Table of contents
- Introduction to Gender Equality
- The Historical Fight for Women's Rights
- Men's Opposition to Gender Equality
- The Gender Pay Gap and Workplace Inequality
- Sexual Assault, Harassment, and Gender Inequality
- Motherhood, Stereotypes, and the Struggle for Equality
- Men's Perspective on Equality and Conclusion
Introduction to Gender Equality
Women are still fighting for equality today. Women today face misrepresentation, lack of human rights, and unequal pay. Which leaves them fighting for basic respect as human beginning. The question is, why are women not treated equally to men, and why have women not been given equality yet? Is it because women are intimidating? Not smart enough? Not strong enough? The reasons can go on, but the problem at hand is women are not treated equally to men.
The Historical Fight for Women's Rights
Women began to make an impact on women’s rights in 1848 when they hosted the Seneca Falls Convention. Three days before the convention four women, Lucretia Mott, Martha C. Wright, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Mary Ann McClintock, gathered together so that they could plan the agenda for the convention. They ended up putting the convention around Stanton's speech, the Declaration of Sentiments. Stanton wrote the Declaration of Sentiments as a parallel to the Declaration of Independence, but for women. She wrote things like “all men and women are created equal…” and “He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice.” Her speech alone sparked the Women's Suffrage Movement. These women Gave us the Rights we have today as women by standing up for their rights. Without the Seneca Fall Convention women, today would not have the right to vote, the ability to divorce their husbands, and so much more. However, women in Mississippi and Maine in the 1830s did have the right to own property, and women in Kentucky could vote on school reality laws if there were single or widowed. But, many of these laws were revoked after the Seneca Falls Convention. But women continued to speak out and take stands for their rights until the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920, allowing women to vote. Since women could vote, the movement mostly fell apart leaving women today still oppressed by men in new ways.
Men's Opposition to Gender Equality
Men are the ones that disagree with women being seen as equal. This is why a little under 80 years passed before women gained the right to vote. Men today will disagree because women are not as strong as men. They will say women are not qualified enough for authority positions or for more pay. They will even say women are not emotionally stable enough to be seen as equal. This is usually because of their periods. There are thousands of memes or cartoons about women being moody because it was their time of the month. This is a really big excuse for men, but a bigger excuse is religion. Many Islamic religions restrict women, whether it be that they cannot leave the house without a man with them, cannot work, or they cannot go to school. In the article, Challenging the Mullahs, Zainah Anwar writes that Muslim women in Malaysia have to accept abuse from their husbands or accept him taking a second wife because it is his Islamic right. Men disagreeing with women’s equality due to religious reasons is also shown in the famous story of Malala Yousafzai. Malala was a sixteen years old with she was shot by a Taliban gunman for going to school. She had been going to a school her father Ziauddin Yousufzai had founded, however, her father was one of the few men in her area to believe in women being educated. The Taliban had been against this and sent warnings or threats to women seeking an education. However, Malala decided to continue to go to school against the threats and take a stand for women’s rights to education. But it is not uncommon for other religions and countries to be against women’s rights. Which leaves them to seek asylum here in America for equality and freedom. But the men here are still against women’s equality for either their religion still or because they not being open-minded.
