Here’s an unfortunate truth about 2016: In the business world, women are still viewed as less important than men.
Society too often views them physically, not intelligently. Society sees that physical differences between male and female, but doesn’t notice that a woman’s IQ is not the same number as her waist size, or that “she” is capable in everything that “he” is capable of professionally. With this part of my Glass Ceiling series I want to speak on the topic of women in business.
According to AmericanProgress.org, “Women earn almost 60% of undergraduate degrees, and 60% of all master’s degrees.” With these accomplishments, and women becoming more educated, it’s a big shame that women are substantially behind men when it comes to how they are represented in leadership positions.
Furthermore, this fact that women are consciously overlooked, overshadowed, and mostly overpowered in society, will only continue to hinder our business industries until it is fixed. The bias opinion of women not being able to make major business decisions are displayed throughout many outlets by men and more prominently through onscreen media.
There has been a revolution of sorts during the last decade with the gender wage gap decreasing, sex segregation in most professions declining, and the percentage of woman climbing the management ranks steadily raising. However, in recent years it has slowed down. Women’s attendance in top management positions today rests below 9%, the percentage of women on all U.S. corporate boards has been stagnant in the 12.1 – 12.3% range over the past decade. Additionally, at almost 17%, women representation on Fortune 500 boards, while greater, has not altered in eight years, according to AmericanProgress.org.
With only 14.6% of executive officers being women, according to AmericanProgress.org, I was fortunate to sit down with one of them.
Mrs. Roxanne Brown is the assistant Legislative Director for the United Steelworkers (USW) which is North America’s largest industrial union. USW has 1.2 million members and retirees strong in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. USW proudly represent men and women working in nearly every industry. The USW members are leaders in your communities, work places, in our governments and more. USW also has a presence in the United Kingdom, Ireland, England, Scotland, Mexico and many other places around the world.
When asked about the “glass ceiling” of women, Brown defined it as an arbitrary limit placed on women’s abilities. A “ceiling” varies by the type of job a woman is performing. In the corporate or organizational setting it could be that assumptions are made about a woman’s ability to handle difficult negotiations leading the entity. In the industrial setting it could be that a woman is kept out of certain job classes because of flawed perception that she does not have the physical ability to perform the task. With the achievement of a Bachelor’s degree in English, Brown was able to accomplish every milestone that was placed in front of her and tear through any ceiling over her.
Although, women will experience the pushback from many different directions, the future, however, seems promising. As Brown adds, “Our next President of the United States of America will most likely be a women,” seems to suggest that the “ceiling” is getting ready to shatter.
The great poet Maya Angelou said, “Still I rise.” Women need to remember that although a “ceiling” might be there, you can still rise, and break through it. No more judgment will be placed upon you and you will stand there when your head up high. Always know that something good will come out of this.