The Gender Gap in Caregiving and Why Women Carry It

Trivia Question: In heterosexual married couples where both partners work full time, women spend ____ % more time caregiving than men.

Answer: 40.

By: Emma Sauer

When I think of caregivers, I think of my paternal grandma, who’s dedicated herself to my grandpa’s care for as long as I can remember, ever since he’s had difficulty walking. I think of my mother, a living reminder that housewives work their asses off just as much as career-women. I think of my best friend, studying rigorously so she can become a nurse.

Caregiving, whether its paid or unpaid, professional or personal, is hard work. I will forever have respect for caregivers, because they go above and beyond to help their fellow humans. It takes a special kind of person to be patient and disciplined enough to be a good caregiver. Caregiving, if you weren’t aware, is a broad term that covers those who “provide care to people who need some degree of ongoing assistance with everyday tasks on a regular or daily basis” (CDC). A caregiver can be someone hired to take care of a stranger, or an unpaid person taking care of a family member, friend, or loved one. Up to 81% of all caregivers, formal and informal, are female, and they may spend as much as 50% more time giving care than males. Even in heterosexual relationships where both partners work full time, women still spend a whopping 40% more time caregiving than their male partner. 

So, why do women shoulder such a heavy share of the caregiving compared to men? If you yourself are a woman, you already know the answer: it’s what’s expected of us. This isn’t to say that caregiving and homemaking isn’t just as important as more traditional careers, or even that there aren’t women who love doing it. However, it would be outright wrong to say that that 75% number isn’t partly due to a sense of obligation. It was only as recently as WWII that the United States began to change its perception of women as primary caretakers. In those days, the nuclear model of family demanded that women stayed home to cook, clean, and watch the kids, while their husbands went off and did important man things, like selling vacuums door to door, committing tax fraud in the office, and whatever else businessmen did in the 50’s. You’d think things would have changed more by 2022, but a lot of women are instilled with an obligation/duty to take care of others, whether it’s their children, husband, parents, or someone else.

This month, let’s recognize the women in our lives who are caretakers. Better yet, let’s do it all year long. If you’re a caregiver yourself, thank you. Thank you for your hard work, dedication, and time you give to others.

A Brief History of Women in the U.S Military (Part 2)

By: Sierra Voorhies

Trivia Question: True or False? Army and Navy nurses, all of whom were women, weren’t given veteran’s benefits and equal rights in the military until 1947, when they were granted officer’s status. 

Answer: True

World War II (1939-1945)

In WW2, all branches of the military accepted women into their organizations. Their role expanded from clerical jobs to driving, repair persons, lab workers, operators, parachute riggers, and air combat trainers (USO). 68,000 women served as nurses across the Army Nurse Corps and the Navy Nurse Corps – sometimes working on front lines, and sometimes being killed or taken as prisoners of war. Black women served as nurses overseas and stateside, and were continuously used as auxiliary forces that were called in so men could serve on the front lines when needed. In 1948 Truman signed an Integration Act that desegregated women in the Army and the Organized Reserve Corps where Black women had been serving without official recognition. 

Interesting Fact: Aesthetically, in WW2, uniforms were skirts, and having hairdos, makeup and nail polish was emphasized, this is different from today when makeup, nail polish and skirts are not allowed (USO). 

In 1948 (Before the Korean War) Truman signed an Act that allowed ‘women to serve as full, permanent members of all branches of the Armed Forces.” (USO) Truman also issued an executive order to desegregate the military and allow Black women equal service (USO).

Vietnam War- Present
  • In the Vietnam War, women were allowed to command units that included men. 
  • Since the 80’s progress continued to be made, including women becoming fighter pilots, rescue swimmers, and four-star generals in the Army (USO).
  • In 1991 Operation Desert Storm started, and an estimated 40% of women serving were Black women (NABMW).
  • In 1994 Clinton got rid of the “Risk Rule” which let women be in any position besides direct ground combat roles (USO). 
  • In 2015 Women would be allowed to serve in direct ground combat roles, meaning almost every role in the armed forces is now open to women (USO).

In conclusion, Black women continue to face intersectional issues in the Armed Forces, but those who have served and volunteered since pre-colonialism paved the way for those who serve with full recognition and benefits now. Proportionately, Black women serve at a higher rate (in noncommissioned officers) than White women or Black Men, meaning they tend to stay in the service longer. The military can be a place of opportunity that civilian careers might not equal in the eyes of some Black women today (NABMW).

Like in every other aspect of life, the United State’s history of slavery, segregation, and racism plays an important role in the way Black women serve. But all the same, women will persist. 

Note: I would love to write a part two about the history of queer people in the military, but as this is so long, I will refrain from including it in this blog. Stay tuned! 

