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Osgerby: A celebratory reminder of gender (in)equality

BY PAUL OSGERBY | MARCH 09, 2015 5:00 AM

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Sunday was recognized around the planet as International Women’s Day — a day to celebrate and appreciate the milestones women have accomplished in our personal lives and our global lives.

In all these strides towards equality, however, our society is still shadowed by the proverbial glass ceiling.

Don’t believe me? Fewer women run big businesses in America than men named John, according to a New York Times investigation of the S&P Capital IQ executive compensation data. Furthermore, men named David also run more companies than women.

Of the 1,500 S&P firms’ CEOs, Johns and Davids ran 5.3 percent and 4.5 percent of those companies, respectively. All women operated a mere 4.1 percent. Men named James, Robert, John, or William served CEO roles at a ratio of 4 to 1 to women. These are pretty startling statistics when one tries to argue that women are gaining equal footing with men, especially in corporate America.

But it doesn’t stop just with big business. The Times reported that of those same four male names, they held a 2.17 and 1.36 ratio to women in Senate Republicans and House of Representative Republicans, respectively. Women are just as disadvantaged in decision-making political spheres.
I guess “The Man,” if I continue to speak in proverbs, truly continues to run America.

To take a step outside of corporate and political America (the distinction of which I am unsure, though I will make it anyways), surely the rest of the world is making progress. I had my tongue completely in my cheek for that statement, especially in regards to East Asia.

Five women’s rights activists were detained three days ago by China ahead of planned demonstrations across numerous cities for International Women’s Rights Day. They were organizing a campaign against sexual harassment on public transit. This coincides with an increasing concern of controlling freedom of expression by China.

However, the fact that feminist organizers were arrested states a glaring power-complex in a country, which is run primarily by those with the Y chromosome.

In the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, women marched clad in yellow caps and red shirts Sunday against clothing company Salvo Sports Apparel. The company in question printed washing instructions on the shirts for a sporting team stating, “Give this shirt to a woman. It’s her job.” Outrage against the sexist message rapidly spread across social media.

Salvo Sports attempted an apology via Twitter: “The message is simply, instead of washing it in the wrong way, you might as well give it to a lady because they are more capable.”

It’s a pretty cheap apology, I know. On the other hand, that’s how a world that continues to be run by men rationalizes sexism, with a façade of the men-can-learn-from-women mentality.

To continue along the lines of the glass ceiling, it’s apparent that the “glass” is still quite thick. In a day that is meant to commemorate women’s achievement, it also highlights the long trek we still have for true equality in the world.


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