The role of women in our society has been changing since World War II.
More and more women are working outside of the home than ever before. About 60 percent of women today are in the work force. Marriage is becoming a less dominant lifestyle. In 2009, 43 percent of the population in the United States was unmarried and 53 percent of them were women.
The idea of women in traditional roles or traditional careers is also changing, as evidenced by the growing number of women in graduate and professional schools. The number of women has exceeded the number of men in these programs since 1984. And the number of women in the work force with college degrees tripled from 1970 to 2008.
The 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the United States represent 40 percent of all businesses. Women business owners employ 35 percent more people than all of the Fortune 500 companies combined. And women control more than 51.3 percent of the personal wealth in the United States.
So we have come a long way, baby -- or have we? The wage gap between what women and men earn remains an issue. In 1979, women working full time earned 62 percent of what men did. In 2008, women's earnings were 80 percent of men's. And recently, The Times reported that women in Indiana and Illinois earn about $11,500 less than their male counterparts.
Women are a powerful force and resource in our communities. In an effort to capture some of that power and energy and to help women advance, the Porter County Community Foundation, in partnership with The Times Media Co., is hosting Women's Wisdom: A forum for women by women. The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 23 at the Harre Union at Valparaiso University. The cost to attend is $25.
Women of all ages are invited to participate in this special event that features informational sessions on health, business, financial and estate planning, careers and making a difference. All of the presentations feature local women who have successfully overcome barriers and are recognized leaders in their respective fields. The event also will feature as the luncheon keynote speaker Valparaiso native and awarding-winning journalist and author Neenah Ellis. Neenah will share how the role of women in journalism is changing -- for the better.
The goal of this forum is to give women the opportunity to network and learn from successful women in a wide variety of fields. The ultimate goal is to help empower women to stretch beyond their comfort zone, to take a chance and pursue that lifelong dream, and to provide the tools for women to better manage and enrich their lives, which, in turn, will build a stronger community for all of us.
For more information about Women's Wisdom and/or to register, visit http://www.portercountyfoundation.org or call (219) 465-0294.
To look at the information referred to above, visit http://www.philanthropy.iupui.edu/womensphilanthropyinstitute and http://www.stopharass.com.
Barb Young is president of the Porter County Community Foundation. The opinions are the writer's.