Athena Distinguished Fellow and Respectful Exits Chief Relationship Officer Carol Evans joined the Athena Center for Leadership Studies in April for a conversation about women and work and the future of the women’s leadership movement. The Athena Center was established at Barnard in 2009. Dedicated to the advancement of women leaders around the world, the Center selects an annual class of Fellows comprising leaders from senior levels of both the private and public sectors who have demonstrated a commitment to the Center’s mission.

In a discussion as part of the Center’s PowerTalk Series, Carol shared personal and oftentimes humorous stories from her distinguished career. In addition to her role at Respectful Exits, Carol serves as President Emeritus of Working Mother Media and Diversity Best Practices which are part of Bonnier Corporation. Her relationship with Working Mother began in 1978 when the magazine first launched, and grew over the next decade as she became both advertising director and VP publisher. Then she spent more than ten years running two publishing companies: Stagebill and The Chief Executive Group, until founding Working Mother Media by acquiring Working Mother magazine and the National Association for Female Executives in 2001.

In conversation with Barnard College Provost Linda Bell, Carol highlighted essential issues facing women in the workplace today, and especially those facing women as they age.

Here are three key takeaways from Carol’s remarks:

Women have made progress at work, but there’s a long way to go
There are just 32 female CEOs in the Fortune 500, and overall, only 3 percent of public companies have female CEOs. In this decade, we’ve only improved the wage gap by 2 percent, versus gains that were double that in previous decades. While we’ve certainly seen progress towards gender equity at work, we still have a very long way to go.

The gender pay gap gets worse over the course of a woman’s career
As women age, the wage gap not only gets worse over their lifetime but is compounded by additional penalties  including a pension gap, promotion gap, lengthier student loan payments, and an overall lack of spending power. For 25-34 year olds, the wage gap is only 91%, but that increases to a 74% gap for 45-55 year olds, and grows from there. In more concrete terms: at 25, the average wage gap is $5000, but for a 60-year-old woman, it increases to $78,000.  So while younger workers may not think the gap is something they need to worry about, the truth is that it increases dramatically over time.

Lifelong learning is valuable for both employers and employees
Success requires a commitment to learning. For individuals, that means it’s critical not only to hone your skills over time, but also to be open to learning new skills so that you can adapt to changes outside of your control. For businesses, that means not just training young people, but training older people as well who have a knowledge base to build on.

Watch Carol’s full interview below: