The Major Social, Economic and Political Occurrences of the Last 150 Years Have Resulted in a Current Position for Women in the United States That Is Equal to That of Men
Number of words: 1674
The Declaration of Independence proclaims America’s ideals of equality and freedom that still make sense throughout the world today. The declaration stipulates that the creator created all men equally and endowed them with inalienable rights such as the pursuit of happiness, liberty, and life (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 2020). However, the reality of the declaration did not manifest in many categories of society, such as women. Over the last 150 years, there were major political, economic, and social occurrences to ensure that women realize equal status in all aspects to their male counterparts. The National Women’s Party pushed for voting rights for women by picketing near the White House in 1917 and pushed on their demonstrations for about thirty months until 1919, when Congress passed the 19th Amendment (DocsTeach, 1917). Various legislations seeking to promote gender equality have been passed, including the Equal Pay Act, the Violence against Women Act, Title IX, and the Civil Rights Act incorporates sex discrimination. Gender inequality is still a major problem in the U.S., even with the great strides towards gender equality attributable to major political, economic, and social occurrences in the last one hundred and fifty years. There are three major reasons to back up this argument. First, women in the U.S. are yet to achieve equality. First, women and female-led households are more likely than men and households led by men to live below or at the poverty level. Second, women are still underrepresented in technical education and traditionally considered a preserve for men. Finally, women are yet to attain equal political participation to their male counterparts.
First, women and female-led households are more likely than men and households led by men to live below or at the poverty level. Since the 20th century, the number of women in the labor force has registered significant growth (Bleiweis, 2020). Women are pursuing high education at satisfactory levels and are working for longer hours. However, this progress has not been sufficient to reduce gender wage gaps and realize equality. This problem is more pronounced among women of color. Gender wage gaps refer to the differences in earnings between men and women (Bleiweis, 2020). The gender pay gap results from several factors such as occupational segregation, workplace climate, leadership stereotyping, the glass cliff, the glass ceiling, and discrimination in performance evaluations and hiring. Differences in jobs worked or industries are one of the factors contributing to inequalities in gender pay. This challenge comes from occupational segregation, where men and women engage in jobs or industries based on gender expectations and norms. Thus, women engage in low-paying jobs such as child care workers, health aides, or domestic jobs. The gendering of jobs and roles makes men dominate positions of influence, such as supervisors or managerial positions. They also gain the opportunity to ensure that the status quo remains (Bleiweis, 2020). Differences in years of experience and hours worked are another example of how inequality in gender pay arises. Women tend to work for fewer hours to ensure that they can balance work with their caregiving roles and other unpaid duties. Further, women are likely to work on a part-time basis, where they end up earning fewer benefits than full-time workers. Women also tend to have fewer years of experience than men as they work for fewer hours and are likely to miss long from work due to maternity leave.
While gender discrimination in payment was illegalized in 1963, it still exists widely among women of color (Bleiweis, 2020). Employees fear retaliation and are less likely to complain about the discrimination. Men consistently earn more than women. The first example to show inequality in gender pay is statistical data showing that about 27 percent of households led by women and 14 percent of women in the U.S. earn incomes below or at the poverty level compared to 13 percent of male-led households and 11 percent of men (Hazel & Kleyman, 2019). These statistics show that gender disparities still exist in economic terms where the poverty levels among women could result from inequalities in opportunities, payment, and economic participation. Women still engage in work where they do not expect a payment, such as domestic chores, and thus, they continue to depend on men as family breadwinners. Men are more likely to hold managerial positions compared to women. For example, in S&P 500 companies, women hold 21.2 percent of board seats, and those occupying CEO positions are just 5.3 percent.
The rate of college attainment among women has been higher than men since 1996. While this is a great achievement, women still earn less than men. Data from the Census Bureau in 2018 shows that for every $1 that men of all races earn, women will earn 82 cents on average (Hazel & Kleyman, 2019). This translates to a pay gap of 18 cents. Further, the pay gap increases if white men are to be compared with women of color. The third example of inequality in gender pay is on statistics showing that on average, for every $1 that white men, Asian women earn 93 cents, black women earn 68 cents, and Hispanic women earn 62 cents. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that the pay gap is not likely to close in some states until the next century. Hispanic women may have to wait until 2233 and 2124 for African American women (Hazel & Kleyman, 2019).
