to face in terms of achieving equality in various aspects of life. From politics to business, academia to sports, and media to entertainment, women have long been underrepresented and undervalued. However, despite these challenges, I remain optimistic that the prospects for my daughters’ equality will be met. In my lifetime, women have made huge strides in closing a shameful gap in equality, but still the fight continues.
According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, as of January 2023, women make up 27.3% of members of parliament globally. In terms of heads of state or government, as of January 2023, there are 23 women currently serving in that capacity around the world, representing about 11% of all heads of state or government. In 1975 women made up only 4.5% of parliament globally.
A study by Grant Thornton, as of 2021, found women hold 31% of senior management roles globally. In terms of CEO positions, a study by Catalyst found that in 2020, women held 7.4% of CEO positions at Fortune 500 companies in the United States. There is limited data available on the number of women in senior management or CEO positions 50 years ago, but it is widely acknowledged that women were significantly underrepresented in these areas. For example, a report by the Harvard Business Review from 1976 noted that only 1.2% of the largest US companies had a woman in a senior management position.
UNESCO determined, as of 2021, women make up about 33% of researchers worldwide. In terms of leadership positions in academia, a 2020 report by the Higher Education Statistics Agency in the UK found that women held 26% of professorships at UK universities. According to a report by the National Science Foundation, in 1973, women made up only 6% of full-time faculty at US colleges and universities.
A report by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, as of 2021, women hold 42.7% of head coaching positions in women’s sports in US colleges and universities, but only 3.4% of head coaching positions in men’s sports.There were very few women in leadership positions in sports 50 years ago. For example, according to a report by the Women’s Sports Foundation, in 1973, there were no women serving as head coaches in US colleges and universities.
The Global Media Monitoring Project, as of 2020, determined women make up 42% of news media personnel worldwide, but only 24% of the people heard, read about, or seen in news coverage. Women were significantly underrepresented in this area fifty years ago. For example, a study by the Women’s Media Center found that in 1973, women made up only 38% of all newsroom employees in the US.
Growing awareness and recognition of women’s rights and issues will continue to lead to positive changes. Over the past few years, we have seen a surge in movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, which have brought attention to issues like sexual harassment and unequal pay. These movements have not only led to changes in policies and practices but have also shifted societal attitudes towards these issues. As a result, future generations of women will have greater opportunities and support in their pursuit of equality.
The increasing representation of women in leadership positions is encouraging. While women still face significant barriers to accessing leadership roles, we have seen significant progress in recent years. For example, we have seen more women serving as heads of state, CEOs, and other high-profile positions. This growing representation not only serves as a source of inspiration and empowerment for young women but also helps to challenge the gender stereotypes and biases that have traditionally hindered women’s progress.
Work environments and technology are rapidly changing and will create more opportunities for women to succeed. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards remote work and flexible working arrangements, which can benefit women who still often bear most caregiving responsibilities. Additionally, the rise of technology and digital platforms can provide more opportunities for women to access education, training, and employment, regardless of their geographic location or personal circumstances.
Finally, we can find hope in the collective efforts of individuals, organizations, and governments around the world to continue progress towards gender equality. There are many initiatives underway, such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which include a specific goal to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. These efforts, combined with the increasing awareness and representation of women, should give us all hope that future generations (my daughters’ generation) will face fewer barriers and enjoy greater equality and opportunities.
While women (my daughters) will continue to face significant challenges in achieving equality, I remain optimistic and will fight so that they have what every parent dreams: a better life than me and greater opportunities than I have enjoyed.
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