Women pave the way at work


I have to admit, I was annoyed when our newsroom was asked to round up some stories to coincide with a
"women in business" advertising promotion. After all, weren’t we beyond focusing on working
women? It was no longer news to me that many women work outside the home, are major breadwinners, and
commonly hold positions of authority in their businesses.
But maybe the stories of local women who broke through workplace barriers deserve to be remembered. They
aggressively pushed, or persistently nudged their way to the top in some male-dominated professions.
They were the ones who frequently faced questions about their qualifications simply because of their
And while women have stepped onto the ground floor of all professions, and have risen to the top in some,
many still do not earn as much as their male counterparts.
There’s the story.
National studies show that on average, full-time working women earn somewhere between 77 and 84 percent
of what their male counterparts are paid. That means some women have to work approximately three months
more to earn what men were paid in a year period.
Improvements have been made. In 1970, it is estimated that women were paid 59 cents for every $1 paid to
their male co-workers doing the same jobs.
Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, has written and spoken extensively on gender
inequalities in the workplace. According to her data, women make up 57 percent of college graduates, and
63 percent of master’s degree holders. Yet:
• Just 21 of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women.
• Women hold 14 percent of executive officer positions.
• Women hold 16 percent of corporation board seats.
• Congress is 18 percent female.
Most women in management positions or in male-dominated professions are accustomed to being outnumbered.
And many who attend governmental meetings may wonder why there aren’t more women at the table.
Though widely reported on, some may not realize that to get a spot at the table, men have to show they
are confident, aggressive. Women, exerting those same traits, are often accused of being pushy, bossy.

Most women have stories of sexist treatment in the workplace. One of my co-workers, when she was fresh
out of college, was offered a seat on a public employee’s lap as she jotted down notes. I doubt that the
same offer would have been made to a male reporter.
My personal favorite was when I started covering the Wood County Commissioners some 30 years ago.
Commissioner Leonard Stevens, who rarely filtered his thoughts, would refer to me as "girlie."
I took it in stride, chalking it up to Stevens’ good-ole-boy work style. Years later, after he learned
my work style, I found out that he had another name for me which I found much more pleasing, and
possibly too flattering: "the barracuda."
So here’s to the women who clung to those ladder rungs, put up with gender criticism and name-calling,
and still take home smaller paychecks than men in the same positions. You are paving the way for the
next generation, who may not have to tolerate gender stereotypes, and may get paid as much as they are

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