The Gender Pay Gap and Workplace Inequality
One-way women are still oppressed by men is the pay gap. Women who hold executive power are not paid the same as men in the same position or respected the same. Based on a social experiment from New York University, 47% of middle-management positions in the U.S. are held by women, 17% in executive management, and 11% as CEOs. This shows the gap between women holding leadership positions at work and men holding leadership positions at work. The university found that more widely known organizations and companies are less likely to have a women CEO but are hiring more women proportionally than smaller organizations and companies. The university even said, “There is some evidence that unionization increases the odds of having a female CEO, but this effect drops out when the industry controls and institutional variables are added”. The likelihood of there being a female CEO increases if she works her way to the top. However, it takes double the work for a woman to get promoted over a male employee. Men rely on networks and other people to help them work their way up the leader to CEO. Whereas women who do not have this available to them due to the fact many men do not want to help women to the top. For a woman to become CEO she must inform herself, work to be a leader, and prove herself constantly. An article by Sarah Dillard and Venessa Lipschitz showed that if a young woman hoped to run a major business in their future then they must “get an undergraduate degree from the most prestigious college you can, an MBA from a selective business school, then land a job at a top consulting firm or investment back. From there, move between companies as you hopscotch your way into bigger roles and more responsibility”. They even go on to mention that this is what Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School encourages women to do. Thus, showing that even one of the most prestigious colleges in America notes how hard it is for women to become CEO. The article mentions that Sheri McCoy worked at Johnson & Johnson for thirty years and gained tons of experience to only be passed up as CEO of the company. But that experience the company gave her and how hard she worked made her the CEO of Avon shortly after being passed for CEO at Johnson & Johnson. The article also mentions that Mary Barra started out at General Motors as a college co-op student there and later became CEO. But, only 20% of women who took jobs outside of college became that company’s CEO. This is all notable because it shows the differences and difficulty it takes for a woman to become a leader and run a business. Women have to work ten times harder and have more difficult experiences obtaining power than a man does.
There is a stigma behind women who hold power that they sleep their way to the top. The article “How #MeToo Exposes the Myth of Sleeping Your Way to the Top” by Erin Gloria Ryan shows women who were accused of sleeping their way to the top. For example, Joan Rivers accused Chelsea Handler of sleeping her way to the top. It also says that “Katy was accused of doing it when she was hired to work for The Weather Channel back in 2009 when she was dating Keith Olbermann, as though her skills as a reporter couldn’t possibly have won her that job.” These examples are only a few who have been accused of sleeping to the top. Many women are accused of sleeping their way to the top because they date someone they work with or their superior. Which dismisses the woman for the hard work she did to get there. The #MeToo movement highlighted that women are the main guilty culprit for spreading rumors of other women sleeping their way to the top. This stigma discourages women from getting a high-powered job for fear people will spread rumors that they slept their way to the top. This also discourages women from dating a fellow employee or superior because they don’t want people to think they're taking advantage and trying to make their way to the top. A stereotype should not stop someone from loving who they love and if women are given the credit, they deserve for making it to the top of their company then more women would work to get to the top. But, popular culture highlights this in movies and novels. In order to bridge this gap, we must lose the idea that any woman in power slept her way there, spreading rumors about other women, and stop portraying it as something that is normal.
Sexual Assault, Harassment, and Gender Inequality
The lack of inequality between men and women has an impact on sexual assault, rape, and/or harassment. In many cultures or religions, women are still controlled by men. For example, in some cultures, women are married off by their fathers and their new husband forces himself on her. Also, in polygamy women are told to obey their husbands for him to provide for them. Which also leads to sexual assault and/or rape. But the number of sexual assault, rape, and/or harassment so high is partial because women are viewed as submissive to men, leaving men to take control over women. This is why many women do not report being sexually assaulted, raped, and/or sexually harassed because the media around men do not believe women that it happened. For example, the sexual assault or misconduct case against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh had allegations against him from Christine Ford, who said he had sexually assaulted her when she was 15 in the early 1980s. In her case, she had her therapist's notes about the attack and a polygraph test she had taken which showed she was telling the truth. What many people do not know about this case is that Ford got death threats for her allegations and that two other women, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, also came forth with their stories of sexual assault or misconduct against Kavanagh. This case resulted in the girls losing the case and Kavanaugh becoming a Supreme Court Judge. This case has discouraged many women from speaking out against their rapists. Rape cases often do not result in the predator being locked up due to lack of evidence or loss of rape kits. What is striking is that after so many days pass it is unlikely to win a rape case. This needs to change in order for women to bridge the gap between inequality because many women are raped at a young age and do not understand that this is something they need to report. So many of them never do, because nothing will happen, and live in fear of their rapist and men. Sexual harassment is also prominent in the workforce. For example, the article “Former DOC Employee Awarded $300,000 in Workplace Sexual Harassment Case” by Matt Clarke shows a sexual harassment case that took place in May 2019. Cynthia Fuller worked for DOC, Idaho Department of Corrections, filed a lawsuit against DOC for sexual harassment and a hostile work environment for women. Fuller had a relationship with her senior parole/probation officer Herby Cruz. She felt like he was becoming too controlling and tried to break the relationship off when he kidnapped, beat, raped, and sodomized her. When she reported this, she found out that Cruz had other allegations of rape that the DOC knew about and did not tell her. Stopping sexual harassment in the workforce will encourage more women to work up the employment ladder. Also fixing the court system for women who want to report rape, sexual assault, and/or sexual harassment will build women’s confidence and make them feel safer. This will most likely lead to fewer rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment cases because men will be held accountable. This will allow women not to feel as submissive to men and not be afraid of their male counterparts.
