Westerners were willing to give women the citizenship rights and respect as individuals available to men before the rest of the country was. That example should be followed now.
Reconstruction made women citizens, but it was left to Wyoming to give them the vote and the right to hold office in 1869, very shortly before Utah did the same.
Power isn’t passed along easily or smoothly, not in the West and not over the years. Women have never gained the equal status in government and business that the franchise seemed to promise.
Nearly 100 years after the 19th Amendment, women, African Americans, Native Americans and others who don’t match the image of those Americans are used to seeing in positions of power and influence continue to struggle for equality in business and government.
Forbes recently published a list it called “The 100 Most Innovative Leaders.” Barbara Rentler, CEO of Ross Stores is the only female on it. There isn’t even a picture of her.
The ways in which women are subjected to different assumptions, different measurements, even different questions than male counterparts are called “cycles of bias.”
As the blog “Upworthy” noted, the methodology used by the four men who compiled the Forbes list used a methodology nearly certain to over-include men. This “cycle of bias” continues because “men in the business world are so deep in the pool they can’t see the obstacles that keep others out of it,” the blog stated
The same can be said of all the arenas in which positions of power are rationed. Forty-seven years after Title IX was passed as a means of giving women equal access to publicly supported athletic resources, strides have been made, though they may be more like baby steps.
In the Power Five athletic conferences, only four of the 65 colleges have women athletic directors, despite the fact that the job’s duties are administrative and political and not about coaching football.
The picture is better in smaller conferences, as it is in small businesses and local and state political offices. For example, in the Big Sky Conference, Terry Gawlik is University of Idaho’s athletic director.
Continued progress toward equality and diversity will require us to recognize our biases and to use that recognition to become more comfortable with leaders and neighbors who are different from ourselves.