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As Catalyst, a nonprofit research group dedicated to advancing women in the workplace, celebrates its 40th anniversary, women are taking stock of their advances. And while more progress could be made, the gains are impressive: Between 1970 and 2000, the proportion of women ages 25 to 34 who completed four or more years of college increased from 12 to 30 percent. According to the Center for Women's Business Research, in Washington, D.C., sales generated by female-owned firms have increased by 40 percent since 1997 alone, reaching almost $1.15 trillion today. And in another sign of the times, while the number of Fortune 500 companies without women on their boards was 155 just eight years ago, today that number is 66.
That doesn't mean that the sexes are on equal footing at work. In a recent Catalyst survey of women and men in their mid-20s to mid-30s, about 42 percent of women reported that they have to overcompensate to get the same rewards at work as men. In fact, women still earn about 76 cents for every dollar a man makes. But the office isn't the only battlefront for equality. Although almost half of both men and women surveyed by Catalyst said they are preoccupied with work while away from the office, women reported feeling more pressure at home and consequently are more interested in child care and flexible hours than their male counterparts. And younger working women know the road ahead may be rocky. Jane Lannon, a 2001 MBA graduate of Dartmouth College's Tuck business school, observes: "As I look toward my future, my biggest challenge will be balancing family and career."