Many people are suggesting that the battle for equality is already won, but the reality is we are far from that victory. Sure there have been some amazing advances and in many areas, there is little evidence of blatant inequality, but it’s still there at the higher echelons of society in particular.
It’s just over 50 years now from the time that Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in outer space. She was a member of the Soviet Union’s Vostok mission in 1963. It was just over two years from the time that Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. Of course there was bound to be a gap, there are more male astronauts, two years sounds about right for parity given the circumstances. However it took another 20 years for the next female to travel into space, and to date there are only about 10% of astronauts who are female.
Of course we shouldn’t get too carried away after all it can be argued that there are some physical restrictions on this particular vocation. Many women will probably lack the strength and stamina for the physical demands placed on the body during space travel. However the alarming fact is that this seems to still happen in many other areas of life, involving professions where there are no such physical restrictions.
There’s no need to delve into the facts and figures of appointments of CEOs and board level females, in nearly every situation you’ll find women under represented at this level. When an appointment is made of a high level job, if it happens to be a woman – you’ll see it hit the news. Recent appointments included Inga Beale at Lloyds of London, – the first female boss in the insurance giant’s history.
In the public utility area, perhaps an industry you’d expect to be less dominated by males, the appointment of LIz Garfield as water giant Severn Trent certainly surprised many. She is only one of three women who are in charge of a FTSE 100 company which in itself tells it’s own story. There are many other examples, if you look at almost any industry sector you’ll find a similar story, gender equality simply doesn’t exist at the top levels of most industries.
One area that you may have expected more evidence of equality is in the media and it has to be said that you’ll certainly find more women at the top levels than in many other sectors. Yet it’s still male dominated, I was watching British TV and media online (using this method – http://iplayerusa.org/ and it’s still unusual to see a woman in charge although the UK is often seen as a front runner in women’s rights and equality.