Women in the Workplace: Not Just Here to Grab Your Coffee


In the classroom, feminism tends to be a movement referred to in the past. However, since the rise of third wave feminism in the 1990s, the past two decades have proved that the the fight for women’s rights is a movement of the present that continues to evolve, facing the ever changing struggles of women worldwide.

From underdeveloped nations where women are still struggling to have rights independent of male guardians, to Western democracies where the goals are now along the lines of equal representation and equal rights in pay and law, feminism has maintained itself as a powerful force globally.

While we can all recognize the names from the first and second wave feminist movements, such as Harriet Beecher Stowe and Betty Friedan, people tend to focus more on the activists in the past, not the ones who are shaping modern society right now. The women who are currently breaking barriers in underrepresented fields are among those who are redefining what it means to be a woman. Female leaders in politics, STEM, journalism, business and fi nance, and sports have made significant strides since the 1990s. Leaders such as Jane Goodall, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Megan Rapinoe are just few of the many people who have made significant progress for women during the third wave of feminism. The effects of this progress is found all over the country, as young girls are being inspired and empowered to enter uncharted territory, paving the way for the rights of all people in an ever-changing world.

Influential women from around the world, and from all fields have, through their remarkable work and undaunted professionalism, made a name for themselves in their respective industries and built a reputation of honor and perseverance which helps build respect for working women as a population.

Starting her career midway through the 20th century, television broadcaster Barbara Walters was one of the first to cover women’s interest stories on air. This started with her incredible work on The Today Show, where she was well received by the audience due to her excellent interviewing ability.

Eventually, Walters took over as a cohost of the show. She was the first ever female television correspondent to be named co-host of a major American news program. Since her initial success, Walters has not stopped being a trailblazer for female broadcasters around the world. In 1997, she once again was named the co-host of a program, this time for ABC talk show The View. This program has remained a staple on the major network since its creation, as the show’s all-female panel has captivated audiences for over twenty years.

Walters retired in 2016, but she remains to be a pioneer for women in the field of television broadcasting. She was truly one of the first significant female broadcasters, and the foundation she lay has allowed for countless women to succeed in the 21st century.

Having women in journalism is a force not to be underestimated. Media is the great informer of the masses and the messages it carries can influence the thought processes of generations.

“Women can educate younger women and girls on the importance of these fields. The most people get done is when they are inspired, if young girls are inspired to go into these fields, they can change the world,” said senior Julia Bischoff, Director of Design for the Womens’ Empowerment Club.

Starting out writing local news in Washington, D.C., one of the nation’s most heavily impoverished cities, Katherine Boo made a name for herself with her powerful and informative depictions of the struggles of daily life undergone by so many Americans. In 2001 she began contributing to The New Yorker, where, to this day, she has continued publishing her work. Her work has garnered her a MacArthur Fellowship, a Columbia Journalism Award, and much more recognition.

Beyond journalism, business is a field where, for decades, women were relegated to menial tasks such as being secretaries, assistants, or “decoration.” While there have been many successful women in the past, only recently have they come close to reaching what may be one day be considered equality.

Sheryl Sandberg is one of the most successful women on the planet today. After growing up in Miami, Sandberg attended Harvard Business School to acquire her MBA. She may be known as COO of technology giant Facebook, but Sandberg’s first big job was in D.C. as the Chief of Staff for Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers during the Clinton era.

Soon after she departed Washington, Sandberg began to explore jobs in Silicon Valley, as she was hired as Vice President of Google in 2001. Following success at Google, she finally was hired by Facebook as COO in 2008, and she has been vital to the company’s success ever since. In her years at Facebook, Sandberg has grew into international fame, and was even named to Time’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

In the past ten years, she even released two books, entitled Lean In and Option B, both of which discuss her life experiences and opinions on various topics. Th rough this fame, Sandberg has also been able to get involved in various charitable causes, including feminist organization Women for Women International, which provides both mental and practical support to female veterans.

Sandberg is undeniably one of the most important women in tech today, and her work as an executive in Silicon Valley has paved the way for more women to gain deserved opportunities at technology companies around the world. When Schreiber students were asked in a survey how they believe women can continue to make strides in fields where they are traditionally underrepresented, many of them had suggestions that they were particularly passionate about.

“We have to disregard the societal gender norms placed on underrepresented fields and charge at the field head first with strength, ready to knock down the opposition,” said senior Dalia Bercow.

Others shared their opinion that the bottom line to helping push for equality is to pass effective legislation and ensure that those pieces of legislation are properly followed.

