August 26th recognizes National Women’s Equality Day, a holiday in commemoration of the 1920 certification of the Nineteenth Amendment which granted women the right to vote. Our society has made significant strides in the 98 years since this landmark amendment was passed, but gender inequality is still undeniably prevalent today – especially in the workplace.
Research shows women make up almost 52% of all professional jobs, yet only 25% hold executive positions and only 6% will become CEOs. On top of that, women only make 80 cents for every dollar made by a man in the same position – that’s ten thousand dollars less on a $50,000 per year salary.
Evidently there is still a great deal of progress to be made before reaching true gender equality, and these women are helping to pave the way for the future female CEOs of tomorrow. In honor of National Women’s Equality Day, we asked women founders, leaders and business owners to discuss the importance of this holiday as we work towards a truly equalized workforce.
Dasha Moore, Chief Operating Officer and Founder of Solodev
National Women’s Equality Day is important because it’s a reminder for women and men in leadership how far we’ve come — and how far we’ve left to go. I work in an industry where women, despite being just as capable as their male counterparts, only consist of roughly 10 percent of the corporate leadership. Women in my field also only hold 25 percent of computing jobs. Those are statistics we need to change.
Women’s Equality Day is a reminder to myself to put forth a conscious effort to be part of the solution. We have to continue raising each other up and bringing more women into discussions within every industry. It’s also a reminder for men within my field that there’s little room for debate with regard to women being paid and considered equally for their services. When we invest in women, we invest in the types of people who naturally invest in others. That care, that passion, that determination affects everyone in a company.
Renee Wang, Founder and CEO of Castbox
National Women’s Equality Day is important because gender equality can be a competitive advantage to a growing business. As the founder of a global startup, I approach the topic of workplace gender equality from both sides: as a professional and as an employer. While it’s generally understood that a diverse workplace is beneficial to the women that work there, not only through fair compensation but by also increasing women’s representation and voice within an organization, there’s still a lack of awareness and education surrounding the benefits to employers.
Having a more equal, diverse workplace drives innovation through the culmination of many different perspectives and experiences. By creating a workplace that gives both men and women equal voice, businesses can encourage collaboration that produces positive results that can’t be driven by men or women alone. There are times this balanced approach will create friction, but that’s part of what drives innovation. Everyone should be encouraged to create a challenge network regardless of gender.
Negar Jahanbin, Managing Director/Owner of Synergy HomeCare of Philadelphia
National Women’s Equality Day is important because gender does not define our intelligence, quality of work, or character. As human beings, we all have the ability to add value to the world. We want everyone to be motivated to analyze, dissect, and push boundaries that result in the advancement of humankind. Coming up with new inventions to better our world has nothing to do with gender. Finding a cure for cancer has nothing to do with gender. Saving a life has nothing to do with gender. The list goes on and on. Let’s value and encourage people for what they bring to the table. The world will be far better when gender equality exists.
Shamila Nduriri, Creative Director of Dalasini
National Women’s Equality Day is important because women, and particularly women of color, are still fighting to be treated as equals at work, at home, and all the other areas of our lives. In my previous roles in corporate America, I frequently found myself treated as less than be it because of my gender, national origin (I am a first-generation immigrant
from Kenya), religion (I am a practicing Muslim), my race (I’m black) or a combination of all the above. Stymied by the black ceiling, I left and now run my own jewelry & accessories brand Dalasini in the fashion industry where women overwhelmingly fill entry level jobs yet only 14% of major brands are run by women. My intention is to grow Dalasini into a leading global brand, to show that a woman, a black Muslim African immigrant woman to boot, can start and scale a fashion industry powerhouse.
Helena Escalante, Founder, Speaker, Bibliophile and Writer at Entregurus.com
National Women’s Equality Day is important because we need to keep in mind that women—personally and professionally—matter, and that the work and art women do is important and contributes greatly to our communities and to society. As women, we are equal to our fellow men in many areas and skills, and complementary in others, but our differences will never make us inferior or lessen our value.
