"I wonder if when I am under the sod—or cremated and floating in the air—I shall have to stir
you and others up. How can you not be all on fire? ...I really believe I shall explode if some of you young women don't wake up."
Anthony died on March 13, 1906. 2006 marked 100 years since she left her life's dreams in our hands. Would she still feel a need to stir us up?
In 2006, we sponsored programs and events throughout the region to examine where we started, celebrate how far we've come and work to clear remaining barriers to women's progress.
Women in the 21st Century: Where Are We Now?
A century later, the best evidence is that we're not there yet. Women are just 15.1% of 535 members of Congress (www.cawp.rutgers.edu) and hold 15.7% of the Fortune 500's corporate officer positions (www.catalyst.org). In New York's county legislatures and city councils, women hold 17.8% of elected positions. (See ACWL survey, Where Are the Women? (pdf).)
Anthony also fought long and hard for co-education, finally winning women admission to the University of Rochester in 1900. As much as she wanted women to realize all their gifts, she wanted even more to transform men's relationship to women by eliminating stereotypes. Educating women alongside men would mean that, "man may learn from boyhood that woman is his intellectual equal and no longer look upon her as inferior."
Today's good news is that women and men have equal access to higher education. In fact, women are a majority of undergraduate classes and, according to the National Science Foundation, for the first time in 2001-02, American women earned more doctorates than American men.
As the Chronicle of Higher Education reported in 2004, "At first glance, higher education today might seem like a woman's world." But, "The higher up the academic-prestige ladder a university is, the fewer women it usually has in tenured faculty positions. Research released this year shows that while the nation is doing a good job of turning out women with research doctorates, the top 50 institutions in research spending are not doing such a good job of hiring them." (Chronicle of Higher Education, "Where the Elite Teach, It's Still a Man's World," by Robin Wilson, December 3, 2004.)
The Chronicle article speculates, "Some professors contend that although blatant sex discrimination appears to be a thing of the past, a complicated array of subtle biases still keeps women out of top institutions."
2005 research by Catalyst, "Women 'Take Care,' Men 'Take Charge" (pdf) looks further into the "subtle biases": "women and men senior executives have the same ambition and employ similar success strategies; yet, the gender gap in business leadership persists. Why? Women executives report that they face an additional layer of cultural and environmental barriers. Chief among these is stereotyping"
Anthony once commented that even after laws had been changed to enfranchise woman, "ancient prejudices" might keep her from standing equally beside man. If her spirit has escaped the sod of Mt. Hope Cemetery, maybe she's the one inspiring more of us to understand the more subtle mechanisms that keep women from leading.
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