Most of the students who were surveyed expressed an interest in playing a part in moving forward to go towards gender equality in all workplaces.

Another field in which women have been traditionally underrepresented is the STEM sciences. A field traditionally dominated by men, and still largely so, a greater number of women have been making their mark and receiving due recognition for their revolutionary work. Donna Strickland, a Canadian physicist, brought her work to the mainstream of international attention with her winning of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics, being only the third woman to ever receive the honor. She received a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics, before going on to earn a PhD in optical physics from Rochester University. She and her mentor discovered means to amplify the power of lasers far beyond what had ever been initially believed possible in 1985. This research, though it had been given much recognition in the 30+ years since its discovery, was launched into the realm of immortality with her ascension into the ranks of Nobel laureates.

This work, remarkable in its own right, is just one of many examples of groundbreaking and unimaginable breakthroughs made by women scientists in the past few decades.

Jane Goodall, praised as the “Greatest Person of the 20th Century” by BBC and gloriously encapsulated in countless documentaries, anthropologist Jane Goodall is most well known for her wildlife research. Decades of hands on work with chimpanzees in Tanzania resulted in Goodall singlehandedly creating the field of primatology, and using her platform as world-renowned researcher to champion awareness for human rights.

In April 2002, Goodall was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace by Secretary General Kofi Annan, and has since continued global lectures “to achieve global peace we must not only stop fighting each other, but also stop destroying the natural world.” Goodall’s most recent contributions include global wildlife and environment conservation via the Jane Goodall Institute.

Sports as well has been a largely unequal playing field for men and women athletes, with males regularly paid more, offered sponsorships more, and featured more in popular culture, but this doesn’t get in the way of the millions of strong and talented female athletes, both amateur and professional, from giving each game their all. In the past 20 years, women’s athletics has finally established itself as not only important but also quite popular in the world of sports. One of the most popular sports among women is soccer. Two years ago, this sport attracted the eyes of viewers all over the world were mesmerized by the talent of the United States Women’s Soccer team at the 2015 World Cup in Canada.

The team won the championship with ease, and were lead by midfielder Megan Rapinoe. Rapinoe is not only an incredible player, as she was essential to the national team’s success, but is also an important leader for both women and members of the LGBT community. Since coming out as lesbian in 2012, Rapinoe has established herself as an advocate for various organizations which support this community including the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network. With her work in this field, Rapinoe is considered a trailblazer for not only female athletes everywhere, but also for athletes of all sexualities and gender orientations.

And politics, the final frontier, and the field in which women may be able to, potentially create the best opportunities for themselves and their brethren in the future. Many see legislation as the ultimate course in which to establish irrevocable equality for women.

2019 is beginning to be referred to as the year of the woman in American politics. Not only is there a record breaking 102 women Congress, but there is also a record breaking amount of women who have announced that they will join the presidential election in 2020.

Also, the amount of female minorities in Congress has increased dramatically in the past two decades. In fact, out of the 58 Asian Pacific American, African American, and Hispanic women that have served in Congress, 47 of them were elected between 1992 and 2016.

This explosion of women in politics is a very new phenomenon. This is because of the women who have overcome immense obstacles in order to pursue a career in such an underrepresented field. Among these women is the extremely successful and beloved Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg attended not just one, but three Ivy League Schools, and did so at a time when the female population at these schools was very limited. Her accomplishments are commendable aside from the fact that she was a pioneer for women in politics.

After Bill Clinton appointed Ginsburg in 1993, she became the second female Supreme Court justice in American history. Since then, she has paved the way for two more women to join the Supreme Court. More importantly, she has been a significant leader in abolishing gender discrimination through proper legislation.

Essentially, RBG has been a force to reckon within the world of politics and social justice. Her progress for the women’s rights movement should and has inspired women to strive for more.

“I’m sometimes asked when will there be enough women on the Supreme Court. And I say ‘When there are nine.’ People are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that,” said Ginsburg.

This concept could not have been explained better. Third-wave feminists aren’t looking to be content with the status of women’s rights. Rather, they are constantly challenging gender norms in all fields. This has led to the previously mentioned accomplishments in underrepresented fields and the third wave feminism mentality that women must always strive for more.

Women such as RBG, Megan Rapinoe, and Sheryl Sandberg have made significant strides in underrepresented fields and empowered younger women. Th e past two decades of achievements in politics, journalism, sports, and STEM have redefined what it means to be a feminist in the 21st century in the sense that women will never again settle for anything less than equality.