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Ladies, If We Want Change, We Have to Do It Ourselves

Women have been fighting for equality for some time now and they show no signs of stopping until the battle has been won, once and for all. Women still face many inequities today that prevent them from reaching their full potential in their personal and professional lives, but it's not only women who are negatively impacted by gender imbalances – business and the economy as a whole suffer when women are deprived of the same opportunities as men. If you want things to change sooner than later, ladies, it's time to take matters into your own hands – because, as Laurel Thatcher Ulrich said, "Well-behaved women seldom make history."

Women have been fighting for equality for some time now and they show no signs of stopping until the battle has been won, once and for all. Women still face many inequities today that prevent them from reaching their full potential in their personal and professional lives, but it’s not only women who are negatively impacted by gender imbalances – business and the economy as a whole suffer when women are deprived of the same opportunities as men. If you want things to change sooner than later, ladies, it’s time to take matters into your own hands – because, as Laurel Thatcher Ulrich said, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.”

rosie the riveter

(Photo Credit: Tom Hilton/Flickr)

According to a ThinkProgress article, getting women on the same playing field as men would raise the GDP in every country (5 percent in the U.S. alone), increase profits for businesses, create more generous economic policies to help families thrive, and even contribute to less government corruption. However, this can only happen if and only if women are provided the same opportunities as their male counterparts and we eradicate the unconscious bias that encourages gender inequalities to live on.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Women shouldn’t have to work twice as hard as men to be considered half as good, especially when recent studies indicate that women make better leaders and that companies with women at the helm out-perform those run by men exclusively. However, far too few women actually make it far enough up the corporate ladder to make a meaningful impact at their companies. In fact, a study by Catalyst found that women hold only 4.4 percent of CEO positions and 25.1 percent of executive/senior-level positions at S&P 500 companies, but they make up nearly half of the American workforce. This means that women are contributing to the workforce, but they’re holding lower-paying and lower-ranking jobs compared to men.

As a whole, women make 78 cents on the dollar compared to men, according to PayScale’s latest report on the gender pay gap. When factors like experience, education, and location are considered, women earn 97 cents on the dollar compared to men. This is improvement, yes – but it’s still not 100 percent parity. Here’s what you can do to be the change you want to see in the world for womankind.

Start at Home

Women still take on as much of the household responsibilities as their mothers and grandmothers, despite holding full-time jobs. Start making small changes in your household to encourage a more fair and balanced dynamic for your family, including your children. By modeling gender equality in your household, you are teaching your family what equality looks like, feels like, and is.

Help End the Gender Pay Gap

As a professional, it’s always wise know what you’re worth, regardless of your gender. Knowing how your salary compares to that of others in your field will help you identify whether you’re being paid a fair wage. If you’re not being paid what you’re worth or what your male counterparts are making, then it may be time to consider switching employers.

Negotiate Better and More Often

One of the reasons why women are so gravely underrepresented in senior-level positions is because they aren’t negotiating their salaries, which means that the men who are negotiating are passing them on the corporate ladder and financially. It’s time to banish the shame that women often associate with asking for a raise and start empowering one another to go after the salary that they’ve rightfully earned. The more women advance into high-ranking positions, the more influential they can be for the business world and the many generations of aspiring businesswomen to come.

Just as the pyramids weren’t built in a day, gender equality will take some time. The good thing is, it’s already a work in progress and has picked up much more momentum and attention than ever before. You may feel as though your efforts to make a change are insignificant at first, but remember, “Small things, done consistently, create major impact” (David Allen).

Tell Us What You Think

What else do you feel can be done to encourage gender equality? Share your thoughts with our community on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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