National Women’s Equality Day is a reminder that we are strong, capable, smart, passionate, compassionate, empathic, generous, beautiful and grateful. It’s also a day of gratitude towards our fellow men—fathers, husbands, brothers, colleagues-—who treat us as equals and who, along with us, are doing their part to raise our girls to see themselves that way.
Josephine Caminos Oria, President & Founder of La Dorita Cooks Kitchen Incubator & All Natural Dulce de Leche Products
National Women’s Equality Day is important because women make up 50% of the U.S. workforce—40% of whom are mothers that are the primary or sole earners of households with children under 18 (myself included). Yet, every time we enter a room or dial into a conference call, we have to work twice as hard as our fellow male coworkers to get noticed. If we are too forward or ambitious, we are deemed “bitches”. If we request raises or promotions, we are deemed “replaceable”. Moms who spend too much time at the office are labeled “selfish”. Those who work around their children’s sports and school schedules are called out for not being team players or pulling their weight.
Unfortunately, women are often other women’s biggest offenders. Women bring an equally interesting and distinct perspective as our male counterparts to all types of business solutions. It’s time we level the playing field so that women’s creativity, communication and leadership skills can flow free without scrutiny. Together, women and men can conquer the playing field.
Sonya Zappone RTY, C.MI, C.LAC, Yoga With Sonya
National Women’s Equality Day is important because it recognizes our right to matter. I have been teaching yoga for 10 years. But 100 years ago this would be unheard of. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a woman alive in this generation and be able to generate a life that truly matters helping others to heal. I am also a certified life coach and have been coaching women into their soul’s potential. Times have changed and women get a chance at an inspired life being the bosses of themselves without relying on men to provide. I teach a self-love, soul-love solution to women so they can have breakthroughs that matter.
Colette Coleman, Founder/CEO of Coleman Strategy
National Women’s Equality Day is important because in my industry, K12 education, women are overrepresented in the classroom and underrepresented at the top ranks of administrators with purchasing power. This chasm means that those who are choosing curricula and tools for educators and students have limited experience in the classroom. Without that time in the trenches, purchasing decisions are bound to be flawed, and this leads to our current state of education, in which fewer than 40% of 12th graders in the US graduate able to read even at a proficient level as reported by NAEP’s Our Nation’s Report Card.
In order to improve educational outcomes, we need to see a larger representation of K12 educators, especially those with primary school teaching experience, in the administrative ranks. This change translates to more female representation in the education positions with the highest salaries, robust responsibilities, and power to purchase and guide curricula.
Erica van Engel, Founder and Chief Empowerment Officer of Belief in Business
National Women’s Equality Day is important because we should recognize women as partners in the process of sustainable development instead of perceiving them only as part of the problem. When we invest in women’s economic empowerment, women in leadership positions and the advancement of women social entrepreneurs, we will conquer the challenges we’re facing in today’s world in a tempo beyond belief. A gender-just society is the only way to reach a sustainable society. When women thrive, all society benefits.
Lauren Petermeyer, Editor-in-Chief of Morethanglam.com
National Women’s Equality Day is important because without it, some of the best ideas will be lost. When women don’t have equal representation or opportunity to share ideas and speak their truth professionally or personally, businesses and relationships will be operating at half-speed. It’s not about letting women speak up – it’s about letting people speak up.
Crystal McFerran, VP Marketing at Velo IT Group
National Women’s Equality Day is important because it symbolizes the continuous struggle for women’s equality for all women today. It is an acknowledgement for how far we’ve come – and how far we have to go. Women’s Equality Day is a celebration of the 19th Amendment, an event that granted some women the right to vote in 1920. Let’s honor the women who bravely paved the way and fought for our rights, and continue to carry the torch. Collectively we have impact. Use your voice. Share your story. Be vulnerable. Lead with compassion. Let’s change the rules together. It’s up to us to pave the way for the next generation of women.
Maia Haag, President and Co-Founder of I See Me!
National Women’s Equality Day is important because we have not yet rid ourselves of gender stereotyping. I recently asked my daughter, who is 11 years old, if she wanted to attend a technology camp to learn coding. Her response was “That’s for boys”. Where did she get that idea? My husband and I have always told her that she can do anything, but society has told her otherwise. As another example, if a group of people walks into a room and one of them is a tall, thin white male, I can see the room look to that person as the expected leader.
