Fuente: Harvard Business Review
Autor: Melinda Gates
In January 2010, Rosie the Riveter appeared in the mailbox of my home near Seattle, flexing her iconic bicep on the cover of the Economist. The cover story struck a triumphant tone, reporting, “At a time when the world is short of causes for celebration, here is a candidate: Within the next few months women will cross the 50% threshold and become the majority of the American workforce.” To mark the occasion, the magazine revised Rosie’s famous call to action from “We can do it!” to “We did it!”
As much as I appreciated Rosie’s enthusiasm, her declaration of victory felt premature. Even though American women did reach that 50% threshold in 2010 (and currently comprise 49.8% of the nonfarm workforce), the same old inequalities have simply followed us to new places. We still aren’t earning as much, rising as high, or having an equal voice in decision-making.
Across all aspects of American life, it is most often men who set policy, allocate resources, lead companies, shape markets, and determine whose stories get told. Meanwhile, what gains have been made typically haven’t extended to all women. The women historically the most marginalized in this country — including women of color, poor women, and lesbian and trans women — are still the most likely to be trapped in minimum-wage jobs, the least likely to hold managerial roles, and the most likely to face sexual harassment and gender-based violence.
The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index measures gender equality based on women’s representation in the workforce and public office, as well as health and education outcomes. According to WEF’s projections, at the current rate of change the United States is still 208 years away from achieving gender equality (compared with Canada’s projected 51-year timeline and the United Kingdom’s 74-year timeline to close their gender gaps). Despite the frustrating pace of progress — or maybe because of it — something fundamental has begun to shift in the United States and around the world. Women are sharing their stories, marching, walking out, running for office, and winning elections in record numbers. The media is amplifying their voices and asking hard questions of the institutions that continue to lock women out. Business leaders are under new pressure to demonstrate that their companies care about gender equality and are committed to being part of the solution. Global leaders are now expected to have answers about how women and girls fit into their agendas.
The unprecedented energy and attention around gender equality makes this a moment when extraordinary progress is possible — and bold, ambitious goals are appropriate. We shortchange women if we set our sights too low. Aiming for parity in the workforce is not enough. Attempting to address intractable problems like harassment and pay disparities piecemeal — without recognizing that they are all parts of a broader whole — is not enough either. In order to seize this opportunity, we have to define our goals thoughtfully.
I believe our goal should be to expand women’s power and influence in society. I think of power and influence as the ability to make decisions, control resources, and shape perspectives. It is something women exercise in their homes, in their workplaces, and in their communities. I recognize that “power and influence” are not words we have historically associated with women — nor are they words that all women associate with themselves. I also acknowledge that because of my family’s wealth, I have access to certain kinds of power and influence that very few people do. Still, I use these words, imperfect and imprecise though they are, because they are the best way I know to describe what men in this country — in particular, white men — have long had that women have not.
Expanding women’s power and influence will require many things — perhaps most important, strategic capital and stakeholder collaboration. Efforts to promote gender equality have been chronically underfunded in the United States. For example, data from Candid’s Foundation Directory Online suggests that private donors give $9.27 to higher education and $4.85 to the arts for every $1 given to women’s issues. If we want to see results, more philanthropists, venture capitalists, businesses, and policy makers need to be willing to invest in gender-focused interventions. They also need to be willing to work together, both with one another and with others who are already mobilized — from the organizations that have been working on these issues for years to the more than 4 million women who have joined women’s marches across 600 cities since 2017.
My team at Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company I founded in 2015, works to drive social progress for women and families in the United States. Our research suggests that new investment and energy should be channeled into three high-leverage interventions: dismantling the most pervasive barriers to women’s professional advancement, fast-tracking women in the sectors with outsize impact on our society, and amplifying external pressure on the institutions that can reinvent the status quo. Using this three-pronged strategy we can accelerate the pace of progress and achieve measurable results by 2030.
What does success look like? It is a future in which women create a larger share of the content in our news, entertainment, and public dialogue; enter lucrative, fast-growing sectors in greater numbers and are promoted within them; hold more senior executive roles in organizations across the public, private, and social sectors; and share caregiving and other responsibilities with men more equally. At a fundamental level, it’s a future in which an increased number of Americans want women to exert greater power and influence in our society.
