Why Bill SB-826 Is a Step Forward In Gender Equality

According to the World Economic Forum, globally, the average gender gap is at 68.0%, which means that we still have about 32.0% to close. Across the 106 countries that this annual report covers, projections show an average estimate of 108 years needed to close the gender gaps, with the economic gap expected to take much longer at 202 years. Although these numbers seem discouraging, it is important to focus on the positive changes that have happened thus far and will continue to happen as the feminist movement moves forward. One of these positive changes is California Bill SB-826 that requires public companies’ boardrooms to include at least one woman.  

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According to CBS News, 94 Californian companies will need to add at least one woman to their boards since they currently lack female representation. These companies have until the 2021 deadline to make this change or else they will be fined. Skechers, the footwear company, is one of the largest companies who will need to name women to its board by 2021. Since their board is relatively large (six or more members), they will be required to add at least three women to their board.

While this bill has been met by a lot of criticism from people who think that this will result in inexperienced, unqualified women being placed into positions of power, in many instances, it is not a lack of qualifications that has kept them from being promoted in the first place. Women are often seen as the “weaker” gender—less cutthroat and more submissive. Because of these gender stereotypes, large corporations are less likely to promote them and more likely to keep them from having seats at the table.

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If Bill SB-826 continues on its path, it will highlight the underrepresentation of women on corporate boards and showcase the lack of gender diversity in corporate America. This will hopefully open more dialogues on the gender gap in the United States, wage inequality and gender diversity in the workplace. But just because this bill is a step forward doesn’t mean that we should just wait for the next one to help push the movement along. We, as women, need to help ourselves and fight for equal rights. We should not be passively waiting for companies to make their own pushes for gender equality or laws to help us get there. Instead, we should make a demand for our rights and a push for what we deserve. In corporate America, female talent goes largely undeveloped and unused. Women, therefore, must step up for themselves and push to have their voices heard and represented in their industries.  

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As college women, laws like this will help us by opening doors, but we cannot rely on laws to create opportunities for us. We must break the glass ceilings for ourselves and take what we deserve. We have to break down the gender stereotypes even as so many of us go into male-dominated fields where as you look further up the chain of command, you see less and less female representation. Companies should be required to judge applicants and employees on merit and qualifications alone, but the fact remains that a resume with the name John Smith will still get more interviews than one with the name Jane Smith.  

Women, especially in our generation, need to bring their diverse experiences forward. We are the ones who represent the future, and we need to stand up for what we deserve. With two years before every California-headquartered Russell 3000 stock index company needs to have at least one woman on their board, we can contintue to push forward so that we can work to close the gender gap sooner, rather than later.