We’re always on the prowl for news that women are finally getting ahead in the workplace, community and the world. Women have struggled for so long for equal pay, equal rights and equal respect that surely some of the hard work has paid off. So a report by the American Enterprise Institute and Emory University caught our eye recently.
The report is titled: “Women’s Figures: The Economic Progress of Women in America.” It takes a look at women’s wages compared with men’s and the glass ceiling phenomenon. American Enterprise Institute is a conservative, but respected, think tank. Some of the positive trends in the report include:
Women have made considerable gains in education. In 1994 women earned more associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees than men. Women have outnumbered men in graduate schools since the mid-1980s. In 1996, women represented 54 percent of the class admitted to Yale Medical School.
Women are running for and being elected to public office. In 1974, 47 women were candidates for Congress; 36 women were candidates for statewide offices and 1,125 women were candidates for positions in state legislatures. Twenty years later, more than twice as many women ran for office in each of those categories, including 2,284 for state legislature openings. A recent study by the National Women’s Political Caucus found negligible differences between men and women in success rates in winning.
Women are making it into the corporate executive structure. A recent study of corporate executives in America found that, in the past 10 years, the number of female executive vice presidents more than doubled and the number of female senior vice presidents increased by 75 percent. Given current trends in education and job experience, women can expect to hold as much as 15 percent of the top executive positions in Fortune 1000 companies in the near future.
Some final thoughts from the study: “The personal choices women have made are perhaps the most important and least appreciated factor in women’s economic progress over the years. Decisions to enter previously male-dominated fields of education and employment, to marry and bear children later in life, to join the work force, and to leave the work force to raise children have all had an enormous effect on whether women can achieve total parity with men.
“The mass media uncritically accepts as the standard of equality the requirement that women’s achievements be statistically identical to men’s achievements in all areas. That is insulting to all workers who choose flexibility, a friendly workplace environment and other nonmonetary factors in the course of their careers.”
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MEMO: Common Ground is written on alternating weeks by Rebecca Nappi and Dan Webster. Write to them in care of The Spokesman-Review, Features Department, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210-1615. Or fax, (509) 459-5098.