STRATEGY 1: DISMANTLE BARRIERS
Our analysis suggests that many people believe gender inequalities in professional advancement are a reflection of women’s own choices — not evidence of an unequal system. But history demonstrates that women’s choices are often constrained by their options. For example, my mother, like most women of her generation, didn’t attend college or have a career. Like many women of my generation, I did. That almost certainly had less to do with my own abilities or ambitions — or choices, for that matter — than it did with a law known as Title IX.
Title IX is the landmark civil rights legislation passed in 1972 that banned discrimination on the basis of sex by federally funded educational institutions (which, in practice, is almost all of them). The law’s impact on women’s roles in American society is hard to overstate. Over the past five decades, the percentage of women with a college degree has more than tripled. And not only are more women earning degrees, they’re also earning them in more lucrative fields. Before Title IX, graduate programs in specialized fields like law, medicine, and engineering often used quotas to cap the number of women they admitted. As a result, few women became lawyers, doctors, and engineers. Of course, that wasn’t because women didn’t choose to enter those fields; it’s because discriminatory policies and practices ensured that they couldn’t.
Institutions today are no longer allowed to openly discriminate on the basis of sex. The barriers women face today are therefore harder to see and in some ways harder to fight. To shine a light on the most pervasive and pernicious of them — the ones most harmful to women’s professional advancement — my team and I dug into demographic data, population surveys, and academic literature. Our research suggests that three barriers in particular block women from power and influence. Here’s how we can confront them head-on.
Challenge stereotypical representations. From our televisions to our textbooks, the stories we’re told about power and influence almost always center on men — and, most often, white men. Women in movies and TV are significantly less likely to be depicted as professionals, and female characters who have jobs are six times more likely to be secretaries than men are. What’s more, we’re told that this is how the world has always been. Fewer than 3% of the words in history textbooks are specifically about women, and only 5% of all images of historical figures in textbooks are women of color.
All these inputs shape how we see ourselves, each other, and the world. For example, one recent study found that by the time children are six years old, they already tend to guess that a story about “a really, really smart person” is about a man, not a woman. If you associate smartness with men, and you’re not a man, then you might think certain career paths are less available to you. But studies have also found that it’s possible to disrupt these norms. After being shown TV clips featuring women in STEM, young girls asked to draw a scientist are 150% more likely than girls not shown the clips to draw a woman. Women exposed to ads that depict women in nonstereotypical roles are more likely to report that they aspire to future leadership positions.
Companies can help by waking up to the fact that telling new and better stories about women is smart business. Consider the entertainment industry. One measure of a movie’s treatment of women characters is the “Bechdel test,” which looks for whether, at any point in the film, two women appear onscreen having a conversation about anything other than a man. It also seems to be linked to profitability. A study released last year found that for every major budget category from 2014 to 2017, movies that passed the Bechdel test made more money, on average, than films that failed the test. Moreover, all of the movies that have exceeded $1 billion in revenue since 2012 pass the Bechdel test. Entertainment executives willing to back projects with strong female characters are not only making women more visible; they’re also positioning themselves to see strong financial returns.
Other industries can address this problem in their own ways. For example, textbook companies can launch initiatives to diversify the content and images in their next editions, and philanthropists and venture capitalists can help incubate and scale up journalism organizations committed to hiring reporters of diverse backgrounds to report on issues disproportionately impacting women. The stories we encounter on the screen and the page shouldn’t reflect society’s existing prejudices; they should challenge them.
End sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Although sexual harassment, discrimination, and violence are nothing new, the survivor-driven #MeToo movement has highlighted both the enormous scope of these problems and their tremendous cost to society. As many as 85% of women experience sexual harassment in their lifetimes, and its impact on their power and influence is ruinous. For example, women are more likely to be sexually harassed if they work in a male-dominated field, which may be one of the factors driving women toward less-lucrative female-dominated ones. And 80% of women who report being sexually harassed leave their job within two years, which disrupts the continuity that is often critical to professional advancement. (Most CEOs spend 15 years at their companies before earning that title.)
Companies are under significant pressure to signal that they are taking this problem seriously. However, many leaders are finding little guidance or evidence about what actually works to reduce sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. An important way they can demonstrate their commitment to being part of the solution is to help build that knowledge — for example, by commissioning studies to test workplace interventions and broadly disseminating best practices.
