As so often happens, when I start to write on a topic, it goes over the 300 word “limit” on blogs (reader attention limit), so I’m splitting this one up into two parts. Here’s Part 1.
One of the most frustrating aspects of Being a Women is simply not being valued – not being taken seriously – almost no matter what one does. (Possible exception: behaving like a sex-object.) Whatever public activity women try to perform – academics, politics, business, writing, athletics – someone out there–most often, many–will belittle the efforts and disparage the achievements.
The undervaluing of a female’s contribution to the human enterprise is reflected in her monetary compensation. Unfortunately, in our society, value is commonly measured by income and/or price. This is true whether evaluating a person or a thing, and is no doubt a consequence of the mercantile culture that dominates much of the “civilized” world.
Despite laws to the contrary, on the books since the 1960s, women are simply not paid as much, on average, as men doing the same or comparable jobs. AAUW recently put out a 64 page report on the gender gap, which you can read here. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time perusing that lengthy document, you can read a report that provides a more succinct overview of the issues.
These pay gaps (really value gaps) persist, although they have diminished in the past quarter century (since the ERA went down in ignominious defeat). Even in science, where I spent my career (and retired at a salary in the 10th percentile, despite more publications and teaching responsibilities than most of my colleagues), women are almost unconsciously undervalued by both men AND women. Indeed, when publishing scientific articles, I learned that manuscripts submitted with just initials (J. A. V. Simson), rather than with my full name, were given more credence by reviewers. I had hoped this was no longer the case, but it seems not to have changed much, as can be seen in this report.
And speaking of the ERA, check out this YouTube video! http://www.wearewoman.us/2012/11/do-you-have-rights.html
Moreover, women political leaders and female cultural contributors tend to be mocked or ignored, and they so often fade from history. Where are the women in the history books and the art museums? Oh sure, we can’t forget Elizabeth I or Queen Victoria or Catherine the Great, can we? (Or can we? What do you know about their reigns?) And what about Joan of Arc, who was betrayed and conveniently burned at the stake after she had accomplished what the cowardly Charles VII could not/would not do. How much contempt has been hurled at female leaders such as Margaret Thatcher or Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton? Their hats? Their hair-do’s? Please. Was any world leader uglier than Winston Churchill? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a great admirer of Churchill, AND of the aforementioned women.
Women in the arts generally receive little honor or monetary reward. Where is the wall-space given to women artists? Occasionally works by a female artist like Berthe Morisot or Mary Cassatt will be displayed alongside other, more famous male Impressionists. Granted, in the literary arts, women have achieved some true renown – writers like Jane Austin, Louisa Mae Alcott, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Virginia Woolf have reached iconic status. Still, these authors are read primarily by women, who seem to appreciate books by both men and women. It seems that men, however, prefer books by men. This was illustrated by a recent blog in the online site, SheWrites.
(to be continued)