Sheryl Sandberg on Gender Inequality (2013)

“In 1947, Anita Summers, the mother of my long-time mentor Larry Summers was hired as an economist by the Standard Oil Company. When she accepted the job, her new boss said to her, ‘I am so glad to have you. I figure I am getting the same brains for less money.’ Her reaction to this was to feel flattered. It was a huge compliment to be told she had the same brains as a man. It would have been unthinkable for her to ask for equal compensation. We feel even more grateful when we compare our lives to those of other women around the world. There are still countries that deny women basic civil rights. Worldwide, about 4.4 million women and girls are trapped in the sex trade. In places like Afghanistan and Sudan, girls receive little or no education, wives are treated as the property of their husbands, and women who are raped are routinely cast out of their homes for disgracing their families. Some rape victims are even sent to jail for committing a “moral crime” … The blunt truth is that men still run the world. Of the 195 independent countries of the world, only 17 are led by women. Women hold just 20% of seats in parliaments globally. In the United States, where we pride ourselves on liberty and justice for all, the gender division of leadership roles is not much better. Women became 50% of the college graduates in the United States in the early 1980s. Since then, women have slowly and steadily advanced, earning more and more of the college degrees, taking more of the entry-level jobs, and entering more fields previously dominated by men. Despite these gains, the percentage of women at the top of corporate America has barely budged over the past decade. A meager 21 of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Women hold about 14% of executive officer positions, 17% of board seats, and constitute 18% of our elected congressional officials. The gap is even worse for women of color, who hold just 4% of top corporate jobs, 3% of board seats, and 5% of congressional seats. While women continue to outpace men in educational achievement, we have ceased making real progress at the top of any industry. This means when it comes to making the decisions that most affect our world, women’s voices are not heard equally. Progress remains equally sluggish when it comes to compensation. In 1970, women were paid 59 cents for every dollar their male counterparts made. By 2010, women had protested, fought, and worked their butts off to raise that compensation to 77 cents for every dollar men made. As activist Marlo Thomas wryly joked on Equal Pay Day 2011, “Forty years and 18 cents. A dozen eggs have gone up 10 times that amount.”