My mom didn’t model feminism for my sister and I. She didn’t even model being a career woman. She was a stay-at-home mom, but somehow we both still got the message that we should grow up to be independent women. I never remember thinking that I couldn’t be whatever I wanted to be.
Today, I read everywhere about glass ceilings and the women around me write about sex discrimination in the workplace. I also have female friends that talk about how poorly they are compensated compared to the men in the same position. I acknowledge that these are true. We do still have a long way to go, especially in certain areas, but I would like to celebrate a few victories that have been won.
- Women in technology - there is a lot of discussion that we need to get more women into technology but they have always been there, especially in the computer field. When I got my BS in Computer Information Systems in the 80’s, there were plenty of women in my class and many of my instructors were women. I never felt that this was a field I could not enter.
- Title IX of the Education Codes - This amendment gave equal access to higher education and professional schools for all students, regardless of sex. Not only did this outlaw quotas that limited women’s enrollment in graduate, it also gave women equal access to athletic participation. The Olympics this past year proved how successful this endeavor has been. The American Olympic team was composed of 292 women and 263 men. For comparison, in 1972, the year Title IX was passed, the Olympic team was composed of 90 women and 338 men. The 2016 medal count was 121, women accounted for 61 and the men 55. While women athletes are making progress around the world, with every country competing in the Olympics fielding at least one woman, the United States is the most advanced. Many would say it is due directly to Title IX.
- Law enforcement - women have been involved in law enforcement for more than 100 years, since Alice Stebbins Wells joined the Los Angeles Police Department in 1910 and was allowed to make arrests. Currently they are underrepresented, with only 12 percent of the officers in the United States. The one exception seems to be Washington D.C., where many of the law enforcement agencies are led by women.
- Men in traditionally feminine roles - On the other side of the coin there is the ability of men to hold jobs traditionally performed only by women. For some careers, the gender bias went the other way. Now, we are able to say this is also fading out . One specific area is in nursing. It used to be that men had to be doctors, but now they can choose to be nurses. Other fields include flight attendants, librarians, preschool and kindergarten teachers, and social workers.
I am not trying to deny that gender discrimination is still a big problem. There is too much information out there, and too many statistics saying that it is. My point is that you cannot let it stop you. We are all working towards a world where every person is able to choose a career and a life that lets them use their talents and passion in the field of their choice. While this world is still just an ideal, not a reality, we did elect an African-American man to two presidential terms and there is a possibility the next President will be a woman.