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Women Who Have Changed the World of Work

March 9, 2020

March is Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate sisters, daughters, mothers, friends, coworkers, and leaders. For decades, women have fought for inclusion and equality in the workplace and in many ways, they’ve made huge strides, but the workplace remains rife with challenges for women.


For starters, American women across all industries and job levels earn 79 cents for every dollar a man makes. 33 female CEOs are in place across the Fortune 500, and one in three women have experienced sexual harassment at work. But progress is being made every day. The pay gap is slowly narrowing and the #MeToo movement has shined a spotlight on the way women are treated in the office.


Today’s improvements couldn’t have been made without yesterday’s female leaders and allies. Women’s History Month is a great time to inspire yourself and others in your workplace by celebrating remarkable women that have changed the world of work.

@IQTalent is celebrating #womenshistorymonth by highlighting women who’ve changed the #workplace for the better. Read more:Click to Tweet

Frances Perkins

1880 - 1965

Frances was the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet. As the Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945, she pushed to include the labor movement in the New Deal coalition. Frances took over the Department of Labor during the thick of the Great Depression and was at the helm of several programs that deeply affected the workplace then and continue to do so now.


Frances helped to establish the first minimum wage and overtime laws via the Fair Labor Standards Act. She played a major role in the passing of the Social Security Act which established unemployment benefits and pensions for older Americans. The Civilian Conservation Corps which provided thousands of jobs would not have been possible without her. She also worked closely with labor unions and crafted laws to prevent child labor.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Born 1933

Justice Ginsburg is a lawyer and an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. She is a staunch advocate for gender equality and women’s rights. Justice Ginsburg is a Columbia Law School graduate and tied for first in her class. Despite her excellent grades, she found it difficult to find relevant employment. After just a few years as a law clerk, Ginsburg became a professor of law at Rutgers Law School and later Colombia. She was one of only 20 female law professors in the nation at that time.


In 1972 Ginsburg co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU which participated in over 300 gender discrimination cases by 1974. As the Project's general counsel, she argued six major sex discrimination cases before the Supreme Court — winning five. Many of her cases hinged on the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, which says that people shall be equally protected under the law. Although Justice Ginsburg is 86 years old she has no plans of retiring any time soon. “As long as I can do the job full steam, I will be here" she noted.

Lilly Ledbetter

born 1936

Lilly, a longtime Goodyear employee, discovered she was making significantly less than her male coworkers via an anonymous letter. She filed a sex discrimination lawsuit that made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007. While she lost the suit because of a technicality, congress later passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 preventing the use of this technicality in the future. Although this act didn’t reverse the decision of Lilly’s case, and she’ll never receive restitution from Goodyear, Lilly said: “I'll be happy if the last thing they say about me after I die is that I made a difference.”

What #remarkablewomen do you feel have changed the workplace? Here are 3 of @IQTalent’s favorites: Click to Tweet

Women’s History Month is a time for reflecting on the hard work of women before us, celebrating our accomplishments, encouraging one another, and pushing on for true equality.


Here are a few ways you, as an employer, can celebrate:

  • Start a formal mentoring program.
  • Studies show that women are more likely to be interrupted in meetings compared to men. Speak up when a female colleague is interrupted by circling back to their idea and giving them clear credit.
  • Advocate for anti-harassment training and policies by serving on committees.
  • Discourage sexist behavior by enforcing policies.
  • Take a female colleague with you to networking events.
  • Take stock of your male to female ratio not only within the organization but within smaller teams as well.
  • Make it a priority to recruit women. Avoid masculine-coded language in job postings. Try using this tool.

Women remain grossly underrepresented in the c-suite and upper-level positions. For every female CEO, there are 19 male CEOs. Recruiters are at the forefront of closing this gap, but it's going to take work. Before you begin searching for your next executive, read our end-to-end Recruiter's Guide to Executive Search for all the tips you need.

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