Feminism: where we started, where we are, where we hope to be
Last month, we were reminded of our history as women. And as we were reminded of that history, we were able to look back on where we started and think about how incredibly far we’ve come.
In early American cities, the life a woman was supposed to live was strictly defined by society. Men did the money making, they obtained careers, and they ensured the ‘hard work’ was completed while women maintained the home and cared for their families. While men were encouraged to take on whatever role they dreamt of, women were expected to remain confined to their homes and to their domestic responsibilities. To Americans at the time, that was all women were capable of: cooking, cleaning, caring, educating and nothing more.
Because of that idea that women were inferior to men, for much of America’s early history women couldn’t go to school, they didn’t have the same rights as men, and they couldn’t obtain the roles society defined as ‘male jobs’.
That was, until countless females fought to change that.
Women initially prevented from receiving an education of any sort eventually began attending the same schools and receiving the very same education as men. Our history began with women strictly prohibited from attending college. Now, we make up more than half of the college educated population.
The Declaration of Sentiments at the 1848 Women’s Convention put a voice to the argument that the rights and liberties listed in the Declaration of Independence should not only be applied to men, but to women as well. The work of the many feminists who were a part of that convention as well as the movement it began led to 12 resolutions increasing the rights of women, bringing us even closer to the goal of equality.
The conference began a powerful movement and created a strong female voice that was impossible to ignore. Feminists continued to fight for the one resolution that was not passed in the convention: the right of women to vote. And in 1920, that right was guaranteed in the passing of the 19th amendment which stated the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex”.
With increased rights, women began making their mark on the workforce, fighting to obtain the jobs they desired rather than the ones society deemed acceptable for them to obtain. Their refusal to simply accept what was being given to them eventually led to governmental policy including President Kennedy’s Equal Pay Act, requiring equal pay for men and women carrying out the same work. And women like Amelia Earhart, Katherine Johnson, Sally Ride, Sheryl Sandberg, and Sara Blakely continue to redefine the sphere of supposed women’s work for future female generations.
We have come an incredibly long way, but we aren’t done just yet. Studies have shown that in 2019, women earned roughly 85 cents to every dollar earned by a man. Others drew attention to the fact that, in upper C-suite positions, women are outnumbered 7 to 1. And that discrepancy only increases when we move our attention to CEO positions where there is a 17 to 1 ratio between men and women. Even in 2021, many women still lack the confidence and the resources to pursue their desired careers, especially when that career remains strongly associated with the male gender.
What do I hope to see for the future of the female?
Equal pay and opportunity.
Increased female representation in executive level positions.
More attention towards female narratives that empower women to pursue their career goals.
The erasing of supposed male or female positions.
Why? Because women have proven, time and time again, that we too are capable, powerful, and strong. Remember that, not only in March, but every month of the year. #AllHailTheFemale
- Jordyn Savard