The Woman Behind the American Red Cross: Clara Barton

Trivia question: Clara Barton founded___________, an organization dedicated to emergency relief, on May 21st, 1881 and led it for the next 23 years. 

 Answer: The Red Cross.

Image Source: Flickr, elycefeliz, Creative Commons

By: Laura Yac

They say behind every organization stands one man, but that’s not always true.  On the contrary, there are many organizations founded and led by women. Take Clara Barton: she created an organization that was dedicated towards emergency relief. This organization came about in May 21st, 1881 and was under her supervision for the next 23 years.  She helped found The Red Cross. The Red Cross is widely known and has helped people all across the world as well.  

We would not expect anything less than that from Barton, who was described as a strong, independent women who cared for others. She dedicated her life to The Red Cross, and she never married or had a family. In the 1800s and early 1900s, this was very uncommon. Barton didn’t mind leaving behind a life as a wife or mother, because she felt as if her purpose in life was to help others. During the Civil war she became a self-taught nurse and cared for wounded soldiers. By doing that she earned the respect of many and was known as the “angel of the battlefield”. She continued her great work during wars and helped over 20,000 soldiers reunite with their families after being hurt. She showed she not only cared for everyone’s physical health but their overall health.  

After that, she became one of the very first women to ever work for a federal government during that time period. She continued to strive for a change and continued being an inspiration to many. After many years she decided to finally retire in 1904. With that she left a legacy and what many would refer as a big position to fill. Currently the Red Cross is being ran by Gail J McGovern, a woman who is following the steps left behind by Clara Barton.

Lavinia Fontana: Renaissance Woman

By: Emma Stuart

The Renaissance was a time of rebirth in Western art, culture, politics, and the economy. There were many things changing at that time and one of the most notable things being art. When most people think about Renaissance-era artists a few select names come to mind: Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Jan van Eyck, to name a few. These are all phenomenal artists who changed thescope of the art world forever. However, there is a name that is often left out of this list.

That name is Lavinia Fontana. She is considered to be the very first working female artist. She was born in Bologna Italy in 1552 to a family of prestigious painters. Her father, Prospero Fontana was a teacher at the School of Bologna which was an important art school at the time. Her artistic talent was nurtured by her father from an early age. This great talent served her very well in life, and when she desired to be married her skills were used as a sort-of dowry. She was married to an amateur artist and merchant who greatly regarded her skills.

The two went on to have a happy/successful marriage with 11 children. She continued to work on her craft even as a mother and her career excelled. In a very scandalous change from the status quo of the Renaissance era, Lavinia was the breadwinner for her family and her husband worked as her studio assistant. Lavinia was one of the original female powerhouses of the art world, she was able to pave the way for some of the other female artists that we know and love. As her work continued to excel and her career to soar, she gained a very prestigious list of patrons. These patrons include Italian Cardinal Gabriele Paleotti, Spanish Cardinal Francisco Pacheco, The King of Spain Phillip II, and many members of the nobility across Europe.

Portrait of a Noble Woman, ca. 1580, by Lavinia Fontana. National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Her specialty was portraiture and was highly sought after by female nobles in Italy as she was able to capture the splendor of their dress alongside their dogs, who they wished to be included in the portraits. This type of portraiture showed a juxtaposition of the stiff attire of the noblewoman and the playfulness of an excited puppy.

Minerva Dressing. 1613, by Lavinia Fontana. Galleria Borghese.

Another one of her great accomplishments was breaking into the boy’s club scene of church painters. She was commissioned to paint an altar piece for the new cathedral dedicated to Saint Hyacinth of Poland. She was able to leave her mark in one of the oldest and most highly venerated churches in Rome. Lavinia was making waves in the art community in more ways than one. She was also known for being the first woman to paint a female nude in the history of art.

This magnificent story of hers is often untold because she was not supposed to have succeeded in the boy’s club that was the Renaissance art scene, but against all odds she pursued her dreams and make a sizeable impact on the world of art. She was able to have a star-studded career and also have a family who encouraged her work. Lavinia Fontana was a magnificent woman, artist, and mother and her story deserves to be heard.

The Settings Change, but the Story Doesn’t

By Caitlin Easter

I recently came across an illustration by Kasia Babis that made me think about the state of women today in relation to where we were as women when the Salem witch trials were happening. This got me thinking about the oppression of women that we see incessantly perpetuated throughout history, and why things don’t appear to be getting any better.

The image was a two panel comic strip with a witch being drowned and a man saying, “If she dies, she’s innocent, if she survives she’s a witch.” The second panel depict a woman holding a sign that says “#MeToo” and a man saying “If she seems ok, nothing happened. If she claims it was an assault, she’s just seeking attention.”  The artwork can be viewed at: https://thenib.com/how-sexual-assault-claims-are-like-a-witch-hunt.

