Throughout history, women have had very different experiences at different times. Some past societies had women who were warriors, powerful priestesses, and political leaders. At other times strict expectations have been placed on women, with (male) writers portraying them as inferior to men.
Looking at how a society treats its women can be very enlightening. An investigation into the position of women at different points in history shows us how our society has grown and changed.
Often we think of history developing in a straight line. Women enjoy a better level of equality in present-day Western societies than at any time in history that we know of. Unfortunately, the further back in history you go, the less equality women have had. However, the truth is not so simple. In fact, women through history have gained and lost power at different times.
We can also remember that in many parts of the world today, women do not enjoy equal opportunities to earn, participate in politics or get an education. They can face gender-based violence and discrimination. Progress is not inevitable - we need to take action to ensure women have a life of dignity and fairness.
The origins of Women’s History Month began in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28, which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” This continued over the next few years until 1987 when Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” Now every year, March is proclaimed the official time to celebrate and commemorate female leaders.
The women's suffrage movement actually began in 1848, when a women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York. The Seneca Falls meeting was not the first in support of women’s rights, but suffragists later viewed it as the meeting that launched the suffrage movement. For the next 50 years, woman suffrage supporters worked to educate the public about the validity of woman suffrage. Under the leadership of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and other women’s rights pioneers, suffragists circulated petitions and lobbied Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to enfranchise women.
At the turn of the century, women reformers in the club movement and in the settlement house movement wanted to pass reform legislation. However, many politicians were unwilling to listen to a disenfranchised group. Thus, over time women began to realize that in order to achieve reform, they needed to win the right to vote. For these reasons, at the turn of the century, the woman suffrage movement became a mass movement.
In the 20th century leadership of the suffrage movement passed to two organizations. The first, the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), under the leadership of Carrie Chapman Catt, was a moderate organization. The NAWSA undertook campaigns to enfranchise women in individual states, and simultaneously lobbied President Wilson and Congress to pass a woman suffrage Constitutional Amendment. In the 1910s, NAWSA’s membership numbered in the millions.
The second group, the National Woman’s Party (NWP), under the leadership of Alice Paul, was a more militant organization. The NWP undertook radical actions, including picketing the White House, in order to convince Wilson and Congress to pass a woman suffrage amendment.
In 1920, due to the combined efforts of the NAWSA and the NWP, the 19th Amendment, enfranchising women, was finally ratified. This victory is considered the most significant achievement of women in the Progressive Era. It was the single largest extension of democratic voting rights in our nation’s history, and it was achieved peacefully, through democratic processes.
The move reversed the 1994 rule that prohibited women from serving in combat. The change would be gradual; some positions would be available to women immediately, but each branch of the military has until 2016 to request exceptions to the new rule. In fact, the first female soldiers to complete the grueling Army Ranger School will not be allowed to serve with the 75th Ranger Regiment because it hasn't yet lifted its ban on female soldiers.
Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver made history by becoming the first two women to graduate from the Army Ranger School, along with 94 other students, in August 2015. They graduated in the first year that the Army opened the course to women. About 2015's course, Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh said in a statement, "This course has proven that every Soldier, regardless of gender, can achieve his or her full potential."
On Dec. 3, 2015, the Pentagon announces that all combat jobs would be open to women. In a press conference, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that "there will be no exceptions" to the new rule. The historic announcement overrides the 1994 rule made by the Pentagon that restricted women from combat roles such as infantry, artillery, and armor. That 1994 rule had remained in place despite the fact that women were often in combat during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years.
Although women's sports have not always been considered popular or mainstream in the United States, female athletes and coaches have made enormous strides in the past ten years. In truth, though, this is only the latest phase in an ongoing journey to help make sure every girl and woman has access to the positive power of sports.
Up until the past few decades, sexist attitudes that prevented women and girls from participating in most sports were very prevalent. One of the biggest events that opened the door to change was World War II. Not only were women expected to step into traditional "men's roles" on the domestic front, but they also found new opportunities to participate in sports. This was especially true for women who were in college at the time: They fenced, shot, and played competitively.
Prior to the 1940s, women's athletic associations were informal and did not endorse competition. Even intercollegiate sports were not available to women until the basketball program at Smith College welcomed them in 1892. In the modern era, however, things began to change fast. Women realized the importance of making their own decisions about sports and reaping all of the benefits. They took a stand, inspired by the suffrage movement of the 1920s and 1930s.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement swept across the United States. Women were among the many marginalized groups who began to speak up loudly for their rights. In this climate of change, many major intercollegiate athletic organizations amended their rules to make it possible for women to participate in programs. Supporters used this momentum to push for legislative change at the highest levels, which they finally got in the form of Title IX.
Title IX is a federal law that bans all forms of sex-based discrimination in education programs that receive federal funding. This includes all athletic programs attached to universities and to colleges that receive any federal funds. The vast majority of institutions of higher learning receive federal grants or scholarship money, so Title IX was effectively a blanket ban on preventing women from participating in college sports. This opened the door for programs at other levels.
Title IX was enacted in 1972. Since then, women's sports have seen tremendous growth. Famous athletes such as Venus and Serena Williams, Danica Patrick, Ronda Rousey, Hope Solo, and Lindsey Vonn have pushed the envelope in their respective sports. However, whether you're looking at sports review pages or an online sportsbook, it's hard to escape the conclusion that there are still issues for female fans, sports journals, and athletes to overcome.
Research has shown that media coverage of women's sports still lags behind men's and that female sports journalists face discrimination in the workplace. Still, there are many hopeful signs: Amazing performances by female athletes in recent Olympic events have captured the public's imagination. More and more female athletes have booked game-changing performances in recent years, winning fans and inspiring girls to excel. Although there is still much to be done, the outlook for women in sports in the U.S. at all levels is looking better than ever.
The gender pay gap is the average difference between the remuneration for men and women who are working. Women are generally paid less than men.
The gender gap in pay has narrowed since 1980, but it has remained relatively stable over the past 15 years or so. In 2018, women earned 85% of what men earned, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings of both full- and part-time workers in the United States. Based on this estimate, it would take an extra 39 days of work for women to earn what men did in 2018.
By comparison, the Census Bureau found that, in 2017, full-time, year-round working women earned 80% of what their male counterparts earned.
The 2018 wage gap was somewhat smaller for adults ages 25 to 34 than for all workers 16 and older, our analysis found. Women ages 25 to 34 earned 89 cents for every dollar a man in the same age group earned.
The estimated 15-cent gender pay gap among all workers in 2018 has narrowed from 36 cents in 1980. For young women, the gap has narrowed by a similar margin over time. In 1980, women ages 25 to 34 earned 33 cents less than their male counterparts, compared with 11 cents in 2018.
Even though women have increased their presence in higher-paying jobs traditionally dominated by men, such as professional and managerial positions, women as a whole continue to be overrepresented in lower-paying occupations. This may also contribute to gender differences in pay.
What is the Equal Rights Amendment? It would provide equal protection to women under the law - and it could still be added to the U.S. Constitution - but we don't yet have it. Why does it matter?
Because women don’t currently have equal protection under the United States Constitution. By some estimates, 80 percent of Americans mistakenly believe that women and men are guaranteed equal rights, but the only right the Constitution explicitly extends to both men and women is the right to vote.
The E.R.A., a proposed amendment to the Constitution, would guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. It would also require states to intervene in cases of gender violence, such as domestic violence and sexual harassment; it would guard against pregnancy and motherhood discrimination; and it would federally guarantee equal pay.
The ERA passed the Senate and then the House of Representatives, and then in 1972, the proposed 27th Amendment to the Constitution was sent to the states for ratification. Thirty-seven states have ratified it so far, meaning just one more is needed to make the ERA law. However, momentum for ratification came to a halt, thanks in part to Phyllis Schlafly, Due to her efforts and vitriolic debate, the deadline for ratification came and went.
That doesn’t mean that the ERA is dead on arrival though. Legal scholars believe that Congress can simply change the deadline again or do away with the deadline entirely and allow the ERA to be ratified. To that point, Nevada and Illinois have ratified the ERA in the last few years and now just one more state is needed to make the ERA law.