Motherhood, Stereotypes, and the Struggle for Equality
Women are not considered equal for many reasons, but one of the most important reasons is being a mother. The article “Pay Her More! How Sex and Motherhood Play a Role in the Unequal Pay of Women on the World Stage” by Raquel S. Zilberman states, “The gender pay gap is even more prominent among mothers, this is known as the motherhood pay gap”. She goes on to mention that this is due to the skills and differential treatment of mothers versus non-mothers. She even says there is a per-child wage penalty and that the wage gap between mothers and nonmothers may be larger than the gap between men and women. This is due to childcare and needing to stay home with sick children. However, a father is just as responsible to take care of their child. Zilberman mentions that pregnant managers are seen as not as committed to their job and less dependable due to doctor visits and their sway of emotions. She also found that women would have a child are viewed as significantly less competent and committed. Being a mother or pregnant does not stop a woman from working harder, many mothers work harder to provide for their children. Penalizing women for being mothers is something we need to overcome in order to bridge the gap between mothers and nonmothers, in order to bridge the gap between men and women. There are other reasons women are not considered equal, like men, and sometimes even women themselves as seeing themselves are not smart enough and strong enough to handle equality. Zilberman in her article says, “many women do not even apply for higher paying jobs, because they believe they are unqualified or will not be given an equal opportunity”. Women tend to be tougher on themselves, which shows that women are a part of the equality gap. In order to close the gap, women must not be afraid to step out of their comfort zone and take a chance. To close the gap men too have to see women as strong and independent and help close the gap.
Men's Perspective on Equality and Conclusion
Men also see an equality gap, but society does not talk about it as much. The most prominent case of this is men not being allowed to see their children. Many divorced dads who spilt with the mother of their child do not get to see their child or deal with the court cases. In the article, “A dad explains: “why I don’t see my child” Emma Johnson tells the story of John G. John divorced his wife who he had a son with and felt as if his ex was using their son as a weapon to get revenge against him. His ex apparently filed false claims of abuse against him and had his son call him by his first name. John dealt with unanswered calls, not being allowed to speak to his son, and canceled visits. This shows the gap between men and women, which men deal with as fathers. However, the gap does not stop there. In most cases, men are not offered childcare or given as much leeway as mothers when taking off for a sick child. The article “The Rise of Single Fathers” by Gretchen Livingston showed that in 2011 that 24% of single-parent households were of a single father. The gap between equality for men and women does not just need to be bridged so women are fair. The gap needs to be bridged so everyone is treated equally and has the same resources and opportunities. No gender should fear something because the other gender has more authority there. Men should be allowed to cry without being considered feminine and raise a child with the same options women have open for them.
Women grow up in fear of society. Women are sexualized, objectified, and overlooked leaving them to fear the stereotype of Women’s roles. Women have been instilled with fear for years. They are scared to leave their houses alone, hold power, work jobs “not fit for women”, and be anything more than a mother. Some men might feel that women are treated equally, but they face inequality daily. Even men face equality and need to see that women and men can be equal and can compete on the same level as men. It just takes bridging one gap at a time. If England can be run solely by a woman, why can America not treat their women equally as a person, in pay, and in an executive position?