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What Does Gender Equality Look Like After ‘Wonder Woman’?

Thought leaders and speakers from the Ellevate Network, a community of women dedicated to investing in themselves and other women, discuss the impact of the movie Wonder Woman.

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BY Bill Carmody - 17 Jun 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

It's not surprising that a movie called Wonder Woman would star a series of stunning and powerful women including Gal Gadot, Robin Wright and Connie Nielson. But considering action movies are typically a male director's domain (think Chris Nolan, J.J. Abrams or Michael Apted) I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the vision directing this action and explosion packed flick was Patty Jenkins. And, as the movie has now grossed over $500M since it opened on June 2cnd, 2017 it would seem this calculated risk of hiring a female director for a blockbuster movie has already paid off.

Taking a step back, what's also interesting is how the movie narrative was developed. This is probably the only movie anyone's seen where an all-female pack of powerful, highly trained Amazonian warriors fends off and subdues an all-male attack. And it's possibly the only movie I've ever seen where our female super hero, single-handedly saves the day, again and again with only tepid--even comical--assistance from her male band of compatriots. Wonder Woman was not a sidekick. She was the main kick!

Discussing Gender Equality Underscores Its Relevance

I don't think for one moment that this movie is ushering in a new era in Hollywood, certainly not one supporting female directors as the number of women directors working on the 250 top grossing American films has dropped from 9% in 1998 to 7% in 2016. Nor do I think that a woman in a metal bathing suit, fighting the evil darkness spread by the evil god Aries, is going to throw the women's movement into overdrive. But it does feel like the movie is underscoring a societal shift. One that's ushering in more awareness and discussion around the topic of gender equality.

What Should Gender Equality Look Like In 2017? That's a massive question, so let's condense that by asking what's gender equality in the workplace look like today?

Equal Pay. Equal Leadership. Equal Funding.

I connected with Amy Cross, the founder of Gender Fair, which is a seal of approval mark that enables consumers to identify companies that are committed to women's equality, and the BUY UP Index, an app that helps people make purchasing decisions based on a company's demonstrated commitment to gender equality. Amy Cross told me, "I think the pillars of gender equality today are equal pay. Equal shots at leading and controlling organizations as well as an equal share of dollars when it comes to budget allocation."

"Movies like Wonder Woman show women's buying power at the box office. I actually just looked up some data and it stated that 52% of the people seeing Wonder Women in theaters are women. Normally for super-hero movies attendance is 60% or more male. So we see that this action movie is appealing to both genders AND is box office gold," she said.

A World That Supports Gender Equality Will Be Flexible

After speaking with Jena Booher, founder of Babies On The Brain I would also add that another pillar of gender equality has be greater work structure flexibility. "Last night at an event organized by Ladies Get Paid data was presented that women make up nearly 60% of college graduates and yet less than 22% of upper-level managers are female. What's that tell you? It tells me we're losing way too many women due to antiquated office policies, infrastructures and point of views."

"The workplace as it is today--was originally structured for and by men, so it doesn't offer the flexibility that women need if they are going to stay inclusive, ambitious members of the work force, while also becoming moms," Jena Booher continued.

"Flexibility can mean many things, and yeah sure, one of those could be working from home 100% or just a few days a week. But it could also mean working from 6am to 3pm. Or it could mean in-office day care." Jena Booher spends a lot of time being flexible as a young mother, who's running a start-up that tailors family supportive policies for select companies.

Everyone's Support Is Critical

While the loudest promoters of gender equality are often women, there are men who are equally enthusiastic (myself included). Craig Newmark the founder of Craigslist, feels that gender equality as a movement needs support above all else. "I figure the common goal is a (world) where talent and results matter, regardless of gender or ethnicity ... I think we have to repeat the message that gender equality is the new normal--relentlessly. That could be as simple as sharing a post about successful women running startups, or about other initiatives that promote gender equality."

Craig went on to encourage everyone to use social media to underscore this type of thinking. In that spirit, I'm optimistic he'll be re-tweeting this article to his followers and do exactly that, so that I'm doing my part (in writing about this topic) to support the gender equal future our world so desperately needs and he'll help boost my efforts (without having to pay Facebook for the privilege).

Amy Cross and Craig Newmark are speakers at the Ellevate #MobilizeWomen Summit on Wednesday June 21st New York. The conference is hosted by the Ellevate Network, a community of women dedicated to investing in themselves and other women. The Summit unites leaders to discuss the action steps that promote gender equality in business and in the world. You can register for the in-person event in NYC or for the livestream.

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