The Gender Gap and High School Academics

The UMKC Women’s Center strives to promote gender equity. Recently I stumbled upon this blog by Maya Dusenbury on Feministing that addresses the relation of high school GPA’s to the gender gap in the workforce. I encourage you to take a look and reflect upon this issue over the summer month.


Chart of the Day: Women need a perfect GPA to
earn as much as men with a 2.0

“We already know that women need a PhD to earn as much as men with a BA, and now a new report on the relationship between high school grade point average (GPA) and income shows that women need a 4.0 GPA to earn as much as men with a 2.0. Via ThinkProgress:

GPA and future earnings by gender chart

The study also shows that, on average, women have significantly higher GPAs, while men still end up having higher incomes. This is why all the hand-wringing about how women are outperforming men in school is so silly. Yes, we are. But, as Bryce Covert explained recently, in the real world, the so-called “boy crisis” disappears – funny how sexism will do that.

As Jos wrote about the previous study showing how the pay gap persists at every level of educational attainment, these studies show that ”women need to climb higher up the ladder of degrees if they want earnings that are competitive with men.” And they show that much of the gender pay gap can’t be explained by education.”


A Woman’s Worth

by Ayomide Aruwajoye

“Cause a real man knows a real woman when he sees her
And a real woman knows a real man ain’t afraid to please her
And a real woman knows a real man always comes first
And a real man just can’t deny a woman’s worth”

Alicia Keys – Woman’s Worth

I’m not sure if you have heard this song, but to all women and men, I feel like this is one of those songs that must be heard. This is a song that I grew up knowing. Everybody, especially the girls in my grade during elementary school, knew this song. I’m positive that we didn’t have a clue what this song meant since we were not yet in the dating stage, but since our mothers let us sing it around the house and we didn’t get in trouble at school for singing the song, we concluded that it was a good song.


As I got older, especially when I was old enough to drive, I blasted this song in my car for months. It was my anthem. I loved the beat, her voice, but most of all the meaning of the song. A woman’s worth is more than two words put together that sounds pretty. A woman’s worth is something that all women are born with, and it places a status on how we should be treated.

Without knowing your worth you lack the motivation to be treated how you should be treated. A woman’s worth reminds you that you should not be getting paid less than men, rape is not something that is asked for regardless of the clothes you wear. Women shouldn’t go through sexual harassment, domestic violence, and basically that women should be treated right.

In the past, women did not know their worth and were told not to go to school and stay home to cook, clean, and take care of kids, they agreed to these things because they didn’t believe in themselves and their abilities. They were constantly being talked down to by men and I’m sure they had very low confidence levels.

This is why I believe all women should KNOW their worth. The way you feel about yourself can take you a long way. If it’s already established that you will not be treated less than a man, or called out your name, it’s more likely that people will respect that about you but also the fact that you won’t accept it makes you such a strong person.

There’s a saying, “it’s not what you are called it’s what you answer to!” this quote has a lot to do with the “knowing your worth” phenomenon. Young females today address themselves as Bitches and other disrespectful words. They sing along to songs that emotionally and physical attack females in a disgraceful way and think it is okay. For me, being a young adult in college is figuring out what my worth is and requiring to be treated that way or better, especially in my relationships.

The first step is figuring out what your worth is and how you want to be treated. Second step will be actually requiring to be treated exactly how you want to be. Third and final step would be realizing that your worth as a woman is undefinable, you are beautiful, smart, strong intelligent woman and nobody should treat you less than that because like Alicia Keys said, “You will lose if you choose to refuse to put her first. She will and she can find a man who knows her worth!”

Marginalized Voices in Eating Disorder Recovery

NEDAwarenessLogoIn honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week and UMKC’s Every Body is Beautiful Week, this is a guest blog from the  National Eating Disorders Association Blog.

For more information about UMKC’s Every Body is beautiful Week events, please visit our Facebook page.

By Melissa Fabello, Editor, Everyday Feminism

Pick up any eating disorder memoir at your local bookstore, and you are more than likely to find some iteration of this narrative arc.

Well-to-do, young white woman develops an eating disorder, spirals into near-oblivion, seeks treatment for her eating disorder (which usually results in her being admitted into a residential facility), experiences a myriad of successes and failures, and eventually commits to finding her Self again. Well-to-do, young white woman walks out of treatment with a new sense of hope on the road to recovery.

