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Women Equality


Submitted By katieh11
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Women Equality In the early years of United States, while it was still a fledgling country, Thomas
Jefferson made the Louisiana purchase. Suddenly, America had doubled in size and was full of unknown land. Sacagawea, a woman, lead an expedition commissioned by the American government to explore this new land and document all its findings. Her knowledge and leadership was essential to completing the mission, and because of her work the United States was able to safely settle the land. While the United States has relied upon strong, powerful women such as Sacagawea since its formation, the number women that have been capable of holding powerful positions has far exceeded the number of women that actually have. Currently, women do not hold the same power as men in the workforce and the government, in the United
States. It is evident that women have come a long way, but it is important that we continue to support the movement of women in powerful leadership positions.
Historically, women have always been at a great disadvantage in regard to competitiveness in the workplace. As early as 1790 women were already being discriminated against. One of our Founding Fathers Alexander Hamilton was even quoted saying women are “a source of cheap labor” (Leckie). Women back then were often sent to work long hours, in hot sweatshops, performing undesirable tasks. Yet, they still made less than men. Organizations of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s such as the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association

(LRLRA) and The Knights of Labor tired to petition the thirteen to fourteen hour work days women faced and the unsafe and unsanitary conditions they had to work in, however their efforts were unsuccessful. It wasn’t until the mid 1900’s that women were finally even considered part of the workforce. Women were also considered more dispensable than men, since presumably they would stop working once they married. This was due to the fact that women were expected to be housewives, while most men were educated and the ones who provided for the family. In
1900 only 18.3% of the workforce was made up of women, and the women that were working, received significantly lower wages than men, solely because of their gender (The Wage Gap). It wasn’t until 1963 that Congress finally passed a law that gave women equal pay for equal work.
It is embarrassing that it took roughly two centuries for Congress to even recognize this as a problem. The inequalities for employment and compensation have been a glaring negative in
American history and have been slow to progress.
One reason the government hasn’t done much to improve women equality in the workplace is because there hasn’t been many women in government. Since its very beginning the American government has excluded women. The Declaration of Independence was signed in
1776 and the Constitution 11 years later. Of the 96 total signatures on these historic documents none belong to women. In fact, when these documents were being written sayings like “We the people” were not meant to include women. Women had no say in the development of America.
This omission of women by the “Founding Fathers” led to a pattern of women being left of government decision making. When a few women earned jobs in the government, they were not even compensated equally. It wasn’t until 1872 that Congress finally passed a law that gave female government officials equal pay with respect to their male colleagues. As the Progressive

Era began woman's influence on government decisions increased slightly. In 1920 women were granted one of the most basic American rights: the right to vote. America took a big step toward becoming the government designed to serve all of it’s people equally. Not coincidentally
Jeannette Ratin became the first woman to be elected into Congress in 1917, ending the 130 year drought without women in congress (“I’m No Lady; I’m a Member of Congress”). However in the next ten years only seven other women served in Congress (Lewis). This expansion of women’s power in government was slow to grow and is still an issue today.
While women play an increasing role in todays’ government, men still hold the majority of the power. Of the 100 current U.S senators only 20 are women (“
U.S. Senate: Art & History
Home People Senators Women in the Senate”
). In the House of Representatives a mere 18.2% are women (“ omen In U.S House Of Representatives 2014”
). This means that less than one out of every five people making the laws in the federal government are female. Congress is supposed to represent the United States population, but half the population is female and only one­fifth of
Congress is female. How does this make sense? The executive branch also has yet to equally incorporate women. There has never been a woman president or vice president. These numbers represent the stereotype that women are incapable of making political decisions. This has had a profound effect on the history of women in government and continues to be a problem today.
However women such as former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, first Supreme Court judge
Sandra Day O’Connor and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are showing that women are more than able to hold leading roles in the government and perform them successfully. The great job these women have done for the country has lead government officials to intervene in the inequalities women face in the workplace.

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In Barack Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address he reminded America that women are still not viewed as equal when it comes to the workforce. He stated “[women] still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it's an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work” (“President Barack Obama's State of the Union
Address”).Women not only deserve equal pay, they have earned it. Unfortunately, women only make up a small portion of Fortune 500 companies. In 2013 just 8.1% of Fortune 500’s top earners were women. This number has only increased a mere 1.9% since 2008 (Vagianos).
Another problem that big companies face is that they are still mainly male staffed. It is clear that the problem is not that there are not enough qualified women, there are plenty of qualified women ready to be top executive positions, as some companies have proven. The problem is when people picture the CEO of a big company they generally picture a man in a power suit.
American companies have struggled to get away from this popular view. Many do not realize the consequences a lack a female business leaders bring. Without women business leaders, there’s a lack of role models to encourage young women looking to enter into the workforce. Although women such as, Indra Nooyi, and Ginni Rometty, are two of the most powerful women in the business world and make for great role models. Rometty is the president, chairman and CEO of
IBM a 112.5 billion dollar company and Nooyi, chairman and president of 118.86 billion dollar
PepsiCo. These two inspirational women had to overcome many challenges when the odds were not in their favor. They had to break the glass ceiling that kept them from achieving power and success equal to that of men. Imagine though if women like men did not have to overcome these barriers. Not only would the number of women in the workplace drastically increase, but there would also be an increase in the number of women in Fortune 500 companies. Businesses in

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America need make a better effort to include deserving and qualified women in executive level positions. However, there are those who believe that America has come far enough and gender equality exists in the workplace and government. They point to the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and say that government has done everything it has the power to do ("Equal Pay Act of 1963”). In addition, people argue that since almost half the American labor force­­46.9% in 2012 according to the Bureau Labor Statistics­­is female, America has essentially reached gender equality in the workplace. However, what that these people fail to recognize is that women, in general, have worse jobs and lower wages. Also Glenn Grothman, the Wisconsin state senator more recently argued that “money is more important to men” and “women are more focused on raising children.” The problem is that although this may be a ridiculously vast generalization, if
Grothman thinks it, he is probably not the only one. America needs to continue to work to end the stereotyping of men as the main breadwinners and women as the main caretakers. Until this is no longer the case women will not have true equality. Women have endured many hardships to get where they are today. Women have not always been respected in the workplace, and their opinions have not always mattered in
Congress, but in today's society things are changing. Women have come so far that it is now not only fathomable but a serious consideration for Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016. In the future women should continue to build on the achievements they have worked so hard to earn and continue to produce role models for generations to come.

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