Three Cheers for Women at Work

We’ve got a long way to go before we reach equality, but we’ve come a long way, lest we forget. 

by Maugan Dixon, January 11, 2018

I think it’s fair to say that as of late, most of the conversations about women at work focus on the differences between the sexes: we get paid less, we’re undervalued, and we’re still facing discrimination at work. 

Sadly, this is the case for much of the world still, but, it is International Women’s Day so it’s nothing but good vibes from here on out. 

We've put together a selected time chronology of women’s triumphs at work… Happy Women’s Day, y'all! 

We no longer rely on our husbands to leave a mark. 

In ancient Athens, women (and slaves) weren’t allowed to vote. We had pretty much no say in any public matters at all. And when it came to home life in Athens, we were either keeping it prim and proper ourselves or had somebody to do it for us.  

A little known fact though, is that the only opportunities of influencing the public life we had was through our husbands. That’s not to say we would get consulted on public matters, but for a select few, they were able to help influence their husband’s opinions. 

Well, we can now vote, but not only this, we have enough influence to have conferences and platforms like WoMenPower 2016 commending us and our hard work and sharing our award winning ideas. 

We have the right to work – or not.

Until there was a shortage of factory workers, women basically didn’t work. It was unheard of. Now though, we can do as we please. We have the option to stay at home, go to work, or whatever else makes us happy. This liberty is one that feels like it’s always been around (because it should have been), but that hasn’t been the case. The first $3 per week wages for women were rolled out in the 1820s in New England. 

At present, we often make up around 50% of the workforce. In the UK for example, 47% employees are women. While in parts of the developing world like Egypt, women are the majority of the workforce. We’re not limited to doing ‘women’s work' either. In fact, we’re often working jobs that we would have been thought too feeble to carry out like farming and various other agricultural labours.

Remember those qualities that you said were chick things? Well, they make for better business, so suck it. 

Before we even get into this one, let it be said that there are no such things as womanly characteristics. Women are no more or less emotional and no more or less capable of making tough choices. We aren’t necessarily cuddly and warm, nor simple-minded. 

The fact of the matter is that for a long time there has (and still is) this culture that women are essentially wired differently to men and are better at some things than others. This has been a problem for women and men alike: women are limited to certain skillsets, and if a man has too much of a ‘women’s’ trait, then the degree to which he is a man often comes into question. 

But what makes for a better leader? Well, Kathrin Winkler, the chief sustainability officer of IT company EMC says: “I believe that my chromosomal configuration neither makes me better at my job nor more attracted to it, there are a number of characteristics – often considered more prevalent in women than in men – that are beneficial to the role.”

Many surveys back her up to, stating that being caring, pragmatic and having a genuine intent makes a better business skills. 

All the more reason for us to stop shunning certain skills and practice getting better at them. 

Bey might have been a little premature, but we might actually run the world… soon. 

So, at the backend of last year, there were 23 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. This is only 4% of the overall Fortune 500 companies, but, it’s better than we were doing before, so that’s something. 

But when we actually take a closer look at who is working within these companies, we’re wading our way in and to the top - and it doesn’t seem like we’re giving up anytime soon.  

Consider this: most Fortune 500 companies still have a triangular hierarchical structure and to get to the top, you usually have to work your way up through the bottom. But that’s actually what we’re doing! We’re 45% of the bottom of the triangle according to The breakdown goes a little something like this: 

  • Women are 45% of the labour force in Fortune 500s
  • Women are 37% of first and mid-level management in Fortune 500s
  • Women are 25% of senior management in Fortune 500s
  • Women are 19% of board members in Fortune 500s 

Although we do thin out towards the top of the triangle, we’re steadily rising through the ranks. So watch out glass ceiling, we're comin' for ya!