“It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people – women as well as men,” Susan B. Anthony declared this in a speech soon after her arrest for casting a vote in the 1872 presidential election. At that point in time, such an act was considered illegal for women. The work of Anthony and other suffragettes would eventually lead to the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. This Amendment finally granted women the full rights of citizenship, including the right to vote.
Precisely 100 years later, women not only have the right to vote but to work and do almost anything men can do. Indeed, more women in business are taking their rightful places as global leaders.A 2019 Grant Thornton research discovered that today women hold a record high of 29% of senior management roles. Furthermore, 87% of businesses around the world now have at least one woman in a senior management position. On the other hand, we have all heard of the all too familiar glass ceiling effect that is always brought up during debates about gender equality. But on the off chance that you have not heard of it, the glass ceiling effect refers to the pervasive resistance to the efforts of women and minorities rising to the top ranks of management in major corporations. Talented women are prevented from advancing in the workplace by a whole range of obstacles, including a gender pay gap, a lack of support for working mothers, and outright sexism. Till today, we are not certain who coined the name of this phenomenon, but the term was heavily used during the mid-1980s. Based on the progress that we have made so far, one might be tempted to proclaim that the glass ceiling has been shattered.
Nearly a hundred years since obtaining the right to vote, women in America have gradually witnessed hard-fought gains in political representation. However, the highest office of the American presidency, or the Oval Office, has still eluded more than 200 women who have sought it. It is the year 2020, and this year’s election has, for the first time, five highly qualified women running for the presidency. Should a win be achieved by any one of these women, it would bring the country that much closer to its promise of representative democracy. It would have huge, positive implications across the world for political representation, governance, and beyond. Although some countries have seen female presidents, they have been few and far between. Having a female American president would set an impactful precedent.Gender representation in governance is far from equal but has made some progress since 1992.
In some countries across the world, women are still prevented from starting a career at all, forget about reaching their full potential. A study by the World Bank has brought to light the restrictions placed on a woman’s right to work. They discovered that Saudi Arabia places more restrictions on a woman’s right to work than any other country in the world. But out of the 187 economies included in the study, countries in the Middle East and North Africa were ranked lowest overall for providing equal opportunities for women who want to work.
In places like the Middle East and North Africa, there are moral objections to women in the workplace. Women, there are still oppressed in the name of culture and religion. These create significant barriers for women to enter the workforce. Gender stereotypes have persisted. For example, industries such as construction and mining are still seen as having jobs that are only suitable for men.Women in Saudi Arabia constituted 23% of the country’s native workforce as of 2015. In 2019, 34.4% of the native workforce of Saudi Arabia were women.Factors that contributed to the rights of women include government laws, the Hanbali and Wahhabi schools of Sunni Islam, and traditional customs of the Arabian Peninsula. Women even campaigned for their rights, and these include the women to drive movement and the anti-male-guardianship campaign. Tremendous improvements to their status were witnessed during the second decade of the twenty-first century.
In regions where cultural and religious barriers are less of an obstacle, other challenges like territories restricting women’s right to work affect their employability. This is seen in areas in South Asia, where women are not given the right to work night shifts, hence employers are less willing to hire them.
Although some progress has been made, the glass ceiling is still very present in many parts of the world. More needs to be done to help women “breaking the glass ceiling.”