One need only look to the Declaration of Sentiments adopted by the women in attendance at the Seneca Falls Convention in August 1848 to begin to appreciate how far women in the United States still are from reaching equality in a host of arenas, many of which are dependent on political or legal equality. Although women were granted the franchise in 1920 after decades of struggle, it is only in the past few decades that women have become a political force – at least at the ballot box. Women not only vote more than men, but unmarried women and women of color are much more likely to vote for Democratic candidates. In fact, women were key voters in the successful elections of Presidents Clinton and Obama.
Linda Basch: From your perspective, what is the unfinished work of women’s political equality?
Tonni Brodber: In the English-speaking Caribbean women’s participation in political leadership ranges from a high of 13% in Jamaica to a low of 0% in Belize, with many countries like St. Kitts and Nevis and St Lucia hovering at 6.7% and at 5.6% respectively. In the face of such paltry numbers, it almost pains me to say that it is my belief that the unfuinished work of women’s political equality is the lack of quality and diversity.
As the granddaughter of a woman engineer (and also someone who struggles to assemble her Ikea furniture but loves her new toolkit anyway), it was an honor to be surrounded by tradeswomen at the Institute for Women and Work’s panel last Thursday night up at Cornell. We were gathered to discuss how the economic crisis and recovery efforts in New York impact women, particularly tradeswomen. For me, though, it was an education in a history I didn’t even know existed: the history of tradeswomen in the U.S. and their fight for recognition and rights. After 30 years of activism, women still only comprise 3% of the construction labor force. As one panelist said, “do we really believe that men have 97% of the answers?” I think not. Although frustration with this slow-moving progress was evident in the room, the Cornell event was more celebratory than anything else. Susan Eisenberg shared slides from her multi-media installation, On Equal Terms. The theme of the installation: Women in construction—30 years and still organizing. The most provocative exhibit was the bathroom shack, literally a 6 foot by 6 foot plywood replica of a typical bathroom tradeswoman encounter on the job, complete with documented misogynistic and explicitly sexual graffiti.
April 28, 2009 posted by Kyla Bender-BairdI post this today, in honor of Fair Pay Day, with a sense of both frustration and hope. I’m frustrated that three decades have gone by after the passage of the Equal Pay Act and we still don’t have pay equity. I’m frustrated that what progress we’ve made has been achingly slow and small. According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, the wage gap has closed by less than half of one cent per year since the Equal Pay Act of 1963. At the current rate of progress, it will take 50 years to close the wage gap. This is simply intolerable. It is unacceptable that after decades of feminist lobbying, women continue to earn only 78 cents for every man’s dollar. In some occupations, the gap is even wider. Among finance and insurance occupations, women earn 55.2 cents on the dollar and the wage gap among physician surgeons is 63.5%. Even as I write this, I’m struck by Michael Kimmel’s recent comment at a panel I attended , questioning why we discuss women’s wages as a function of men’s wages. Why not make male privilege and the gendered dynamics of the economy more visible by reversing the equation? Men make $1.28 for every woman’s dollar. Despite this frustration, however, I remain optimistic. This optimism springs from an unlikely source: the economic downturn.
March 3, 2009 posted by Deborah Siegel I’m sitting in a very crowded auditorium at 3 World Financial Center, home of American Express, and the sun is pouring in on one of the coldest days of the year. We’re about to be warmed by the annual panel that takes place the afternoon of the National Council for Research on Women’s evening-time gala, the Making a Difference for Women Awards. This year’s panel, “An Immodest Proposal: Advancing a New Era of Social Justice” (kudos on the title, NCRW!) features Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center Marcia Greenberger, Chancellor and President of Syracuse University Nancy Cantor, Accenture / Microsoft / PepsiCo Director Dina Dublon, and Columbia University law professor and Nation columnist Patricia Williams. The Takeaway co-host Adaora Udoji, whose voice I wake up to each morning, will be moderating. There is nothing modest about this crowd of female movers and shakers from corporate, academic, and nonprofit spheres. The NCRW staff—of which I used to be part—has clearly done an excellent job spreading word. It’s a dazzling lineup. Let the conversation begin! Adaora: First question is for Nancy. What can you tell us about advancing a new era of social justice in education? Nancy: The idea of the ivory tower as a monastic place is breaking down. What that means is we have no understanding of the groups we’re leaving behind. How do we level the playing field of education? If we don’t find ways to strengthen our connections to our communities, cities, rural areas, and bring in the population, we’re going to be stagnant. Adaora: Are we seeing that 50% female leadership in education yet? Nancy: No, not at all. What we are seeing at all levels is girls falling off the map as we go up. Adaora: Why is that?
February 28, 2009 posted by Kyla Bender-Baird The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network reported the experiences of 2,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) middle and high school students of color who were African American or Black, Latino/a, Asian or Pacific Islander, Native American, and multiracial as part of their National School Climate Survey. The report found that
February 13, 2009 posted by Linda Basch Last week we reached out to advocates and scholars working on issues affecting girls’ lives to submit their Girls Agenda 2009: More funding for teen dating violence prevention? More attention paid to the international trafficking of girls? New programs to promote the health, safety, and well-being of future women? Effective, comprehensive sex education in our schools? The responses we received were dynamic, fresh, and exciting. Deborah Tolman, Professor of Social Welfare, Hunter College School of Social Work, suggested that in order to enhance girls’ resiliency, we must do more than reduce risk—we must provide encouragement so that they may live their lives in the positive. Lyn Mikel Brown, author of Girlfighting, offered an insightful critique of the “mean girl” phenomenon and recommended a strength-based approach: “We affirm girls’ relational and political strengths by giving them reason to believe they can count on one another and work together to solve social problems.” Allison Kimmich, Executive Director of the National Women’s Study Association, drew on Obama’s role as both father and policymaker, nudging him to make policy decisions in the same manner he parents.
February 6, 2009 posted by admin Dear Barack and Michelle, I’m writing to you as the parents of beautiful girls, and as people who hold the future of this country in your hands for the next four years. I know that you both take seriously your job as parents as well as the way you can shape public policy to improve your daughters’ lives. Michelle has talked about supporting working parents and Barack has talked about fighting workplace discrimination so Sasha and Malia will not have to experience it as adults. George W.
February 5, 2009 posted by admin [caption id="attachment_1063" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="New Moon Girl"][/caption] The following 5 posts are from members of the Girls Editorial Board ofNew Moon Girls. They all live in Minnesota. Dear President Obama, You are now the president of the United States of America, what I had been wanting to happen since the beginning of the election. I am a supporter of women's rights and equal treatment of women. In this year 2009 there are many things that I would like to see change. Incidents of injustice must stop in the United States, and fairness should be strived for everywhere. In all places people of all races and genders should work together, equal pay and things such as fair promotions should be fought for but unfortunately this does not always happen. I strive to change that. Here are some facts about injustice to women that need to change: