Despite what many people assume about our societies’ progress in the field of women’s equality, statistics still show big gaps in the professional world. Here are a few ways that young women can change the less-than-ideal reality of women’s equality today:
1. Women on the screen
Hollywood can play a major role in changing the perception of women. The movie industry often sidelines women’s roles in favor of men. Several new films have been promoting a change in the accepted format. Movies like Disney’s “Maleficent” and “Frozen” break away from the standard “damsel in distress” model and cast female characters as the lead in their own stories.
2. Gender equality isn’t a battle
In the early days of feminism, the struggle was often portrayed as a battle against men, so the fight was left in the hands of women alone. In recent years, men in power have come to realize that women’s gender equality is not a challenge to them, and their voices can play an important role in the conversation. HeForShe is an example of a men’s solidarity movement promoting gender equality. “It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals,” said Emma Watson, chosen as a UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador.
3. Internet access
The Clinton Foundation, an organization that promotes women’s rights, conducted a study that found 200 million more men than women use the internet in developing countries. On top of that, there are 300 million more male cellphone owners than female ones. Greater access to the internet can mean more information, education and opportunities for these women.
4. Corporate responsibility
Statistics show that women earned 78% of men’s salaries in the US in 2013. When broken down by US state, Washington DC ranks #1 in terms of gender pay equality, with women earning 91% of men’s salaries. Louisiana, on the other hand, ranks at the bottom of the list. It is the responsibility of CEOS and boards of trustees to adopt policies and practices that diminish gender-gaps in the workplace. We should all support companies that take part in the corporate effort to equalize women and men – which will only make the workplace more dynamic and promote corporate growth.
5. Use your unique voice
Not everybody is the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, rock star, or president of a small country. But any voice for gender equality is needed and important. Private individuals should follow the examples of stars like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who pointed out the following at the Golden Globes this year: “George Clooney married Amal Alamuddin this year. Amal is a human rights lawyer who worked on the Enron case, was an adviser to Kofi Annan regarding Syria and was selected to a three-person UN commission investigating rules of war violations in the Gaza Strip. So tonight, her husband is getting a lifetime achievement award.”
Find the way that you, in your professional or private life, can take a stand in favor of gender equality.