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One Moment, Please... Recognizing women in business

Fri, Oct 18th, 2013
Posted in All Commentary

Inside today’s Fillmore County Journal you will find a special section titled “2013 Working Women,” coming to you with the timely recognition of National Business Women’s Week -- always celebrated during the third week of October since 1938.

For me, this section points to a timeline of change. While we’ve come a long way, we still have a long way to go.

As a father of a son and a daughter, ages 6 and 9 respectively, I can’t fathom how they could both pursue the exact same opportunities, and yet end up earning different levels of compensation.

But, according to the 2012 Census Bureau data, women make only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, and that number hasn’t changed for nearly ten years.

Why do two people who have the exact same education and experience earn different wages based on their gender? This is 2013, right?

And, what’s crazy is that this isn’t just a problem in America. This issue of inequality has been recognized around the globe, and in many cases the situation is worse in other countries.

While many of us may not remember every detail from our history books, women were not allowed to vote until 1920 - less than 100 years ago. For most of us, this seems unreal, but it’s true.

As a matter of fact, when the House of Representatives passed the Amendment to the Constitution on May 19, 1919, 304 members voted to support the Amendment while 90 were opposed. Seriously, there were 90 members voting against this Amendment?

There were people actually afraid of letting women vote?

Here’s how the Amendment read: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any States on Account of sex. The Congress shall have the power by appropriate legislation to enforce the provisions of this article.”

And, on June 4, 1919, when the United States Senate endorsed the Amendment, 56 members of the Senate voted to support with 25 voting against. After that, it went to the states and they began adopted the Amendment state-by-state, but not without some opposition. Georgia and Alabama rushed to pass rejections to abide to the Amendment.

Throughout the course of history since women were allowed to vote in the United States starting in 1920, we have seen sexual harassment become recognized as a serious problem with serious consequences.

And, it seems that our progress has been made with generational change and influences. Once upon a time, our grandmothers waited on their husbands hand-and-foot, and there was no equality in the household let alone the workplace. During my mother’s days in high school, girls didn’t play sports. That was for the boys.

But, today, we have seen many of those roles change. Men and women are both raising their families with equal responsibilities, the way it should be.

In spite of the great progress we’ve made in the past 100 years, why are we still stuck back in the stone ages with some of our thinking? I continue to hear of some churches that won’t allow women to serve on the church council.

I am proud of my wife for many reasons, but most importantly I have come to realize what a great role model she is for our daughter -- and for our son.

And, this is why I am pleased to see the success stories of our first-ever Working Women section. As a society, little by little, we are gradually striving for balance and equality. But, we also have to remind ourselves that we’re not there yet.

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