Just the Facts, Ladies

Feminism, gender equity, like a girlBeyoncé has put her voice behind it. Emma Watson has stood up for it. Malala Yousafzai received the Nobel Prize. Even the Super Bowl included an ad. What do all of these have in common? Support for feminism: that girls should have the same rights, access to education and opportunities as guys.

While not a new topic, the Super Bowl’s “Like a Girl” ad brought attention to the way people react to that qualifier and started a conversation. Why is “like a girl” so often a negative?

Seeing girls respond to “like a girl” in the ad as a positive rather than a put-down was heartening. But it also showed the stark difference between those girls and girls just a few years older.

It’s been shown that female self-esteem drops after puberty and that deficit seems to follow women into adulthood and in the career and life choices they make.

The facts are that while:

  • Females make up 50.8 percent of the U.S. population and earn 60 percent of undergraduate and master’s degreeswomen in business, women-owned business
  • Women account for 47 percent of the total labor force and 59 percent of the college-educated, entry-level workforce
  • Women hold 52 percent of professional level jobs

Women also:

  • Earn $.77 for every dollar a man makes
  • Make up 14.6 percent of executive officers
  • Are 8.1 percent of top earners
  • 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs
  • 18 percent of Congress
  • 10 percent of Governors
  • And 12 percent of the mayors of the 100 largest American cities

Like a girl

These facts show that while we as women are educated and active in the workforce, we are not making it to the higher levels of decision making and earning potential at an equal rate. What are the reasons these gaps exist and what can we do about it? Are we holding ourselves back or is it culture? There are multiple issues, but the important thing is that we do something about it.

There are positive signs out there. Women-owned businesses are thriving. The Guardian Small Business Research Institute projects that these businesses will create 5 million new jobs by 2018. The women that are making inroads in business are sharing their stories and support to others.

Gender equality has come a long way, but there is still a long way to go. We need to look at how we treat each other and the messages we are sending to our children. Having “like a girl” always mean doing your best will benefit all of us.

This is the first in a series that will explore many topics involving women in business – from the support and success stories to the obstacles and changes being made. Join us and share your thoughts and experiences.