A needed change

Story by Johnny Sain

We didn’t plan it, but as story ideas for 2020 coalesced into a general vision for our eleven issues, an unofficial theme emerged: ABOUT 2020 would be the year of the influential woman.

We’re kicking off that unofficial theme this month with a profile on Winthrop Rockefeller Institute Executive Director Dr. Marta Loyd. Through the year, more women in leadership roles will be featured on our cover and in our pages.

Like I mentioned earlier, we did not plan this. And I’ve debated, both with ABOUT staff and with myself, about the need to say out loud that this is what we’re doing. It’s not like influential women need our recognition for validation. And it’s not like influential women haven’t been shaping our world and individual lives since the dawn of history… and even in prehistory, I’m sure, we just don’t have records of it.

But the bitter truth is that, despite the demonstrated power of capable women through the ages, there has been a distinct lack of acknowledgment. This lack of acknowledgment is actually most glaring when we shift our gaze from the most visible accomplishments and instead focus on disparities found among the more mundane. For example, here in 2020, decades beyond the Women’s Movement, a gender pay gap still exists with women earning (on average) 79 cents for every dollar earned by a man. To be clear, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Sally makes 79 cents to Bob’s dollar while they work side by side with the same level of experience. What it really means is that barriers have been and still are in place that prevent more women from higher-paying opportunities. The gender pay gap is really a gender opportunity gap.

As a man whose life has been, and continues to be, shaped and enhanced by intelligent, commanding women, I find this state of affairs both appalling and ludicrous. From my Granny, perhaps one of the strongest people I’ve ever known; to my granddaughter, whose razor-sharp mind is already a force to be reckoned with to my wife, without whom I would be utterly lost; to Liz Chrisman, whose courage and wisdom have buoyed my spirit countless times; to my daughters, who endlessly impress me with their incredible insight — when I consider the women in my life, I find myself in a continuous state of awe.

Influential women are a fixture in my day to day existence, and it sure doesn’t require the declaration of a theme to substantiate this truth. But needed change will happen only after we acknowledge the need for change.