The social hierarchy of the sexes has been a power struggle throughout the history of America. With this ideology in place, women have been viewed as the weaker sex; the inferior genetic makeup that brought evil and weakness to their superior male affiliates. Not only in America but throughout the history of the world, women have fought to gain status in society. Whether they were viewed as property and or as second-class citizens, women have struggled to gain status on the social and economic ladder. Subjected to the rule of the opposing gender, women were told what job fields they may enter, who they were to marry, how they were to live, every aspect of their lives were dictated by the male species. Entering today’s society, a large void has been filled. American women have received Equal Rights granting women to now have control of their lives. Although, through many trials and tribulations, the road to equality has not been an easy task to accomplish. As equality has been established, is it truly present and active in society? do women actually hold equality in its entirety in the work place and society or is it a façade that is being upheld to appease the feminist that fought so hard for the gesture to be grand and herd?  

            As history has told us time and time again, women were viewed with less social standing than that of a slave, disregarded and disrespected they had been overlooked and overstepped for centuries throughout history. According to Women History, women were unable to gain access to adequate schooling resulting in many women ended their education, focusing solely on their family life, creating the stigma, “a woman’s place is in the home.” (women’s history). Women had no actual rights; life liberty and the pursuit of happiness did not apply to women in the early American foundation. As decades passed, women began seeking a voice, the need to find gratification and fulfillment pushed them to seek tasks outside of the home. Starting in the industrial revolution, women began working in the textile mills. Although tiresome, the female workforce took pride in their accomplishments. Following the success of the machine operated textile mills, demand for Americas new cash crop, cotton, rapidly increased. In response to the demand, textile owners implemented longer hours from the women while reducing their pay. Women were a cheap labor force and they held no voice in the decision makings of business, rendering women victims of extortion. In the perseverance of self-respect and pride, the working women revolted. Setting out in protest and refusal to work, a group of women came together in hopes of equal opportunity. Such demands resulted in the creation of the first union for women, the Lowell Female Labor Reform. Such a union wasn’t built over night. Over the duration of 17 years and many failed attempts the Lowell girls finally had the ground of success, fair pay and a 10-hour workday (Lowell Women). As insignificant as a union may seem, it was a large step in the foundation of gender equality in the women’s rights movement. The formation of a successful union showed those in power that women were more than family makers, they were smart and driven; a force not to be taken lightly. As the union showed that women can preserver and accomplish their set goals, by 1920 women gained the right to vote. Voting had allowed them to gain access to such luxuries they were once deprived from, such as gaining access to schooling rendering them available to enter a work force that was not only subject to warehouse work, but that of the medical field and teaching. Now given an option, women were not subject to remaining the “stay at home” stigma, they now could make a living for themselves.

Entering the second world war, as the men had been drafted, the workforce dwindling, the government had moved to call for the women to enter and take up arms to support their country. Upon doing so, the women responded and arose to the occasion. As women persevered laws began to form to protect the female population from extortion.  By the 1960’s, the creation of federal laws to protect the women’s rights had begun to take hold in society. For example, “The Equal pay act of 1963, required equal wages for men and women doing equal work. The civil rights act of 1964 prohibited discrimination against women by a company with 25 employees or more. And by 1967, a presidential executive order prohibited bias against female workers who were to be contracted out by the federal contractors “(women’s history).

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            Moving forward to the 20th century, women are allowed to work in any job field they desire, pay is equal and the stigma of the women being the homemaker is a thing of the past. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the year 2000, 72.9% of women with children  were working, equating to roughly 24,693 women in the labor force contributed to the national GDP. Verses 1975, 47.4% of women in the labor force equating to about 13,069. About a 25.5% increase in a 25year span. Not only were the women stepping up to the plate, they managed to raise their families in their off time. A large advancement for women, but statistically shown that the population of women workers compensation was still overshadowed by the male force. statistically shown the male population in the labor force was 10% or so higher than women, yet their pay was vastly larger than women’s with the same occupations held in the year 2016, a histogram was created to show the pay difference between men and women from the ages 16-65+, the results of the charts show that men still make more money doing the same jobs as women, so is equal pay even real?