Of course, not all women work in corporate offices that are taking steps to improve their workplace cultures. Many go to work every day in much riskier environments: the restaurant server who relies on tips and can’t afford to offend the customer whose advances make her uncomfortable, the masseuse who finds herself alone with an aggressive client, the farm worker whose immigration status makes reporting her mistreatment more dangerous.
That’s why it’s so important that companies, philanthropists, and activists follow the lead of organizations such as TIME’S UP and the Collaborative for Women’s Safety and Dignity, both of which are committed to fighting for equity for every woman in the workforce. TIME’S UP is partnering with major organizations like the National Women’s Law Center and the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team to promote an unprecedented policy and advocacy agenda to expand rights and protections for women, whether they work in the C-suite or on the factory floor. The Collaborative for Women’s Safety and Dignity is focused on ensuring that survivors of sexual harassment — and women of color in particular — have a central role in creating solutions to end gender-based violence in the workplace. The Collaborative’s early ideas include building an evidence-based communications hub to help drive more-effective messaging, and seeding and scaling data-driven programs that develop leadership capacity among survivor-led movements.
Help employees manage work and caregiving. American children are typically let out of school around 3 PM. Yet their parents typically can’t leave work until at least 5 PM. This is just one example of the many ways, big and small, that our society is still built on the outdated and inaccurate assumption that most families live in two-parent heterosexual households in which dad is the breadwinner and mom is the full-time caregiver. To the extent that Americans ever fit that norm (many women, especially women of color, have long had to work for an income whether they wanted to or not), they certainly don’t anymore.
Most women in the U.S. now work full-time, but we still spend roughly twice as many hours on caregiving as men do. Seventy-five percent of mothers have passed up work opportunities, switched jobs, or left the workforce because of childcare responsibilities. Mothers are three times as likely as fathers to quit their jobs to take care of children or other family members. Over 60% of nonemployed women cite family responsibilities as the reason they’re not working. One-third of Baby Boomer women care for an elderly parent, and 11% of them have left the workforce to provide full-time care.
It doesn’t help that the United States is the only developed nation without a federal paid family and medical leave policy. Paid leave not only improves health outcomes for women and children, strengthens families’ economic security, and encourages men to become more active caregivers; it also helps keep women in the workforce. One study found that among U.S. companies that have expanded paid leave, the attrition of new mothers has dropped by as much as 50%.
Several states have passed new paid-leave laws — most recently Washington, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Oregon, and Washington, DC — suggesting that momentum in this area is building. But even in states without such laws, many companies are pioneering new family-friendly policy standards and contributing to the growing body of evidence that helping women manage work and caregiving benefits employers and employees alike.
Introducing new policies is a first step — and an important one. But companies also have to change workplace norms so that employees feel empowered to take advantage of the new benefits. If and when a national paid-leave law passes, it will still be up to businesses to incorporate it into their culture and signal to employees that they can and should use it without penalty.
STRATEGY 2: FAST-TRACK ADVANCEMENT
Last year, the New York Times published an article that opened with this depressing observation: “In the corridors of American power, it can be as easy to find a man named John as it is to find a woman.” One of the investigation’s most memorable conclusions was that, in 2018, there were more men named James on the Fortune 500 List of CEOs than there were women. Although the percentage of female CEOs went up slightly in 2019, only one of the women on the Fortune list of 500 is a woman of color. Not 1%. One woman.
Of course, it’s no coincidence that America is disproportionately run by men named John and James — it always has been. Eight of the 56 signatories of the Declaration of Independence and seven of the 39 signatories of the Constitution were Johns or Jameses. The system we live and work in was created by and for them. Instead of waiting for the country’s most powerful and influential industries to overcome centuries of history on their own, we must find ways to fast-track women’s entry into and advancement in key sectors.
To determine which industries to prioritize, my team and I compared sectors on the basis of six factors. We used four quantitative metrics: size of the sector, growth rate, average compensation, and gender gap in leadership roles. We also used two qualitative metrics: visibility (the extent to which the sector and its leadership influence public discourse and narratives across society) and reach (the extent to which firms or leaders within the sector materially affect the way other sectors in the economy operate and behave). Our analysis yielded six priority sectors: public office, tech, academia, media, investing, and entrepreneurship.
