‘Seeing women in positions of power can change the idea of ​​what’s possible’: how Queen Elizabeth II helped break the glass ceiling

by Andrew Keshner

“We know that seeing women in positions of power can change the idea of ​​what’s possible for all of us,” said Lorraine Hariton, CEO of Catalyst.

Queen Elizabeth II was a symbol of steadfastness for Britain in her seven-decade reign, according to tributes and condolences that were poured out on Thursday after her death at the age of 96.

But the monarch, despite the fact that it is a hereditary title rather than one based on merit, was also a powerful role model for women of the 20th century, and later the 21st, who dreamed of rising to a high profile. highly visible authority roles, some noted.

“She has been a personal inspiration to me and to many Britons,” Liz Truss, Britain’s new prime minister, said Thursday, speaking days after meeting Queen Elizabeth.

The queen’s death was “a huge shock to the nation and the world,” Truss said.

Truss was the fifteenth prime minister to serve during Queen Elizabeth II’s time on the throne. Truss was the third woman in those ranks, after Theresa May, who served as prime minister from 2016 to 2019, and Margaret Thatcher, who served from 1979 to 1990.

Queen Elizabeth II “was respected and admired not only by her own people but beyond our family of nations,” according to a statement from May.

“Queen Elizabeth II was a powerful and historic symbol of women’s leadership, not just for women and girls in her own country but around the world,” said Lorraine Hariton, CEO of Catalyst, a global nonprofit organization. focused on the advancement of women in the workplace. .

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The world has changed since the live broadcast of the queen’s coronation in 1953, Hariton noted. “When she became queen in the 1950s, women weren’t in positions of power, and now the UK has seen three women become prime minister. We know that seeing women in positions of power can change the mind.” of what is possible for everyone. of us.”

In a statement on the queen’s death, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden said: “The seven decades of her historic reign witnessed an era of unprecedented human advancement and the march forward of human dignity.” .

Former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama noted that Queen Elizabeth II embraced “the role of queen, with a reign defined by grace, elegance and a tireless work ethic, defying the odds and the expectations placed on women of her generation.

The gaps between men’s and women’s pay and career opportunities may have narrowed over the past few decades, but they persist, and have even been threatened to widen due to the pandemic.

As of 2020, there was a difference of more than 11% between the median wages of women and men in highly developed countries, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. That’s down from more than 18% two decades earlier, the research noted.

In the UK, that gender pay gap in 2021 was 14%, according to OECD data

Queen Elizabeth II and Philip were married for 73 years before her death last year at the age of 99.

In a twist, a real-life subplot for “The Crown,” Netflix’s (NFLX) acclaimed series about Queen Elizabeth, actress Claire Foy, who played the queen in her younger years, was paid less than co-star Matt Smith. , who played Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

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Netflix did not respond to a request for comment.

Women around the world will take 132 years to reach the same financial, political and educational conditions as men, according to July estimates by the World Economic Forum.

Queen Elizabeth II left behind “a legacy of feminism,” even if she wouldn’t have described it that way, historian Amanda Foreman said Thursday on CBS News. “As a woman who continued to work, who aged to 96, but who proved that she was always relevant, she is the original woman who nevertheless persisted.”

– Andrew Keshner

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

09-10-22 1540ET

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