Feminism | Posted by Chloe H on 04/7/2014

Girls: Do We Run The World?

I love Beyonce’s song Girls Run The World, it has an awesome chorus, a pumping beat, and a great message about the power of women. But unfortunately I think James Brown more accurately depicts our society today: it’s a man’s world. The majority of leadership positions across the board are held by men. This is painfully obvious when I read one of my favorite news sources: The Economist. The Economist is filled with stories about the most powerful and influential people in business in politics. But the vast majority of the people I read about are men. In the most recent issue of The Economist, there was an article about how Japanese women are the extreme minority in high powered political and business positions. The statistics were startling, but I began to wonder if those statistics were really that different in the United States.

In Japan, women are deterred from progress in their jobs by what they have termed “the bamboo ceiling.” Unlike the glass ceiling we so often hear about in The United States, the bamboo ceiling is hard, thick and nontransparent. In a highly competitive corporate culture where the longest hours reap the greatest rewards, men are often blatantly preferred for higher level positions. Out of all the highest ranking executive positions in corporate Japan, only 1% of these jobs were held by women in 2011. This was a deeply harrowing statistic for me to read but unfortunately, America was not much better at 4.5% of company heads being female in 2011. The political world is equally bleak: in the lower house of Japan’s government only 8% of seats are held by women and only 19% of seats in the upper house are held by women. In the United States, 18% of The House of Representatives is female and 18.5% of congress is female. Japan and the United States are two wealthy nations with vast resources, so why don’t either have a better representation of women in leadership positions?

What I found to be very interesting and even more disturbing was that in both Japan and The United States, women are highly educated and therefore qualified to have high level positions. Japan educates its women at an extremely high level and in The United States, women hold 51% of the nations PhDs, 51% of business school applicants, 67% of college graduates and over 70% of high school valedictorians in 2012. In both Japan and The United States, women are working hard to become educated world citizens and yet they are not leading our world. Women are arguably more educated than men and yet men still have the majority of leadership positions.

Future generations of intelligent, ambitious, and passionate women deserve to have amazing role models of female strength and leadership. As a teenage girl who wants to one day hold a high powered job, these statistics from two of the world’s richest nations are depressing and frustrating. Even though we have had female leaders, they are still not the norm. I want to see more women in the articles of The Economist. I want to have more than a handful of prominent female leaders who I look up to. I want to one day live in a world where women hold 50% or even the majority of leadership positions in The United States, Japan, and the world. I want to see girls run the world.

 

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