By Women for Women

Report from the Futurist

Futurist

Nancy Ramsey, 58, the president of Morning Star Imports, an importer of tribal and ethnic jewelry, which puts her in touch with women around the world, and the coauthor, with Pamela McCorduck, of The Futures of Women: Scenarios for the 21st Century (Addison-Wesley, 1996, $24).

Scenario

"At the current rate of social change, women won't achieve full equality to men until the year 2270. But women won't be that patient. They'll become economic separatists, rejecting the corporate and social status quo, and instead look for ways to create their own opportunities. We see it now: Women are choosing smaller, more flexible companies over traditional ones. Today, more American women work for women-owned businesses than for the Fortune 500. Continued frustration with the intransigence of large corporations - their reluctance to promote women more aggressively or to adopt more family-friendly policies - will prompt women to look for even more radical ways to bring about economic equality."

So What?

"We'll see the rise of women-centered economic activism. Women will choose to work for, and to buy products from, companies owned and run by women. Companies will have to be accountable to women or risk decline. Companies will have to disclose their hiring, paying, and promoting practices regarding women."

Futurology Decoder Key

"Thanks to the rise of digital technology and new models of work, the possibility is greater now than ever before that work can be designed to accommodate women. What's holding companies back is deep-seated cultural resistance, and that is notoriously hard to reverse. Perhaps a direct threat to the bottom line - a boycott, perhaps - will be the only action that will bring about change. Ultimately, though, companies will see that full equality for women is not just a women's issue. Everyone benefits from greater flexibility and fairness."

Cathy Olofson (cathyo@channel1.com) is a writer and editor based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. You can reach Nancy Ramsey by email (ramsey@well.com).

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