While we may no longer be placed on ducking stools for behavior that is deemed inappropriate by society (aka white men), we are now put on trial to defend ourselves and our stories. Perpetrators might be the ones literally on trial, but the burden of proof and behavior has always rested on the shoulders of the victim. While going from being on trial and killed for being a “witch,” to being grilled at a trial that is not our own because of our “decisions” might be a step in the right direction, symbolically it isn’t that huge of a leap towards what we need to see.

At what point in history did we stop trusting women? Have we just always had this innate distrust for this entire diverse group of people? Women aren’t trusted by doctors when we say that there is something wrong with our own bodies, and we aren’t trusted by society when we talk about our experiences. Why is the scope of women’s expertise concerning ourselves and our environments seen as something that has such an incredibly limited quantity? In the future, when I talk, I want to be heard. A women’s experiences are just as valid as a man’s.

“Your silences will not protect you….We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language. I began to ask each time: ‘What’s the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?’ Unlike women in other countries, our breaking silence is unlikely to have us jailed, “disappeared” or run off the road at night. Our speaking out will irritate some people, get us called bitchy or hypersensitive and disrupt some dinner parties. And then our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever….Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end. And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had…And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”

― Audre Lorde

 

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Martha Coffin Pelham Wright

By Ann Varner

Martha Coffin Pelham Wright was one of five women who planned the first women’s right convention and presided over numerous women’s rights and anti-slavery conventions (womenshistory.org). She is known for her contributions to humanities and was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame in 2007. Wright was born in 1806 to a large family with “a strong female role model in her mother, Anna Folger Coffin, and the Quaker tenets of individualism, pacifism, equality of the sexes, and opposition to slavery, young Martha was well prepared for her future role as an abolitionist and suffragist” (womenofthehall.org).

On July 19th and 20th of 1848, she and five other women held the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Following that historic event, Wright went on to continuing activism in women’s rights and the abolishment of slavery. She worked with the American Anti-Slavery Society and was the president of the National Woman Suffrage Association. Wright passed away in 1875 but was able to witness the abolishment of slavery. There is a Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls which has a life size statue to commemorate her. The statue shows her as pregnant because when she held the women’s rights convention she was six months pregnant with her seventh child.

Picture from womenofthehall.org

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Deborah Tucker

By Brittany Soto

Deborah D. Tucker is best known for her efforts in taking steps to end violence against women. Her determination to advocate against violence began when she volunteered at the first rape crisis center in Texas in 1974. Since then, she has helped to create shelters, battered intervention programs and other services that aid women who are victims of domestic abuse. She went on to promote laws and policies in order to improve how law enforcement responds to these cases and became one of the co-founders of The National Center of Domestic and Sexual Violence. She has dedicated her life to advocating and speaking out against gender based violence and went on to receive many awards for her leadership and contribution to this issue. Among these awards, were the Domestic Violence Peace Prize, Standing in The Light of Justice, The Sunshine Lady Award, Outstanding Achievement Award, and her very own Deborah D. Tucker Staff Achievement Award.

Domestic violence is a serious issue that many women face and it’s people like Deborah D. Tucker who ensure this issue is never swept under the rug or forgotten about, It’s people like Deborah who act as a voice for the many women who are victims of domestic violence, and it’s people like Deborah who inspire me to want to help others and make a positive impact in the lives of others such as she has. In honor of Women’s History Month, I am proud to give a shout out to this amazingly compassionate woman.

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Rosa Parks

By: Brittany Soto

In honor of Women’s History Month, I wanted to focus my attention on Rosa Parks. Most people are familiar with who Rosa Parks is but to those who aren’t, she was a civil rights activist who was best known for courageously refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white person during a time when segregation was legal. She was thrown in jail as a result of this incident, sparking the infamous Montgomery Alabama Bus Boycott. Her vital role in this movement helped bring attention to the mistreatment of colored people and fought against racism and segregation. Her courage and leadership served, not only as an inspiration to people of color, but to ALL women. She was dubbed the second most popular historical figure to be talked about in schools according to a survey by American
students. (Wineburg, 2008).

Rosa Park’s courage and determination to challenge racism and segregation did not start with the bus incident. This is something that has been instilled in her since childhood. She was never afraid to speak up against the mistreatment of colored individuals by standing up against white children who
would try to harass or bully her. She was also the secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and continuously pushed to end segregation in schools and in public places. Despite the challenges she faced as being a fearless colored woman who was determined to fight for what was right, going as far as receiving daily death threats to her and her family, this never stopped her from fighting for peace and the rightful treatment of colored individuals. This just goes to show that doing what’s right isn’t always easy, but is necessary. Rosa Parks is now a legend and an
inspiration to women worldwide.