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Women may not yet have achieved equality in the corporate boardroom, but women have broken through the glass ceiling to take-on the CEO position in a handful of the largest U.S. companies, including General Motors (Mary Barra), Xerox (Ursula Burns), Yahoo! (Marissa Mayer), Hewlett-Packard (Meg Whitman), PepsiCo (Indra Nooyi), IBM (Virginia Rometty), Lockheed Martin (Marillyn Hewson), and TJX Companies (Carol Meyrowitz).
What about outside of the boardroom? Can you name a woman whose face currently appears on any U.S. paper currency?
Trick question. There aren’t any.
Why not? It’s not because we haven’t had a female president (yet). Alexander Hamilton (never president) appears on the $10, and Benjamin Franklin (never president) appears on the $100.
I’m aware (only because I researched the issue to write this blog) that Martha Washington appeared on the $1 Silver Certificate of 1886 and 1891, and that she appeared side-by-side with George on the $1 Silver Certificate of 1896. I have never held, seen, or heard of those bills . . . so they don’t count. I’m also aware that Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea have appeared on $1 coins, but when is the last time you came across one of those when emptying your pockets?
Is there a glass ceiling for women when it comes to paper currency?
It took a 9-year old girl from Massachusetts, Sofia, to get me thinking about this issue. Last summer, Sofia wrote a letter to President Obama asking “why there aren’t many women on the dollars/coins for the United States.” She astutely (and correctly) reminded President Obama that “if there where no woman there wouldn’t be men” (I’ll give Sofia a pass on her grammatical error – she’s 9). Sofia even gave President Obama a list of suggestions. She would like to see Rosa Parks on the $20 (bye-bye Andrew Jackson).
President Obama responded to Sofia last month. Better late than never. He also invited her to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, which is being held today. Describing Sofia, and her proposed list of women, as “impressive,” President Obama promised to keep working to make sure that Sofia grows up in a country where women have the same opportunities as men.
Kudos to Sofia. She may never have heard the phrase “glass ceiling,” and if she has experienced sex discrimination, it likely has been on the playground. But, President Obama is right. Sofia is “impressive.”