Secondly, women are still underrepresented in technical education and programs traditionally considered as a preserve for men. Analysis shows that women tend to concentrate in low-paying career and technical education programs traditionally female in postsecondary and secondary educational settings. For example, women are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs at the college or university level. In elementary schools, boys from predominantly white areas and higher-income families perform better in math than girls who attend the same or similar schools (AAUW Action Fund, 2020). Even though the STEM field is very lucrative, women in colleges are less likely to pursue education in these fields. Hostile academic departments and gender stereotypes continue to deflect women from these fields (Hazel & Kleyman, 2019).
The second example is that the women labor force in STEM is only 28 percent due to the reduced number of qualified women in these occupational areas (AAUW Action Fund, 2020). The third example is based on surveys showing that while young men accept changes in gender roles where the young men are doing a little more housework and women are doing a little less housework, the gender gap is significant (Miller, 2020). This is because women spend an hour more than men on child care and an hour more on housework (Miller, 2020).
Finally, women are yet to attain equal political participation to their male counterparts. Political empowerment is yet to bear fruits among American women. Women hold a minority of institutional and political positions involved in making decisions. This problem emanates from gender prejudices and norms that suppress women’s willingness to take or compete for elective political positions. For example, there are only eight female governors today (Rodriquez, 2021). Another example is the U.S. judiciary, where gender disparities are rife. Only one woman on the Supreme Court bench in twelve states in the U.S. Women occupy 39% of state Supreme Court positions (Adelstein & Bannon, 2021). Lastly, women are 51 percent of the U.S. population. Yet, they occupy 21 percent of the Senate and 19 percent of Congressional seats, and no woman is yet to become the president of the U.S. (Hazel & Kleyman, 2019).
In conclusion, gender inequality is still a major problem in the U.S., even with the great strides towards gender equality attributable to major political, economic, and social occurrences in the last one hundred and fifty years. There is still a huge pay gap between men and women due to factors such as discrimination and differences in experience and hours of work. Traditional gender roles still limit women. They are less likely to pursue education in STEM fields and report lower performance in math at the elementary level. This challenge also contributes to inequality in gender pay. Lastly, women are yet to attain equality in political representation, elective positions, or institutions tasked with decision making such as the judiciary. This implies that women should not relax to pursue equality as provided for in the Declaration of Independence.
AAUW Action Fund. (2020, October 5). The STEM gap: Women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and math – AAUW: Empowering women since 1881. AAUW: Empowering Women since 1881. https://www.aauw.org/resources/research/the-stem-gap/
Adelstein, J., & Bannon, A. (2021, April 20). State Supreme Court diversity — April 2021 update. Brennan Center for Justice. https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/state-supreme-court-diversity-april-2021-update
Bleiweis, R. (2020, March 24). Quick facts about the gender wage gap. Center for American Progress. https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/reports/2020/03/24/482141/quick-facts-gender-wage-gap/
DocsTeach. (1917, January 30). Flag bearer for women’s rights standing near White House. https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/flag-bearer-womens-rights
Hazel, K. L., & Kleyman, K. S. (2019). Gender and sex inequalities: Implications and resistance. Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community, 48(4), 281-292. https://doi.org/10.1080/10852352.2019.1627079
Miller, C. C. (2020, February 11). Young men embrace gender equality, but they still don’t vacuum (Published 2020). The New York Times – Breaking News, U.S. News, World News and Videos. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/11/upshot/gender-roles-housework.html
Rodriquez, B. (2021, May 21). There are only 8 women governors. Here’s how two plan to fix that. The 19th. https://19thnews.org/2021/05/there-are-only-8-women-governors-heres-how-two-plan-to-fix-that/
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. (2020, July 24). Declaration of Independence: A transcription. National Archives. https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript