(888) 277-4253

Keeping the women’s movement alive

Editor’s Note: This is a part of a collection of stories SDNN will publish throughout the month of March to celebrate Women’s History Month. Join us as we recognize Women’s History Month by sending in your stories too and checking SDNN every day for stories from other women in our region. Happy Women’s History Month!

As we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month, we must appreciate the gift that was given to us and understand how we got here in the first place. Additionally, we must acknowledge women who are presently shaping our paradigm.

My career in corporate U.S. began in 2001 as I started in banking. Throughout my career, it became apparent that despite all the feminist movements, “the glass ceiling” was still very much apparent. As a young professional woman, my passion, I discovered, is to empower other women — the way the women before me, empowered me. I am the founder of Future Women CEOs whose mission is to empower women to break the corporate ladder and/or start their own business.

But before me and before Future Women CEOs, there were other women.

I must acknowledge that we have come a long way since the inception of the women’s movement which began in 1848 with the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls. However, if you look at our progress, it took 72 years to grant women the right to vote. The 19th Amendment was passed in 1920, which gave American women the right to vote.

Now when did we get the right to work? Women have contributed greatly to the U.S. economy since the birth of the country. What I would like to address is our progress in granting women the right to choose their career and receive equal pay. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Eleanor Roosevelt as Chairwoman of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, which documented substantial discrimination toward women in the workplace. In 1963, the Equal Pay Act was passed, which made it illegal to pay women less than men for the same job.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 did not account for upward mobility though. Women were receiving equal pay as men for the same job (in reported cases), however men continued to be promoted and moved up the corporate ladder at a faster pace than women. Men continued and arguably, continue to be financially compensated more than women to this day. Women currently make approximately eight cents to every dollar that men earn, according to ”Getting Even: Why Women Still Don’t Get Paid Like Men–And What To Do About It.”

Last year, 46 years after the Equal Pay Act of 1963, President Barack Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. The Act allows victims of pay discrimination to file a complaint to the government within 180 days of their last paycheck. This act was a result of a former employee of Goodyear Tires who alleged she was paid 15-40 percent less than her male counterpart and was accurate. It is apparent that the “glass ceiling” still exists.

It is now 2010, women have made progress since 1848, but our movement has yet to be realized. I believe that these tough economic times is an enormous opportunity for women. Women currently make up approximately 50 percent of our current work force. The majority of those who lost jobs during our recession have been men (approximately 86 percent of layoffs were men). Women are also now the dominant force as small business owners.

We should not take our progress for granted and continue to work towards accomplishing our goals, which is ultimately equal opportunity for all. We should not have to wait another century for equality.

I can see the possibilities in our future.

Lillian Razavi is the founder of Future Women CEOs.