In the photo above, about half of the graduates are women.
That's representative of the percentage of college graduates who are female in the United States and Asia today. Women are graduating from university at record highs.
But as women progress in careers, the photo looks like this.
While women make up about half of entry-level employees in the US and slightly over half of entry-level employees in Asia, women make up 10% of corporate boards in the US. In Asia, it's 6.5%.
But that's changing, isn't it?
Not quickly. HBR, McKinsey and EY studies all project at this rate achieving gender equality will take over 80 years. That's unacceptable, and everyone's responsibility to speed up.
So the answer is promote more women, right?
Sponsorship and mentorship of female employees is an important part of making change, but there's more required to achieve gender equality than formal institutional programs.
We need to change how we perceive manhood and womanhood.
Tony Porter's Ted Talk "A Call to Men" describes how men are instructed to show no emotion, save for anger. This perpetuates degrading and subverting women and criticizing 'strong' women.
When was the last time you heard a man express sadness?
What about a woman?
We teach men that having emotions means acting "like a girl"
This perpetuates degradation and disregard of women, and teaches women that they should not be strong.
Scale up the problem, and you get today's leadership makeup.
Men dominate leadership positions in politics and business - areas with great impact on society. In major peace processes in the past two decades, women accounted for 9% of participants.
Institutional change requires cultural change.
Empowering women requires empowering men to be allies of women. Achieving gender equality requires the fundamental belief among men and women of equality of the sexes.
We must create corporate and cultural solutions.
We need programs in the workplace that empower women and empower men to be allies of women. In our schools and homes, we must stop perpetuating harmful gender expectations of both sexes.
In the words of Gloria Steinem,
We have begun to raise our daughters more like our sons. But we must find the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.
That is how we achieve gender equality.
It's the responsibility of our employers, our communities, and each of us.
Happy International Women's Day.
I hope that in my lifetime we end the need for such a day.