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On the ICONMA blog, we’ve discussed various topics around the theme of women in the workplace. In addition, we’ve dived into the history of iconic female figures in different industries, including the business world and women in STEM.
Another important topic of conversation is how a woman’s role in the workplace has changed throughout the generations and how these changes have affected women in the workforce. As healthcare, technology, engineering, and other industries continue to evolve, women have more opportunities to pursue careers across all sectors. Many people might not know that women went before us, paving the way for what we have today.
Women in the modern workplace started having more control over their day-to-day lives after the 1960s and 1970s. Until then, women were largely excluded from the workplace. However, the 1950s was a revolutionary time for the role of women in society. Women began entering the workforce to boost family income and start fulfilling careers. A working wife was something virtually unheard of in previous decades.
Women in the workforce led to an increase in women pursuing higher education and post-secondary education. By 1960, 35% of women held a bachelor’s degree and 10% held doctorates. With Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act in 1963 (ERISA), women gained more support. Since then, the workforce began to see a change in women’s roles, with more and more women entering different industries.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that women began to have more authority than they had over the previous twenty years. Women were supported to leave the house and venture into public offices to be employed as lawyers, doctors, and other professionals. As the 1980s progressed and women continued gaining ability in the workplace, more female executives were involved. In 1989, women held about 40% of executive positions.
The 90s saw an increase in women entering the field of healthcare. During this decade, women were breaking out of their traditional and expected roles and breaking gender barriers in different career paths. For example, the first female heart surgeon was hired in 1992. The 90s also saw a rise in female nurses and physicians. In 1992, women were only 18% of all physicians but this number jumps to 25% in six years. There have been many changes over the last few decades, and much progress has been made. These changes have affected the workplace in a lot of ways. For example, introducing insurance companies’ hiring quotas resulted in more women hired by those companies.
In the 2000s, women continued to follow their passions, becoming lawyers, teachers, and nurses. This decade saw an increase in women and girls entering STEM fields. The start of the 21st century also saw more women entering the tech industry. In 2001, women held about 50% of professional-level jobs in the healthcare industry. Networking technologies increased the ease and flexibility of working remotely. This new technology created many opportunities for women worldwide, especially in developing countries.
Fortunately, there has been a lot of progress in women’s rights and equality. As women break down gender barriers, expectations for women’s roles in the workplace continue to change. There are more opportunities for women to pursue professions other than traditional ones. More and more, women are being seen as equals. They are breaking into fields that have previously been male-dominated. Women continue to grow and prosper, becoming role models for the younger generations and inspiring them to follow their dreams so that they can succeed in their future careers.
March 17, 2023