If you just look at the numbers, it doesn’t seem like we’re going to hit gender equality anytime soon: In 2018, there are only 24 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies (that’s 4.8%) and just 105 female members of congress (that’s 19.6%). Stats also suggest we ain’t hitting pay parity ‘til a century after we’re dead (or 2152 if you prefer to be more specific.). Let’s not even get into the lack of paid family leave, the motherhood penalty, or the unpaid labor women shoulder.
But in this case, the numbers don’t tell the full story: The past decade has brought with it the rise of some of the most interesting, most dynamic, most forward-thinking women in human history; women who are actively trying to close the gender gap. Today, April 26, we are devoting a day to them, in particular, for the second-ever 50/50 Day. The global day of action, started by filmmaker and Webby founder Tiffany Shlain, calls attention to the need for parity in all areas of our lives — from politics to education, home to culture. “You make hundreds of decisions every day that can either push you further away from a gender-balanced world or push you closer to it,” says Shlain in her new video marking the occasion.
Today, Refinery29 is highlighting eight women who have pursued six fantastic ideas to bring us closer to equality. Because what better way to celebrate 50/50 Day than to take a break from hand-wringing and celebrate those who are actively working to change the world? Working harder isn't going to get us out of this mess, but being smarter about the ways the system is failing women, having data to back it up, and bridging the gaps that keep women from the top can help usher in a new reality.
Anu Duggal and Sutian Dong, partners at the Female Founders Fund, an early-stage fund that invests exclusively in women-led companies (including some of your favorites).
Alma Har'el, founder of Free The Bid, a group that’s pushing for equal opportunities for women directors to bid on commercial jobs in the advertising world.
Iris Kuo, cofounder of LedBetter, a research group that provides the public with details on how many women are in leadership roles at the world’s top consumer brands.
Beth Haggerty, co-founder and CEO of Parity Partners, a recruiting firm that’s trying to fix the tech and financial industries’ diversity problem once and for all.
Jessica Burns, head of marketing at Grubhub, who helped launch RestaurantHER, a campaign encouraging consumers to dine at female-owned and run restaurants.
Grete Eliassen and Billie Jean King, president and founder (respectively) of Women Sports Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to leveling the playing field for girls in sports.
“If you look at any societal movement — LGBTQ rights, Civil Rights — it only happens when people stand up and say enough is enough,” says Haggerty. “Big shifts only happen when the people take the power for the change into their own hands.”
Tomorrow, we will still have a parity problem. But women have the power to change the narrative — and a number of amazing role models are blazing the path before us.
#GettingTo5050, a global movement rooted in actionable tools and resources, aims to catalyze the conversations that will inspire a more gender-balanced world. Because true equality doesn't just lift women—it lifts everyone. Learn more here.