Dear Future President,
“Ok, boys and girls, before the parents arrive for our career day presentations, I would like each of you tell us what you want to be when you grow up." A young girl's arm shoots up, causing her blonde pigtails to bounce with excitement. "I want to be an engineer" A boy raises his hand next, "I want to be a fashion designer!" "Wow, that sounds really cool," exclaims another voice from the back of the classroom. Now, what if the teacher responded with, "Only girls can be fashion designers." You would never want your child's teacher to tell them that right? It's discriminatory, it's inappropriate. Yet, let's be honest, what were you thinking during the conversation? Those jobs don't match their gender roles. And we try to be accepting by saying, "good for them, breaking stereotypes". Why do we think that in the first place? Imagine if we lived in a world where children could dream any dreams and never feel pressured to fit into society's timeworn cookie cutters.
It happens everywhere. Everyday. ‘You throw like a girl’ ‘this game is only for boys’ ‘you are only successful because you’re pretty’. No matter how old you are or where you are from, every girl faces gender discrimination. I know I have. It starts as playground taunting and can turn into a woman not being able to support herself due to unequal pay or no access to needed healthcare. It all carries the same message: you aren’t good enough. Women shared their stories of when they first realized that men and women are definitely not equal. A young girl grew up loving baseball, then, she was denied entry into every local baseball league because baseball was only for boys. Various students were humiliated by their math teachers. They were told girls can’t do math, their achievements were never acknowledged, assistance never granted. A successful college student and businesswoman was introduced by her classmates as just ‘pretty’ and it was assumed that the only reason she received investments was due to her looks. Discrimination happens to people in all stages of life about all different things. A girl simply can’t grow up without being judged, criticized, or excluded. It is always the same stereotype being used. Women are weak, men are superior. These experiences are just a few examples of what women face everyday. We either strive to prove our worth or feel pressured to succumb to the expectations.
What about how companies treat their employees, or how the government treats its citizens? One would hope that they demonstrate better behavior, but they don’t. The government is not allowed to pass laws that treat people differently by race or religion, but they're allowed to do so with gender. Nonetheless, we are taking positive steps.The Family Medical Leave Act, does guarantee a 3 month maternity leave, but this is not paid. Accepting this leave could come at a price for families. Access to reproductive healthcare is tough, states aren’t allowed to completely ban abortion, but some states are doing everything they can to make it as close to banned as possible. Some states have biased counseling, ridiculous insurance restrictions, only one available clinic, or ban abortion after a certain number of weeks into the pregnancy. In a free country like our own, you have the right to practice any religion, but when a government or business starts inflicting it’s religious beliefs onto others it just can’t be allowed There a clearly many obstacles American women are facing and it’s time for change.
There are many things we can do to make gender inequality a thing of the past. Starting with the wage gap. The wage gap could be reduced if employees were allowed to compare what employers pay. After all, you can’t fight for justice if you aren’t aware of the injustices facing you. Passing the Paycheck Fairness Act, thus preventing employers from reprimanding employees who choose to share information about their wages would also help. It is our right to choose to discuss our money and no employer should be able to take that away. This will result in more people being knowledgeable about how much they should be making. Lastly, raising the national minimum wage would create one equal wage. I fully support these plans, but they won’t fix everything. Who works for those businesses, who sits in the congress? People. People that aren't so different from you. People that are trying to feed their families and people who sometimes let their emotions get the best of them. Sound familiar? It starts with you. We all need to stand up for the changes we want to see in the world. This is isn't just about genders. This is about people doing everything they can to create a world they are proud to send their children off into.
We all are biased. It’s ingrained in our mind, but can be slowly pushed away. Bias is prevalent in almost every activity, one example being job interviews. Removing this bias in the hiring process and opening jobs up to women could increase equality and talent. When applicants must be compared, comparing them to each other rather than their stereotypes also helps remove bias. When practices like these were implemented on the boards of some of the UK’s biggest companies, it resulted in many more women in leadership positions. Seeing women in business and leadership roles further helps reduce stereotyping in our minds and encourages girls everywhere to reach for their goals as well. It’s time we step and make changes in our government, businesses, and everyday lives. No one’s gender should ever hold them back from living the life of their dreams. America, the land of the free and home of the brave, it’s time we take that standard to heart.