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By Rina Nakano
SACRAMENTO -- From work conditions, wage gaps and voting rights, in the last century, women around the world have fought for equality.
"We've come a long way but we still have a lot of work to do," Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia said. She is also the Chair of the California Legislative Women's Caucus.
Some of California’s top women in politics, research and education came together on International Women’s Day and A Day Without a Woman to continue their fight.
"At the pace we are going, it's going to take another 40 years to reach equality. So women today are saying that's not good enough. So we need to hurry and speed it up," Garcia said.
Right now, women make up more than half of the state’s population, and hold the majority of university degrees at every level except Ph.D.s. According to the panel, out of California’s 400 largest public companies, only 17 CEOs are women. So why the disparity? Many say it's because certain stereotypes still exist.
"She actually changes her name to Shani on her resume, for fear that her name, Shaniqua would cause biases against her, and she's probably right," Alisha Wilkins said of her friend's experience.
She is the Commissioner of "Status of Women."
Out of all the states, Nevada has the highest percentage of Women in legislature with 39 percent.
Wyoming has the lowest at 11 percent.
In California, 22 percent of the Legislature is made up of women -- a number that is declining.
"We've had year of the woman, decade of the women any number of times. And we really have to figure out why our numbers are decreasing in public service," Sen. Holly Mitchell (District 30) said.
Mitchell is also the Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Women and Inequality.
The "why" is what the panel calls an "implicit bias" people have. To change that, people must ask themselves questions by taking a look at their surroundings – home, school and work.
"Are women treated fairly? Are women given equal access to promotional opportunities? All of us have bias. Ask yourself some questions when you have the opportunity to employ or promote a woman," Mitchell said.
While today is a celebration of the improvements made, these politicians said their jobs are far from over.
"Until we get equality and equity, this fight it going to continue," Garcia said.
This was the first of three panel discussions on implicit bias women face.
The next one will be April 21 at Mount Saint Mary's University in Los Angeles. The final one of the year will be on October 24, back in Sacramento.