Why start by focusing on just a few sectors, instead of trying to fast-track women in all industries simultaneously? We believe that targeting the country’s most powerful and influential sectors will have a ripple effect across society — ultimately accelerating progress for women who work in other industries (or do not work at all) as well. If we were to spread our efforts and funding evenly across all sectors, we’d be likely to see an incremental improvement pattern similar to that which prevails today. Here are two key ways to fast-track women’s advancement in them.
Open new pathways into priority sectors. In the not-so-distant past, companies and industries with large gender gaps and little interest in closing them simply threw up their hands and blamed the “pipeline.” We don’t hire more women, they’d argue, because there aren’t enough qualified women candidates. We now understand that pipelines into male-dominated industries have historically produced male candidates because, intentionally or not, they were designed that way. For example, the traditional pipeline into tech works best for people who discover their interest in computer science early in life. That’s fine for boys, who tend to become interested in computing at a young age through their love of video games. It works less well for girls, who typically discover their passion for the subject later. The result: Women earn only 19% of computer science degrees, and most of those degrees are going to white and Asian women.
As we think about how to change the face of key industries, we should be thinking about replacing traditional pipelines that have benefitted men disproportionately with a system of pathways that creates new entry points. Instead of assuming that everyone is going to naturally arrive at the same opening of the same pipeline, we should create opportunities for more people from different backgrounds to enter these fields in different ways and at different times in their lives.
We also need to understand that when interventions to create new entry points are designed without regard for gender or race, they risk simply retrenching old inequalities and privileging the people who have historically been most privileged. That’s why we should design these new entry points to prioritize people who are most marginalized by existing systems. For example, as I mentioned, the majority of women earning computer science degrees are white and Asian. Although black, Latinx, and Native American women make up roughly 16% of the population, they’re graduating with only 4% of computing degrees. To help create new pathways into the field with these women in mind, I joined with more than a dozen leading tech companies to form the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition, committing to doubling the number of black, Latinx, and Native American women graduating with computing degrees by 2025. The Coalition’s early investments include an initiative called Women in Technology and Entrepreneurship in New York (known as WiTNY), which encourages young women to consider careers in the field in part by enlisting local tech firms to offer students internships and, over holiday breaks, “winternships.” By requiring that these internships and “winternships” be paid, WiTNY ensures that they’re a viable option for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds.
American politics is another sector in need of new entry points for women. At the present rate, women are at least 60 years away from parity in Congress. Women hold only 24% of seats in the Senate and House of Representatives. Twenty-six states have never elected a woman of color to Congress, and 20 have never had a woman serve as governor.
When you look at the data, though, you see that the problem isn’t that women don’t win; it’s that they are less likely to run. Even in the 2018 midterm elections, which sent a record-breaking number of women to Congress, 77% of candidates who filed to run for Congress were men. Individuals and organizations spend millions of dollars each cycle to elect women, but the overwhelming majority of that money is going to help individual women win individual campaigns. Only a small fraction is invested in building the infrastructure to encourage more women to run for office in the first place. To change the face of government, we need to build and strengthen the capacity of organizations such as She Should Run, Women’s Public Leadership Network, and New American Leaders. These organizations, and others, are using nontraditional avenues to recruit women candidates from all walks of life — liberals, moderates, conservatives, women of color, immigrants — to enter public service. For example, the Women’s Public Leadership Network is testing whether partnering with chambers of commerce, realtors’ associations, and American Farm Bureaus can help identify women who are already active in their communities to encourage them to consider running for office.
Their methods are each a little different, but their overall guiding principle is the same: If we simply wait for women to achieve equal power and influence through the old pipeline — one they’re less likely to enter than men are — we are going to be waiting a long time.
Support women’s career advancement. Of course, it’s not enough to get women onto a career path if they aren’t empowered to succeed once they’re there. The data tells us that across all the sectors I mentioned, women have less access to networks, mentors, sponsors, and capital. That means, compared with their male colleagues, women have less of just about every kind of support they need to get ahead.
Let’s go back to tech a moment. This work is personal to me: I studied computer science in college and spent almost a decade working at Microsoft. But you don’t have to have a computer science degree to have a stake in closing the sector’s gender gap. What happens in that sector touches all of us. Tech is defining the frontiers of health and medicine. It is transforming the relationship between citizens and government. It is enabling employers and employees to reimagine the future of work. It is essential in disseminating knowledge, bringing people together, and driving innovation across the economy. As long as women are locked out of the tech sector, they will not have equal power and influence in shaping the future.
