Have you noticed all the talk about gender equality in the news and online lately? As the name implies, it is a human rights movement that seeks to achieve equality between the sexes. But is gender inequality still a major problem? Is there still a significant gap between men and women? As it turns out, the answer to those questions is yes.
Women, even those living in relatively progressive nations like the United States, are confronted daily with challenges that their male counterparts do not face. These include, but are in no way limited to:
- Lower wages than men who work the same jobs
- Fewer leading positions in industry, academic, and government
- Higher rates of assault, including sexual assault
As of 2012, women in the United States were paid 0.81 for every $1.00 made by their male counterparts. This gender pay gap ratio has remained almost unchanged for over a decade. This income imbalance means that women take home significantly less money to their families and that they will have smaller savings when they retire. But the pay gap is just the tip of the iceberg.
American women face an uphill battle when it comes to obtaining upper-level positions in numerous fields. Women in the American business community are very underrepresented in corporate management. For example, they only hold 1 in 5 of the seats on the corporate boards of Fortune 500 companies. They also find it hard to rise to the upper-echelons of academia. There are significantly more men in faculty positions at American universities than women. This is especially true in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math), where women represent only 20% of faculty members. To compound this problem, these female faculty are paid considerably less on average than male faculty. However, the most telling figures on gender inequality in the US may just come from our own government. As of this year, women hold less than 20% of the seats in Congress (104 out of 535) and only a quarter of US Cabinet-level positions (6 out of 23). These shocking numbers illustrate that gender inequality remains a major problem with real-world implications.
Although all of these statistics on women’s professional disadvantages are disappointing, the gruesome numbers for violence against women are even more disturbing. Studies show that 1 in 5 women are the victims of sexual assault. In addition, women are significantly more likely to be killed by their husbands and boyfriends than men are to be killed by their wives or girlfriends. This data helps drive home the reality that gender inequality is a serious, even deadly problem in America. The figures presented above in no way demonstrate the full disparity between men and women; there are plenty of other ways in which women are treated differently from men. The facts are all around us, if we choose to look.
I was raised around strong, independent-minded women and I believe that has been a major factor in shaping my views on this issue. They taught me that women should be treated as complete equals to men. As a child, these messages didn’t seem particularly significant. It was not difficult to understand why you should treat everyone the same. However, as I got older, I began to realize that society doesn’t always work that way. Although we have made great progress in the last century, women are still not treated as men’s equals. There is much that must still be done to improve the lot of women. What do you think about the movement for gender equality? What do you think can be done to make an improvement? Write a comment and maybe we can start a conversation that will lead to real change!