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Updated: October 16, 2023 Editorial

Editorial: Recognizing women business leaders

This year marks WBJ’s 15th annual Outstanding Women in Business issue, where we profiles several top female leaders from our business community. For years before we launched these awards, we debated the merits of an event that recognized only women leaders, as we feared it might infer they were not sufficiently qualified for other awards, like Business Leaders of the Year. That was never true, but our discomfort with the possibility of that perception kept the idea sidelined for some time.

It's a good thing we got out of our own way back in 2009 and got this awards started; the stories of women leading large and small organizations, making a difference in the lives of so many through their inspired work and reaching back to encourage, mentor, and inspire other women to reach for the stars have been some of the best stories we’ve told. And this year’s edition is no exception.

By most measures, much progress has been made when it comes to opportunities for women in the workplace, and there are more women in leadership positions than ever before. But has equality been achieved? Hardly. In the October announcement of the Nobel Prize for Economics going to Harvard University professor Claudie Goldin for her work on understanding the gender gap in the labor market, it was noted Goldin is the third woman to receive the award, which has been given out for 93 years! Goldin’s work and other studies show women’s pay remains well behind their male colleagues. In an interview in the Boston Globe, Goldin pegged that gap at around 82% of what men are paid for the same work.

Another element that has thrown off women’s increasing presence in the workplace has been the coronavirus pandemic. When push came to shove, women stepped into the role of providing pressing child care needs in greater numbers than their male counterparts, and only as the pandemic has receded have their numbers returned to previous levels. Clearly, much work needs to be done.

All of this is to say we need to continue to elevate the stories of women leaders in the Central Massachusetts economy. The Outstanding Women in Business awards have been a 15-year celebration of everything good about our business community: professionals who’ve overcome adversity and systematic barriers; leaders preparing the next generation for further success; those who fight for people on the margins of society and to make the world better for the rest of us. We would love to live in a world where people are treated equally for their talent, skills, and expertise regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or any other discriminating factors. That is not the world we live in yet, but with every great contribution from those seeking to make us better – like the Outstanding Women in Business – we get a step closer to that reality.

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