Every year on September 22, America celebrates Business Women’s Day. This special holiday was first celebrated on September 22, 1982, and was established in order to recognize the accomplishments of the millions of career-focused women currently in the workforce or who own businesses.
The Origins of Business Women’s Day
Business Women’s Day was first established by an organization named the American Business Women’s Association. Through networking, funding, education, and other types of support, the Association has provided numerous opportunities for women across the country to help them succeed in their career goals.
Over the years, many have argued that it is unfair to have a day celebrating the efforts of women while there is not a similar day in honor of our male counterparts. However, this day is not meant to discredit men in the workforce; rather, it is meant to shine a light on the often-forgotten accomplishments that women have made over the years.
Women in the Workforce
Many people believe that women first entered the workforce during World War II when they were needed to fill the positions of deployed military. However, this is false—women have been members of the workforce since the Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately, women hired during this time period were often exploited for very cheap pay. Companies who hired women often did so to perform much more work at a much cheaper rate. In response, this motivated female workers to fight for higher wages, shorter work days, and better working conditions. This battle led them to form unions.
Employment for women skyrocketed during the Civil War due to increased casualties, which caused a higher demand for laborers. Mary Harris Jones, also known as Mother Jones, became a huge influence during this time period, as she pushed for worker’s rights in any and all occupations.
Unfortunately, the fight for equality and women’s rights in the workplace lost steam around the turn of the 20th century. It wasn’t until World War II that the status quo of working women would change forever in America. During this time, women took on male-dominated work to help build weaponry, aircraft parts, and other heavy machinery. It was during this era that the “Rosie the Riveter” propaganda-turned feminist icon campaign began. While most of the American men were fighting overseas, the women kept the workforce booming by producing highly-needed goods. While this provided much-needed opportunities for women to attain jobs for which they never would have been considered prior to the war, they were still paid on average 50% less than men for the same positions. After the war, as the men began to return home, many female workers were forced to give up their jobs, even though nearly 75% of them reported that they wanted to continue working. This turnover was short-lived, however, as 32% of women were back to working outside of the home by 1950.
Modern Day Movements
Business Women’s Day wouldn’t exist without the vigilant efforts of women in the workforce. After the war, many sought employment in nursing, teaching, retail, and even office work. It was clear that this was a turning point, and that women in the workforce was a notion that was here to stay.
During the civil rights movement, things truly began to change for women in the workforce. With the passing of the Civil Rights Act, it became illegal to discriminate against employees based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This movement was the driving force behind the change in legislation that protected pregnant women, and opened up career opportunities never before available to women.
Today, there are about 76 million women in the American workforce, accounting for 46.9% of the total labor force .
At Paradiso Insurance, we know that our agency wouldn’t be the same without the strong-minded business women who serve our customers day in and out. We are proud to celebrate our dedicated insurance agents on this year’s Business Women’s Day.