“The work of today is the history of tomorrow and we are its makers.”
— Juliette Low, founder of Girl Scouts of the USA
That poignant quote by Juliette Low is as applicable now as it was decades ago. In commemoration of National Women’s History Month, March has been dedicated to recognizing female trailblazers in both labor and the workforce. As we honor and reflect on the great strides that have been made, we must also acknowledge that more work has yet to be done.
According to a report in Fortune magazine, women’s share of the workforce in the United States grew from 33.4 percent in 1960 to 46.5 percent in 2000. While that number is expected to peak in 2025 at 47.1 percent, it keeps women at slightly less than half the labor force.
This increase is due in large part to the fact that women today are less likely to take breaks from work during their 20s and 30s, when they’d often stay home with their children.
Additionally, women have become significantly more likely to work into their 60s and 70s. Research shows that nearly 30 percent of women ages 65 to 69 are working (up from 15 percent in the late 1980s), and 18 percent of women ages 70 to 74 are employed (up from 8 percent).
Despite this positive surge of women entering and remaining in the workforce for greater lengths of time, women must continue to enhance their marketability to attain equal pay. As shown in a study conducted by Accenture, increasing digital fluency is a positive step toward achieving equal pay. Digital fluency denotes the way in which individuals embrace digital technologies to become more knowledgeable, connected and effective.
The Accenture survey highlights that about 76 percent of men utilize their digital skills more frequently than women (72 percent). Also, 52 percent of men say they’re consistently learning new digital skills, compared to just 45 percent of women.
To promote, encourage and support all business professionals, the Newport County Chamber of Commerce hosts several technology, leadership and networking seminars throughout the year. In celebration of National Women’s History Month, I encourage you to join with us for our upcoming Women in Business After Hours event on Thursday from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at The Elms, 367 Bellevue Ave. in Newport.
The event, sponsored by the Preservation Society of Newport County, will feature a presentation by Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England CEO Pam Hyland. She will speak about the trailblazing history of the founders of Girl Scouts of the USA and today’s growing trends for women in the workplace.
By working together, we can ensure all professionals reach and exceed their career goals.
Erin Donovan-Boyle is executive director of the Newport County Chamber of Commerce. Commerce Spotlight appears the last weekend of the month in The Daily News and online at NewportRI.com.