From a consumer-driven standpoint, it makes complete sense. Of course people are buying (and selling) these stories. Just as we see in our media landscape, there is a huge market for the most extreme and “graphic” version of any issue, and there will be people who are attracted to cathartic memoirs that are moving in that they’re so terrifying. It takes courage to tell your story of struggle with a mental disorder, to confront the stigma. They may be written from a place of good intention to educate and raise awareness about how serious eating disorders are, but they can also have the unintended effect of making us feel better about ourselves, our lives – hell, even our diets. “At least I’m not like that,” or “I’m not that sick.”

From an eating disorder recovery perspective, we have to ask ourselves whether these limiting representations of life with an eating disorder are doing more harm than good in the absence of other diverse voices and experiences with these illnesses.  As important and valid as stories like the above are about a commonly misunderstood illness – and as necessary as it is for people, from the field of psychology to the general public, to read and understand them – they simply aren’t telling the whole story.

My eating disorder didn’t look like that, and it’s been difficult to find stories that more closely resemble my own. My eating disorder was private and lonely. My rapid weight loss raised a few concerned eyebrows and flippant comments, but only one intervention. My doctor didn’t offer anything to me except a nutritionist and an SSRI prescription – oh, and the dreaded diagnosis of EDNOS. My eating disorder wasn’t (yet) killing me. It wasn’t making strangers stare at me. It looked entirely from the outside – so long as no one ever got a peek at my journals – like a diet.

And yet, my eating disorder was terrifying. And it was serious. And it mattered. Considering most people struggling with bulimia are of average weight, binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder, most doctors hardly  receive any training about eating disorders, and people are socially rewarded in our culture for dieting or weight loss, I have a suspicion that I’m not alone.

While some may argue that these bestsellers are raising important awareness about a growing problem, my question is: How beneficial is it if the scope of what the shoppers see is such a narrow picture of eating disorder experiences? How concerning is it that many write these memoirs without realizing how critical it is to share their story responsibly – in ways that doesn’t invite comparisons of “not sick enough to count” or with triggering images and instructive behaviors?

Because here is what happens when the only eating disorder stories that we hear are the ones that fit the aforementioned description: We use them as examples to hold our own disorders up to. We use them to judge and determine what is and isn’t “really sick.” We start to trust that these narratives represent “real” eating disorders, and that experiences that fall outside of these confines just don’t count.

And that’s dangerous.

It’s dangerous for the men and the boys who are struggling when they’re looking in the mirror. It’s dangerous and invalidating for women and other people of color when eating disorders are chiefly looked at as a “white woman’s problem.” It’s dangerous for trans* folks whose body image battles are always lumped in as related to gender-related dysphoria.

It’s dangerous to every person who’s ever peered into the DSM for diagnostic criteria and thought, “Well, I don’t purge that much” or “I haven’t lost that much weight.” It’s dangerous to every person who’s ever thought that they must not be “that bad” just because they don’t see stars when they stand up or don’t have heart complications or haven’t been questioned about erosion by their dentist or don’t have to take a leave of absence from school or don’t ever see a therapist or don’t get admitted into residential treatment or don’t have to be fed through a tube.

As is every structure that exists to serve a hierarchy of power, when the landscape is primarily non-inclusive eating disorder stories, it’s dangerous to the marginalized. They say, “Your voices don’t matter. Your experiences aren’t important.” It’s dangerous to reality.

And something has to change.

So, with that in mind, I (in collaboration with NEDA) would like to collect and curate your eating disorder stories. We want to highlight recovery stories that challenge that dominant narrative formula. There are already some brave people out there sharing their stories, talking about how their ethnicity, gender identity, orientation,  age, or religion have impacted their experience with an eating disorder, but as a field and community, we have still have so far to go. You are invited to join us.

We want all of it: your successes, your messes, your relapses, your questions. We want to hear from people of marginalized identities and from different parts of the world. We want to span the entire spectrum. We want to create a collection of stories that tells the whole truth so that we can present the world with what the reality of most eating disorders look like – because how can we truly address a problem if we don’t know what it looks like?

