When women thrive, all of society benefits, and succeeding generations are
given a better start in life. Kofi Annan (United Nations Press Release, December 4, 2001)
“Full democracy requires the full participation of women. Your voices are vital. The word ‘vital’ means necessary for life. A democracy, to be fully alive, must include all its citizens.” Swanee Hunt. (Far East Bloc Women, A Dearth of Democracy, 1997, July 10). The New York Times.
“Deeply rooted discrimination against women in the political, economic, social and cultural spheres weakens society as a whole,” said Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (Pillay,March 9, 2009), on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
When women succeed, the public benefits. The inequality of wages and work performance has been trumped by research. In aggregate, these reports provide evidence that women have the potential to add significant value to a company. Studies show that men would reap more benefits if women were more equally incorporated. (Sandberg,S., & Grant, A. (2015) When it comes to investment strategies, women are more conservative than men and more risk averse. They also tend to invest for the longer term, a trait that can result in less-volatile returns. And recent evidence suggests that women may do better than men in short-term investing. A study of hedge funds run by women found that they outperform funds run by men. Another study of retail investors found that men traded 45 percent more than women in their own accounts, but earned 2.65 percent less. (money.cnn.com, Female investors often beat men by Heather Long, February 19, 2005). Gender equality means women will have better pay, higher positions, and more respect, but what do men gain? Studies show that women offer new knowledge, skills, and networks, take fewer unnecessary risks and are more inclined to contribute in ways that make their teams and organizations better. When women succeed, men also succeed.
If this is indeed a war, women have only just begun to fight. At present the sense of outrage seems relatively mild and scattered. There is not an organized mobilization in which most women can engage. Nobel Peace Prize recipient Leymah Gbowee of Liberia spoke recently at a meeting and asked, “Where are the angry American women?” (The Daily Post, Talk with Tina Brown, March 9, 2012)
Women who are beginning to answer the call have come forward, run for office, and been elected. Congresswomen are increasingly willing to pounce on misogyny or anything resembling it. (Chozick and Martin, 2015). In November 2014, many independent and conservative women voted for Democrats. During that election, Emily’s List supported and endorsed a record number of female candidates, 11 for the US Senate and 27 for the House. Emily’s List doubled its membership in 2014 and raised more money for more candidates than at any other time in its 27-year history.
The rising numbers of women in the workplace will chip away at the disadvantages that women face. And if women really do mobilize en masse and bring their unique characteristics to bear, it could transform the way that Wall Street does business.
In October 2014, Gloria Steinem, political activist, and feminist organizer, put out an email urging women to seize their ballot power. She wrote, “The GOP hasn’t passed Equal Pay laws and they constantly deny women their basic rights to make decisions about their own bodies.” (Chumley, 2014) Silence is the enemy. The national conversation about gender equality must not be ignored any longer. By denying this reality, we feed the oppression.