11 Quotes From Working Women To Inspire You On Labor Day
Labor Day isn't just the unofficial-official end of summer: the reason it's a holiday is to celebrate American workers, from freelancers to factory workers, and to remember how far we've come in the search for a safe and equitable working environment — particularly for women. Women have played a huge role in the labor movement in America, striking, forming unions and speaking out for their right to work since the 1800s, and it shows. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women made up 47 percent of the American labor force in 2017, and we're seeing more opportunities and industries open up to us than ever before. But sometimes being a woman in the workplace can suck — and you need a pick-me-up to keep you going.
Whether it's the gender pay gap, sexual harassment, the pressure to "juggle" domestic work and paid work, industry hostility to women or just the daily drag of getting your hustle on, earning a living as a woman comes with a lot of frustrations. On Labor Day, there are a lot of different ways to acknowledge the history of women's work in the United States and how far we still have to go. But these 11 quotes from women on work can be an inspiring start.
1. Anna Howard Shaw
"Around me I saw women overworked and underpaid, doing men's work at half men's wages, not because their work was inferior, but because they were women... As man's equal before the law, woman could demand her rights, asking favors from no one."
2. Michelle Obama
"No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens."
3. Tina Fey
"My unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this: When faced with sexism, or ageism, or lookism, or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: 'Is this person in between me and what I want to do?' If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way. Then, when you’re in charge, don’t hire the people who were jerky to you."
4. Shirley Chisholm
"If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair."
5. Alicia Garza
"The history of black women in the economy is rooted in the legacy of slavery. Enslaved black women were forced to provide care work, unpaid, for white families... We can make Black lives matter in the labor movement by building the kinds of movements that Black women need to shape a new economy and a new democracy that don’t force them choose between making a living and being a part of a healthy democracy. It’s time to care for the Black women that care for us."
6. Anne-Marie Slaughter
"Over my lifetime, women have demonstrated repeatedly that they can do anything that men can do, while still managing traditional women's work at the same time. But the same expansion of roles has not been available to men."
7. Susan B. Anthony
"I do not demand equal pay for any women save those who do equal work in value. Scorn to be coddled by your employers; make them understand that you are in their service as workers, not as women."
8. Amelia Earhart
“I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.”
9. Joan Didion
“Do not whine... Do not complain. Work harder. Spend more time alone.”
10. Indira Gandhi
“There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.”
11. Mother Jones
"Whatever the fight, don't be ladylike."
Let these quotes inspire you on Labor Day, when you're heading into your next performance review, or any other time this year.