So if you have ever read an eating disorder memoir and felt misrepresented, underrepresented, or unrepresented, we want to hear from you. Submit your story now!

Interested in sharing your experiences as a step toward public enlightenment? For guidelines and to submit your stories, check out our submissions page here.

And for more on what I wish people understood about eating disorders, check out this video.

Wonder Women: The Fictional Ladies of T.V.

By Amber Charleville

I do a lot of thinking about fictional ladies. Don’t look at me like that! I mean it in a purely academic sense. Mostly. For the purposes of this blog, I want to talk about some of my favorite TV Shows with amazing women characters who are treated fairly and dynamically. I do a lot of talking about the way the media gets it wrong, but I think it’s also important to talk about the shows that get it right!

Image from Creative Commons Search.

Image from Creative Commons Search.

Without further ado, here is Amber’s List of Favorite Fictional Ladies in the Past Year:

  1. Dr. Cristina Yang of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, played by Sandra Oh. Cristina Yang demonstrates again and again what it means to be a woman who chooses career over having children, to not be someone who wants to be a mother. Cristina shows us how that can be both empowering and alienating in a society who expects all women to work toward motherhood as the ultimate accomplishment and goal. While there is certainly nothing wrong with having children (as demonstrated by numerous other characters on the show), Cristina’s struggle speaks to those of us who don’t feel that drive and know we never will.
  2. Detective Amy Santiago and Detective Rosa Diaz of Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine, played by Melissa Fumero and Stephanie Beatriz. Funny, quirky, driven, and inspiring, both of these women show us that women don’t have to all act the same to be badass and amazing. They also teach us something about how important camaraderie and mutual support is among women, especially women in a “boys club.”
  3. Sophia Burset of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, played by Laverne Cox. Sophia Burset brings some much needed exposure to Transgender Women and their experiences with transmisogyny and cissexism. She’s funny, smart, and beautiful, and she shows us that what it means to be a woman in this world isn’t regulated by the sex you were assigned at birth.
  4. Carol Peletier and Michonne of AMC’s The Walking Dead, played by Melissa McBride and Danai Gurira. When it comes to drama at the end of the world, The Walking Dead does an amazing job of exploring gender essentialism, gender roles in survival situations, and what it means to be willing to do anything to stay alive. They are every bit as broken, dangerous, compassionate, and brutal as their male counterparts, and watching their growth over the past several seasons has been riveting.
  5. Sarah Manning, et al. of BBC America’s Orphan Black, played by Tatiana Maslany. It would be impossible to list every single character played by Tatiana Maslany on Orphan Black, but each and every one of the clones she portrays is unique, dynamic, and has different experiences and views in the world. It shows us what our identity looks like when it cannot rely on our physical features.
  6. Allison Scagliotti from Warehouse 13. Image from Google Images through Creative Commons Search.

    Allison Scagliotti from Warehouse 13. Image from Google Images through Creative Commons Search.

    Myka Bering and Claudia Donovan of Syfy’s Warehouse 13 played by Joanne Kelly and Allison Scagliotti. Warehouse 13 is one of my favorite shows on television even though it occupies a relatively obscure corner. Myka is ambitious and rule oriented, Claudia is daring and creative, and they both shine as individuals capable of so very much. They explore different and evolving relationship dynamics, what it means when the family you create is more important than the family you were born into, and how love is more than just romance. It’s friendship, partnership, sisterhood, and so much more. The show itself is maybe a little cheesy, but the characters, especially the women, make it stand out.

What Happens to Women Matters to Men, Too!

This man proclaims why he is a feminist as part of the "Who Needs Feminism?" Campaign last semester.

This man proclaims why he is a feminist as part of the “Who Needs Feminism?” Campaign last semester.

By Morgan Paul

“Women are part of men’s lives, and what happens to us matters to men too.”

In welcoming everybody back to class and back to the Women’s Center after a long cold break we begin to get the same questions we get at the beginning of every semester: “Can men come to the Women’s Center?” “What do you do for men?” “So feminists are man haters, right?”

NO! This couldn’t be further from the truth! The patriarchy hurts EVERYONE! To prove this point I found an article that talks about both the direct and indirect effects of the patriarchy. It’s a great read for men, women, and non-binary persons alike.

