In 1973, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution designating August 26 as Women’s Equality Day. The date was selected to commemorate the 1920 certification of the 19th Amendment which granted women the right to vote. While gaining the right to vote was an incredible accomplishment, there are still several other pillars of gender equality not yet met.
According to the 2021 Global Gender Gap Report released by the World Economic Forum, the United States ranks 30th of 156 countries. The report ranks countries based on the following metrics: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.
The report estimates it will take about 61 years to close the gender gap in the United States. So what are the next steps in closing the gender gap? The main priorities listed by the report are to include more women in senior positions in business and politics and to reduce gaps in wages and incomes.
Seventh Scout had a discussion within our own team and with several of our clients on Women’s Equality Day. Listen or read those conversations below.
What’s Next for Women’s Equality?
Read More of Our Stories
Women’s Equality Day makes me inhale deeply and kind of hold it because there’s pride, there’s angst, and there’s a bit of anger. There has been a great deal of work done. But there’s a tremendous amount of work still ahead. And the fact that we even have to recognize it is the mark, that there is still work to be done.
For example, I was golfing, and there was a young girl and her younger brother, and they were there with their grandpa. The little boy had golf clubs, and the little girl had a milkshake treat to eat. I asked the girl where her golf clubs are. And she said she just wanted to eat a milkshake.
I just thought she needs to get her golf clubs and play. But then it dawned on me she doesn’t know that she’s not equal yet. It hasn’t hit her how important it is to play and to be on the field.
And what a neat thing to be that five-year-old girl and know that I just don’t want to play golf. The sheer bliss of her not knowing that she’s not equal was just a great reminder to me that there’s a lot of work to be done.
Both Fortune 500 and politics are the arenas where the bulk of decisions are made for society in one form or another. When you look at the political landscape and the makeup, there have been some big wins. Such as our first female vice president. But I’m tired of seeing the first, the first, the first. I’m waiting for the day where it’s not an anomaly for women to be in executive positions in business.
I think a lot of people look at gender equality as wanting to take what somebody else has. And that puts a lot of folks off. In reality, women want to just stand up there with and at the same time as men. We want men to participate in what has been traditionally female roles. For me, women’s equality is not only women being equal, but also men being equal in the same sphere.
The Austin LGBT Chamber has a mission to represent a wide swath of gender and gender fluidity, including intersex. It’s important for us that everybody has an equal opportunity to achieve prosperity and finds prosperity in their own way. All minorities are fighting for equality.
We talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion in our space and the business world. The phrase that I always use is, you have to be deliberate about diversity. You have to take an internal audit, an assessment of your life and both personally and professionally. If you only put people in a room that look and feel the same way as you, they’re only going to come up with the same ideas.
Working in home-building is a challenge for women. It’s amazing what I’ve seen in the last five years with women’s opportunities and culture changing. For somebody like me, who is typically sitting at a long table full of men in an industry that sells to women, it’s exciting to see other women now have more opportunities to be at that table. You should want to raise up other women in any industry, especially in areas where you have to cling together when there are not as many women.
When I think of the progress made and where we go next, I can’t help but think about the situation in New York involving Governor Cuomo. Some many women have had similar experiences. And some people still don’t fully grasp that women and minorities are already swimming upstream when they start every day. Conversations that would have had me laughed out of the room five years ago are now being taken seriously. Sometimes culture can change rapidly when it’s so many years of not changing.
SO how do you celebrate Women’s Equality Day? Highlighting strong women is great. I know it makes me feel amazing. So I feel like it is a celebratory moment. But it would be even better if we could celebrate all people being measured by the same measuring stick.
For the growing and future generations of women, I want them to know that there isn’t anything holding them back. You could do anything. You don’t need to ask for permission. This can be your future. You can be independent, but you don’t have to be. You have the power to make your own way in the world and have your own measure of success.
But remember, you will have to be your own advocate. In business, for example, we experience a wage gap. You will have to negotiate for your worth. For lack of better words, be a man. Don’t feel bad to advocate for your worth. A man wouldn’t. It probably wouldn’t even be a conversation for them. It’s crazy that people are hired on the same qualifications but aren’t paid for them.
Women’s Equality for me means we are able to lead, live, and thrive as women in this world. We do not have to emulate anybody else, and that we can just be ourselves and be successful. I think recognizing that women have a lot to offer society and recognizing educating women is important.
For example, education is one of the biggest changes that I’ve seen from generations of women in my family. Both in the United States, where I live, but also in Puerto Rico, where I’m from, education for women has greatly improved. This change fills me with hope. Which is great, but it’s not complete. Women are still underrepresented in STEM careers. We’re still underrepresented in engineering, and in medical careers, for example.
