I watched parts of the CNN series on “The Sixties.” I am struck by the differences in gender roles five decades ago and today. Then hosts of talk shows and variety shows, news anchors, reporters, comedians, world leaders, congressmen, corporate executives. and others making the news were almost all men.
I know how much has changed for women in this time. I was there for much of what the series captures. But seeing it visually is still a bit of a shock. I had a similar feeling when I read When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins.
Women are more and more common every year in visible positions of expertise, authority, and power. It is no longer a surprise or a novelty to see a respected woman legislator, commentator or CEO. The current number of women in the U.S. senate (22) is the highest ever. Seeing the president of Germany and GM and the presumptive nominee for president of the U.S. by the Democratic Party has done much to shift our images of what women can do and where they belong.
BUT (there is a “but”) women are not as far along as one would expect in 50 years. The western world is a relative paradise for women compared to the subjugation of women in the Middle East. Yet corporations can decide on what kind of birth control will be made available to American women. “Equal pay” is still the subject of debate. Women are 4.8% of Fortune 500 CEO’s compared to nearly 47% of the workforce.
We are not there yet. “There” is where and when women and men compete equally for all positions, are evaluated on the same criteria, and are paid the same for the same work. “There” is when we look at results rather than the way we achieve them; it is when we value equally masculine and feminine ways of thinking, working and leading.
Do you think we are there yet?