Yet women are not only less likely to enter tech, they are less likely to stay in the field. According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, in 2017 women held only 26% of jobs in the computing workforce. Part of the problem, as I mentioned, is that the pipeline into tech doesn’t serve women well. But women who make it into the industry tend to leave at more than twice the rate that men do. The Kapor Center, an organization dedicated to diversity in tech, commissioned the Tech Leavers study in 2017, a “first of its kind national study examining why people voluntarily left their jobs in tech.” The study found that workplace culture plays a significant role in driving turnover — especially for women and underrepresented minorities. Nearly two-thirds of the 2,000 respondents indicated that they would have stayed in their jobs had their employers fixed their culture. The study also found that culture problems are expensive — costing the industry more than $16 billion each year.
Iris Bohnet, a behavioral economist at the Harvard Kennedy School, has worked with researchers, startups, and established companies — including tech companies — to identify best practices for overcoming bias in hiring, talent management, entrepreneurship, and workplace culture. She and her team have compiled 10 evidence-based recommendations for businesses looking to debias their workplaces. One of these recommendations calls for using targets and transparency to close pay gaps. Another suggests allocating work more intentionally so that all employees have the same chance to showcase their skills before senior leadership and participate in the high-profile work that will position them for promotion.
Bohnet’s research also suggests that managers make less-biased decisions about promotions and job assignments when, instead of evaluating candidates individually, they make “bundle decisions” — that is, considering several candidates for a position or promotion at the same time. When candidates are evaluated individually, gender bias is more likely to come into play. But when candidates are compared against one another, they are more likely to be evaluated on factors such as past performance.
After Bohnet presented these findings on “bundle decisions” to the Nobel Prize committees, in February 2018, the organization changed the way it solicited prize nominations, asking nominators to submit as many as three candidates for consideration instead of just one. It’s probably no coincidence that, when the 2018 laureates were announced that fall, it was the first time that two women won Nobel Prizes in sciences in one year.
In addition to designing bias out of existing systems, we can also accelerate progress by creating new and better ones. As the tech industry expands beyond Silicon Valley to cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, and Pittsburgh, nothing says these emerging hubs have to replicate Silicon Valley’s inequalities. If they act swiftly to make women’s representation and inclusion a priority as they grow, they may, in fact, be able to play an outsize role in closing tech’s gender gap. WiTNY, which I mentioned earlier, is already laying the groundwork to scale its model in communities across the country, with plans to partner with tech companies, universities, and innovation ecosystems to shape inclusive norms and practices that will enable more women technologists to advance.
If tech is the foundation for the future, then a more equitable tech can be the foundation for a future that is more equitable, too.
STRATEGY 3: AMPLIFY EXTERNAL PRESSURE
In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama repeatedly insisted on the campaign trail that he opposed marriage equality. “I believe,” he told the Saddleback Presidential Forum, “that marriage is the union between a man and a woman.” Public opinion polls at the time confirmed that most of the country agreed with him. By 2012, however, the landscape had changed. President Obama told ABC’s Robin Roberts, “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” Three years later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that marriage is a civil right belonging to all couples. By then, polls showed that the majority of Americans agreed with the Court. In relatively short order, public opinion and public policy shifted — far and fast.
One of the engines propelling the issue forward was an organization called the Civil Marriage Collaborative. Founded in 2004 by a group of philanthropic foundations, it worked with 26 national LGBTQ leaders to create a coordinated strategy around marriage equality. The Collaborative didn’t create anything new, nor did it replace the organizations that had been working on the issue for a long time. It simply offered a mechanism for the organizations already on the ground to work together and provided flexible, patient capital so that they could implement their strategy.
Over the course of a decade, the Collaborative spent more than $150 million in 30 states to apply pressure in the courts, in the media, in statehouses, and on the streets. In the end, it applied so much external pressure so effectively that the leaders surprised even themselves. The goal they set in 2004 was full marriage equality in 10 states by 2020; they beat their target by five years and 40 states.
There’s a lesson to be learned here about the catalytic effect of coordination. Those of us eager to increase women’s power and influence can’t rely on other people’s sense of ethics or self-interest. We need to amplify the pressure they’re feeling. Three constituencies — shareholders, consumers, and employees — hold disproportionate influence over institutions. By mobilizing they can translate that influence into targeted pressure.
