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International Women’s Day 2017: Be Bold For Change

International Women's Day 2017

Wednesday, March 8th is International Women’s Day. A day dedicated to celebrating the many social, economic, and political achievements women have made. It’s also a day that many have used to raise awareness of the struggles women face worldwide. Every year the organizers pick a theme and this year’s is #BeBoldForChange. The change they’re choosing to focus on is narrowing the gender gap that exists both in the workplace and in the home.
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Here are a few facts about the gender gap from the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Gender Gap Report.

  1. Worldwide, a woman’s average earnings are almost half that of a man. One-half! The average global earned income for women is estimated at $10,778 and the average men’s income is about $19,873.

  2. Women only have 23% of the political power that men have worldwide.  In the United States, it’s even worse – women wield only 17% of the political power.

  3. Outside of the workplace, women take on a larger share of unpaid work such as caregiving for children and household chores. On average, worldwide, men only do 34% of the unpaid work that women do. If it feels like you’re always the one cooking dinner and tidying up the house, you’re not alone!

  4. In the United States, the gender gap is not expected to close for another 158 years! We are nowhere even close to the top ten countries ranked by gender parity. Meanwhile South Asia is projected to close their gender gap in 46 years and Western Europe in 61 years. We need to get it together people! 

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This issue strongly resonates with me. In my last job, I was promoted to a managerial position, overseeing two of my male colleagues. One of the men was pretty upset about the change, although I wasn’t sure if it was due to my gender or his seniority with the company – probably a little bit of both. He was sulky and the quality of his work suffered, creating a negative dynamic between the two of us. For weeks, I would leave work feeling emotionally drained from having to constantly navigate the tension.

A month into my new position, I learned that he made significantly more money than I did, to the tune of $10,000. I was livid and confronted my boss the next day. He made some excuses about the structure of annual reviews and pay raises, and promised to run the issue up the chain of command. Several months passed and nothing changed despite repeatedly following up with my boss. I ended up leaving that role soon after. I think what bothered me the most was that I was working for a young start-up organization lead by seemingly progress individuals. Individuals who if asked if they supported equal pay, would respond with an emphatic “yes!” However, in reality these same people were enabling the gender pay gap within their own company. 

 

International Women's Day 2017

 

Talking about the issue is one of the best ways you can raise awareness and push gender equity forward:

  • Share the issue on social media using the hashtags: #InternationalWomensDay and #BeBoldForChange

  • Consider sharing compensation information with other professional women to increase everyone’s understanding of pay expectations. Talking about how much someone makes is considered taboo, but otherwise, how do you know if you should demand more from your boss?

  • Talk about these issues with your kids. Discuss gender stereotypes and ways they can advocate for themselves and others. 

  • Call out your coworkers when you notice inequitable behavior (in the nicest way possible of course). There’s a guy at my work who frequently asks female coworkers for help with little errands and tasks, but never his male coworkers. I’ve been avoiding saying something, but am committing to asking him about it. 

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Other ways you can celebrate International Women’s Day and take part in this effort? 

  • Put your money where your mouth is and support female-focused charities. Here is a list.

  • Get informed by reading gender-related articles. Here is a list.

  • Above all else, support the women around you!

 

International Women's Day 2017

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