Where are all the women?

Where are all the women?

Women comprise 50% of the population, and yet they are woefully underrepresented in many important areas.

As of October of 2013, according to Fortune, women CEOs lead 22 of the Fortune 500.

Let me do the math: Women represent a paltry 4.4% of CEOs among the Fortune 500.


Things are a bit better in the US Congress. Women make up nearly 18% of the House of Representatives and 20% of the Senate.

I could go on, but I’m not spilling any secrets here. The under-representation of women in science and math is well documented in many places.

There’s a lot of debate of why this is the case; these range from the idea that women somehow have more career options than men to the idea that the female mind is structurally different from that of a man. That latter concept was subscribed to by no less than the former president of Harvard University.  who later went on to defend his statements.

I’d laugh if I weren’t so terrified and heartbroken over the perfect storm of stupidity, condescension and apathy women face in advancing their careers.


For those of you wondering why a guy cares so much about this issue, let me explain.

Let’s look back at some of the greatest and most impressive advances in technology over the past century. Names like Einstein, Edison and Tesla spring to mind. Looking at civil society and the advancement of democracy, one might turn to Roosevelt and Churchill during World War II. At every turn, we conjure men.

When we think of famous historical figures who happened to be women, one might think of Victoria Woodhull, Jane Goodall, Maria Mayer or Elizabeth Cady Stanton. (If you don’t know who these fine ladies are, I strongly suggest you Google them.)

Clearly, the notoriety of the men outweighs that of the women, and one might argue that their accomplishments do, too, but that’s the point.

The genius of an Albert Einstein or the humanity of a Mahatma Gandhi don’t come along every day. Since the Industrial Revolution, human society has produced exactly one of each of these.

It stands to reason that somewhere in the world, there may have been a female counterpart to each of these great men; when we fail to support the advancement of women, the very human condition suffers.

Imagine a world with double the innovation and double the advancement. Going back to the age of the Industrial Revolution (1760 – 1840), doubling our output means that penicillin might have been invented closer to 1828, rather than 1928. Electricity would have become common in homes by the 1850s, rather than the 1950s. The Internet might have been invented by the early 1900s, and we can only guess where society would be today.

At any rate, that’s why I care about the advancement of women in society, and why I hope you care, too.

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