By Kristen MisakColumnist
Last month, we witnessed the appointment of the first female chief executive officer of a global automaker. General Motors announced that Mary Barra would take over for Dan Akerson as the new CEO, which created a buzz that reached beyond the corporate realm.
The topic has sparked widespread discussion about the growing role of women in the business world. For many reasons, Barra’s achievement signifies an important stride for the female race.
As one of about 20 female CEOs in the United States, Barra is part of a progressive business model for the country as a whole. With each similar accomplishment, women will become more empowered and gain more authority in the workforce.
Though many believe that sexism is a thing of the past and that it is no longer an issue in our modern society, we must acknowledge the fact that women are still discriminated against in consideration for major positions, especially for those at major companies. Barra is taking a crucial and brave first step in changing this social stigma.
This, in turn, will inspire young women to pursue careers that were once dominated by men. Barra can act as a powerful tool of motivation for young females everywhere to aspire to bigger and greater things.
Little by little, common misconceptions about women are being broken down. Still, our society struggles with the idea that women do not simply belong in the house and have knowledge of “manly” things such as money and busisness negotiations. Barra shows us that not all women can be defined in the stereotypical gender role that has been restricting the entire sex for so long.
Despite this progress, there is one startling fact about the achievement that should not be overlooked: although Barra has been successful in attaining the position, her salary is significantly lower than that of the former CEO, Akerson. Akerson was paid an estimated $9 million, while Barra earns only $4.4 million.
Equality in the workplace is something that our country has yet to handle properly, especially in terms of pay discrimination based on gender. Men and women doing the same thing in the same position are paid different salaries. In order for this to change, awareness must be spread. Women must be assertive and play an active role in changing the way that they are viewed.
There is no doubt that Mary Barra becoming GM’s new CEO is good news for women everywhere, but there are still things that need to change before we can be satisfied with the way that our society conducts itself. Equality is completely possible – as long as we make it possible.