Monday, March 12, 2012

Women In Full Force

As we continue on into the month of March, I will further write about women's fight for equal rights. Thankfully, there's a lot to cover. But one of the most hideous stories of our (especially American) history is women's battle to get into the work place.

For centuries, jobs & careers were very gender-based. If a woman actually got to leave the home & work, she most likely had a job as a teacher, nurse, or seamstress. Before the Industrial Revolution, most women did carry their weight on family farms. But as more people began to move from farms into cities, the ball began to roll. In fact, being a seamstress was highly desirable job for young women, especially those who lived in the city & needed to help support their families.

WWII Promotion found on The History Channel
But it wasn't until WWI & WWII that American women got a taste for a man's work. Whether it was working as a secretary or a riveter for the United States Army, we were finally able to show the country we can do it.

Photo found here of women working at the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, 1940s.
But after spending the time, energy, and risking their health to manufacture supplies for our troops over seas, most women were forced to go back home after the war was won. And during that time, most girls grew up to become stay at home moms. Those who did leave home normally went back to a gender-based job. As for the small amount of women who were able to enter a man's working world, a future of lower pay, discrimination, even worse laid ahead.

But we got through. As Working Girl writes "In 1970, only about 43 percent of women 16 and older were working; by 1999, that figure jumped to 60 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says."

However, I am sad to say that there are still issues. On average, women are still making less than men. The National Committee on Pay Equality (NCPE) reports "Women's earnings were 77.4 percent of men's in 2010." While it's .4 percent higher than in 2009, it remains a ridiculous statistic. If you are not familiar with it, April 17th this year is National Equal Pay Day. Years ago, the NCPE actually chose to hold the day on a Tuesday in April since Tuesday is how far into the work week women must work to make what men earned the previous week. I hope you all will join in in wearing red that day.

While a lower wage is really awful, there are worse things women face in at work. While you see it less often, sexism can still take place. A previous male boss of mine was notorious for making jokes that focused on women's bodies. And after posting about International Women's Day last week, I was given my fair share of jokes from our facebook fans.

There's also a concerning study Time reported last month that women who are pregnant are still facing discrimination. Actually, it's worse. According to the report, the number of pregnancy-related discrimination charges have jumped by 35 percent in the past decade. While that increase may include better work conditions to report such discrimination, it's still concerning. Expecting mothers in America can face everything from firing, demotions, decreased hours, forced unpaid leave, and gender stereotyping. And after having their bundle of joy, many are also being denied a place to pump breast milk.

With all my complaining aside, I cannot deny that we as a society are coming a long way. Compared to a century ago, more women today are going to college, moving up the corporate ladder & live as strong, independent individuals. In fact, many companies not only offer breastfeeding rooms for new mothers, but some allow moms to bring their infants to work.

Speaking of mothers, I have a special treat for you coming up soon. Next week, we will be focusing on the overwhelming standards today's modern mother deals with. And we'll even have some lovely guest posts to cite the struggles mothers in America are up against every day.

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