Not Equal Yet
“We don’t need feminism because women already have equal rights.”
If you have heard someone say this, you are not alone. Many people believe that the long battle for women’s rights has resulted in full equality… but it has not. Feminism has become a dirty word, but it isn’t about criticizing or lowering men, it is about allowing women (and all other people) equal treatment, protection under the law, economic power, and political representation. Here is a list of factors that place women, still, on unequal footing with men financially, politically, and socially.
1. Earning power
On average, women earn .82 cents for every dollar a man earns. Women of color struggle even more, earning from .54 cents (for Latina women) to .62 cents (for Black women) for every dollar earned by white men. NOTE: this gap is changing with younger generations… hopefully young women have learned to demand that their pay reflects their equal worth!
2. Medical costs
Females have a variety of items related to reproduction and sexuality that are taxed due to be considered “non-medical necessity”. This includes sanitary pads and tampons. Although Obamacare improved this situation, in some cases women must pay for their own birth control outside of insurance, whereas Viagra is almost always covered by insurances. Rogaine, a hair loss drug, costs 40% more when prescribed to women than when prescribed for men even though it is the same drug at the same doses.
3. Political representation
The American population is 51% female, but females make up only 24% of elected representatives. The situation is even worse for minority women: of the 26 female Senators, only four are women of color. In 2019, a record number of women were elected to Congress, so things are improving, but we are still nowhere close to equal representation among those who make the laws.
4. Paying more to live
A wide variety of products cost more if they are “made for women." In products with nearly identical ingredients, the “women’s” version costs on average 13% more. This cost difference also often includes: clothing (even basics like socks), haircuts, dry cleaning, shampoo, skin cleanser, perfume/cologne, deodorant, razors … when the products are basically identical. Many women refer to this as the “pink tax."
5. Corporate power
Only 20% of CEOs are women. Although, in entry level jobs the ratio of women to men is about equal. At the manager level 62% are men, at the vice president level 70% are men, and at the CEO level 80% are men. Why? Although it's not clear, some argue that men simply prefer to promote men or see male traits as more reflective of “leadership." Women are changing this, but it is a slow process.
6. More domestic responsibility
Women of all ages still do more housework than men, although this has reduced with younger generations. On average, women do about 16 hours of work around the house while men do closer to six hours of housework. Open communication and discussion of shared work in the home can help with this issue. Cleaning up after the mess of living is not exclusively a female job!
7. Unequal pay for athletes
Female athletes in most sports earn significantly less than male athletes in the same sports. Example: Serena Williams, one of the best female tennis players in the world, is the ONLY woman in the top 100 highest paid athletes, at $58.4 million in career earnings. And while that is a lot of money, Roger Federer, a top ranked male tennis player, has made $186.8 million in career earnings. This is slowly improving, but is still an issue.
8. More medical expenses
Women end up spending almost twice as much as men on medical care, including higher health insurance rates. Most insurance companies see women as “higher risk” because they tend to live longer, visit doctors more often, and have to deliver babies.
9. Worse medical treatment
Women are more likely to die of a heart attack than men due to unequal levels of diagnosis and treatment. Female heart attack symptoms are not the same as males, leading both women and medical professionals to often overlook key indicators. Women were also less likely than men to get follow up care and medications following a heart issue, raising the risk of a later deadly heart attack.
10. Overall economic disparity
Women are more likely to live and die in poverty than men are. Rates of poverty for males and females are the same during childhood and adolescence, but at adulthood rates increase for women, and increase again for women as they enter old age. This is significantly more true for women in minority groups.