While women have made significant progress toward equality, the fight is far from over. The Center for American Progress estimates women only earn an average of 82 cents for every dollar earned by men. A closer look at the data by race is even more troubling: For each dollar earned by white men, Black women only earn 62 cents, American Indian and Alaska Native women only earn 57 cents, and Hispanic and Latina women only earn 54 cents.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at the many gender inequalities women face in the workplace. We’ll also highlight some successful women who have shattered expectations and risen to the top in this environment that is still largely dominated by males.
For women going it alone, we’ll explore what resources exist for business owners, spotlight some inspirational business leaders and discuss how to succeed as a minority-owned business. We’ll examine how to promote fair policies for working moms and how to grow women as leaders and expand their numbers in various fields where they are underrepresented. And, we will review education systems for women around the world, and how they contribute and can be changed to improve equity for women.
One possible reason for this disparity that the Brookings Institution identified is the disproportionate number of women working in lower-wage jobs, which accounted for many of the jobs lost from COVID-19. Less than 40% of men work in low-paying jobs, compared to 46% of women, who earn a median hourly pay of just $10.93 an hour, according to Brookings. Approximately 15% of these women are single parents and more than 25% rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Social Security, Medicaid or other social safety net supports.
Child care is also an important factor. Women are often the primary caregivers for their children, even when both parents work. With the shift to virtual learning for students, many women were forced to juggle their careers and their children’s education. Mothers are three times as likely to take on the responsibility of managing child care and housework during the COVID crisis compared to fathers, according to the McKinsey report. The combination of working, looking after children all day, assisting with education and managing or co-managing the household has led to burnout. The McKinsey report found that a quarter of women are considering taking a step back from their careers or leaving the workforce entirely.
Women have been slowly closing the gender gap in leadership positions. In 2015, women made up only 23% of the number of senior vice presidents in large corporations and just 17% of the entire C-suite workforce, the McKinsey report notes. By 2020, those numbers increased to 28% of senior vice presidents and 21% of the C-suite workforce.
Working mothers face the challenge of trying to balance their career aspirations with taking care of their children. Pew reported that among working moms, about 50% said being a working parent makes it harder for them to advance at work, compared to 39% of working fathers. More than half of working mothers had to reduce their work hours or felt like they were not giving 100% at their job in order to balance work and family. And almost 20% had to turn down a promotion or were passed up for a promotion due to commitments to their family.
Additionally, whether a working mother works in a full-time or part-time position often varies based on the age of her children. Only 62% of women with preschool or younger children are employed compared with 75% of women with children 6 to 17 years old who are in school most of the day, according to 2018 census data.
The Census Bureau also reports working mothers are more likely to be forced to take unpaid leave for child care, pregnancy or other reasons. Twelve percent of moms with a child under 6 needed to take at least two weeks of unpaid leave compared with % of women with children 6 to 17 and 8% of the entire workforce.
More women are enjoying the salaries and power that come with high-ranking roles. There is no methodology to determine the best jobs for women, as there are many different factors to consider. However, in recent years, multiple news organizations have attempted to create lists using differing methodologies.
How can women even the playing field and advance to high-paying careers and leadership roles? Education is part of the answer. As the American Civil Liberties Union states, “education is the foundation for civic participation,” and schools and learning centers influence how children and younger generations view themselves and others in the world.
Empowering women and girls is one mission of USAID, which leads humanitarian efforts and international development to save lives, strengthen democracies, reduce poverty and more. They offer international resources for women in many countries that align with this mission.
The U.N.’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development plans for “a world in which every woman and girl enjoys full gender equality and all legal, social and economic barriers to their empowerment have been removed.”
One of the main global initiatives of the Peace Corps is education, with the goal to bring English, math and science into schools in communities worldwide, particularly impacting young women and girls in areas where many don’t continue past a primary education.
Empowerment through education is just one piece of the puzzle. Educated women still face roadblocks as they try to advance their careers.
Although there were a record number of female CEOs in 2020, for every company run by a woman in the United States, there are 13 companies run by a man, according to research from the nonprofit Catalyst. In the United States, less than 40% of management positions are held by women. In 2019, white women held just over 32% of all management roles, while women of color held significantly smaller percentages of these roles (Latina women, 4.3%, Black women, 4% and Asian women, 2.5%)
The AWBC is a leading voice for women’s entrepreneurship in the United States and has a national network of more than 100 Women’s Business Centers providing training, mentoring, business development and business financing opportunities.
Billing itself as the largest nationwide nonprofit lending network in the United States, this funding resource for women-owned businesses also provides information on all types of business loans, from SBA loans to microloans.
This national government group provides information on 200 resources for women entrepreneurs as part of its Grow Her Business project. NWBC also offers webinars, a roundtable and public meetings for women business owners.