With Women’s Equality Day coming and going this past week, I found myself reflecting on how far we have come as a nation of women, but also on how much further we still have to go.
Established in 1973 to commemorate the passing of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote, Women’s Equality Day is celebrated annually on August 26.
However, it's worth noting that it was not until the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 when all women, especially those of color, were allowed to vote freely.
With next year marking the centennial of women’s suffrage in the U.S. and with the 2020 election quickly approaching, women must recognize their strength and power to bring about positive change.
The time is now.
Our country needs women of every race, ethnicity, culture, religion, and economic background to be a part of the national equation. We are a country founded on the melting pot principle; it's imperative that this type of diverse representation is reflected at every level of the work force — from the cubicle to the boardroom, to the expansive corner office.
We must see that same female diversity in Congress to ensure that women of all races and colors are spoken for.
Furthermore, it will take women and men from all walks of life to solve the enormous challenges this country faces, including our broken healthcare system, the worsening opioid crisis, our runaway immigration disaster, the rising levels of racism, and the large divide when it comes to the gender pay gap.
As the days of summer dwindle and another autumn ushers in, we sense increasing optimism and a growing possibility that the U.S. could be on its way to electing the first woman ever to serve as commander in chief.
As of the last week of August, according to the Monmouth University Poll, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., found herself in a virtual three-way tie with Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., for the lead in the Democratic presidential race. The poll is an outlier. According to a report on CNN (Aug. 28, 2019), polling director Patrick Murray issued a statement saying, "I understood when we released our poll that the picture it painted diverged from others."
Sen. Warren also just spoke before her largest crowd yet at a Town Hall in Seattle.
The good news for those looking to send Sen. Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., or one of the other female candidates to the Oval Office, is that research shows women as the single largest voting bloc and the more reliable of voters.
This is especially true when it comes to black and unmarried women.
Rutgers University’s Center for Women in Politics finds that, in every presidential election since 1980, the proportion of eligible female adults who voted exceeded the percentage of eligible male adults who cast their ballots. This is reenforced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, which shows 63.3 percentage of eligible women voters reported voting in 2016 versus 59.3 percentage of men.
Whether it’s in Washington, D.C. or our nation’s board rooms, the drumbeat is growing louder for women to take the reins and lead us out of these turbulent times and into the new decade with a renewed spirit.
It all starts with us continuing to cultivate an atmosphere in corporate America where both male and female executives feel confident and comfortable bringing more qualified women up to the top level to make the tough and impactful decisions that will pave the way for the future of our companies with a trickle-down effect that sparks a brighter horizon for all Americans.
Perhaps one day, if not in our lifetime, there won’t be a need to have a Women’s Equality Day at all.
Sheila Ronning, founder and CEO of Women In The Boardroom – an organization founded with the goal of bridging the gender gap in the boardroom – is a recognized expert on boardroom diversity and leadership. Follow her on Twitter (Twitter @RonningSheila).
Since I submitted this op-ed last night, Monmouth University has called the poll Sheila cited an “outlier”. (Monmouth University issued a statement late this afternoon)
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