Women and Work

July 26, 2013 • Volume 23, Issue 27
Has the feminist movement achieved workplace equality?
By Michelle Johnson


Mary L. Schapiro (Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla)
Former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary L. Schapiro (2009–2012) ranks among the highest-level female officials to have served in the federal government. Since the feminist movement began a half-century ago, women have risen to some of the nation's highest government and corporate levels. Still, career-oriented women face formidable workplace and cultural barriers. (Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla)

In the 50 years since author Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique helped spark the feminist movement, American women have made phenomenal gains. Women now comprise more than half of the U.S. workforce, earn half of college degrees and hold half of management and professional jobs. Yet relatively few have gained top executive and political leadership positions, and women still earn less than men for comparable work. Moreover, flexible work arrangements, paid family leave and other accommodations designed to relieve domestic pressures shouldered largely by women remain elusive. Some argue that women have limited their own progress in the quest for full equality — the controversial argument of a recent book by Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg. But others say persistent cultural and economic barriers are the main reasons the feminist movement remains a work in progress a half-century after it began.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Women and Work
Jul. 02, 2021  Women in the Workplace
Nov. 08, 2019  The Gender Pay Gap
Oct. 27, 2017  Workplace Sexual Harassment
Jul. 26, 2013  Women and Work
Apr. 14, 2006  Future of Feminism
Apr. 04, 2003  Mothers' Movement
Sep. 25, 1992  Women in the Military
May 10, 1985  Women's Economic Equity
Jul. 10, 1981  Women in the Military
Mar. 20, 1981  Equal Pay Fight
Jul. 04, 1980  Women in the Executive Suite
Jul. 13, 1979  Two-Income Families
Feb. 18, 1977  Women in the Work Force
Feb. 13, 1957  Woman's Place in the Economy
Apr. 22, 1944  Women Workers After the War
Jan. 26, 1942  Women in War Work
Jul. 13, 1926  Sex Equality and Protective Laws
Employee Benefits
Equal Employment Opportunity & Discrimination
Women in the Workplace
Work and the Family