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February 16, 2015

2014: The year gender equality stormed the world (or at least the news headlines)

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Was 2104 the year that society became aware of a WIDE gender gap in different areas of the society?

It might well be, as Beyoncé brought the F word to stage in 2014. Malala, a Pakistani girl victim of a horrific attack won the Nobel Prize for peace. Emma Watson, smart Hermione in the Harry Potter film saga, called for a worldwide campaign for more men to support women and launched the He for She campaign.

Before them many women have spoken and acted upon the issue. But 2014 was a key year for the discussion.

Compelling data caught our attention, and we saw and high profile cases of gender gaps in the entertainment industry with the Sony case  and in the mainstream media when the New York Times decided to sack its editor Jill Abramson in the middle of a legal dispute regarding compensation gaps.

Cutting edge industries like the technology sector have shown gender bias and high profile figures such as Sheryl Sandberg raised awareness on the issue.  Since 2013, Sandberg has been telling her story about cruising Google’s parking lot while heavily pregnant. Yes, she had to park mlles from the door and yes, she was big as a whale on her own words.  Late for her meeting with the company’s founders she complained about the lack of parking spaces from pregnant women. The answer: “We did not realize, pregnant women need closer parking spaces.” And thiswas the beginning of Sandberg’s advocacy for more women to speak minds in board rooms and take their place at the table.

Professor Vivek Wadhwa, a well-known and respected academic on issues related to entrepreneurship, realized there were no women on stage at a Venture Capitalists Conference in Silicon Valley. He was perplexed and began researching the issue. His answers can be found in Innovating Women. The book was published last year and one of its key findings: there are women in tech in high profile roles but they are invisible. Dr. Wadhwa took a lot of criticism for raising his voice about gender inequality in the tech world. He is certain that the first step was taken by openly discussing the issue, but he also admitted it: further steps are needed.

It seems surreal that almost four generations after the “women’s revolution,” societies worldwide have not reached gender equality. Data from around the world still show wide disparities in equal pay for equal work, access to education and healthcare, and more.

Getting more women involved in political discussions, in running businesses and in fighting for parity are ways to secure a safer and fairer society for all.

 

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Catalina Valenzuela, She Is Fierce! ContributorCatalina Valenzuela believes that everyone deserves an education.  She is a passionate reader of news, fiction and poetry, a #TechApprentice and a women’s advocate.

Catalina is interested in the social impact of technology in business settings. She blogs at http://www.techcetera.co and tweets @cavalenzu about women’s issues, technology, education and economic development.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

A version of this post also appears here: http://www.womensfundmiami.org

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2014: The year gender equality stormed the world (or at least the news headlines)

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