In the field of education, there are many women, but in education technology, it’s not as well represented. One solution is to continue to listen to our educators and invite them to be part of our solution. This will help bolster the number of girls going to STEM careers.
If you ask any girl in the second and third grades, they say science is one of their favorite classes. But then something happens when they go to middle school and high school. It’s no longer their favorite subject. I believe one of the reasons this happens is they don’t see themselves in what they’re studying. You don’t have any correlation to what you are learning. You don’t learn about modern women scientists or modern women engineers.
I hope that the next generation of women, like my daughter, are fearless. I hope they don’t have any preconceived notions of who they should be or how they should behave. Do not be afraid of vulnerability. The skills you need in the 21st century, including complex problem solving, communication, negotiation, and teamwork, require diversity.
I always hate framing equality as having the same as someone else. Because. in a way, you hope that the playing field is just level and we’re all players on the same team. However, in actuality, we know that isn’t the case.
In America, all kinds of statistics point to a lack of diversity in executive positions. For me, women’s equality is having a seat at the table. There is a big opportunity to empower young female students to be leaders and enter STEM-focused careers in our schools. I think we’ve made steps. But, I think there needs to be more of a focus on that.
When it comes to the next generation, my advice is, don’t put yourself in a box. I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves, especially as women, to find the path, hit the milestones along the path, and stay on course. I encourage women not to put themselves in a box. Think about your interests more broadly.
I graduated with an undergraduate degree in marketing and communications. I got my master’s in public relations because I absolutely thought I wanted my career to be in PR. I quickly found that it was not for me. I had to take a step back and reevaluate what I wanted to do. At first, I thought this is really going to be a setback for me. I’ve realized life doesn’t happen in any linear path. So you have to lean into what you’re passionate about, and a more meaningful path will unfold in front of you.
Next steps for gender equality. There’s obviously a massive discrepancy and in wages at all levels, whether we’re talking about C-level executives or whether we’re talking about entry-level jobs. Women are making less, and they’re doing more. They have families at home, or they have other people that they’re caring for. Closing the wage gap between men and women would be a big win.
Another win would be the first women president. Sometimes I look to other countries where women have been in these high-Level leadership positions for decades. You have to think, why hasn’t that happened here? This goes for the corporate world too. I can’t tell you how often I’ve looked at executive leadership at companies in traditionally female-driven industries that are still all men.
Right now, specific characteristics define great male leaders. But when women show those same characteristics, they are looked at differently. We need to stop doing that because, in many ways, you’re telling young women how they should be acting compared to men. I want us to look at leaders as just that, leaders.
It’s kind of bittersweet. It’s certainly wonderful to celebrate, but it’s also a little frustrating that we still need our Women’s Equality Day in 2021. We all know about the pay gap. It is something that obviously needs to be rectified, but I think for me, it’s really highlighting beyond just the pay gap.
The opportunities from just women being conditioned at a young age about the careers they should pursue and what their lives should look like up until, you know, making family decisions. I have two small kids. I know the struggle of daycare. I think it really is a great opportunity to bring attention to the entire trajectory of some of the obstacles that women face in today’s world.
It might look like there’s so much success to some people because there are many working moms. But those mothers are often hurting, sacrificing themselves and their health. All because they’re putting their children and their careers ahead of themselves. Yes, progress has been made, but there’s much more to do.
I’m a big proponent of paid maternity and paternity leave. It’s such a critical time for the babies and the parents. Again, childcare could make more progress, including more accessible daycare and workplace options to ensure that kids are safe so parents can be at the workplace. It’s important to me to really promote a work-life balance.
Discussing the pay gap, there is a gap in the number of women in executive roles. Although there are many women in the music and nonprofit industry, there is a disproportionate amount of women in leadership. To change this, it’s really critical that women mentor other women and show them a path forward.
I think the best advice anybody can get is you have to be authentic to yourself. People can read authenticity. It’s the imposter syndrome that everybody goes through where you feel like you’ve got to do it a certain way. And for women specifically, I think, you know, you have this sense of you have to be extra tough and extra strong. But in reality, you don’t want to hide any piece of yourself.
One of the great things about Women’s Equality Day is we’re all finding our networks, our connections, and our groups. Sometimes you forget being a woman does put you in a group because, as women, we have similar experiences and similar perspectives in so many ways.
I think over my career, I’ve seen a massive shift not only in Women’s Equality as an overall movement but also in the women that have mentored me. It really took a lot of us showing up and mentoring others. To me, that’s been the coolest part to witness. When I graduated from college in the early 90s and entered banking, a really male-dominated industry, I really thought that if I could find other women, they would mentor me. And that was not the way things worked out.
Along the way now, I think women realize that it is more of a collaborative support-each-other responsibility that we have to level that playing field.
