Editor’s Note: This guest blog entry comes from Jan Stone, who attended the Second Annual Congress in Chicago and volunteered her time and talent to write this personal account of how Vision 2020 inspired her and also wrote the summary posts on the Congress, which can be found here: https://equalityinsight.wordpress.com/2011/10/20/inspiring-new-generations-of-women-and-men/.
By Jan Stone
Gender equality–like jumbo shrimp–is an oxymoron, and it’s time to hold those who keep it that way accountable. Recently, I had the opportunity to report on Vision 2020’s “3,000 Days & Counting” program, a discussion on strategies to achieve equality by the year 2020.
The Second Annual Congress, held in Chicago Oct. 11-13, consisted of powerful women volunteering considerable talent to reach five national goals through shared responsibility by 2020–the centennial of the 19th Amendment, aka women’s hard-fought right to vote.
That their work is cut out for them is understatement. From CFO.com: Of the Fortune 500, 3% of the CEOs are women while 9% of CFOs are women. OK, but how about education? According to The White House Project’s Benchmarking Women’s Leadership report, in 1972, women made 83% of what male faculty made, and today they make 82% of what male faculty earn.
The gender inequality existing still in a country some would define as the most progressive on the globe remains fundamentally unjust. As not only a mom but a grandmother, covering this event was a wake-up call. I can’t articulate how much it means to know how many incredibly talented women in the political, corporate and non-profit worlds remain intensely focused on the issues daily.
I built a successful career in the 1980s, chipping away at my stretch of the glass ceiling, proudly watching it splinter further. But not without a price: 60-plus hour work weeks, a good-ol’ boys network of commentary that’d surely be slanderous if not felonious today, and not a single moment in any 24-hour period without guilt. Is my family OK? Can my marriage withstand this? Is this money worth the time, effort and unknown?
Most important, will it make life easier for my daughters? I’ve two, and their age and experience at last allow others to judge them on their own abilities. So with access to fact checking, I state with a reporter’s objectivity that they are destined for greatness if our country should decide to value equality.
My youngest, an NCAA Division II student-athlete, is looking for an internship to help women in third-world countries while she awaits the minimum age to enter law enforcement. Her sister, a single mom bearing the largest portion of financial responsibility for her daughter, was recently promoted to an enviable position in the foundation of an international corporation whose mission is to build goodwill and peace in the world. Yet, she’s still actively looking for other opportunities to improve our world for her daughter.
Therefore, I was beyond amped on an autumn afternoon when I was offered the opportunity to summarize the Vision + Action = Equality in Motion Congress and how National Delegates intend to attain gender equality by 2020.
Yes, jobs are harder than ever to come by, but that does not mean our daughters should receive one less penny than their male colleagues. If educators are teaching our students about battles fought for other freedoms that define our great country, they should also be teaching boys and girls about the very real battle for gender inequality we’ve yet to eliminate. And, these discussions about values and each gender’s distinct capabilities must continue to occur every day, everywhere—in classrooms, conference rooms, kitchen tables and on soccer fields.
My girls used to be mortified when I’d go on about the inequities between the sexes. Now they’re in the thick of things, and a huge smudge on the history of this country is that so little has changed when it comes to the lack of equal rights.
Our daughters are no less intelligent, useful or valuable than our sons. Thanks to Vision 2020, Drexel University College of Medicine, and the Visionary and National Delegates volunteering their time and talent, there exists an actionable and measurable campaign to see that our country start taking gender equality seriously. And a critical piece called measurability will allow us to identify those who would stall Vision 2020 goals.
So go online, visit Vision 2020 and support it with $20.20. Our mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces and granddaughters deserve far more than what they’re being offered without this support.
And, to those who are fine with the status quo: Have you ever been in a room of fired-up women? It’s nothing compared to a country full of them. Don’t kid yourselves. We now know how to get things done. We’ve created sensible and achievable plans. Look around. Who’s doing the most work? It’s time we are given our equal due.