TODAY   |  May 02, 2013

Tom Brokaw: Welcome to the century of women

NBC’s Tom Brokaw, father of three daughters, adds his voice to the debate about women in the workplace and the home, saying women have never made “as many gains in the history of mankind” as they are making now, but “we have a long way to go.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> there are a few issues that get debate going what the role of women is and should be in our society. you might be surprised who is weighing in now. it isn't a man's world according to cheryl samberg, author of the book "lean in" in which she writes a truly equal world in which women ran half of our countries and men run half of our homes. at a time when there are only 21 women ceos of fortune 500 companies, these words have sparked a debate.

>> do not leave before you leave. do not lean back, lean in. put your foot on that gas pedal and keep it there until the day you have to make a decision. and then make a decision.

>> and the conversation continues online with parents on blogs inundated with posts on equality and women in the workplace. in a discussion about lean in, one member writes, quote, made me wonder how i hide my insecurities at work. i don't feel that insecure, but made me wonder if i just mask it. but not everyone wants to lean in at the office. "new york" magazine and "the atlantic" have highlighted that debate with cover stories in the past. and there's a new entry into the discussion it might surprise you tom brokaw writing an essay called "welcome to the century of women ." he writes as the challenges of the 21st century demands more from each of us, shouldn't we be thinking about how to free up for the common good as we do about immigration, entitlement reform and debt reduction? and speak of the devil , here he is, tom brokaw .

>> now you're calling me a devil.

>> i already called you an old friend, i might as welleep at it. good to see you.

>> good to be here.

>> say the 21st century will be the century of the woman. and you cite the increase number of women in law and politics at the top of business. is it already here?

>> no, we have a long way to go. and i did say the entire century will be the determination of whether it becomes a century of women , which i believe it will be. that gender, your gender has never made as many gains in the history of mankind and it's way overdue, frankly. in the western world , the gains are being made. other parts of the world where we have a lot to be done. the islamic world is a demonstration of that. there is a movement only in one direction, if you look in this country alone, she has reactivated the debate in many ways. we've had more women on the supreme court than ever before, more women in the united states senate than ever before. t an african- american woman runs xerox. half the law school students, half the medical school students are women . and for a generation coming of age , they're not looking at that gender diversification in the same way my generation did.

>> and you write in the piece a couple of times we should be thinking about freeing up women for the common good. what do you mean by that?

>> i think the institutions have to change. you begin with a simple idea of let's make equal pay for equal work . also, we have to think about the ability of women to do what they p want to do with their own lives, that is to have babies and still return to the workplace and not lose their place necessarily. i think corporations have to change, government has to change because we're going to need as i say in this essay, we're going to need everybody in the arena to get through the complicated times in which we're now living.

>> all right, tom brokaw , good to get your perspective. thank you very much.

>> thank you.