Janet Yellen: a win for women

By Jackie Norgord

Janet Yellen made history by being confirmed as the first female Federal Reserve chief. She is currently stepping into her role just as the U.S. stock market had its worst week since 2008. The news that Yellen was confirmed was of personal importance to me because over the years, I have taken special note of the significant achievements of women in U.S. history.

Official portrait of Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen

Official portrait of Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen

I first became aware of the word “feminist” when I was about 12. I decided at that time that it was exactly what I wanted to be and I labeled myself as such, much to the chagrin of my conservative family and Catholic school teachers.

In college, I joined masses of other co-eds in protesting gender inequities. We marched for pay equality and the right to breastfeed in public. Unfortunately, some of these issues such as “the glass ceiling”  remain in the workplace today.

After college, I made a conscious choice to be a stay-at-home mom, filling my not so free time with volunteering at the local schools and making endless trips in my minivan on a daily basis. Throughout my day, I became deeply committed to my kids’ schools, my neighborhood, and my community at large. Despite the traditional choice, I still considered myself to be a feminist, in support of issues that face women on all career paths.

Today as I look over the results of the 1World Online gender inequalities polls, I wonder how little has actually changed.

At this writing, 46% percent of respondents to the poll “Has the glass ceiling been shattered?” still believe that the glass ceiling has not been shattered. Most men (56%) say yes, it has been shattered, while most women believe gender inequity in the workplace still remains (56%).

Significantly, 21-40 year-olds were more likely than those over 40 to indicate that gender inequities remain. Political affiliation made a significant difference; 67% of Republicans believed gender inequality still exists while only 45% of Democrats held the same belief. Independents held at 60%.

For those making under $50,000 annually, 75% of respondents indicated the glass ceiling has not been shattered. Those making over $100,000 agree at 70%. Of those making $50,000-$100,000, only 20% agreed.

Clearly, the debate regarding this topic is not done yet. In the meantime, as Janet Yellen begins her first days as Federal Reserve Chief, I salute her achievement and the significant contributions of women who came before her.

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