As I was thinking about this day, I was not sure what I wanted to write on my blog but I knew I wanted to say something. There are so many different things to be said…I was having a hard time finding a place to start. Then I heard part of an interview on CNN this morning where the moderator was discussing International Women’s Day with two women, one liberal and one conservative, and it hit me what I wanted to say.
International Women’s Day is supposed to be a celebration of women as well as a vehicle to help forge a better working world – a more inclusive, gender equal world. But the conservative woman in the interview kept saying…these are liberals protesting and they do not speak for me. It got me thinking, how are the women protesting today not speaking for you.
International Women’s Day started in 1909 (108 years ago). The original women who marched were fighting for equal pay and the right to vote. These women were fighting for the rights of all women, no matter their political views, for that day and for the future. That first march was just one protest march. There have been many, many marches and protests for a more equal gender world over the last 108 years. The conservative woman being interviewed was most likely successful considering how she was dressed and the fact that she was on CNN being interviewed. If people had not fought for women’s rights in the past, this woman would not have many things she has taken for granted including the right to vote and the ability to have a career. She has benefited from marches and protests in the past.
Today, women still do not earn equal pay for equal work in the United States. In the late 1800s, women made approximately $0.50 on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. In 1963, President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Law and in 1964 the Civil Rights Act was enacted which ‘prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, origin, color, religion, or sex.’ However, women are still not earning equal pay for equal work. I found the following on Wikipedia regarding the salary gap between men and women.
The average woman’s unadjusted annual salary has been cited as 78% to 82% of that of the average man’s. However, after adjusting for choices made by male and female workers in college major, occupation, working hours, and parental leave, multiple studies find that pay rates between males and females varied by 5–6.6% or, females earning 94 cents to every dollar earned by their male counterparts. The remaining 6% of the gap has been speculated to originate from deficiency in salary negotiation skills and gender discrimination.
The adjusted annual salary numbers are based on college major, occupation, working hours, and parental leave. That is not a justification. That is gender bias applied to a salary gap to make someone feel good about themselves that they are not discriminating against women. However, if you look at the justification factors that they presented, there is still gender bias in this country related to college major (boys are good at math, girls are good teachers), occupation (related to college major as well as social bias), working hours, and parental leave (the woman generally stays home with the sick child). These factors cannot ‘justify’ the smaller wage gap as they are biased indicators.
It has been over 100 years since the first group of women marched on International Women’s Day. There have been changes made within society, women have the right to vote along with better pay equality. But, unfortunately, after 100 years, this fight is not over. There is still discrimination and bias within society and the workplace. Women in the past fought for the rights that I currently have. I will protest for equal rights between genders for the generations to come. There is still bias in our society regarding women in the workplace. As women protest, yesterday, today, and tomorrow, they are not protesting for the rights of liberal women or for the rights of conservative women. We should all continue to fight the fight until we really have an equal society. The rights that we are fighting for do not apply to only liberals of only conservatives. Today is about equal rights for women and having an equal society.