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Is this the century of women? Tom Brokaw says yes

Tom Brokaw

Each generation in American history has experienced revolutionary changes and monumental events that have shaped our society and country as a whole.

I’ve often wondered: What will be the revolutionary change of my generation?

As sci-fi predicted, the modern world is fast-paced and technologically based. The “traditional” family makes up less than 25 percent of the country due to an increasingly career-focused generation.

Since the repercussions of 9/11, our nation seems to be facing what will one day be known as “The Great Recession.” Perhaps it is this economic decline that has so effectively motivated the children of the 21st century to find success in the workforce.

However, our country may be facing social issues much greater than those of a fiscal nature. Despite the revolutionary path paved in the 60s for women’s rights, women of our generation are still facing the challenge to break down equality barriers – particularly in the workforce.

Women today make up only 14.3 percent of the executive officers in Fortune 500 companies. The U.S. Department of Education data shows that despite having earned higher college GPAs, young women will make just 80 percent of the average salary of their male counterparts.

According to a new Catalyst study, women with MBA’s make $4,600 less per year than men during their first job out of business school. Full-time working women make 77 cents to the male dollar. I believe the unequal pay between men and women accounts for the financial struggle in nearly every American household, especially those led by single mothers.

Throughout the history of woman’s suffrage, women have broken down social and political barriers of inequality. But now, women continue to battle feminist discrepancies, and it’s shown on their paystubs.

Who will be the Susan B. Anthony of my generation? Who will take the place of the hundreds of female factory workers who were beaten by officers while picketing for their rights during the Industrial Revolution?

One of the biggest challenges we face today is recognizing the many subtle signs of sexism in our society.

Deeply-rooted cultural issues do not simply disappear in a single century.

On April 2, I had the privilege of hearing half a century’s worth of American history through the eyes and ears of Tom Brokaw. The distinguished television journalist took the Mabee Center stage put on by the Tulsa Business Forum and Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business.

With a woman recently named head of the secret service and a woman named head of IBM, Brokaw believes “this will be the century of women.”

In Washington, D.C., women hold eight of the Obama administration’s 22 Cabinet positions. Four of the eight Supreme Court justices are women. Women today are the presidents of many Ivy League schools including Harvard, Princeton, Brown and the University of Pennsylvania.

“I believe at the end of the 21st century, we will look back and say that was the time that gender bias faded, ” Brokaw said. “Maybe not completely, but it’s going to take all of us, whatever our gender, to get through the difficult challenges before us that began so long ago.”

In 1848, around 300 women with visionary hope for the nation’s future met for the Seneca Falls Convention in New York. The National Archives commissioned their script entitled “Failure is Impossible.” It is my hope that we look toward the future of our nation with this same courage.

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