Our society needs to become more aware of when we stereotype by gender, and that awareness starts with ourselves. I ask myself, “Have there been times when I personally expected a man to be better at something than a woman? Have I unknowingly perpetuated the cycle?” Our society as a whole may hold up National Women’s Equality Day banners, but until each of us has that important conversation with ourselves, we will continue to unconsciously limit women’s potential.
Maxine Minter, Co-Founder and Head of Operations at Radvocate
National Women’s Equality Day is important because women are increasing their representation in many areas of the workforce that they were traditionally excluded from. This is a slow process. This is a hard process. It requires encouragement. Each woman that bears the torch in a new industry has a long and steep road ahead of her, but by walking it she lights the way for the women that come behind her. As women who are walking illuminated paths it is important we remember that these roads were once dark to us. As women carrying the first torch it is important to remember that women will walk behind you, thankful for your work and your sacrifice.
Holly Ostrout, Author and Entrepreneur at FictionAlchemy.com
National Women’s Equality Day is important because it’s an opportunity for women to be visible and celebrate one another. As a woman, it can feel like no matter how hard we try, it’s never enough.
There are days when it feels like getting burnt out from trying so hard is an inevitable part of the process. I don’t see this day as one meant to show men we’re capable. It’s a reminder to our fellow women that we are plentiful, we can do amazing things, and we have one another’s support.
We can keep pushing. We can rally and shove away the exhaustion to try again. And sooner or later, there won’t be a question of whether women are as capable as men. It will be common knowledge.
I’m looking forward to the day when National Women’s Equality Day isn’t necessary. I hope I see it in my lifetime.
Yuki He, Founder of LiveMe
National Women’s Equality Day is important because gender equality within a company or organization is a major indicator of future success. Valuing the opinions of men and women on the same level allows the door to innovation to swing open and creates a unique opportunity to explore new perspectives that were previously overlooked. Furthermore, thanks to their ability to tap into a diverse pool of ideas, these companies that are embracing the notion of providing equal opportunity regardless of gender naturally outperform those who do not.
From a personal viewpoint, a lack of equality can often come hand-in-hand with a lack of respect and as a result, makes it difficult to stand firmly behind your skills and capabilities because you don’t feel like a valuable member of the team. Gender equity gives women the self-assurance to thrive in every aspect of their lives. I’ve seen firsthand the benefits of being treated equally to my male counterparts and I believe it’s played a huge role in establishing the unwavering self-confidence that I have now.
Noelle Johnson, Owner of My Interview Buddy
National Women’s Equality Day is important because when women are empowered to make more, they do more. When we level out the playing field, it gives women the encouragement they need to climb the ladder, or step into male driven fields. When we have more women leading departments and companies that’s when we see real change. Until executives hear new diverse voices we will only see more of the same from those companies. Women’s equality changes corporate America. Also, when women make more, it’s better for our economy and better for charities because when we make more, we spend more, we give more.
Jessica Gramuglia, Owner of Awkwardly Naked
National Women’s Equality Day is important because women need to celebrate each other as a team. Creating a welcoming, encouraging and supportive environment is key to grow within your career and life. Together, we can change the world. Together, we can set an example to non-feminine genders. Together, we can mold the future to pass on this way of thinking.
Being a team shows your colleagues you are a strong, badass woman with a thriving crew to prove it. You are showing them you deserve what only men have been able to achieve in the past while setting an example for the future.
I’ve always tried to mold my subordinates to send off into the world as a rockstar – teaching them everything I can to help them thrive in their career path. I provide an environment that doesn’t divide any one person, everyone who works with me deserves the same respect. We are all equals and as a team we can move mountains.
We want to thank each of these women for sharing their thoughts and for continuing to shatter glass ceilings in pursuit of true gender equality. Why is National Women’s Equality Day important to you? Sound off in the comments!
For even more inspiring women in the workplace, check out What Does It Mean To Be a Successful Woman in Business?