Waiting No Longer
How is it possible that in 2010 in the United States, we still have such a significant mismatch between the knowledge that some people possess and the likelihood that their knowledge is considered in making the most critical decisions we as a nation face?
A mismatch between their level of experience and the positions they hold within organizations; a mismatch between their abilities and the level of power and influence they hold?
The people I am talking about are actually the majority of Americans — the women of the United States.
Did you know that on a global scale, the United States ranks 71st out of 189 countries in terms of the proportion of women in national legislatures. We even trail countries like Afghanistan, Cuba, and The United Arab Emirates (UAE) (“Women in Elective Office 2010,” Center for American Women in Politics, 2010).
It’s not much better outside the political arena where, for example, women have been the majority of college journalism majors since 1977 and constitute nearly half of all law school and business school students and yet account for between 18% to 22% of the top leadership positions in those fields and only 3% of Fortune 500 CEO positions.
For many years, American women have been told to be patient and to wait until more women have achieved higher levels of education, until more women were in the workforce for longer periods of time, until more women were in the pipeline for the top positions.
The stark reality is that although all of these conditions have been met, the percentage of women in key senior and executive positions in every sector of our country (Engineering, Technology, Science, Education, Health Care, Business, Media, and the Arts, to name a few) has not increased accordingly.
While the projections vary for each sector, at this pace, women will be equally represented in key-decision making roles in all sectors between 50 to 1,000 years from now!
There are those among us who are unwilling to wait that long, and who feel serious urgency to take action today.
I count myself among the most impatient and last week I was heartened, and honored, to be one of two women to represent my state of Kansas for a national initiative called Vision 2020.
Two by two, women leaders from all 50 states gathered in Philadelphia to launch a movement to achieve gender equality in the United States by 2020, the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote.
One by one, we as national delegates signed Vision 2020’s Declaration of Equality, and in so doing, we collectively advanced the belief that a true sharing of leadership and responsibility among women and men will inspire an unprecedented dimension of American excellence. Very powerful, indeed, especially in thinking about how we signed the gender equality declaration only a couple of blocks from the location of the original signing of the U.S. Constitution.
Vision 2020 is working on a critical agenda that commends to this nation the wisdom and obligation of achieving equality. As with all of the other delegates, I will be working on this significant endeavor, and in no way will we exclude men. Indeed, we are working hand in hand with men, true to our goal of gender equality.
Working together, we can achieve this objective and fulfill the promise of our nation.
Join us today and sign Vision 2020’s Declaration of Equality. Ask your friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues to sign as well. Help us meet our goal of at least 1 MILLION signatories.
I will keep you posted on our progress and send you ideas for actions you can take to devote your time, talent, and tenacity to the fulfillment of all that equality promises.
As a measure of Democracy, equality is the means through which our country can achieve its highest level of success.