It’s Women’s Equality Day!
Today in 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution passed and women gained the right to vote. When we honor this day, we must remember that not all women received the right to vote, only white women. Women of color would have to wait over half a century more until an extension to the Voting Rights Act provided for bilingual ballots in 1975 when ALL women were truly guaranteed the right to vote.
Thank you to the women suffragettes, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul, Lucretia Mott, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Susan B. Anthony (the subject of my 4th-grade report) who lobbied Congress and the White House for the right to vote. Blood, sweat, and tears work.
Thank you to the 50,000 second-wave feminists of the Women’s Strike for Equality March in 1970 demanding changes to childcare, reproductive healthcare, education, and employment.
Thank you to Congresswoman Bella Abzug for establishing Women’s Equality Day and co-founding the National Women’s Political Caucus with Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and Shirley Chisolm to increase the number of women in politics.
Thank you to the 500,000 women and millions worldwide who participated in the Women’s March this year, and thank you to those who continue to do the daily work for equality –– in healthcare, education, politics, and the workplace.
When I began Work Muse, my main purpose was to spread job sharing so others could experience the work-life balance my family and I were fortunate to have had for so many years. There are many ways that job sharing can benefit our workspaces and our world, but I now see with clarity that flexible work – and specifically job sharing – can directly affect change for gender equality in the workplace. Werk pieced together some great research around how flexible work changes the equation for women.*
here is why:
- Women make up 57% of the college-educated, entry-level workforce with a greater range of occupations than ever – there’s not a pipeline problem.*
- Only 6% of Fortune CEOs are women but nearly HALF of working women want to become CEOs or senior leaders – there’s not an ambition problem.*
- Where the U.S. once led the world in working women, we now lag behind due to dated policies from the 1990s (if not the 1950s) and little change in culture to reflect the modern workforce – there’s a structural problem.
- As the primary caregivers, when women become mothers and/or care for aging parents, they are forced to make difficult career choices. This is an issue nearly every woman will face as up to 90% of U.S. women are caregivers to aging parents.
- Without flexible work options, women drop out or fall back to non-leadership roles. And those who leave to freelance, forgo valuable benefits. 30% of women leave the workforce, but 70% would have stayed if they had access to flexibility.*
Employers need women to stay and thrive in the workplace;
- Gender diversity leads to better outcomes and increased profit and revenue. Any degree of flexible working makes a big difference in the lives of women, but job sharing uniquely allows them to separate and prioritize work and life, working half the week with a supportive partner while progressing in their careers. They often keep their crucial benefits and have the flexibility they need to care for human beings, while their employers have the 24/7 coverage needed with increased productivity, engagement, and loyalty.
- Job sharing (at work or in volunteer roles) increases women’s ability to participate on boards, in non-profit organizations, volunteering, at work, and in their children’s lives creating a better society for all of us.
I agree with Gloria Steinem, “Don’t think about making women fit the world – think about making the world fit women.”
I’ve been thinking about women’s equality a lot this year, knowing one thing for sure…
Never give up the fight!
Melissa Nicholson is the Founder & CEO of Work Muse, a job share solutions firm. Job sharing is a partnership between two people to share the responsibilities of one full-time position. Work Muse drives adoption of job sharing in business as a source of competitive advantage while helping individuals find work-life balance. Join the #JobshareRevolution here –– events, resources, and relevant content to empower you in work and life! For more info, firstname.lastname@example.org.