Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-Chief
Last Modified: 12:32 p.m. EDT, 23 January 2013
OXNARD, California – This past year has been tough on women, especially for those who have taken a brave and public stand like Malalai Yousafzai, a young Pakistani teenager who recently survived an assassination attempt and continues to live under a death threat simply because she advocated for education for girls in her country.
In the United States, a country with far more progressive women’s rights legislation than some nations, women are still subject to unequal treatment, physical abuse, and verbal castigation as in the case of Sandra Fluke.
In 29 February 2012, Fluke was called a “slut” and a “prostitute” by a conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh in response to the Georgetown University Law Center student’s speech the previous week to House Democrats in support of mandating insurance coverage for contraceptives.
To add insult to injury, this past election cycle revealed a concerted effort by politicians and other far right factions to dismantle the legislative gains women have achieved in this country. In 1963, author, Betty Friedan published her book, “The Feminine Mystique.” She discovered that most housewives were unhappy with their lives in which they were relegated to cooking and cleaning, while the men provided.
Although, opportunities for women has expanded beyond the domiciliary confines; there are still many impediments to women achieving equality in both the work place and society in general. Globally, women continue to encounter difficulties in achieving economic and social equality.
According to the White House Project, nearly 18% of women occupy top leadership positions compared to 82% of men. In fact, “among Fortune 500 companies, women constitute only 3% of the CEOs, 6% of the top paying positions and 16% of the corporate officers. Among Fortune 500 companies, women account for 15% of the board members; 13% of these companies have no women on their boards.
The leadership pipeline exists – women make up 48% of the labor force and 51% of all management/administrative/professional positions – but progress beyond this point is stalled and has been for the past three years. The wage gap widens as women age and move up the ladder into management. Women make only 78% percent of what men make – an improvement of less than half a penny a year since 1963 when The Equal Pay Act was signed. African-American women make 64% and Hispanic women make 52% of what white men make. (Source: The White House Project)
Today, many American youth look for role models in the sports and entertainment industries. Young girls are more likely to identify with a movie star, singer, or television personality, than a female CEO or other executive. As an example, in the 2013 January issue of GQ magazine, Beyoncé Knowles graced the cover for a feature article about the state of feminism in Western society. Posing in a small pair of shorts, a cropped and revealing man’s shirt that almost exposed her breasts; this was the image that the editors chose to entice readers to purchase the magazine.