WGR Blog November 2016

 

One Step Closer to Eliminating the Glass Ceiling

2016 has been a historic year for American women. From shattering the glass ceiling in the political arena by nominating the first female for President of a major party to continuing to promote females into C-Suite positions in major corporations, it seems we’ve put one thousand cracks in that glass.  Yet only 4 percent of the Fortune 500 companies are led by female CEOs.  And while we’re inspired by progress we’ve made in the United States, there are 18 female heads of Government who have been making their mark on the world for decades.  The question of WHAT begins to surface in each of us.  What is so different about America that holds back our ability to excel in leadership positions?  Could it be the fact that the American trend is sitting stagnant, adding only one new female CEO to major companies every two years?

The historical perseverance of women rising to power has been nothing short of an uphill battle.  Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers fought tirelessly to enter the workplace and demonstrate a woman was capable of holding a position outside the home.  We revealed our abilities to husbands and bosses that we could do more than rear children and run a household. 

But we wanted more: equal treatment.  At the turn of the twentieth century, Susan B. Anthony said, “There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers.” Since then, women began establishing themselves in the world and rising up in positions of authority in political office, corporate America, and non-profits.  Today, women make up more than half of the professional and technical workforce. 
Much like we saw a paradigm shift happen more than a century ago when women entered the workforce, another shift is happening today.  More men are choosing to stay at home to raise their children or care for their family out of choice, doubling since the early nineties.  The societal perception that keeping a home in order and raising children is a job that only women can accomplish is becoming a memory of the distant past – another major crack in that glass. 
 
But the question at the heart of this entire debate is: does the glass ceiling still exist?  If you ask the millennial population, they have been raised in an era when more women than men are graduating from college and where the gender pay gap is diminishing.  Women young in their careers watched their parents struggle to achieve a balance between work and home life.  Their parents stood at a crossroads of stepping back from their careers to raise a family, or climb the corporate ladder.  A Harvard Business School alumni survey found that only 37% of millennial women plan to step back from their career to raise their family.  The stats continue to drop as you look at younger age groups.  Millennials will continue to drive a larger crack in the glass ceiling of the family divide of choosing between a career and a family.

In her book “Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works,” Jay Newton Smalls explores with a critical eye situations in the not so distant past where our decades of perseverance have been quickly undermined by male dominated political agendas.  Women have been left out of decision making conversations, and we want an equal seat at the table.  Look what happens when we have a seat at the table and are part of the conversations: in 2013, 20 women senators broke through Washington gridlock to success by restarting the government after the shutdown.

The underlying female desire to “do it all” is engrained in each of us, fueling our drive to work harder, lead better, and achieve a balance between our personal and professional lives.  The glass ceiling looks different for each woman in America.  We all struggle to keep it together on any given day, but when we unite as a nation committed to ensuring smart women hold leadership positions, we are a strong voice advocating towards the empowerment of the female network.  Working together, we will continue to shatter glass ceilings for centuries to come.

Interested in learning more about the glass ceiling?  Join Women in Government Relations on Thursday, November 3 as a group of distinguished panelists discusses challenges and opportunities that women face as they navigate professional and personal successes.  Register for the event or gather more details: bit.ly/2ezygi6

Teresa Stepic is a proud member of Women in Government Relations (WGR), an organization dedicated to advancing and empowering women through professional development and growth opportunities in the government relations industry.  Additionally, Teresa serves as Vice President of Client Relations at DDC Public Affairs, managing client advocacy campaigns across the country.  The views expressed above are entirely her own and do not reflect the position of either organization.

Past Blogs

The Female Vote This Election Season - October 2017
Back to School, Back to School
- September 2016
Mentoring: The Bridge Connecting Generations
- August 2016
The Business of Golf
- June 2016
An Interview with Representative Barbara Comstock
- May 2016
Millennials in the Workforce
- April 2016
Health, Social Networking - March 2016