Women have fought hard to be equal to men in the workplace – it’s been a long old journey and it’s safe to say that a lot has changed since women were only regarded as house wives and mothers – though of course, we aren’t at the finish line yet.
During the First World War more than 1.6 million women showed off their skills by taking on jobs that were traditionally held by men. Women worked in factories, drove ambulances and other forms of transport and they were even in the army, navy and air force – jobs that required long hours and were deemed dangerous, yet we showed our strength, kept our cool and got on with it. One brave woman, Dorothy Lawrence aged 20 and a journalist even decided to pose as a man and join the British Expeditionary Force in 1915!
Powerful women are everywhere now: business owners, CEO’s, MPs – we’ve come a long way and it’s only going to get better.
So, how have we evolved?
More women than ever are career focused now, gone are the days when we need a rich man to take care of us. We can do that ourselves – and we love it. We’re more empowered with more women than ever taking up seats in leading company boardrooms. Despite the fact that women now have more power than ever before and we can no longer get fired for being married or pregnant (yes, that was once a thing) women in the workplace still suffer from discrimination – it’s just not as obvious. Sir Alan Sugar once caused some controversy by openly admitting that he would have to think twice about employing a woman who may become pregnant – he got a lot of stick but sadly, it’s still a reality in some workplaces.
And, what about equal pay?
The Equal Pay Act was introduced in 1975, but despite this, women still earn 20 per cent less on average. While this doesn’t sound like it’s fair, it’s not that we’re paid less, we have to take into account the roles that women generally take up are not as well paid as the jobs that men look for.
Has the media made a difference?
The media influences everything – we already know that, but when it comes to independent and powerful women it’s nice to see that they embrace them. Today in the media we see women that own their own business, manage a full time job while bringing up their children, speak their minds and aren’t afraid of a little competition. Beyoncé, the late Joan Rivers, Michelle Obama, Karren Brady, Michelle Mone and Victoria Beckham are all influential and in their own right, women look up to them because they are strong, outspoken and they have worked to get everything they have – but these women got their inspiration from the strong women who lived before us, the ones that worked hard to provide for their families and fought for their rights.
More women than ever are career focused now, gone are the days when we need a rich man to take care of us. We can do that ourselves – and we love it.
What does the future hold?
Powerful women are everywhere now: business owners, CEO’s, MPs – we’ve come a long way and it’s only going to get better. The more that workplaces see that women are just as equal as men in what they do the better it’s going to get for us. Of course men and women are different, we’re different genders and we have different mind sets, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do the same roles – it’s refreshing to see woman and men accepting this and start to make changes.
So while equality for women in the workplace continues to evolve, let’s take the time to be proud of how far we’ve already come and let’s carry on being inspirational.
Edenred leads the way in incentives, rewards, Employee Benefits and Expense Management.