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Updated: February 5, 2024 Opinion

From the Editor: Hope & despair over the progress (and lack thereof) for women in leadership

Gauging the status of women in the workplace is a difficult task, especially as we strive for an economy and business community where people are valued for their talents and expertise regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or background (i.e. a place where everyone thrives, to the betterment of all).

WBJ editor Brad Kane at his desk
WBJ Editor Brad Kane

On one hand, we have all these great anecdotes of women achieving greatness and trendsetting, such as the stories about Caroline Frankel and Marie Beam in WBJ's annual Women in Leadership edition. After years of taking the Discovery Museum’s fundraising to new heights, Beam is now leading the organization with an eye toward inclusivity. Frankel has been a trendsetter in the cannabis industry from its early years, first by teaching herself the legal ins and outs in order to avoid legal costs exceeding six figures. Now, she has pushed her host community to refund more than $1 million in unjust community-impact fees, which has led the industry to call for refunds of this magnitude statewide.

On the other hand, statistics show we are far from achieving an equitable gender balance throughout the Central Massachusetts economy. In his research for the “Steady, but too SLOW” story Staff Writer Eric Casey found less than 16% of top executives at the region’s public companies are women, which is slightly less than the statewide average among top firms. Even the most optimistic projections say we are between six and 11 years from achieving gender equality in corporate leadership globally, and – frankly – the reality of getting to that point feels decades away.

Furthermore, the post-pandemic workplace flexibility is eroding, despite its benefits to women professionals, who on average shoulder the greater portion of responsibilities at home. As WBJ Correspondent Livia Gershon discovered for her “Keeping schedules flexible” story, Central Massachusetts companies are far from reverting to their pre-COVID in-office demands and see the benefits of providing workplace options to their employees. Still, the numbers aren’t trending in the right direction for female professionals on the whole.

The struggle for a better world will always be a struggle, at least for my lifetime and probably for yours, too. Yet, regardless of the many individual highs and lows that will come, simply striving for something better is a worthwhile achievement in itself.

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