Shareholders. Shareholder activism is one area where I see a lot of untapped potential. For example, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board recently used its power as a shareholder by threatening to vote to oust current board members of companies in its portfolio that had no women on the board. Within a year, half of the 45 firms in question had responded by appointing at least one woman. And shareholder activism doesn’t have to stop at the composition of boards of directors. Investors’ votes can push companies to enact sweeping changes to improve gender equality, such as increasing transparency about pay and promotions.
Consumers. Individuals can use their daily purchasing decisions to reward companies that are part of the solution and punish those that aren’t. In 2017, Uber lost 10% of its market share in less than a year, following accusations that it had attempted to capitalize on a taxi-driver strike and a #deleteuber campaign that gained traction. If consumers start or stop buying on the basis of a company’s record on supporting women’s power and influence, corporate behavior will change.
To that end, several organizations are now publishing data about companies’ records on gender equality. For example, one app, Gender Fair, assigns grades across four categories: representation of women in leadership positions, gender gap in pay and benefits, portrayal of women in advertising, and corporate philanthropy focused on gender equality. Using this information, consumers are able to hold the companies they buy from accountable.
Employees. Finally, employees can work together to change their employers’ behavior. Consider the recent employee walkout at Google, which was spurred by revelations that top executives accused of sexual harassment had been rewarded with generous severance packages. Some 20,000 employees in 50 cities participated in the walkouts, forcing the company to reevaluate how it handles sexual harassment claims.
Each of these types of external pressure can impact the behavior of major institutions. What we have yet to see is pressure being applied in concert to advance the needs of women. A company facing negative press, a shareholder insurgency, a consumer boycott, and an employee walkout would have very little choice but to respond to demands that it find ways to increase women’s power and influence.
One of the most important tools for creating this synergy is data. Right now, however, there’s not enough of it, especially when it comes to gender. In my global health work, I know exactly where to go for data: the Centers for Disease Control, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, and the World Health Organization. But when it comes to gender data in the United States, advocates and activists must cobble together highly limited and often incomplete data sets and rely on extrapolations to fill gaps. Philanthropic funders have a big role to play here, I believe. Imagine if we had a WHO for gender data: a centralized, institutional home dedicated to the collection and analysis of comprehensive, accurate gender data of all types. It would help more people see clearly where inequalities lie and ensure that they have the information they need to take action.
Philanthropic and private capital can help create the conditions for people across sectors to come together and demand change. When those demands are loud and clear enough, when the pressure is turned up high enough, that’s when old walls that have long seemed rock-solid can start to crumble.
WE CAN DO IT. WILL WE?
We have been waiting to knock down those walls for a very long time. In the earliest days of our democracy, Abigail Adams urged the architects of the Constitution to “remember the ladies,” warning that women would not “hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.” In the decade before the Civil War, Sojourner Truth called upon equal rights activists to be more inclusive of women of color — reminding anyone who saw her only as a former slave: “I am a woman’s rights.” At the turn of the 20th century, Emma Lazarus helped shape our nation’s self-image by crafting the lines of poetry that have greeted generations of immigrant families arriving at Ellis Island “yearning to breathe free.”
All these women contributed to the vision of a better, more equal version of our country that we are still working toward today. But none of them — not Abigail, not Sojourner, not Emma, not the millions of brave women whose names we’ll never know, not Rosie the Riveter herself — had the opportunity that we have now to accelerate the pace of change and bend the curve. If we don’t seize this opportunity, it could take 208 years to get to equality. We’d be closing in on Abigail Adams’s 500th birthday. Equality can’t wait that long.
Like a lot of people, I’ve been thinking about what my role in this moment is — both through my international work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and through my company, Pivotal Ventures. I am committed to using the power and influence I have to promote gender equality around the world and expand the power and influence of women in the United States. And I know I’m not alone. Far from it.
Readers of Harvard Business Review have many roles to play in driving progress toward a better, more equal future for women in this country. You are senior executives, entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors; bosses, board members, and shareholders; media audiences and voters; employees, consumers, and family members. Every single one of these positions affords you — affords us — an opportunity to recognize the failures of the system, name them, and contribute to changing them.
This is our chance. And if we seize it, then maybe the next time Rosie shows up in the mailbox announcing, “We did it!” she’ll be right.