Louis Chung / Beverly Hills High School 12th
Feminism and equal gender rights are not new projects to social activism. From the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 and the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920 to the recent #MeToo online movement, gender equality has been an important social issue for more than 150 years. Despite the passion and diligence of many civil rights activists, society continues to struggle with accepting and establishing true gender equality.
Starting with the workplace, data suggests that women face more difficulties than men in moving up the social ladder. A recent 2018 study conducted by The Muse, an online job research platform and media company, indicated that for every 100 male employees who were promoted, only 79 female employees advanced into similar positions. Looking at this statistic, some might argue that this could be due to men being more capable than their female colleagues. However, according to research based on female personal experiences, the likelihood of a female employee being treated under the assumption of a lower rank or job title was twice as high as it was for men. This statistic hints that perhaps less women are promoted because of underlying negative social attitudes toward female workers rather than actual incompetence.
Another interesting observation is greater workplace inequality in predominantly male fields, such as STEM. According to a 2017 Pew Research Center study, only 19% of men claimed that they experienced gender discrimination at work while the percentage for women was 50%. In addition, for a more serious issue like sexual harassment, 28% of men in STEM careers claimed that this was a problem in the workplace compared to 36% of women. Most importantly, gender inequality is not limited to physical professional environments only. Women are underrepresented in online image search results for predominantly male careers, but they are overrepresented in female-associated careers.
For instance, the actual percentage of women who serve in leadership positions is 34%, but the estimated percentage of women in image search results is only 15%. In contrast, for female-dominated jobs like modeling or fashion, the actual percentage was 78% while the image search result percentage was 88%. This suggests that society expects women to follow certain career paths, making it harder for women to have socially “atypical” jobs. Due to problems like sexual harassment and gender discrimination, 20% of women stated that their gender has negatively influenced their chances of success at work as opposed to 7% for men.
Society has made great progress toward gender equality, but even today, women face greater difficulties than men, especially in the workplace. With more research, greater awareness, and expanded support, equal rights for men and women should be attainable in the near future.
<Louis Chung / Beverly Hills High School 12th