We knew this was coming. Once a movement like “MeToo or #TimesUp becomes global in nature, backlash, fatigue, and pink-washing of gender facts and statistics should be expected. The Economist addresses the impact of “MeToo and #TimesUp on the workforce, the crowning of 2018 as the year of the woman, and what progress – if any – we should anticipate for gender equality in 2019.
ONLY A HERMIT could have missed that 2018 was—on the surface—the year of the woman. In America the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements shone a stark light on unequal treatment of women; not just their harassment and assault but also their restricted access to power. In Britain companies had to report gender pay gaps for the first time, triggering similar conversations about workplace inequities, their causes and consequences, and pushing executives to explain themselves and say what action they would take in response. Given all this, it is tempting to assume that 2019 will bring nothing but progress for women in work. Alas, it will not. Yes, over the longer term the direction of travel seems clear. But as with any change, progress will not be in a straight line. In the world of work, two things to watch out for in 2019 are a #MeToo backlash and the “pink-washing” of gender data.”
Although the focus of the article is on gender equality in the workplace, the issues addressed and questions raised can easily apply to the charged environment awaiting female students on competitive college and university campuses across the US. As a collective, we should give serious thought to what we can do to prepare high school students for gender challenges they may face first as college students living on their own and later as young women entering the workforce.