Entering today’s current society, why is it that women now have adequate access to the same schooling as men, earn the same credentials, obtain the same knowledge but the difference is still evident. Are we really viewed as equal or are we still seen shadowed behind a man, pleading for the opportunity to be taken seriously? When will we be treated as an “equal” and gain the opportunity to hold stature in a society that so readily dismisses the thought that a woman can push past the stigmas that render us incompetent and naïve? After extensive research on why women have yet to obtain the same stature on the economic ladder, I stumbled upon an article. Such article, written by Anne-Marie Slaughter titling “why women still can’t have it all”. Slaughter speaks about her experience during her political career, she was titled as the first women director of the policy planning, a huge accomplishment in her life and for the feminists around the country. She soon realized that juggling such a job in Washington D.C and her family living in New Jersey, the emotional toll soon became to much for her, she found herself focusing more on her family rather than her job and she soon decided that that life wasn’t for her. As she decided to end her position as Director of Policy, she received backlash from the feminists who were so proud of her powerful position she held. Slaughter then speaks of a moment in which she received real feedback from a young woman who was inspired by her. The unnamed student said, “thank you for not giving one more fatuous ‘you can have it all’ talks.” In understanding of the stress between juggling a high-profile job and trying to manage her family life, the realization of hope she portrayed was near impossible for the general populace to obtain. Believing, only when women hold the power in large enough numbers, will the government actually work for women and all of society at hand (Slaughter). In concurrence with Slaughter, if women held a more powerful voice and more courageous acts were carried out, then the economy and society would better. Women would find the balance to create a home life along with a successful career. The male dominated society has kept women shadowed for far too long. Overstepped and overshadowed is a thing of the past, its 2019 and the time is now. Its time for women to speak up and say no, refuse to be quieted in the workplace because your ideas seem “outrageous” when they’re innovative to a system. We are not stupid or naïve we are evolving at a rapid rate.

Supporting the gender equality is Chris Brat, why women make better directors, “women are more risk averse and therefore less inclined to go along with bet-the-company strategies.” (why women make better, Brat). Women use their know how on balancing finances, applying their knowledge on sales and the profitability of many companies. He states that having a female on their board will reduce the possibility of bankruptcy by 20%. So why are women still banished to the shadows of the sociological world? The injustice of ego is setting society far behind the era it is in. Accepting all people whatever the color or genetic makeup they are given would advance our society in such a positive manner we would surpass the plateau we are currently creating.

Women need to be seen as equals, we no longer hold the stigma of the stay at home wife raising as many children as we can bear. We are taking the world by storm, improving, advancing and pushing society and all its ever changing ideologies to the brink of explosion. We will no longer stand by and be surpassed for a bold beard and smooth talk. We will show our brains more than our beauty, show how our courage will take us farther than a $50 lipstick kit. No longer will we stand to be underpaid and extorted, we will rise to the occasion, raise our families and make a movement worth remembering. We can, we will, we deserve equality and all its intentions behind it. Women have more of a purpose than that of a child bearer and its time the world starts to implement our due rights.

Work cited:

  • Foner, Philip S. (editor), The Factory Girls. University of Illinois Press, 1977. Howe, Daniel Walker, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1845.Oxford University Press, 2009. Eisler, Benita, The Lowell Offering: Writings by New England Mill Women, 1840-1845. J.B. Lippincott, 1977. Dublin, Thomas, “The Lowell Mills and the Countryside: The Social Origins of Women Factory Workers, 1830-1850,” in Weible, Robert; Ford, Oliver; and Marion, Paul (editors), Essays from the Lowell Conference on Industrial History, 1980 and 1981. Lowell Conference on Industrial History, 1981.