The 19th Amendment Was Ratified 94 Years Ago, And Here's What We Want In 94 More Years
On this day in 1920, women gained the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment. Over the course of the last 94 years, we ladies have made some pretty significant strides in history across a broad spectrum of fields, from business to politics to science, but there's still room to grow.
1920 didn't mark the end of the end of the struggle for women's equality — it was one hell of a victory and a surefooted step in the right direction, but as far as we've come in the last 94 years, there's still much further to go. Certainly, we are no longer in danger of being fired for being pregnant (thanks to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978), but that does not mean that workplace discrimination is a thing of the past.
We may be able to obtain birth control, but as recent Supreme Court decisions have shown, our right to our own bodies is still under attack. Marital rape may have been criminalized until 1993, but rape remains a rampant cause for concern, especially on college campuses. So while we raise a glass to the progress we've made over the last 94 decades, we should also look ahead to the decades to come.
In honor of the 94th birthday of the 19th Amendment, here are six more things that could stand some serious improvement.
1. Close that wage gap
Seventy-seven cents on the dollar. The most frequently cited (and hotly contested) statistic, presented by the White House and the Institute of For Women's Policy Research, holds that women make 23 percent less than men. Sources that dispute the validity of this claim point out that this number does not take into account the different types of jobs held by women and men, and that much of this gap can be attributed to various levels of education obtained by women and men, which qualifies them for different types of jobs.
But even the most generous estimate, provided by the Pew Research Center, still shows that women, at 84 cents on the dollar, make 16 percent less than men. And as the New York Times pointed out in April, Harvard University labor economist Claudia Goldin's research showed that an industry-by-industry examination of wages still saw that women were consistently paid less than their male counterparts.
For example, Goldin's research notes, female doctors and surgeons make only 71 percent of what male doctors and surgeons make. In the legal field, women fared a bit better, making only 18 cents less than men, but the disparity becomes painfully obvious in the financial sector, where women make only 66 percent of men's salaries.
2. Eradicate rape
Since 1994, a larger percentage of women than men enrolled in college after high school, at 63 percent and 61 percent, respectively. By 2012, 71 percent of women were going to college after graduation, while the percentage of men remained unchanged. But a woman's collegiate struggle doesn't end with her acceptance — in many cases, it is only the beginning.
One in four women experience rape or attempted rape in college, and it is estimated that a rape takes place on a college campus every 21 hours. Only 5 percent of these rapes are ever reported to authorities, and even when a survivor does choose to come forward, it is estimated that only 3 percent of rapists or attempted rapists are ever convicted.
Today, a woman's right to her education does not seem to include her right to her safety or her body, and in 2014, this is simply unacceptable.
3. Equal Representation in Politics
In the 238-year history of the United States, not a single woman has served as president. This is not for lack of trying — while Hillary Clinton is the only woman to have ever been officially recognized as a candidate, the National Women's History Museum estimates that at least 35 women have attempted a presidential bid.
Of course, many of them were attached to parties that are little-known, even at the time, but the fact remains that women have made valiant efforts to represent the people in politics long before Hillary Clinton was born. Moreover, even though women make up 51 percent of the American population, they make up only 18.5 percent of Congress.
4. Equal Representation in STEM Fields
Yay, women, as a whole, have completed more doctoral degrees in men. Boo, they are still horribly underrepresented in math, science, and technology fields. In 2010, only 28 percent of scientists and engineers were women, an increase of just 7 percent since 1993.
This may be attributed to Nature's report earlier this year that science labs, particularly those run by men, are more likely to hire male rather than equally qualified female Ph.D. candidates. Worse yet, the more prestigious the lab, the less likely it was to hire a woman.
5. Equal Representation in Business
Only 4.8 percent of the Fortune 500 — 24 companies — have female CEOs. It doesn't get much better if you add another 500 companies to the list — only 51 of the Fortune 1000 companies are led by women. And if you're a female entrepreneur, you can practically forget about funding — the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire found that only 4 percent of the 67,000 angel investor deals of 2012 involved women. And no, it isn't because women just don't have ideas.
Equality isn't just for women. It's for all minorities — racial, sexual, or otherwise. And one of the biggest impediments to our progress as a whole is the prevailing notion that when one succeeds, the other loses. In our struggle for equality, a common goal, we must make allies, not enemies. Women have come this far in 94 years, but to proceed, we cannot work alone or in factions. There must be a unifying cause and a universal cry for justice that catapults us into the next century and into centuries to come.
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