Breaking Down Barriers

Forty years ago, women graduating from college assumed their credentials would open the same doors admitting their male counterparts. But regardless of their education and career goals,the workplace was still an all-boys’ club. Women were expected to type, make coffee, and be content with support roles. They were denied professional jobs and passed over for promotions simply because of their gender.
Women Employed changed the workplace by fighting for equal opportunities. We testified in Congress, handed out leaflets on street corners, and protested in front of banks, insurance companies, and other businesses with discriminatory practices. When that wasn’t enough, we went to the federal government, demanding affirmative action reform. We worked with the Carter administration to ensure laws were enforced, and when the Reagan administration undermined that enforcement, we fought back with a national campaign, ensuring the continuation of these groundbreaking policies.
Women Employed’s fight for fair workplaces and equal opportunities led to dramatic workplace advances for women. Today, barriers that once seemed insurmountable have been reduced, and women are succeeding in a full range of professional jobs. The change has been so dramatic that many women coming out of college today can’t imagine a time when their gender would have limited their job opportunities. But this freedom was truly a hard-won, revolutionary change.
We’re proud of the work we’ve done for women. Millions benefit from the doors we opened and the barriers we broke down. But we know that there are millions more who are concentrated in low-wage, female-dominated jobs—retail workers, restaurant servers, domestic workers, health aides, and others. Improving their work lives is the challenge of our times.
Women Employed is working to raise the floor for low-wage women. We are fighting for a higher minimum wage, so that all workers have greater financial stability. We’re working on legislation to ensure women can earn sick days to care for themselves or their families. We’re battling wage theft, unpaid overtime, stolen tips, and other illegal practices that are alarmingly common in low-wage industries.