Let’s say you’re talking to someone who believes gender inequity is no longer an issue because “It’s not as bad as it was in the 1970s.”
Sure, we’ve made a ton of progress, especially in the last decade: think #MeToo, #TimesUp, the fact that there’s a whole genre of RBG clothing and memorabilia. But when you look at actual data, it’s sobering:
The dialogue around gender equity is much further along than the reality.
Millennial women are actually worse off than their mothers on measures like poverty and maternal mortality rates, according to a 2017 report.
“Young women are more likely to be poor today than they were in three preceding generations,” writes study authors Beth Jarosz and Mark Mather.
Yes, in many ways, gender inequity may not be “as bad” as it was in the 1970s, but we have a long way to go before it can be classified as “good.”
So here are a few talking points to keep in your back pocket:
Men with bachelor’s degrees make on average $26,000 more per year than women with the same credentials
- according to the 2018 “Women Can’t Win” report from Georgetown University.
- Women in the U.S. make up nearly half of the entry-level workforce, but comprise just a fifth of the C-suite, according to the 2019 Women in the Workplace report.
- For every 100 men promoted and hired to a managerial position in the workplace, only 72 women are promoted and hired for the same role.
- Women represent about two thirds of workers earning the federal minimum wage — $7.25 per hour — or a few dollars above it, and nearly 70 percent of tipped workers, for whom the federal subminimum wage is $2.13 per hour.
- Black, Indigenous and Latina women, who already experience the greatest gender pay gaps, were also far more likely to have lost or been pushed out of their jobs during the pandemic.
Americans carry an estimated $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, and nearly two-thirds of that amount — $929 billion — is held by women.
- Women are perceived to be 12.1 percentage points less committed to their jobs when they become mothers, while men who become fathers are perceived as being 5 percentage points more committed to their work. These perceptions translate into a fatherhood bonus and a motherhood penalty:
When men become fathers, they’re more likely to experience a wage increase, while women are more likely to experience a wage penalty when they become mothers.
- Women spend nearly three times as many hours on unpaid domestic and care work as men.
- Millennial mothers were nearly three times more likely than millennial fathers to report being unable to work due to a school or child care closure during the pandemic. In September 2020 865,000 women left the US workforce — four times the rate of men.
- Despite earning the majority of college and advanced degrees, American women are still substantially underrepresented in positions of leadership across business and government.
The pandemic exposed the fragility of the limited gains that have been made when it comes to gender equality, with women’s labor force participation recently hitting a 33-year low and disproportionately affecting women of color.
No, things weren’t perfect in the ‘70s, and they aren’t perfect now. While we’ve made strides — and by strides, I mean small steps — toward gender equality, we still have so much more work to do.
So what now? I’m glad you asked.
- It isn’t enough to outwardly present equality with hashtags and pink t-shirts proclaiming “power,” we have to actually practice it.
- Women must be paid equally to their male counterparts. The Equal Rights Amendment, a piece of legislation designed to guarantee equal legal rights for All American citizens regardless of sex passed through Congress in the 1970s, but as of 2021, it has not been been added to the Constitution.
- Student loan debt disproportionately affects women and BIPOC, and forgiving academic debt — even some of it — would dramatically change the trajectory of millions of women’s lives.
- Structural impediments to workforce participation and earning power, like a lack of paid leave, flexible work, and affordable childcare and eldercare, need policy solutions that allow both men and women to better combine jobs with care responsibilities.
- Cultural attitudes about unpaid labor need to shift so that women are not consistently tasked with shouldering the majority of unpaid labor, and so men are not penalized for taking on more of those unpaid responsibilities either.
It’s our job to speak to these persistent inequalities; otherwise, the misconception that we are “done” or that we’ve “made it” continues.
So feel free to save or print out some of these talking points for yourself, because you know it’s only a matter of time before the “It’s not as bad as it was in the ‘70s” defense tries to pass as an excuse for casual and “harmless” misogyny again.
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