April 1, 2010 by Ilene H. Lang
I’m happy to announce that after nearly 50 years of changing women’s lives, Catalyst has accomplished its goal of total gender parity and will shut its doors. Thank you all! We couldn’t have done it without you.
The latest Catalyst research reveals that women now comprise 50.3% of Fortune 500 CEO slots and 49.8% of Fortune 500 board seats. The gender pay gap has virtually disappeared: women earn, on average, only 0.4% less than men. And since our latest study on inequity between women and men MBA grads, companies have taken serious action. The nation’s leading companies have recalibrated their practices based on merit, not gender. Women MBAs now start at the same level, earn the same amount of money, and are promoted as frequently as equally qualified men. Not surprisingly, job satisfaction among these women is now roughly the same as that of their male colleagues!
I was excited to see that Time marked this historic moment by honoring American “Women of the Year.” The magazine cited the economic downturn as the reason for overwhelming male engagement in gender initiatives and the subsequent surge in workplace equality. “The recession brought a kind of enforced enlightenment,” extolled Time. “Husbands badly needed their wives'—or daughters'—paychecks to help support the family.”
To help society make the transition, Catalyst has earmarked its remaining FY2010 operating budget for a series of post-parity workshops. I will be chairing “Managing Your Company’s Record Profits: A How-To,” “All Aboard!: A Step-by-Step Guide for New Women on Board,” and “Double Your Income—Double Your Fun!: Enhanced Quality of Life in the Post-Parity Age.”
It’s been a quite a journey, and a successful one. Or at least it would have been, if it weren’t April Fool’s Day!
OK, back to reality. But before we go there, imagine a world in which women and men were valued equally at work. An environment in which gender stereotyping wasn’t holding women back. A place in which women and men earned an equal amount for doing the same work. What would this world look like to you?
While the Fortune 500 and post-MBA facts above are made-up, the Time article is not. On January 5, 1976, the magazine featured “Women of the Year” on its cover. The accompanying article soberly concluded: “American women, if they have not arrived, are in the process of arrival. Just how far they will go—and how fast—is not totally clear, for women are themselves altering the destination, changing it from a man's world to something else.”
More than 30 years later, we still are. Although we’ve edged closer to parity, Catalyst remains open for business. And those post-parity workshops will just have to wait.