7 Reasons We Still Need a National Women's Equality Day

Exactly 94 years ago today, women gained the right to vote. In commemoration, August 26 was designated National Women's Equality Day in 1971.

Here are just a few reminders that, despite the progress we've made, gender inequality remains a persistent problem in American culture.

Women Still Don't Receive Equal Pay for Equal Work

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Women still make an average of 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. This kind of pay disparity often occurs within the very same profession, or even the same company.

The Paycheck Fairness Act, which has twice failed a vote in Congress, would allow women more opportunities to discover and challenge pay discrimination and require a higher standard of proof from employers to show that wage differences are based on factors other than gender.

Women Still Do Most of the Housework... Even When They Work Outside the Home

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Don’t let the recent flurry of articles hailing the rise of the stay-at-home dad fool you. Men only account for about 3.5 percent of stay-at-home parents, while nearly a quarter of women with children forsake careers to work in the home.

A study of heterosexual couples (in which the two partners are in equal financial standing ) found that 56 percent of women still did over half of the housework and 14 percent did all of it. Only 10 percent of men reported doing more than half, and nine percent said they did it all.

Women Still Face Discrimination in Sports

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Since Title IX became law over 40 years ago, gender equity in school sports has improved massively. Still, male athletes receive $179 million more in athletic scholarships than their female counterparts every year.

Women’s sports also do not attract nearly the number of fans nor the profits that men’s sports do, and female athletes continue to be shut out of sports-related careers like coaching and sponsorship deals with major brands.

Women Are Still Underrepresented in Politics

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It may not be long before our first female president takes office, but this political problem won’t be solved that easily. Women currently hold just 20 seats in the Senate and 78 in the House of Representatives, putting women’s level of representation in our legislature at a dismal 18 percent. Studies have shown the value of women’s different approach to policymaking, not to mention that it’s kind of nice to have some women in the room when you’re debating issues that very specifically concern them.

... Not to Mention Hollywood

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Women may find themselves in front of the camera often enough, but they are vastly outnumbered behind the scenes. According to a study of 2012’s 250 highest grossing films, women only represented 18 percent of all directors, producers, writers, cinematographers and editors.

Kathryn Bigelow became the first and only woman ever to win an Academy Award for Best Director in 2010. Fortunately, there are some young aspiring directors out there trying to change that.

... and the Media.

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According to the Women’s Media Center, women only represent about a quarter of the expert sources cited in the news. In fact, even when it comes to women’s issues, news outlets tend to turn to men for their “expert” opinion.

In a survey of front pages of top newspapers, men’s bylines outnumbered women’s at a 3-to-1 ratio. They’re equally absent from headlines, and also less likely to be invited as guests on talk shows. And it’s not just the living who are left out. Even obituaries overwhelmingly favor the male deceased.

But there is one problematic way in which women are overrepresented

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If there’s one surefire way for women to get exposure, it’s by baring some skin. When women appear in music, television, advertising, and film they are often portrayed as passive sexual objects and subjected to a completely false standard of beauty. These portrayals, as the film “Miss Representation” points out, help promote all kinds of problems, from gender violence to eating disorders.

The “Blurred Lines” video ought to be all the evidence we need to prove our case, but for more double standards, look to advertising, movies, and even toys.