Every day is International Women's Day around here at Women in Comms, but today -- March 8 -- marks the official date in which the world reflects on the progress women have made towards equality and the historical women who have made significant economic, political and social contributions along the way.
It's been a national holiday, now celebrated in 27 countries, for the past 108 years -- since 15,000 women marched the street of New York demanding shorter work hours, better pay and the right to vote. We've certainly come a long way -- for one thing, we have the right to vote and even a female candidate to vote for, which is notable regardless of your political stance.
Yet, for as far as we've come, I'd be remiss not to point out how far we still have to go. There's a reason this year's International Women's Day's theme is "pledge for parity" -- the World Economic Forum says that, at the current pace, the global gender gap won't be closed for another 117 years. That'll be in 2133 (and I'll be 148 years old), if you're keeping track.
What's more, the gender pay gap also won't be closed until 2059 based on current trends and our starting point of women making 78.6% as much as men on average today. (See Mind the Gap: Is Public Shaming the Way to End Pay Inequity?)
It's easy to get caught up in and discouraged by statistics like these, especially when you look around at the industry and perhaps even your own company and still see so few women. But, more than anything, I feel optimistic about the future for women in comms. There are so many high-profile examples of successful women in the industry, not to mention hundreds of other women at the helm of technological innovation and progress. (See No Frat Party Here: 12,000 Computer Scientists Convene in Houston and vote for inspiring women in comms in WiC's upcoming Leading Lights awards.)
Women in comms are a powerful, influential group, and it's incumbent on the entire industry of men and women to ensure we keep growing in numbers, advancing in our rights and moving at a faster rate towards true equality. That's something to remember on today's holiday, but to work towards every other day of the year as well.
By the way, if you are participating in an International Women's Day event -- from London's Women of the World festival to Nigeria's walk against gender-based violence, please share your experience, photos and reflections in the comments section below!
— Sarah Thomas, , Director, Women in Comms