Reflections on Women’s Equality Day
On August 20, 1920, the 19th amendment to the United States Constitution was declared in effect, and American women finally won the right to vote. In the 95 years since, how far have we progressed towards a society with true gender equality?
After women won the right to vote through constitutional amendment in 1920, a degree of political gender equality was achieved through universal suffrage. We are still seeing marked inequality in political representation, with women making up only 20-25% of elected officials at the state and federal levels. The United States has never had a female president, and only six out of 50 state governors are women. Equality before the law has improved in the form of equal protection laws in employment, but equal protection is still lacking for transwomen.
Income and Wealth Equality
Women today make only 78 cents to the dollar as compared to men. The gender wage gap persists even as women advance into higher-paying careers and positions; in 2014, the median weekly earnings for women in full-time management, professional, and related occupations was $981 compared to $1,346 for men, or 72 cents to the dollar men earned. Women own only 36% as much wealth as men, and the gender wealth disparity has been on the rise since 1998. Never-married women own only 6% of the wealth of never-married men, and gender wealth disparities increase even further for women of color.
Equality of Membership in Society
Women in today’s society still contend with significant interpersonal and internalized gender bias. Social stereotypes about feminine appearance, behavior, and occupation persist. Women are still too often portrayed in sexually objectifying ways in entertainment and media. A recent United Nations Women ad campaign captured just how far we have to go in erasing sexism and discrimination against women by displaying Google auto-complete search results for terms like “women should” and “women need to.”
On Women’s Equality Day, reflect on what you can do to improve the status of women. Perhaps it is self-advocating in your work place, contacting your political representative, or mentoring a young woman in your life. At YW Boston, we are working to empower women by educating current and future leaders about gender equity, providing health literacy training to girls and women, and celebrating and publicizing the achievements of local female leaders. Connect with us to join us in our mission and help make a change today.