Women's Equality Day takes place on Aug. 26. It celebrates the passing of the 19th Amendment — a piece of constitutional legislation that granted women the right to vote. Here's some more information about the history of Women's Equality Day. We also discuss ways to celebrate Women's Equality Day at work, the benefits of diversity in the workplace, and the future of work for women.
The history of Women's Equality Day
The 19th Amendment, passed in 1920, represents one of the greatest achievements of the women's suffrage movement that began in the middle of the 1800s. In 1970, on the 50th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote, Betty Friedan and the National Organization for Women staged the Women's Strike for Equality nationwide. These activists advocated for equal opportunities in education, employment for women, and 24-hour childcare centers.
The strike was the biggest protest for gender equality in the history of the United States, with rallies and demonstrations in over 90 major towns and cities. Over 100,000 women were involved, and 50,000 marched down Fifth Avenue in New York City.
Women hung two 40-foot banners from the crown of the Statue of Liberty that said, “March on August 26 for Equality” and “Women of the World Unite.” They also stopped the ticker tape at the American Stock Exchange. Teachers filed a lawsuit against the New York City Board of Education demanding gender equality when choosing candidates for administrative positions. After the case concluded, the number of female principals in New York City increased. The strike drew national attention to women's continuing fight for equality. A year later, in 1971, Congress named Aug. 26 Women's Equality Day.
Celebrating Women's Equality Day at work
To celebrate Women's Equality Day at work, you can raise awareness and learn more about the challenges women face in the workplace, volunteer at or donate to a women's shelter and find ways to improve your own career.
Learn about the problems women face and raise awareness
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women working full-time earn an average of 83.7% of what men are paid. This happens even though women usually have more education than men.
An average woman must complete one more degree than an average man to earn the same amount. Women also do more chores than men in most households. Even when men help with tasks such as cleaning or grocery shopping, the woman often schedules these chores and provides instructions. Many people call this women's “second shift," and it reduces the amount of time available to them for rest and recreation.
In addition, there is a lack of free daycare or mandatory paid maternity leave in the U.S. For many, the cost of daycare makes it financially unviable to continue working after having a baby. While unpaid leave is a legal requirement in the U.S., it is much shorter than in other countries. Some businesses choose to offer paid maternity leave, but the U.S. is the only wealthy country without national statutory paid maternity leave. In some other countries, national paid parental leave extends to over a year.
"Unfortunately, discrimination is still a reality for many women. For example, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, women tend to earn less after they have children, while men with kids earn more."
You can help your coworkers learn more about these issues by decorating your desk for Women's Equality Day. Talk to colleagues about what the decorations mean, the current issues affecting women at work and the day's origins. You can also post informational content about Women's Equality Day on social media.
Volunteer at or donate to a women's shelter
You can help women experiencing hardship by asking your coworkers to contribute items to a local women's shelter or another charity. You can also ask management if they would be willing to make a donation. Consider helping young women in your community as well. You could also hire a summer intern, invite a group of students to your workplace for job shadowing, or talk to management about starting a college scholarship that aims to empower women.
People value businesses that help others and work to improve diversity, equality, and inclusion in the workplace. Companies can work towards these goals by creating blog posts, advertisements, and social media posts highlighting what they are doing to improve women's lives on Women's Equality Day.
Advance your career
Unfortunately, discrimination is still a reality for many women. For example, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, women tend to earn less after they have children, while men with kids earn more. To fight the effects of discrimination on Women's Equality Day, update your resume. You can use it to show your current employer that you're qualified for a more advanced role or apply for higher-paying jobs at other companies.
It's also a good idea to promote yourself and talk about your work and accomplishments. Many women worry about being seen as aggressive or assertive if they advocate for themselves, but self-promotion is essential to advancing your career. Learning from a mentor, networking with others in your field, and reporting sexual harassment can help as well.
Many positions offer an opportunity to promote diversity in the workplace and strengthen your employer's equality and inclusion policies. For example, by working in human resources, you can ensure that everyone receives the same opportunities, treatment, and opportunities. Human resources professionals make hiring decisions without considering a person's gender, race, sexual orientation, or other characteristics.
The benefits of diversity
Diversity means having a representative workforce in which all your employees have equal opportunities. Diversity and equality for women can have many benefits in the workplace, including the following:
- Employing women can help your company be better at selling to women and helping female customers.
- Hiring diverse staff can improve innovation and creativity and help companies come up with new ideas.
- Highlighting your company's commitment to promoting diversity can encourage more women to apply, ensuring you have a large pool of qualified and talented candidates.
- Showing customers that you have a diverse workforce can increase sales.
- Working with women can help men learn that a woman can be just as skilled and essential to company operations as a man.
- Ensuring a diverse workplace helps promote job satisfaction, reducing turnover and hiring costs for human resources departments.
On Women's Equality Day, you can talk to people about the benefits of diversity and how managers should work to increase it.
The future of work for women
Automation, artificial intelligence, and other advances offer new job opportunities for women. However, many women will need training and education opportunities to help them succeed at work. According to a McKinsey Global Institute report, 40 million to 160 million women worldwide may need to change jobs by 2030. Even with automation, demand for women at work could increase. While women will still face challenges in the coming decades, most men and women in the U.S. believe that women will eventually achieve full gender equality.
You can celebrate Women's Equality Day at work on Aug. 26 by learning more about how women achieved the right to vote and the broader history of the women's rights movement. You can also volunteer at a women's shelter, learn more about ways to overcome discrimination, and think about the future of women at work. To start searching for a new job at a company with policies that promote gender equality, upload your resume to CareerBuilder today.
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