The Decades of Empowered Change: Women in the Workforce by: our intern Jaimee Kennett

Our society has learned plenty of stories about women’s rights and empowerment since the day we entered middle school. We studied laws, protests, and even wars about American women that made a difference in our society as a whole. Of course, we don’t all remember every single detail, but it sure is important to know how our rights today were created. So let me refresh your memory:

 

Let’s take a trip back to the late 1700s: Women began their first jobs during the time of the Industrial Revolution. This was the first time they got paid to work. Although they were working, it was NOT for the sake of equality or because they believed women were finally becoming prevalent to the workforce, but simply because they got away with paying them less. Throughout this time period, women were still considered to be property.

 

So, what did the women do about this? They fought.

 

Women formed a group called The Lowell Female Labor Reform Association to create equal paying jobs for both men and women. This association also created a movement in the 1830’s where women mill workers organized and created the first union of working women in history.

 

After this monumental time in our history, women were shown a lot more respect. They sought out to show the men of their country that they were just as important as them, and they sure did that!

 

Women increasingly entered the American workforce during the Civil War and later in World War II. Throughout this time, many of the men were injured in war, so women had to step in for them. Women worked jobs in the factories and some even fought, which were traditionally jobs for men. Due to this bold act, women became more trusted and men began to rely on women more often than not.

In 1963, Congress passed the Equal Pay Act. The act made it illegal for employers to pay women less than a man was paid. This led up to 1964, which was the year that was believed to be the most significant year for women today. This was the time when the Civil Rights Act prohibited discrimination in the workplace due to a person’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It also establishes the EEOC to investigate claims and impose penalties. This document stressed the importance of equality in the workplace.  

This section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 depicts the laws of employment:

 

 

Now let’s jump ahead to today’s day and age:  Women today have broken numerous barriers that the states have pinned against us. We have fought back and in turn gotten to where we are today… But is today the end of our fight?

 

Below are a few quick facts about women in the workforce:

 

  • 72 million women, or roughly 46% of our population are employed in our workforce.
  • Women earn approximately 20% less than men, meaning for every dollar a man makes, women make 81 cents.
  • 14% of women make up executive positions in the fortune 500 companies.

 

As a young adult, aspiring to become a successful business graduate, hearing all of this startles me. Why on earth does a male figure have the slightest sense that he may be better at his job then me, merely because I am a woman? This SHOCKS me!

 

You might be wondering if there is room for change. The answer is YES. There is always room.

 

Our Resolution:  Far too often women get pushed around in the workforce. Standing up for ourselves and one another will show the world that we are just as capable as any man is. Here are three tips on how to stand up for yourself in the workplace:

 

  • Never settle: You know what you are capable of and if you are in a position that is not meeting your highest potential, don’t be afraid to speak up.
  • Believe in yourself: Remember that you are just as smart and talented as the next person in your field. If you don’t believe that, then who will?
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up, your opinion matters: Speaking out is extremely important in the workplace. If you don’t speak your mind, maybe the next technology would never be made or that new board game would have never been created.

 

Our society today is made up of millions of inspiring and successful women that have encouraged others to break through the glass ceiling and strive in whatever field they choose. It is our job to continue to encourage women to not be intimidated by men and to accomplish the goals you wish to achieve. 

 

As women did in the 1700s, we must continue to fight for our rights.  It’s not all easy. Throughout our history, women have faced a lot of setbacks. That does not mean that they gave up. It just means that they fought a little bit harder each day to earn the respect that we all deserve today.