One of the confounding things to me when I think about women’s equality and, of course, as a woman who’s a professional, is that fundamentally women control the wealth in this country. However, we still have such a disparity in our pay.
I’m a fundamental believer that corporations are what will help our society. I don’t think businesses are bad. I think they’re intrinsically right. They give us wealth. They give us benefits. They educate us. They give us opportunities. But for some reason, women have not been in the corporate boardrooms. And women are not speaking up about making sure that their pay is related to what they’re doing and not to their gender.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a genius in starting a women’s equality movement from the men’s perspective. She showed the disparity of how gender should be irrelevant in many decisions, such as the parental rights of men and the ability to be there for their children, a right that once was exclusively reserved for women.
I think the most important part that digital media will play in any equality movement is access is being able to tell stories and make this important issue relatable to all, and not just held within close conversations or think tanks. That comes with access to websites and publishing stories to social media channels.
I have two teenage girls. I know it’s cliché, but I want them to understand that they should have access to anything and everything they want, and there shouldn’t be any limits placed on what they can and can’t do because of their gender.
When thinking about the next steps for women’s equality in the creative space, there’s always been room for lots of diversity and lots of voices. But within the power dynamic of companies, that tends to be a male-dominated space. We’re seeing that evolve and seeing that change. And I hope that does continue to change so strong women leaders are leading creative agencies. One of the things that I love about Seventh Scout is that it is a woman-run agency.
A way to continue progress is for women to know their worth and to use their voices. Depending on what industry and environment you’re in, you may really have to advocate for yourself. You know, and the culture and other people there may not value you. So you have to know your worth and make sure that you have the confidence to approach your job with all of the energy and talent you have.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shed a lot of light on people, not only on inequalities but also on their passions and what they want to spend time on and focus on.
I try to approach my feminism as being as intersectional as possible. I feel like that’s the path forward. It’s realizing that whatever privilege you have, you need to be using that to lift others while simultaneously trying to work on your own causes and gain more equality and access for yourself. But, unless you’re pulling other people up with you, it isn’t going to transform our culture and society in the way that it needs to be.
To me, Women’s Equality Day I have a lot of mixed feelings around it. You reflect on how far our society has come since the beginning of women’s suffrage and gaining voting rights and just the societal ideals of being a woman and a house maker. But growing up as a millennial, I am thinking about where we have to go still—for example, wage gaps and stem gaps, rights to our own body.
Working in digital marketing, I’m thankful to work in an industry that is so openly diverse. We are behind the messaging of propelling our society forward. I especially love working for seven Scout because it is such a progressive company, and we work with brands that want to promote change.
However, it’s interesting for me to work in social media. Growing up in the digital age, it’s been difficult growing up around online bullying and women’s objectification on social media. It’s hard to be in the industry that grew on those things. But it’s also a proud moment for me that I can help change that.
Every industry is different, but all women can relate to similar experiences. So look for the other women at the table and connect with them. Soak in every single moment because you’re going to learn so much from them, both professionally and personally.
When thinking about Women’s Equality Day, I find myself questioning a lot of things. Growing up in the 21st century, I had a lot of access to things and guaranteed rights, but it was still undeniable that I was not on the same playing field as others.
I felt that I was receiving a fair education, job opportunities, and overall choices in my life. However, I know I was only viewed by others as a woman.
Constantly hearing phrases like:
- “You look prettier when you smile!”
- “Boys will be boys.”
- “Don’t be so bossy.”
- “You are a distraction.”
- “You eat a lot for a girl.”
- “You are intimidating.”
- “Can women have it all? I didn’t know you were a crazy feminist.”
- “How could you say you don’t want kids?”
- “That’s for a boy, not a girl.”
I think about how women have gained a lot of equal access but, that doesn’t mean people believe women should actually succeed. There are still constant reminders from a young age that you are only a girl.
While I can go to college and enter the same industry as anyone else, people will always question my skills and dedication to my work because I am a woman. Even my life choices will be questioned. And I will always be questioning my safety. All because subconsciously, I am not equal to everyone.
To me, Women’s Equality is really frustrating. I love celebrating the right to vote, highlighting strong female figures, and the accomplishments of women collectively. However, I don’t understand the purpose of smiling for the cameras. Recognition feels good, don’t get me wrong, but I’d rather just be equal. Men don’t have a national day, and they aren’t losing sleep over it.
I think the hardest hurdle for gender equality will be battling stereotypes. I think the best way we can make positive change is by promoting education. Remind people why a phrase or action is harmful. Have conversations about the impact of social media. Tell young girls there are no boundaries.
I am proud of the progress made so far and excited about what is to come. I see the potential of the next generation of women. I think they will exceed our wildest dreams. It was a long 100 years to today’s equality and will be another long 100 years to the next, but I am excited to see where we all go.