As a child of the 70s, Wonder Woman was a powerful influence in my life. I watched the TV show each week and I had a Wonder Woman lunchbox that I carried with pride. I pretended to be Lynda Carter and dreamed about having her gold cuff bracelets, cool boots, and Lasso of Truth. This weekend, Wonder Woman premiered in theatres with great success and a new generation of young girls will be emboldened by the strength of Wonder Woman.
As a young girl, my parents told me that I could be anything I wanted to be, and yet I was keenly aware that the women I knew were mostly teachers, nurses, or homemakers. I sang “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar” but my teachers emphasized that boys were better than girls at math. I saw yachts at marinas and declared that one day I would own such luxuries, only to have someone ask if I planned to marry a rich man.
I needed Wonder Woman as a role model for me. She fought for justice using strength, morals, and the Lasso of Truth. She was a woman who made a difference in the world.
In my own career, I have seen some prejudices, and I still must call on my inner Wonder Woman occasionally to give me the strength to persevere. I am very aware of the many women who came before me and helped pave the path. Let’s celebrate the accomplishments and milestones of the Wonder Women of Work from 1975 to today.
In 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed as an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, color, national origin, and religion.
In 1993, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed entitling eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons.
In 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed into law giving employees a fair opportunity to pursue a remedy for paycheck discrimination.
Women have increased their presence in the work force from 30.3 million in 1970 to 7 million during 2006-2010.
Approximately 60% of accountants in the U.S. are women per 2006-2010 census data while the 1970 census data shows very little participation of women as accountants. (See, girls are as good as boys at math!)
Females began outpacing males in higher education in the late 1970s and now make up more than 56% of college students.
The American Express study, The State of Women-Owned Businesses in 2016, there are 3 million women owned business in the U.S. employing nearly 9 million people and generating over $1.6 trillion in revenues.
Yet, there is still progress to be made. Women make up 57% of the labor force, yet stillearn 20% less than men. Women own 38% of new businesses, yet only 2-6% receive any venture capital funding. Women account for just 7.5% of top earners and only 3.6% of CEOs in Fortune 500 companies.
As a female business leader and a mother of two bright daughters, I recognize the progress that has been made and that work still needs to be done. I encourage everyone to identify the Wonder Women of their workplaces, celebrate their accomplishments, and continue to push for greater equality overall.
Lee Yarborough and her father, Braxton Cutchin, founded the company in 1996. She has served on the Board of Directors of NAPEO and currently serves as the Chair for the NAPEO Carolinas Leadership Council. In 2015, she was named a Fellow of the eleventh class of the Liberty Fellowship Program and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. Lee also serves on the Executive Board of Public Education Partners and is the founder and director of Read Up Greenville, a young adult and middle grades book festival in downtown Greenville, SC.