Women’s Equality Day 2017

I have mixed feelings about having an Women’s Equality Day.

I’m happy to have a day celebrating women, but the fact that we need a day to remind everyone that women are still not treated equal makes me upset.

If one truly stops and thinks about it, it wasn’t that long ago when women could not vote, could not own property or get a divorce.  Society believed that women were too stupid for certain jobs and could not be left alone while out in public.

Some major bench marks that women have achieved only recently:

  • 1848-1900. States adopt the Married Woman’s Property Act, in which women are established as individuals, in an economic sense. Women can enter into contracts on their own, collect rent and inheritance. (The Guardian)
  • 1920 Women get the right to vote (History Channel)
  • 1972 Katharine Graham becomes the first woman to become CEO of a Fortune 500 company. (The Guardian)
  • 1974 Equal Credit Opportunity Act passes in the US. Women do not need a man to co sign credit card application (The Guardian)

But how far have women really come? What does the work force look like now for women?

  • Women make between 77-80 cents for each dollar a man makes (USA Today)
  • Women continue to be overwhelmingly employed in certain occupations that have been traditionally viewed as women’s “roles” (Huffington Post)
  • Women are still underrepresented in STEM occupations, with women’s share of computer workers actually declining since 1990. (U.S Department of Labor)
  • Women only make up 27% of chief executive positions (U.S. Department of Labor)

Of course these data points only show a small picture. For example, women are more likely than men to graduate college by age 29, women make up half of the work force, and the range of occupations that women enter is growing (U.S. Department of Labor)

I don’t share these grim data points to be a “Debbie Downer”. These are facts that women still face obstacles in the workforce.

What needs to change for REAL CHANGE to take place? Society needs to change how it views women. I believe the majority of people would say that they believe that women and men are equal. But what do they believe on the unconscious/subconscious level? Though outwardly they say that they want both to be treated equal, their actions can reveal a different story.

It has been noted that during performance reviews, women receive less constructive criticism/feed back. If a women shows strong leadership skills, she is called bossy while a man is call a leader. Do people give less constructive feed back and call a woman bossy  because CONSCIOUSLY they want to treat women different? I believe no. These differences take place with many people not realizing what influences them.

A couple of months back I applied for a new position at my work. I ended up NOT getting it and the rumor around the office was that one of the reasons I didn’t get it was because I was AMBITIOUS. Yes, I am an ambitious person. I have told many co workers this. I have even told my boss and the VP of my department. However, how my co workers were describing the rumors about me, ambitious was painted in a bad light. When has being ambitious been a bad thing? Oh, it is only a bad thing when you are a woman. Did my co workers CONSCIOUSLY describe being ambition as a bad thing  because I was a women? Again, I don’t believe so. This is what society has conditioned them to do and believe.

So in 2017 we have a day to honor the fight for Women’s Equality. In 2018, and the years to follow, we will again keep celebrating the day. I hope to see the day where the fight for women’s equality is a thing of the past.

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