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#PressforProgress, One Day at a Time

State Street

March 07,2018

The theme for International Women’s Day this year is #PressforProgress.

With the World Economic Forum's 2017 Global Gender Gap Report1 estimating that true gender parity is still more than 200 years away at our current pace, that theme is acutely appropriate. We asked members of our Professional Women’s Network, one of our largest and most active employee resource groups, what progress they would press for — for women in every industry — in the coming year.

“I’d like to see a truly agile working environment that encourages more flexible working hours and locations, for both men and women, to improve everyone’s work/life balance and promote equality in parenting. This will address the perception that flexible working hours are just to accommodate working mothers, which may create bias and impact a women’s career progressions.” – Sinead Kiely, Ireland

As the Harvard Business Review reported2, flex time doesn’t need to be formal to make a big difference in parents’ lives. “As-needed” flexibility was actually the preferred work schedule for many, because it gives team members the freedom to balance work and life as best fit their constantly changing schedules.

And although women are still often the primary caregivers at home, a 2013 Pew Research Center survey found3 that 50 percent of fathers said it’s difficult to juggle work responsibilities and family life. Ending the stigma around flex scheduling can go a long way in making sure women and men don’t have to choose between work and family.

“One thing that I hope changes is more men committing to advancing women in their careers, putting both age and gender aside. More men should offer to sponsor, mentor and give challenging opportunities to the capable women on their teams. I would hope that they would also encourage their male colleagues to do the same.” – Ariel Harris, United States

A new report4 by and McKinsey & Co found that for every 100 women promoted, 130 men are promoted. Why? Because we hire and promote people that look like us. The same report found that women are three times more likely to rely on a network that is predominately female. Since more men hold senior-level positions, women don’t have the same access to the same powerful network their male colleagues might. And gender bias, both conscious and unconscious, can also keep a woman from rising to the top of her field.

 “The labels that are put on women from the time they are born often define their role and place in the family and the workplace. I hope this year that will change! There should be no labels or expectations based on gender. When you create a truly accepting environment outside the workplace, I believe it’s a big step toward true equality in the workplace.” – Zaira Frank, Singapore

Gender stereotypes impact girls from day one. The BBC reported5 that girls lose faith in their own talents by the age of six. At a very, very young age children are exposed to the idea that a "genius" is much more likely to be a male than female quality. As one of the researchers noted “it's disheartening to see these effects emerge so early. When you see them, you realize how much of an uphill battle it's going to be.” How they were treated as children heavily influences what kind of work a woman is likely to pursue as an adult.

“With the new Massachusetts Pay Equity Law going into effect, I hope to see real progress made in our state towards achieving gender pay equity. I would like to see significant advances in statistics reporting this information. Furthermore, I hope to see our example, as a charter signatory of the compact, inspire similar efforts in other states.”  – Amy N. Iseppi, United States

In 20156, women earned 83 percent of what men earned. Based on this estimate, it would take an extra 44 days of work for women to earn what men did in 2015. The pay gap is even more noticeable for women of color. To be fair, the gender pay gap has dropped from 36 cents in 1980, so progress is being made, especially among young women. For adults ages 25 to 34, women earned 90 cents for every dollar a man in the same age group.

As we #PressforProgress in 2018, it’s important to remember that gender parity won’t happen overnight. But at the same time, it can’t take two centuries. The first International Women’s Day was in 1911, and while the Suffragettes would undoubtedly be proud of how far we’ve come, there’s still a lot more to be done. It’s up to each one of us to press for progress and create lasting change.

1. The Global Gender Gap Report 2017. (2017, November 2). Retrieved March 06, 2018, from

2. Behson, S. (2014, December 05). Flex Time Doesn't Need to Be an HR Policy. Retrieved March 06, 2018, from

3. Parker, K., & Wang, W. (2013, March 13). Modern Parenthood. Retrieved March 06, 2018, from  

4. Getting to gender equality starts with realizing how far we have to go. (n.d.). Retrieved March 06, 2018, from

5. Gallagher, J. (2017, January 27). Girls lose faith in their own talents by the age of six. Retrieved March 06, 2018, from

6. Brown, A., & Patten, E. (2017, April 03). The narrowing, but persistent, gender gap in pay. Retrieved March 06, 2018, from


Topics: Diversity , Gender Wage Gap

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