There were dark days that woman’s contributions were not appropriately acknowledged. Drs. James Watson and Francis Crick published their landmark discovery-the structure of DNA, but Rosalind Franklin was not mentioned a single time.
Fortunately, ignoring women’s contribution is past tense. However, women keep disappearing as they move up the career ladder in the corporate environment, according to a survey done by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey.
And other noticeable numbers are:
- As of 2017, only 48 women have achieved the highest award in science – Nobel Prize, while 844 men have been honored;
- Out of 193 UN member states, only 8 leaders are female (Pew Research Center data)
- As of January 2018, 27 CEOs in the Fortune 500 are female, and this is already a historic high (Fortune).
Why does that happen? The answer is complicated, but I do notice three profound reasons:
- Women desire less of top leadership roles. Women strive for promotion as much as men. But for a C-level position, compared to men, only half of that many women would commit;
- Women tend to underestimate themselves during job-hunting. A Hewlett Packard internal report states that men apply for jobs when they meet about 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they are overqualified.
- Women give more time to take care of the family. A Pew Research Center survey pointed out that women spend twice of as much in child care and housework than men.
So should women take back row seats by default? Support for professional women is growing every year. Some international conferences have the requirement that at least 30% of the speakers they invite should be female (watch Dr. Ning Yan’s speech at 开讲啦); more and more conferences provide affordable on-site child care service to accommodate mothers’ needs; professional organizations like Association for Women In Science advocate for women, and are run by women; many countries in Europe and Asia have long tradition of celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th.
The slogan “EMPOWER women” is everywhere.
Do women need official authority or legal power to lift them up? Do women need others to enable themselves? Remove the “em,” remove the doubt, because POWER must come from within.