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caption: Left to right: Former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, and Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau
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Left to right: Former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, and Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau
Credit: Courtesy of Town Hall Seattle

Seattle leaders talk gender inequality, and the ‘glass cliff’ problem

The scourge of sexism, misogyny, and gender inequality in the United States is an enduring one.

Women in the workforce face a range of challenges. That was the topic of discussion posed to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, and Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau at a recent townhall event The Conversations.

Last year, women accounted for just 6% of CEO positions among Fortune 500 companies. Women are paid less than men for equal work. They are underrepresented in government and many industries. They carry more of the burden of household chores than men do, and retired women are twice as likely as retired men to live in poverty.

Add to the litany of discrimination, sexual assault, and harassment. A total of 82% of all juvenile sexual assault victims are female; 90% of adult rape victims are female; and 69% of women have been sexually harassed in a professional setting.

The Covid-19 pandemic has only heightened inequalities. Women are more likely than men to work in service occupations that require face-to-face interactions and have been more subject to layoffs.

For women who make it through the infamous "glass ceiling" into positions of leadership, a "glass cliff" may await. Women don’t generally enjoy the support and trust commonly given to male leaders, and they are still targets of gender harassment, both in and outside the workplace.

In partnership with Town Hall Seattle, the Seattle University Institute of Public Service presents The Conversations, a quarterly series. In this episode, they invited the three women leaders to share their insights into the hurdles women face, the benefits of female leadership styles, and best practices for successful progress.

The discussion was moderated by journalist Joni Balter, and Seattle University professors Larry Hubbell and Rashmi Chordiya.

This online event took place on February 17, 2021.