It was not so terribly long ago that it would be unusual to find women in the workplace, in positions of power. Within the last 100 years, the landscape of the American workplace has changed dramatically, especially for women. Where their roles had traditionally been limited to activities such as teaching, nursing and waiting tables, today’s women are taking on roles in unexpected places, such as the boardroom. Once thought to be too sensitive, or tenderhearted to succeed in business, women have proven that they have what it takes to not only succeed, but excel in roles long thought to be best suited to men.
During World War II, a large number of women joined the workforce as the demands of the war created a need to put able bodies to work creating the goods that our servicemen were using to protect our freedoms. Manufacturing plants and assembly lines that had never before played host to women were being manned almost entirely by female staff. Former housewives now found themselves suddenly among the many women in the workplace. Upon their return from overseas, many husbands were surprised to learn that their wives were actually relishing their new roles in the workplace and were hard pressed to convince them to step back into the kitchen.
Today, it is not uncommon to find women in the workplace in virtually every role that you find men in. There are female doctors, lawyers and dentists. Women are police officers, fire fighters and ambulance drivers. There are wives that are construction foreman, and grandmothers that are CEOs of major, Fortune 500 companies. Though the glass ceiling still exists, more and more women have found ways to cross gender barriers and soar to heights that were never before imagined possible. More than ever before in history, men and women are becoming equals in the workplace.
The emergence of women in the workplace has not been without its own difficulties. Many men have been reluctant to accept direction from a female boss, and have applied unfair double standards to roles when assigned to women. Surprisingly, women are often the biggest and hardest critics of other women who work outside of the home. With time, and concerted effort though, we should fast close in on the day when men and women are treated and considered completely equally in any and all workplaces. And when that day comes, perhaps stay at home dads can find a voice too.