Women have always wanted access to blue-collar jobs but have not always been able to get it. As Susan Chira, writing for the New York Times, notes, blue-collar jobs generally pay higher wages and have been a pathway to the middle class. Women have wanted those higher-paying jobs for the same reasons that men want them—they have families to support, often as single parents. Chira reminds us that women only got access to higher-paying jobs after 1964, when Title VII of the Civil Rights Act forced open certain industries previously closed to women, including work in factories, shipyards, mines, and construction sites. Unfortunately, the sexual harassment that women encountered when they entered these fields still endures today.
The #MeToo era continues to have a positive impact on our culture, including on the training of future corporate leaders in MBA programs. Katie Johnston of the Boston Globe writes that “As the #MeToo movement continues to reveal how ingrained sexual harassment is in corporate culture, business schools have started taking steps to teach future leaders how to deal with, and eradicate, such behavior.” Johnston cites a senior lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Business as saying, “People are waking up in business schools and realizing we’ve had a blind spot.”
I remember when, in 1995, Shannon Faulkner was escorted by federal marshals onto the campus of the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, as the first woman to be admitted to this southern military college. Richard Fausset of the New York Times reminds us that Faulkner fought a two-and-a-half year legal battle to gain admission. Now, twenty-three years later, Sarah Zorn, a twenty-one-year-old college junior, has been selected by a panel of staff members and students to become “the Citadel’s first female regimental commander—the top cadet.”
The number of women leaders in the largest companies in the United States declined by 25 percent this year, as reported by Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times. Because the number of female chief executives is small to begin with, the departure of even one, such as the recent departure of Denise Morrison as the CEO of Campbell Soup Company, has a big numerical impact. In fact, the number of female CEOs has dropped from thirty-two to twenty-four in the past year.
A very interesting gender difference emerged at the Boston Marathon this year. Lindsay Crouse of the New York Times explains that the Boston Marathon is “one of the most competitive marathons in the world.” In other words, this race is one of the toughest courses where thousands of the world’s elite runners and runners who have completed multiple qualifying races to gain the right to enter this race push themselves to complete the course. The weather this year had heavy rains and was the coldest in decades, and women endured to the finish at much higher rates than men did.
Susan Fowler, writing for the New York Times, notes that it is now abundantly clear that sexual harassment is pervasive in every industry.
While getting rid of it will not be easy, we now know some facts that will help:
- We have to stop the practice of forced arbitration as a condition of employment. Forced arbitration takes away our rights to sue in court and can legally bind us to keep silent about what has happened to us. A recent Supreme Court decision confirming that employers can continue this practice means that we need new federal legislation to make this change.
I often wonder why so many of my black women friends have died so early. Specifically, I have had the joy of being a member of a black and white women’s support group for more than twenty-five years. During these years in our group of seven to nine members, all of the original white members remained healthy and three of the black members passed away.
As a white woman, I not only miss my friends, but I have been bewildered by these differences in our mortality. Let me be clear—our members have very few differences in our backgrounds and life experiences other than race. We are all middle-class professional women raised in middle-class professional two-parent households. We are all college educated and about the same age. Race is what differentiates us.
The women of Nike, the sportswear company, got tired of their complaints to human resources about sexual harassment and discrimination falling on deaf ears. The women experienced retribution for filing complaints, and several high-level women left the company, sharing that they left because of frustration with the toxic company culture that they could not influence. So the women of Nike took matters into their own hands—and the public saw another example of employees bringing about change that would not have happened otherwise.
Britain’s new law requiring all companies with 250 or more employees to publically report their salary data and identify their gender pay gaps went into effect in April 2018. The gaps identified surprised no one: gender-based pay disparities exist at a vast majority of businesses, and often by a wide margin, according to Liz Alderman of the New York Times. A number of Western countries have recently taken similar steps with requiring gender gap reporting, operating from the same assumption that transparency and shame will force change. Gaps exist at some notable British companies:
Women are running for office in record numbers since the 2016 election. Michael Tackett of the New York Times writes that Clinton’s loss triggered not only a surge of female candidates but also a surge of young women managing campaigns and “reshap[ing] a profession long dominated by men.” Many women running for office want female campaign managers who will shape winning messages and plan bold platforms and strategies. Tackett reports that this year, 40 percent of campaign managers for Democratic congressional candidates are women—a dramatic increase from the negligible numbers counted in a 2010 study conducted by Rutger’s University Center for American Women and Politics.