Click here to check it out!

In Case You Missed It – Great Blogs You May Not Have Seen Over the Winter Break


Image from Google Images, via Creative Commons

Image from Google Images, via Creative Commons

Check out these great feminist blogs from over the holiday break!

1. “Jane Campion to Lead Cannes 2014 Jury”
Jane Campion, Director and one of the largest critics of Hollywood’s discrimination against women, has been selected to oversee the Cannes Film Festival.

2. “The Refutation of ‘Good Hair’ and the ‘Consumption’ of Kanekalon Hair.”
Photographer Nakeya B. makes a statement about  hair, portraying the importance (good and bad) that hair has for women of color in the media and everyday life.

3. “10 Ways to Keep Up the Feminist Fight in 2014”
This article highlights some steps to take in 2014 to promote gender equity.

4.“What’s like as the First Transgender MMA Fighter? Meet Fallon Fox.”
Check out this biographical piece about the first transgender MMA fighter who identifies as female.

5. “New Campus Rape Bill Written with Help from Sexual Assault Survivors”
This article is informative about how California is revising the Education Code with regard to sexual violence by listening to the thoughts and opinions of assault survivors.

6. “The Price of Being Female and on the Internet”
This guest blog highlights how legal action should be improved to deal with cyber stalking, and other online crimes that women face on a day to day basis.

7. “Thoughts on Women and the Wolf of Wall Street
This article examines the view of the world that the film portrays, specifically with regard to the role of women in the film.

8. “Bitch Tapes: Favorite Feminist Music Finds of the Year”
Bitch Magazine compiled a list of their writers’ favorite feminist artists and songs from 2013. Take a peek at it and maybe you’ll find some new favorite artists!

9. “Blockbuster Films Featuring Actual Female Characters Made Serious Money in 2013”
Check out this short article (and infogaphic) proving that 2013 films that featured meaningful, life-like female characters made more at the box office than those that simply objectified women and focused on people who identified as male.

10. “Recovering from an Abusive Relationship”
Read one woman’s story about her recovery after leaving her abuser, and how she came to realizations that changed her life.

A Glimpse at the Media of 2013 – We Still Have So Much to Fight For


By Amber Charleville

Some of you may know that one of my passions is female representation in the media. Media is powerful, and it is not only a reflection of us in the now but also influences how we move forward. This video, made by the same folks who did Miss Representation, shows the highs and lows of the year for women in the media.

It’s a powerful glimpse at how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.

Women are WONDERful Leaders, Too

everything_know_feminism_31By Amber Charleville

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership, what it looks like and what it means to be an excellent leader.  I’ve had the good fortune to work with amazing leaders, and I’ve also been able to occupy leadership roles in many areas of my life. And while there are definitely certain qualities that make leadership easier, I want to dispel the myth of the “natural leader.”

First of all, I see that term applied to men and boys a lot. “Look how he takes charge and people automatically look to him for direction. He’s such a natural leader.” This is a fundamental misunderstanding of how men and women are socialized from a young age. Boys have more opportunities for leadership experience, and the skillset that is readily identified as optimal for leadership (assertive, authoritative, intelligent, charismatic, articulate, self-aware, and confident) is often ascribed to men.

These are not skills anyone is born with. These are skills that we are taught, that we are socialized to use. In fact, even when women have these attributes, they get completely different labels: pushy, bossy, stuck up, showy, know-it-all, self-obsessed, and conceited. Qualities that society does think of as feminine are also considered passive, sometimes even a weakness: compassionate, caring, nurturing, intuitive, and kind.

In reality, it takes both of these diverse skillsets to really flesh out the role of leader.

Second, even in a person that has all those skills, it still takes practice to learn how to apply them. Leadership is something we have to work at, that needs regular tweaking and evaluation. It’s something for which we need practice and support. This feeds directly back into my first point: men are often given leadership opportunities that women are not as they grow up. This teaches them valuable skills and gives them an opportunity to learn what works and what doesn’t. They also often have leadership role models who share the same gender as them, something women are short on.

