by PAMELA HULSE ANDREWS Cascade CBN Editor
Aren’t women just great?! They’re loyal friends when you need one, they’re the best sisters, mothers, daughters, wives and….business leaders, politicians and volunteers. They don’t, just like men, excel in each of those roles or even choose to assume one, but when they do, they’re just the best. And they’ve come a long way from the days of only being the behind the scenes support system.
When we talk about women being “allowed” to do things, we’ve come a long way from the days in the workplace when women were relegated to menial tasks serving men. Having stepped into numerous firsts, women are taken seriously and doing things their grandmothers would have thought unthinkable. The fight is over and they have won. Or have they?
From a personal standpoint I think that special consideration for women is sexist and patronizing. Women, just like men, are perfectly capable of standing on their own two feet, achieving success, getting financial backing and moving forward without discrimination — and without singular consideration taken for being female.
However, in many ways some of today’s politicians seem to be trying to take women back a few notches. It won’t work and they won’t get reelected with chauvinist statements, bad behaviors and backward attitudes.
Is it, then, patronizing in our so-called post-feminist era, to salute the achievements to women in business? I don’t think so for three reasons.
First, because women have come from the bottom and worked hard for relative equality.
Second, because all things are still not the same…reports show that just one year out of college, women working full time already earn less than their male colleagues, even when they work in the same field. Ten years after graduation, the pay gap widens. Women have made remarkable strides in education during the past three decades, but these gains have yet to translate into full equity in pay-even for college-educated women who work full time.
Third, while many young men have stepped up to the plate to participate equally in family care, women are still the primary caretakers of their children and home activities. Women are still trying to do it all by mixing careers with child raising, house keeping and social activities. I am not fond of the phrase having it all – women would agree that having what matters is more appropriate.
In 1950 women constituted only 29 percent of the American workforce. Today that figure approaches 50 percent. 68 million women are employed in the U.S.–73 percent of employed women worked on full-time jobs, while 27 percent worked on a part-time.
The number of working women with children has climbed even faster. Nearly a third of employed women have children under age 13. These changes are making the workplace a different place to be. Women want more time with their families and more flexibility. Women are also staring their own businesses in droves. Being their own boss allows them the flexibility and creativity that they desire.
While there are more women managers than ever before — 49 percent — only 4.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions and 4.6 percent of Fortune 1000 CEO positions are held by women. And yet, companies with the most women in senior management had a 35 percent higher return on equity than those with the fewest.
As American women look around them and see that they can and will shatter the glass ceiling if they choose to, new horizons are waiting to be climbed. There is a consciousness of the greater world that needs attention — from the environment to health and safety issues to fairness for women in other countries. Advances, however, are somewhat tempered by the severe realities in many regions throughout the world.
In the U.S. approximately 20 percent more women than men are enrolled in higher education. But in many countries women are still forced to marry men they have never met and can be killed for disobeying a husband. Around the world more attention is being geared towards forging an entire world where anything is possible for all women.
Ultimately American women’s work has given them increased economic influence, political clout, self-esteem and improved lifestyles. Surveys show they feel more equal in their marriages and are generally more content in their roles at home. There are 4 million more women than men in the United States (55 percent and the life expectancy for women hovers at 80 while for men it’s only 73. Women today outnumber men in the voting booth, account for more than 80 percent of consumer spending and are the primary source of leadership in raising the next generation.
Women entrepreneurs are active in the business marketplace accessing capital, buying technology, using the internet to expand their businesses and establishing retirement plans in much the same way as their male counterparts.
In addition, women entrepreneurs are more likely than male business owners to place value on business relationships as well as factual information, more likely than men entrepreneurs to seek out the opinions and input of others, and be more reflective than their male counterparts when making decisions. As women-owned firms continue to increase in numbers and economic strength, it will be increasingly valuable for customers, policy makers and business-to-business marketers to understand and benefit from these similarities and differences.
Women’s achievements are just too darn notable to ignore. And thus Cascade Business News presents this year’s special section on women in the workplace.
Let’s face it: women live longer, vote more, even use computers more if they’re a business owner. And they don’t need special privileges to get where they want to be. In general women are very optimistic about their future believing that they will be stronger, richer and gain more political and financial power in the next decade.