What's Being a Woman Got to Do With It?

Over the past couple of months I have become increasingly aware of the fact that sex discrimination in the workplace is still very much a problem. For some reason, call it wishful thinking, I thought that with all the anti-discrimination laws that are out there and the spiels that new employees get about sexual harassment and open door policies, that there would be fewer instances of women being discriminated against in the workplace.  I guess I was wrong.

I just recently read about a woman who was fired from her job at Citibank because she was too “curvaceous”. The woman, Debrahlee Lorenzana, says that while working for the bank she was told to wear makeup, not wear high heels because it caused her “shape” to be too distracting to her male co-workers, and was told that she should straighten her hair before coming to work. Lorenzana complained to Citibank HR officials about the unfair treatment, was transferred to another department, and then fired. In another case, a Hooters waitress came out saying that during her annual employee review she was told she had 30 days to lose a significant amount of weight or she would lose her job. Hooters was even so nice as to offer a free gym membership. Both of these cases are just examples of what happens all around the U.S.

In May, Wal-Mart was sued for sex discrimination. The class-action suit is the largest sex discrimination suit in U.S. history. The case began with 6 women in 2001 and by the time it was approved to move forward in April this year there were more than one million women suing the corporation, which could possibly mean billions in damages for the company. The women are saying that they were not paid as much as their male counterparts, denied advancement, and their sexual harassment complaints were ignored. Nothing has been decided yet.

There have been some wins lately against sex discrimination in the workplace, including a large settlement for women working at Novartis Pharmaceuticals who had filed a sex discrimination suit.  There was also the decision that the U.S. Navy would finally start allowing women to serve on submarines. So it definitely seems that more women are speaking up and changes are being made, but there are still concerns that these changes are not enough and that there is still a lot of work to be done. While more women are earning more advanced degrees than men these days, women still make 78 cents to the men’s dollar. Obviously, there is still sex discrimination going on and more work on this issue needs to be done, but hopefully with more women speaking up, things will continue to change for the better.

Fathers: A symbol of inequality?

They say every girl dreams of her wedding day.  I don’t know if I would buy into all the hype about it being the happiest day of your life, but I know I have thought about it a time or two and I know that even my friends have admitted to thinking about it as well. With the month of June being the biggest month for weddings and only a week away, soon it will seem like weddings will be everywhere.  So when someone mentioned a recent article to me, I found it to be an interesting take on nuptials. 

The article, posted on Jezebel.com, refers to the coming wedding of the Crown Princess of Sweden and how her choice to have her father walk down the aisle with her has sparked some national controversy.  According to the article, it is tradition in Sweden that the bride and groom walk down the aisle together as a symbol of the “equality of the union” and that the union is happening of their own free will. While this tradition differs from what we here in the U.S. consider traditional – that is, the father escorting the bride down the aisle or “giving her away” – I find it an interesting change in tradition.

The article describes how the leader of the Swedish church, Archbishop Anders Wejryd, came out saying that the princess’ choice to be “given away” goes against what the Swedish church represents in their ceremony: ‘”I usually advise against it, as our marriage ceremony is so clear on the subject of the spouses’ equality.”’  The archbishop was not the only one to speak up against Princess Victoria’s choice, in fact, it seems like there is a fair amount of hoopla about it. Ultimately, the article on Jezebel concludes that although it’s great to have the head of the church point out sexist inequalities in certain practices, it is still the bride’s day and she is free to make her own choice on the matter. This is true. If there is any day where we give a woman the right to be picky, it’s her wedding day.

I must say I never gave it much thought as to the “underlying meaning” or symbolism of my dad walking me down the aisle. To some, the walk down the aisle can symbolize many different things.  It can be used as a symbol of equality or a lack thereof, but to me, my dad walking me down the aisle (should I get married), does not mean I wouldn’t be equal with my husband.  To me, it is a part of the ceremony I couldn’t imagine not doing because it would mean a lot to me and to my dad. I think that a woman, like in many other aspects of her life, should be able to choose whatever she wants to do on her wedding day and not receive criticism about it.

Gender Equality Produces a Double Dividend…

…it benefits both women and children. 

A recent article regarding women’s rights and global issues concluded that healthy, educated and empowered women have healthy, educated and confident daughters and sons. Gender equality will not only empower women to overcome poverty and live full and productive lives, but will better the lives of children, families and countries as well.

This statement really stood out to me because it is so true. Gender equality will show children today that they can achieve anything, no matter if you’re a girl or boy. We should all have the same opportunities in life. Bettering our children is always beneficial to our society, because generations to come will need to know the value of equality. Equality will bring stable homes, fairness in the workplace, and respect in the society as a whole.

People need to realize that being a strong educated woman now will set the tone for future generations. I strive to achieve that goal now, as I finish my last semester of college, I realize that I have been surrounded with women of high quality and poise such as my mother. She has always been there for me, and through her I can see that I can achieve my goals to the fullest.