This sets men up for success in leadership roles and often keeps women from even trying to become one. I was always somewhat aware of that, but over the past weekend it became readily apparent. I went to the Mid-Year conference for the National Student Nurses’ Association, and in one session, we discussed how men were still a minority in the nursing field (only 9.6%) Yet although men represent less than 10% of the nursing population, there are an abundance of nursing leaders who are men. Just on the board of the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA) alone, a little over 35% are men. That’s three and a half times the percent who are nurses.

If you compare this to women making up 51% of the United States population but only holding 15% of Senate slots and 16.6% in the House of Representatives, we really begin to see that the lack of female leaders is a problem that has deep roots.

WC_Logo-2COLOR-FHere at the UMKC Women’s Center, I’m lucky. I get to see strong women occupying leadership roles and I get to learn from them. One of the objectives of the Women’s Center is to foster opportunities for growth and development among campus women. As a work study student at the Women’s Center, I’m encouraged to develop and hone leadership skills I can use throughout my life and future career. It’s why the Women’s Center is so important to this community, and why similar organizations are vital to other communities and campuses across the country. Leadership requires practice, and women deserve a chance to gain that preparation.

For more information about the UMKC Women’s Center and our events, please visit our website, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and follow us on Tumblr!

“Boys Make Passes at Girls in Glasses”


Image from ClipArt

Image from ClipArt

By Morgan Paul

So, a while ago I was doing some shopping on the Plaza when I walked past a store with books on top of the mannequin’s heads and writing on the window that said “boys make passes on girls in glasses”. I don’t know much about Kate Spade, but after seeing this it became so disgustingly obvious how often media portrays self-worth for women as being based on getting a man, and how marketing encourages this. I won’t even get into the heteronormativity or body image issues with this display today, but I will talk about how sexist and degrading this is. I don’t think I would be as surprised (although still disgusted) to see something like this from a male designer, but to see a female degrade her sisters is just sickening. And to make it worse, the Kate Spade website says this phrase was inspired by “all things library-related”. Excuse me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think boy’s passes are library-related. It’s as if they’re saying “You don’t have to read, just seduce him with your glasses!” “Nobody cares if you’re smart, just get a man and take care of a family!”

Due to my own outrage I Googled this phrase and was shocked to find nothing. I figured that this would have made at least a few other people upset! It’s telling women that we just have to look the part and that our intelligence isn’t sexy. But you know what I guess is sexy, an $88 bangle or a $228 purse with this outrageous phrase on it!? And furthermore, there is nothing fashionable about wearing this phrase: it’s desperate. Then I found their faux book clutches. This way you look smart walking around with The Age of Innocence or The Portrait of a Lady in hand, but you better hope that men coming onto you don’t ask about the book.

Maybe I’m overacting and this is really nothing more than an awful fashion statement, but even as a statement, it is standing for all the wrong things. How about something that says “Stop cheating and get to reading!”? I’ll admit it’s not the best phrase, but at least it promotes positive values! Ridiculous little things like this make it so hard to find a good store to shop at – not that I have the money to shop Kate Spade anyway. But I guess my point is, if you do have the money, then I suggest that you do research into all of the stores that you’re shopping at and find out where the clothes are coming from, who makes them, and what message the company is sending to the public. I know it’s hard, but it’s very important!

We Need Feminism to Foster Positive Body Image

By Torshawna Griffin

From UMKC's "Who Needs Feminism?" 2012 Campaign.

From UMKC’s “Who Needs Feminism?” Campaign 2012.

Recently, I read this article about body image; it was called Young, Feminist, and Hungry: An Insider’s Perspective on Body Image. What attracted me to the article was the fact that the author told her testimonial about how she gained a positive body image through becoming a feminist. She gave us insight on how, at a young age, she was teased by someone who was supposed to be her friend. She expressed how this “friend,” who happened to be a boy, “cried for days” after she told him that she liked him. She talked about how having “girl power” made her want to love herself. This empowered me because all women don’t know that we are our best allies when it comes to body image. The slightest joke can cause someone to get really low about her no matter how thick her skin is. I’ve learned that positive body image is the most powerful weapon that any woman can have on her side.

To tell us why YOU need feminism, stop by The Women’s Center (105 Haag Hall) between November 11 and November 15 and join our “Who Needs Feminism?” 2013 Campaign.