On Anniversary of Women's Suffrage, Parity Is Still Elusive

On one level, the progress women have made is amazing. On another, we still have a long way to go.

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Today marks the 90th anniversary of ratification of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote. 

On one level, the progress women have made in lo these nine decades is nothing short of amazing. On another, we’ve a long way ahead of us until we enjoy the economic and political freedoms enjoyed by men.

For example, just a short time ago I blogged here about a Florida woman who was confined against her will in a hospital for the “crime” of being pregnant.

At the same time, there are now 17 women in the U.S. Senate (out of 100 members) and 73 women in the U.S. House (out of 435), with the first female House speaker, Nancy Pelosi. [See who supports Pelosi.] And no one will forget Hillary Clinton’s history-making bid for her party’s presidential nomination in 2008. A few women run Fortune 500 corporations and women are increasing their share of seats on America’s corporate boards, according to Catalyst’s 2009 Census, which tracks women’s corporate progress:

•  Women held 15.2 percent of board seats, a number that reflects little growth over the past five years.
•  Women of color held 3.1 percent of all board director positions, compared to 3.2 last year.
•  Almost 90 percent of companies had at least one woman director, but less than 20 percent had three or more women serving together.

[See the women of the Senate.]

Conservatives argue women hold themselves back by taking time off work to raise their families. And it’s clearly true that women spend more time, on average, parenting than men. But whether that’s a factor of nature or nurture is still an open question.

I must admit, having entered the workforce in the heady days of the so-called women’s liberation movement, that in my 20s I had visions of women reaching parity much more quickly.