To go with the magazine’s cover story on Women and Leadership this week, Newsweek columnist, Anna Quindlen, ponders "Everyday Equality".
She covers the usual suspects juxtaposing Indra Nooyi, who just became the CEO of Pepsi, against the tiny two percent of Fortune 500 companies run by women, and comparing the victory of Katie Couric being appointed the first female sole anchor of a network news broadcast (now that hardly anyone watches those three programs) to the publicity image inanely Photoshopped to make her appear slimmer than she is.
Ms. Quindlen also writes that men now take a larger role in raising the kids even though every survey shows working mothers still do the vast majority of housework and earn about 70 cents for every dollar men do. She says sex crimes and domestic violence are now prosecuted while another story in the same issue tells us that a 2004 Massachusetts survey reported that “54 percent of child custody cases involving documented spousal abuse were decided in favor of the alleged batterers.”
While patting herself on the back for having lobbied The New York Times successfully to remove fashion notes from reports on the campaign of vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, the bland conclusion Ms. Quindlen draws from this is that women now live in a better world.
Well, yes, but only to a point. When the modern women’s movement began more than 40 years ago - 40 years ago - I expected a lot more equality than Ms. Quindlen’s list by the time I was 65 years old. Those of us who burned their bras or marched or lobbied our representatives are old women now, and I could not have guessed that 40 years after we first heard of Gloria Steinem, she and her friends would believe it necessary to found an all-women, talk radio network.
Israel, India, Pakistan, The Phillipines and Finland, among others, elected or appointed their first female heads of state decades ago while a CNN reporter-ette is still, in 2006, asking Senator Hillary Clinton if a woman can be elected president of the U.S.
When I took part yesterday in the first PhoneCon, organized and conducted masterfully for six hours by Jeneane Sessum, we noted at several points that unlike about 98 percent of in-person tech and blog conferences, women on the telephone were the majority. We should be far enough along by now that numbers of men versus women in attendance anywhere is not noteworthy.
I disagree with Ms. Quindlen on “everyday equality.” Progress on some big issues that required legislation have moved forward, but it is a sign of lack of progress in other areas that they are still remarked upon and held up as examples.
We have not nor will we have won equality – the everyday kind that is the measure of success - until it is not necessary to headline the news that a woman has been made CEO of a mega-corporation; until Blogher is considered sexist; until women like Ann Coulter and Nancy Grace, without comment on their gender, have as much right to be blithering idiots on television as men do.
It doesn’t help these goals to have a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist tell us the women’s movement is a success because:
“In 1970, 46 women at this magazine charged it with workplace discrimination; today Newsweek publishes an annual issue on women’s leadership.”
When there is an annual cover story on leadership – with no gender reference - then we will have everyday equality.