On January 20, 2021, at 11:30 a.m., the political and leadership landscape of the United States was forever changed when Kamala D. Harris was sworn in as the first woman Vice President in the country. While Madam Vice President has a nice ring to it, we still have a long way to go in this country to achieve equity in leadership roles in all areas.
According to the Center for American Progress, women make up 50.8 percent of the US population, and this figure has been steady for the past seven years.
Women account for 47.5 percent of medical school degrees
48.5 percent of law degrees
Earning more than 59 percent of master’s degrees
and more than 57 percent of all undergraduate degrees
However, these numbers are not reflected in the percentage of women in leadership or executive leadership roles across all professions. The US Senate where Kamala Harris departed to become Vice President has 24 female members (of 100). On the other side of the Congressional branch, the House of Representatives, 27% of its members are women. The number of female CEOs in the Fortune 500 reached 37 (7.4%) in 2020. These are record-breaking numbers and represent progress, yet we have a long way to go.
Kamala Harris’ ascension to the next highest office in the land is a significant milestone. Her being a Black woman, South Asian woman, HBCU (historically black college and university) graduate, and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (AKA) the first black Greek-letter organization for college women, which is also my beloved sorority; are additional aspects of her identity that make the moment even more historic. But, we must know that it is just a mile-marker, with a long journey ahead. The current selection of Rosalind Brewer, a Black woman, HBCU graduate, and AKA, as CEO of Walgreens, may be seen as another significant mile marker as she becomes only the third Black American woman to take the helm of a Fortune 500.
The journey continues
This is the moment in time for women to step into leadership roles, support other women in leadership roles, and raise up the next generation. This is a moment in time for Black women, South Asian women, and HBCU graduates to be recognized for their capability, capacity, and richness of experiences, which shape exceptional leaders. In the spirit of equity, at the very least, the percentage of women and all underrepresented or marginalized groups in leadership should be reflective of the percentage they represent in the population. But, That won’t come without support, development, and women uplifting one another. , shattering glass ceilings, and dismantling structural systems that perpetuate bias. That won’t come without severe corporate commitment to true inclusive practices that embrace a wide array of differences.
Yeah, Madam Vice President has a nice ring to it, and we can look forward to the day in this country when Madam President is the norm and not a novelty.