How “The Female Frontier” Is Shaping Our Future

Sean T. Johnston

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Of all the trends we have identified and tracked over the last decade, the one that resonates with me the deepest is the Female Frontier. Advances women are experiencing in personal, professional and political domains are unprecedented; but the advancements are not evenly distributed worldwide and many argue that much work remains to achieving parity between men and women. Nevertheless, as access to education for young girls increases in developing countries, discussions focused on equitable pay move to the forefront, and society shifts their notions of traditional roles filled by men and women, this will be a space to watch for years to come.


– Sheryl Connelly, Ford global trend and futuring manager


The first Ford Trends report had a lot to say about the role of women in modern society. That was back in 2012. And—although the time may seem short—there has been a lot of activity on the “Female Frontier” as women across the globe continue to fight for equality.


First, the good news.


According to research outlined in the latest Ford Trends report, more than 78 percent of people (men and women) around the world believe that women have more opportunities today than they did even three years ago. Over the past decade, the number of women-owned firms here in the United States has increased by more than 45 percent.


The forward progress of the past few years is definitely encouraging. But the pace at which the gender gap is narrowing is still too slow for many. A 2016 report from the World Economic Forum states: “the progress is still too slow for realizing the full potential of one-half of humanity within our lifetimes.” And according to a survey for our most recent trends report, 82 percent of adults agree that women and men are still not viewed as equals.


There’s still a lot of work to be done.


The fact is, in 2017, women and men are still not paid equally for the same work. Research shows that the gap is narrowing, but it could be decades before it has closed entirely. In late October 2016, to draw attention to this pay gap, women in Iceland left their jobs at exactly 2:38 pm, an overt nod to the 14 percent to 18 percent gap that essentially amounts to their working for free after 2:38 pm.


In Saudi Arabia, women’s rights are progressing even more slowly. Women still cannot drive, marry or travel outside the country without the permission of a male guardian. Yet despite these inequalities, more than 1,000 women were elected to municipal posts across the country in 2016—the first time female citizens had the right to vote and run for office.


At Ford, we recognized this trend early, and we are tirelessly committed to promoting and accelerating women’s success and equality – from our support of female engineers to our product designs that speak specifically to women’s needs and purchasing power.


What else does the future hold? Explore the latest Ford Trends Report and see what issues and influences are shaping our society.

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