Our culture has made great strides toward gender equality in the past few decades. After fighting tooth and nail for fundamental American rights — like the right to vote and the right to work — women are marching ever closer to true equivalence with men. Indeed, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate: This year a woman is the leading presidential candidate for a major political party, the first women graduated from Army Ranger School, and women everywhere are leading institutions (like Harvard University and the Federal Reserve) for the first time ever.
However, while we celebrate our gains, it is important to remember that the scales aren’t yet truly balanced. To find out what you can do to help end gender inequality, read on for eight major disparities between men and women in the U.S. today.
1. The Wage Gap
Most people know the exact percentage — 79, as a national average — that women earn less than men. The fact that the wage gap remains despite abundant publicity is bewilderingly frustrating to women across the country, especially women of color for whom the gap is even more significant. Experts suggest that nearly 60 percent of the wage gap can be attributed to “unexplained” societal and cultural factors — namely, gender discrimination. Fortunately, the wage cap continues to slowly but surely close, as women become more educated, follow trends of starting their own businesses, and fight against the injustice of the unequal pay.
2. The Chores Gap
Even as women move into the C-suite, most heterosexual families remain dependent on their female members when it comes to household chores. The most recent National Time Use Survey suggests that women spend roughly 20 percent more of their free time cooking, cleaning, and shopping for the home than men do. Women have long belonged to the domestic domain, and it seems that as they shatter the glass ceiling, they will still be the ones to clean it up afterward.
3. The Cost of Daily Items
There are many items that both men and women use every day: shampoo, socks, deodorant, razors, and more. Unfortunately, according to several studies, the items targeting women, such as women’s body wash or fragrance, are priced dollars and cents more than those marketed to men. This injustice, often called the “woman tax” or the “pink tax,” has existed since at least the 1990s, and few women even realize that it exists. New businesses seeking to trademark products marketed towards women should need to find ways around the “pink tax” in order to draw in and retain their ever-advancing clientele.
4. The Frequency of Victimhood
It is almost amazing that any woman is brave enough to venture outdoors considering the overwhelming amount of violence and abuse they suffer. Women are the victims of crimes dramatically more often than men, and usually, the nature of those crimes relates specifically to their gender. For example:
- Rape. Sexual assault can happen to anyone, but more than 1 in 5 American women today have experienced rape, compared to 1 in 71 men.
- Domestic violence. Women between the ages of 15 and 44 are more likely to endure violence in the home than they are likely to experience cancer, car accidents, war, or malaria. Roughly 1 in 5 American women will be abused by intimate partners in their lifetimes.
- Human trafficking. Across the world, more than 2.4 million people are kidnapped and sold every year, and more than 80 percent of those are women and girls destined for prostitution. The U.S. is not exempt from these statistics; more than 244,000 children are trafficked every year within our borders.
- Stalking. Stalking sounds funny or even endearing, but 1 in 7 women can attest that stalking behavior by an intimate partner is not amusing — it is utterly terrifying.
5. The Government Underrepresentation
Filling roughly 20 percent of the seats in Congress, women are better represented in government than ever before in U.S. history — but considering that the U.S. population is about 51 percent female, the number of ladies on Capitol Hill is off-putting. It is unsurprising then that so much female-unfriendly legislation gets passed.
6. The Media Imbalance
Again, though women comprise more than half the population, female representation in the media is dismal. Women reporters publish roughly a third of the stories of men, and less in more traditionally “masculine” fields like sports and politics. In the entertainment sector, women on screen earn less and have less opportunity to shape characters, images, and depictions. The results of the Bechdel Test have hardly improved in years for top-earning films.
7. The Sports Bias
Few people can admit to knowing who won the championship game last year in any women’s sport. Female athletes are often ignored in favor of their male counterparts, even in college athletics when women are supposed to be protected by Title IX, and especially at the high school level where thousands of young women are banned from playing sports at all.
8. The Poverty Inevitability
Due to all of the injustices levied on women, it should be no surprise that women are much more likely to live below the poverty level than men are. Estimates state that 6 in 10 poor adults are women, many of whom must accept an impoverished lifestyle due to single motherhood. Additionally, elderly women are twice as likely as aged men to live in poverty. These facts indicate that poverty is actually a women’s issue.
Featured photo credit: Paul Townsend via flickr.com