Women’s Equality

By: Sarah Kroth |

We are now in the Third Wave of Feminism, and while great progress has been made in the last century for women’s rights, through cases like Roe v Wade, and Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co, there are many battles to be fought.

Pay Equality

Women, on average, only make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes in the same job. Women of color have an even lower average, ranging from 59 cents for Latina to 68 cents for African Americans.  There have been many laws passed that make pay discrimination based on gender illegal, most recently the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act signed in 2009, but it is a hard law to enforce.

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Work Place Equality

Women are underrepresented in the corporate world, Forbes reported last year that only 20 of the Fortune 500 companies had female CEOs—that’s 4% of all Fortune 500 companies. And while women on average make 77 cents on the dollar, female CEOs make roughly 33 cents for that of their male counterparts. These statistics are particularly curious when studies show that companies with female CEOs actually do better than those without.

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There are similar statistics for women in government; only 18.3% of Congress is female. In most government sectors, federal, state, and even local, women hold less than 30% of available positions. The US ranks 79th in the world for female representation in the government.

These statistics are constantly improving, however, considering the US ranked 90th only 3 years previous. There have also been 11 newly hired CEOs within the last year, so things are slowly improving.

Media Portrayal

The media offers a huge influence over every consumer’s life; observed or not. That’s why how media portrays women, in ads, TV shows, films, and in the news can be very detrimental. For example, there’s a recent focus on the over-sexualization of girls in media advertising, and the clothing sold for them. According to a study done by the APA, it causes a negative effect on young girls’ mental health and development.

There is correlation between the objectification of women in advertisements (i.e. making a woman’s body into a beer bottle, or a car) and violence against women. Dr. Jean Kilbourne, an expert in the study of media portrayal of women, notes that “turning a human being into a thing is almost always the first step toward justifying violence against that person” in her documentary Killing Us Softly 4.

Violence against Women

One of the greatest issues Women’s Rights advocates face is the prevalence of rape culture, and violence against women. The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) estimates that over 230,000 sexual assaults occur every year throughout the US, estimated that 9 out of 10 victims are women, and the WHO has recently released statements calling violence against women “a global health problem of epidemic proportions.” Cases of rape in the military have been getting special attention lately, with some progress made to reduce that epidemic. And there’s been lots of media attention given to a case of group rape in Steubenville. Though great progress has been made in the last 20 years, and sexual assault is on the decline since the early 90s, it is still a huge issue. The US government is still taking steps to prevent and prosecute violence against women, including setting out recommendations and policies from their Office on Violence Against Women.

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