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News January 31, 2013 //  by  // 1 Comment

The glass ceiling is cracked but still holds

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, is one of a vast minority of women corporate leaders, seen here speaking on behalf of women at the 2013 World Economic Forum. | Wikimedia Commons

The World Economic Forum is supposed to be diverse in race, nationality and gender.

An annual gathering of the world’s leaders in various branches of society, this year’s forum was held Jan. 23 in Davos, Switzerland.

According to bloomberg.com, only 17 percent of this year’s attendees were women; in the 39-year history of this prestigious conference, the percentage of women in attendance has not exceeded 20 percent.

This is a significant discrepancy that has not gone unnoticed. In a panel at the meeting, a statistic provided that “while women make up 60 percent of college graduates in Europe, in the United States and Europe, only 3 to 4 percent of company chairmen and CEOs are women.”

Men and women used to play different roles in society: The male was the primary earner, and the female was the nurturer. These roles have drastically changed in the last 20 years.

Now more than ever, women are advancing their education and careers, taking the opportunities available to them while managing their other responsibilities; yet women can still not attain equal pay.

The glass ceiling is as obstinate as ever. A statistic released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that in 2011, women earned 82 percent of what their male counterparts did. Suppose a man and a woman do the same work — except the man earns $10 an hour and the woman earns $8.20 an hour. Suppose they work an 8-hour workday. At the end of the day, the man earns $80 before taxes while the woman earns $65.60 before taxes — a $14.40 difference. Now assume they work the same five-day work week, the woman earns $72 less a week.

Though it may be tradition that men hold higher positions or compose the majority in a certain profession, these are not rules set in stone.

The idea that women can’t or shouldn’t pursue certain careers because they are male-dominated or because it doesn’t fit the gender stereotype is wrong. These are antiquated beliefs that need to be adjusted for the times. Everyone is different and has a choice; no one gender or group should be making these decisions for the other.

Women need to step up, and men need to make room. This is an issue that is long overdue in resolving itself.

There needs to be more women in the science, engineering and business world, and they should be allowed to pursue any course they wish to take — with no discrimination or societal backlash.

Iman Sahnoune is a neuroscience graduate and may be reached at opinion@thedailycougar.com


  • Small correction

    Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook, but your caption says “CEO”

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