Each year during National Women’s History Month, we celebrate the many accomplishments and contributions of women in our society. Women have made remarkable strides: from earning the right to vote in 1920 to emerging as powerful leaders in the present day. Despite these improvements, women still face obstacles to gender equality, specifically in the workforce.
Until World War II, women were typically homemakers and didn’t have access to the same opportunities as men. As men left to defend our country, women began to take over their jobs and prove that they were just as capable and qualified as their male counterparts.
Women have continued to climb the ranks since the 1930s and, today, hold 52% of all professional level jobs. In fact, women currently occupy top positions at some of the largest companies in the country, including PepsiCo, General Motors, Yahoo, and Xerox.
Despite this progress, they still do not experience a level playing field. For every dollar a man makes, a woman makes only 78 cents.
Women are also at a disadvantage because they are greatly underrepresented in STEM fields and earn just 18% of engineering and computer science degrees. Women of color are even further underrepresented, earning less than 5% of all STEM degrees. Studies show that many girls are discouraged from pursuing STEM careers at an early age because they are not confident in their science and math abilities.
At Girls Inc., we understand the importance of getting girls excited about STEM by introducing them to female mentors working in non-traditional fields at a young age. In fact, right here in Monroe County, Girls Inc. girls are involved in programming that lets them do everything from designing a website to building a robot.
As we reflect on all the ways in which women have contributed to make this country great, we encourage you to remind the girls in your life to dream big and see beyond limiting gender stereotypes. With positive mentoring relationships and hands-on experiences, girls will be confident to make their dreams a reality. Equality in the workforce is not only essential for women, but also for building an innovative, educated, and successful society.