Special Report: Breaking the glass ceiling

Ninety years ago Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which guarantees women the right to vote.

Before then, women were jailed for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote. We have come a long way, but are women really treated as equals?

This is the story of our mothers, grandmothers and great Grandmothers, who lived only 90 years ago. "We were taught that all you needed to do was get a good husband, and have some children and rear a family," says Dorothy Hubbard, Albany Mayor.

"The employer would look at you like 'well you really don't have to work, you have a husband," says Patsy Martin. "In my early career, I was in the news business, and back then it was pretty much a mans world," says Jackie Ryan, Phoebe Putney Strategy VP.

It is quite obvious, we've made progress; women occupy positions once only held by men. "There are more women CEO's now then there have ever been in the history of our country," says Hubbard.

At a record high, in 2012, there are 18 women running Fortune 500 companies. "Women today, they are doctors, they are lawyers, they are truck drivers," says Ryan.

Jackie Ryan, is the Vice President of Strategy at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.  Dorothy Hubbard is Albany's first female mayor. It is an interesting position for her, she now runs an all male commission. "Would you believe, now that feels pretty good," says Hubbard.

And earlier in her career, Patsy Martin was the president and region executive for Bank of America. She also became the first woman president of Albany Dougherty Chamber of Commerce. She is now one of Albany's top realtors.

All three women pioneered though a man's world, and all of them with different opinions on how their gender affected their careers.

"With my career, I never felt that the fact that I was a woman was a detriment," says Martin.

"I think the world is really about who you are, not what your gender is," says Ryan.

"Men want to think that we will make decisions because we are emotional about things, and I am sorry but that is not always the case," says Hubbard.

Hubbard says it was evident she wasn't given the same opportunities, her male counterparts were given, including a job she knew she deserved, but instead was given to a man. "I knew every job, every procedure there was in that office, so I knew that I should have had the job," says Hubbard.

Women have made huge strides forward in the workplace and have made accomplishments, which were once just dreams. "I remember how thrilled I was when we had our first woman presidential candidate, and I am always proud to see women governors take leadership in the legislative process," says Martin.

Yet, while the upcoming ascensions are notable, the gender gap between men and women in the workplace remains vast, with females struggling to get the mentors they need and the pay to equal their male counterparts. "You may have worked a little bit harder to prove your value and your worth to organizations," says Martin.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010, women made only 81% of the median weekly earnings of their male peers.

"You can read the research, women in some areas are still not paid equitably, they may not attain the same levels of achievement in certain businesses or in certain fields, those statistics are still out there, gradually the gap is closing," says Ryan.

While these three female pioneers agree that there is some struggle that still exists. It's up to young women to strive to make their mark as leaders, permanently breaking the glass ceiling that held so many back.

Women's Suffrage Day is celebrated on August 26th, which is when the amendment officially became part of the Constitution.

Copyright 2012 WALB.  All rights reserved.