The trailblazing women of America’s workforce would hardly recognize today’s employment practices. Now it’s a new millennium, with women making up the majority of the U.S. workforce, represented in every profession and at every level. Like men, they take jobs to support themselves and their families, but keep jobs for something more — working because they can, because they want to, and because they have the right to. And because they want to build a career and contribute something to the world.
While full equality in employment has yet to be achieved, that goal is within sight for the first time in American history — thanks to the efforts of women who fought to convert the workplace into the meritocracy it is supposed to be. How far have we come? Before World War I, the very idea of women working outside the home was mostly taboo, acceptable in only a few jobs, such as domestic service. Even as women filtered into factory work, they were shunted into a few underpaid specialties. World War II proved what women could do — but not that they deserved equal pay or equal opportunities for advancement.
Even though the Equal Pay Act was enacted nearly half a century ago, women today are still paid, on average, only about three-fourths of what men earn for the same work — and there is still a “glass ceiling” between women achievers and the highest levels of corporate management. But the gaps are narrowing, and their end is in sight.
Annette Adams: Ann Baumgartner: Cathleen Black: Dr. Nina Starr Braunwald: Jacqueline Cochran: France A. Córdova: Bessie Coleman: Charlotte Curtis: Grace Hoadley Dodge: Alene Duerk: Elsie Eaves: Amy Eilberg: Claire Giannini Hoffman: Sarah Tilghman Hughes: Kara S. Hultgreen: Mae Jemison: Beverly Johnson: Claudia Kennedy: Mary Florence Lathrop: Ruth Law: Faith Sai So Leong: Kathleen McGrath: Constance Baker Motley: Pauli Murray: Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin: Judith Rodin: Florence Rood: Dr. Florence Sabin: Jill Abramson: Ruth J. Simmons: Norma Merrick Sklarek: Dr. Janet Graeme Travell: Maggie Mitchell Walker: Alice Stebbins Wells: Ella Flagg Young: