Lets begin this discussion with a statistic from the International Labor Organization published on Forbes (1/15/15), “The U.S. came in at 15th position with 42.7% of female managers. The same report also found women own or manage more than 30 percent of all businesses, but 5 percent or less of the biggest companies.” What? We have unequal pay and lack of diversity in the work place? (Sarcasm).
There is this an ongoing opinion that the lack of women in higher positions is due to the women not asking for them… doesn’t that sound alot like victim blaming? We have this idea that its all up to the women and in many ways it is important for women to take control and demand more, but in reality shouldn’t your work cultivate your growth in a company?
There have many studies that have been done on understanding why women lack higher paying jobs and positions, they always tend to say the same thing, “the women doesn’t ask for it.” Now, lets break down that idea of women “asking for it.” Culturally and historically women have by programmed and groomed to be seen and not heard. It wasn’t until 1820’s when women began speaking up, during the campaign for women’s right to vote. It was against norm for women to have options, to take a stand, and to create action. Women began demanding attention and were seen as “overemotional” “out of line” and having “female hysteria.” It was embedded into the system of “normal” that women needed to be put into place, so the government gave women the right the vote but denied them equal pay, vast educational opportunities, and vast career options. It was a way of taking that break in structure, due to the protests, and reforming it.
In the 1920’s we see women stepping out of cultural norms of the fragile woman, with the right to vote they felt liberated. They began doing sports like golf and tennis, taking fashion risks. They even took taking part in the normal “man” activities like drinking, cigars, and driving fast. But then we see after the great depression women are then again put back into their “place.” That is when we see the rise of the housewife during the 1940’s-1950’s. With ad’s, tv shows, and films depicting women as the peaceful housewife that lives a simple life of cleaning, cooking, and taking care of the family. The media began influencing how people lived their lives during these eras, we see women striving for this life from the surrounding media saying this was what it took to be the “perfect women & wife.” It was almost as in the 1920’s women were refusing to being normal, they wanted to be fun and free, but then all the sudden in the 1940’s-1950’s they were hypnotized into drinking the cultural kool-aid.
The 1960’s – 1970’s a new wave of a feminist movement began! Women began taking peaceful protests, working with media, and using art to create a message of equality. From Tavaana.org, “In the summer of 1966, they launched the National Organization for Women (NOW), which went on to lobby Congress for pro-equality laws and assist women seeking legal aid as they battled workplace discrimination in the courts.”
We saw the rise and fall and rise again of women demanding change and still we have a long way to. Jumping forward to 2016, we still do not have equal pay, gender & race diversity in big companies, lack of women in higher position, lack of women and race diversity in Congress, lack of diversity of women in media (age & race), paid maternity leave, and respect in court when it comes to rape cases (etc).
I’m trying to convey that its not enough to say “women don’t ask for it,” when it comes to higher pay, equal pay, or longer maternity leave (etc.). When you see the history of women you understand the cultural norms and structures put into place that have shut women down for centuries. Its not like women can just start changing and demanding more, it takes time to gain that confidence and voice that has been pushed away for so long. We see women speaking up whether it’s in class or a conference room, but they a always begin with “Sorry..” for example, “Sorry, I have a question.” We are groomed to not interrupt the flow, to stay behind the scenes, that effects modern day women because they feel they have the right to speak up but still don’t feel welcomed to.
Women are demanding more but are dealing with being called “Bitch” “Bossy” and “Controlling.” We are seeing the way the society is trying to push women back down, persuading us to once again drink the kool-aid. But women are coming together and calling attention to the issues, social media has provided an international microphone, Speak Up Woman..the world needs to listen.