The Stubborn Gender Gap
When a congressional committee hearing presented an all-male panel of witnesses to discuss female contraception last month, Carolyn Moloney made news by demanding, “Where are the women?” Nearly 50 years after the modern women’s movement began, such omissions remain common- and yet many people assume the battle for equality is largely over. Perfectly nice guys will say to me, “You must be so happy you’ve won!” reports Gloria Steinem. I say, “But are you working for a women? And they look appalled” In fact, the allocation of power remains stunningly lopsided, from politics and business to academia, law and religion. “We have fallen into what I call the 16 percent ghetto, which is that if you look at any sector, be it aerospace engineering, Hollywood films, higher education, or Fortune 500 leading positions, women max out at roughly 16 percent,” said Debora Spar at a White House conference. “That is a crime, and it is a waste of incredible talent.” Although young women now earn more college and graduate degrees than men do, they fall behind professionally. In management women account for about a third of M.B.A. classes, but only 2 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs, 6 percent of top earners, 8 percent of top leadership positions, and 16 percent of board directors and corporate officers. While we’ve made enormous progress in encouraging women to assume traditional men’s roles, we haven’t made comparable progress in encouraging men to take on traditional women’s roles. Research shows that even women with stellar credentials lack the confidence to put themselves forward, while men with far inferior qualifications show no such hesitation. Any women can learn to lead. It is just a matter of preparing them.
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