Hello readers – Women’s History Month is not only a time to celebrate all the achievements and contributions of women in American history, but also an opportunity to look ahead to a better future for women – one defined by gender equity, the greater inclusion of transgender women and women of color, and the end of sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse.
What started as Women’s History Day in 1909 and turned into Women’s History Week in 1978 is now a month-long celebration in March, designated yearly by presidential proclamation. Women have seen significant progress across American history, most recently with the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who would be the first Black woman to join the Supreme Court if confirmed. Her appointment is a sign of progress and a harbinger of more positive change to come – undoubtedly leading more women of color to see themselves in high level positions.
But building a better future for women requires us to acknowledge the challenges that remain. In the past year, studies have shown that discrimination – as well as sexual misconduct, harassment and abuse – adversely impact the broader culture and many aspects of women’s lives, including:
• Women’s health: Research increasingly recognizes a correlation between sexual trauma and long-term mental and physical health risks for women – this should serve as an alarming call for more advocacy and action on sexual violence prevention. Most recently, the Journal of the American Heart Association found that sexual violence or workplace sexual harassment is a long-term risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.
• Women’s careers: Women leave the workforce at a higher rate than similarly educated men, a disparity that has been exacerbated by the pandemic – notably, women tend to be over-represented in fields that require in-person work during the pandemic, such as in health care or personal service. Women also reported higher rates of burnout than men in the workplace, with 1 in 3 women saying they’ve considered downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce.
• Workplace diversity: Discrimination and harassment in the workplace have undermined corporate diversity efforts, leading to the significant underrepresentation of minority women and a lack of acknowledgement for intersectional experiences. Women of color continue to lag in positions of leadership and LGBTQ+ women and women with disabilities experience microaggressions at high rates. Additionally, transgender adults are twice as likely as cisgender adults to be unemployed, in part due to sexual and physical harassment.
Despite these unjust circumstances, women have successfully paved the way for progress in the workplace and beyond. We recognize and honor the women who have pushed for institutional change and will always work to center their stories and experience in the way we guide corporate leaders to build more equitable workplace cultures.
RALIANCE provides consulting, assessment, and employee development services to help build more equitable workplace cultures and create environments free from sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse. We stand ready to support your organization’s goals –contact us today at [email protected] to get started.