Today’s guest blog post was written by our board member, Ruth Bramson. Ruth, a Women’s Workforce Council member, recently retired from her job as CEO of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts. This article was previously published in the Boston Business Journal.
Women have been advocating for workforce equality for decades. Yet today’s women can expect to face huge employment obstacles simply because they are female.
As far back as the early 1980s, more American women than men began enrolling in college, and that has resulted in women earning more undergraduate and graduate degrees. You would think this would give women access to a wider range of jobs and higher earning potential, but that has not been the case.
Women today make up half the U.S. workforce, and unemployment is lower among women, yet they still trail men in leadership positions in many fields, and they lag behind in compensation. In 2011, working women in Boston (where I live) made 85 percent of the earnings of their male peers. Over the course of a 40-year career, a woman working full-time in Boston earns an estimated $380,000 less than a man.
But girls and women in Boston are lucky to have had a champion in previous Mayor Thomas Menino, who committed to making Boston the premier U.S. city for working women. The recently released report “Boston: Closing the Wage Gap“, developed in partnership with the mayor ‘s office and the Women’s Workforce Council, offers key interventions employers can implement to reduce wage disparity.
Chaired by Cathy Minehan, dean of the school of management at Simmons College, the Women’s Workforce Council represents all business sectors, both for-profit and nonprofit. Our goal is to make sure that women and girls can take their rightful leadership place in companies, and be compensated at the same wage as males for equal work. With so many women head-of-households comprising Boston’s workforce, this isn’t just good for women, it’s good for families and for our city.
This past fall, 38 area employers joined Mayor Menino to sign onto the “100% Talent: The Boston Women’s Compact”, which provides a road map for employers to address the gender wage gap in their own workforces. The top priorities of this initiative are to enable every working woman to be paid what she is worth, to open up new fields to women, to support opportunities for female-owned businesses, and to train women in negotiation skills.
Ultimately it’s up to employers in all sectors to make sure this happens. It is, after all, about fairness. And it’s about time that women let their voices be heard to effect real change.