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Approaching Critical Mass, Dismantling the Status Quo

10 Reasons to Celebrate on Women’s Equality Day


Photo: Paul Thompson (New York Times, March 27,1921)

By: Maria Ebrahimji, Partner, C5 Collective

August 26, 2019


Today marks 99 years since the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. While many will use this anniversary as an opportunity to underscore what hasn’t yet been accomplished, or what more can be done, or how “unequal” women still are, I’d like to take a moment to celebrate some recent victories and reasons to believe that we’re finally approaching “critical mass” when it comes to women’s representation at some key levels of society:

  1. There are more women in Congress (127, to be exact) than ever before, and among them, a record number of women of color in the House. 

  2. In 2018, more female candidates ran for the U.S. House (476), U.S. Senate (53) and gubernatorial seats (61) than ever before. 

  3. More female candidates also WON elections at record rates: Of the 476 women that ran for a U.S. House seat, 239 won their primaries, breaking the previous record of 167 set in 2016. 22 women received their party's nominee for U.S. Senate, breaking the previous record of 18 set in 2012. And 16 women won nominations for gubernatorial seats in 2018, breaking the previous record of 10 set in 1994 and 2010.

  4. Women now make up 28.9 percent of all state legislators nationwide, an increase from 25.3 percent in 2018 and the most women elected at one time.

  5. And, as of today, there are still six women running for the Democratic nomination for President, the most women who’ve ever run for a major-party nomination in history. 

  6. The six women running for President have also filled nearly 60% of their campaign leadership positions with women, while the top three male presidential candidates have women in more than 50% of their senior leadership roles.  

  7. Heyward Donigan’s appointment as CEO of Rite Aid earlier this month now brings the total number of Fortune 500 female CEOs to 36 - the highest ever. And while the percentage of women holding Fortune 500 board seats seems to be increasing at a glacial pace (currently at 22.5%), the more promising news is the surge of female appointments in the last 2 years: In 2018 183 of the 462 appointments (40%) went to women. 

  8. 27% of all board seats in the S&P 500 are now held by women, an increase of 10% from five years ago. And, as of last month, every S&P 500 now board includes at least one woman—a significant improvement from just 10 years ago, when 56 firms didn’t have a single woman on their boards.  

  9. 40% of the newly elected members of the National Academy of Science are women — the most ever elected in any one year to date. 

  10. The college enrollment rate for high-school graduates is now higher for women than for men; 40% of all MBA graduates in the U.S. are women; and women represent nearly 60% of all global graduates in social science, business and law.

On this day, I’m grateful for all the amazing women—our past and present suffragettes—who individually and collectively contributed to these milestones. Onward!

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