Women’s Equality Day was established in 1971 and has since been an annual event observed on August 26. Women have been making strides toward equality with men for many years with great advancements made in only the past few decades. As we recognize the gender bias and pay gap issues that still plague some workplaces, it’s important to shine a light on Women’s Equality Day and how both our society and businesses can support its efforts. From the beginning of women’s rights to the future of women in America, here are 10 things to know about Women’s Equality Day.
- Significance of the Nineteenth Amendment: The Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. constitution in 1920 granted full woman suffrage, or the right of women to vote in elections. Prior to this, societal opposition to this right prevailed, working to suppress voices of women, yet a movement for equality was ignited.
- Origins of Women’s Equality Day: As a commemoration of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, Women’s Equality Day was born. On August 26, 1970, the 50th anniversary of the amendment’s passage, the Women’s Strike for Equality March spread across the country, and it was one year later in 1971 that Congress officially recognized August 26 as Women’s Equality Day.
- Feminist movement news coverage: As New York City’s Fifth Avenue was flooded with over 50,000 participating women during the Women’s Strike for Equality March, the media finally took notice. In fact, this was the first time that The New York Times had covered the feminist movement, drawing notable attention.
- Leaders behind the charge: While women from all walks of life and backgrounds gathered for the August 26, 1970 demonstrations and rallies, The National Organization for Women (NOW) spearheaded the nationwide event and was led by feminist author and activist, Betty Friedan.
- Equality in education: With many pivotal milestones in women’s advancements, one notable step was taken in 1980 when colleges began enrolling equal numbers of men and women. In 1969, Yale was the first ivy league college to admit women, and it wasn’t until 1983 that Columbia University allowed women to enroll.
- Title IX enacted: As part of the educational amendments of 1972, Title IX was enacted into law, which prohibits federally funded educational institutions from sex-based discrimination. Today, school-based sexual misconduct still exists, and the Work Shield third-party unbiased solution supports students and staff in providing procedures to comply with regulations.
- Women take space in athletics: Did you know that the first modern athletic shoe designed for women wasn’t until the early 1980s? In fact, women commonly wore men’s sneakers until the Reebok Freestyle shoe was released and specifically marketed to women in 1982. This was because gender equality didn’t impact modern sports until 1972 with the passing of Title IX. Even before the new law, in 1971, ESPN reported that about 30,000 women played college sports, and by 2021 women accounted for 44% of college athletes.
- The rise of women entrepreneurs: Currently, women aged 20 years and older have a 58% labor force participation rate, which is lower than the pre-pandemic rate, but women are rising to the top as business owners. In 2021, 49% of new businesses were started by women and almost half of start-ups were founded by women, according to research.
- The continued fight for equality: According to 2020 Census Bureau data, the gender pay gap is still an uphill battle, with women making 83% of what men make. Additionally, between 2018 and 2021, over 78% of sexual harassment charges in the U.S. workplace were filed by women. Now is the time for organizations to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion where all voices are heard and valued.
- How to celebrate in the workplace: On Women’s Equality Day, and everyday, organizations should take part in recognizing the unique contributions women bring to the workplace while ensuring that all employees feel safe and valued regardless of gender. Through education, community events and local activism, there are many ways to recognize the observance and set the tone for your workplace culture.
At Work Shield, we partner with organizations to cultivate workplace cultures where women experience true equality and all employees have access to safe, secure reporting and objective resolutions. In honor of Women’s Equality Day, we celebrate the impressive strides that have been made in our society while staying committed to fighting for further advancements.