Women’s Time to Level UP

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Alexis Council, Staff Writer

Equity for women is not just a men issue, it is a society issue as well. In fact, it is an issue that affects all of us and one that will affect the next generation as well.

Though we live in 2021, we still see women being bashed about being too fat and too skinny, bashed for wearing too much make-up or not wearing enough, from getting catcalled one minute to being slut-shamed the next. It’s just a lose-lose situation for women all too often as it sometimes appears that nothing has been gained or improved for generations.

There are more than 330 million people in the United States, and despite the fact that roughly 169 million of them are women, the roles of men and women remain the same as they have for generations. Additionally, the head start that men have for just being born male seems to be woven into the fabric of our society. 

America is supposed to be the land of the free, the land of opportunity, the land of equal rights, equal pay, equal respect, a better education, and a better life. In my almost 18 years on this earth, I have witnessed the advantages men have over women in the workplace, in school, in pay, in protection, and many other areas.

When I was working during the summer, I did what every employee is expected to do. I came in on time, clocked in, cleaned before opening and closing, and made sure the basics were clear, and so on. During the time I was working this job, there were more male employees than female. Sometimes during a shift, it would be two females, including myself, and four males or just me and the rest males. 

Our supervisor would come everyday or every other day to check to see if everything was running smooth and tight. If there was a problem, he would look at me first to take responsibility for the problem when the issue was unrelated to my job. This happened far too often.  He never chastised the males in the group or got disrespectful with them. There were times when we would be asked to do simple math or even figure out percentages at work. I would often come up with the answer for him, and one time he gave me a smirk and said, “Wow, you’re very smart for a girl.”  I felt as though he was downgrading me and my intelligence. When  a woman is at work, I feel like it should be an open and honest space, but in my experience, that is just not the case. 

There has been a common understanding in the U.S. that men and women have faced different expectations in the workplace for too long. Too often women of equal or even greater qualifications have applied for the same job as a man and not gotten it because they are “not what they are looking for” — which is just a nicer way of saying that a woman is not the face they want representing them. 

A news release from EurekAlert! by the AAAS, entitled “Women are 30 percent less likely to be considered for a hiring process than men,” sums up the situation of women in the workplace as follows  ¨called for an interview was 23.5% lower for women without children than for men in identical circumstances. However, women with children suffer increased discrimination in job recruitment processes as they face a double penalty: womanhood plus motherhood. Mothers are on average 35.9 % less likely to be called for a job interview than fathers.¨

In thinking about my future in work, I begin to wonder what impact having a kid might have on my career. I might have the same goals and aspirations as a male co-worker, but I’m looked at as someone who might get distracted by pregnancy or parenting. I wonder if I will be looked at as being unable to stay focused because I have a kid. Having a child as a woman shouldn’t stop your career. It should push it. The same accountability and expectations should be held equivalent regardless of gender.

Another area that has shown a complete lack of awareness for women is the NCAA. A good example of this is the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. The NCAA is a non-profit organization that is by law – Title IX – supposed to give the same support and resources to each gender-related sport. 

During this year’s men’s and women’s division one basketball tournament, the disparity in resources between the two was clearly evident. The women were given pre-package meals, four things in a gear bag, a yoga mat and little weights for their ¨training room¨ while the men’s teams got a tremendous amount of equipment, resources, and a food plan for each team. Additionally, the men’s teams had a full weight room, full buffet, and a full gear bag – all provided by the NCAA.

In response to the limited resources provided for the women, the NCAA made a statement saying that they didn’t have space for such equipment in the women’s space. However, this was proven false when images and videos were released on social media by women’s players – most notably by Oregon forward Sedona Prince – that showed the disparity and the lie. Prince released a video showing the practice space and yoga mats in the facility and the extra space they had that the NCAA said was lacking. In The New York Times, Larry Stone quoted NCAA President Mark Emmert’s reaction to the weight room scandal. In an interview, Emmert said, “This was never intended to be a weight room, but rather an exercise room to be used before practice — as if the fact that the women were completely bereft of a true weight room was some kind of justification.¨  

The problem is why give one gender more privileges than the other?  If it was supposed to be an exercise room like they intended, why just yoga mats and little weights? When people think of an exercise room they think of a treadmill, a bike, a bench, free weights, squat racks, and elastic bands, to name some key equipment.  Both men and women use these all the time, so the NCAA’s excuse falls flat. Yes, the women feel like they were robbed because the standards were different.

Some, of course, argue that the men’s teams deserved what they got because they make more revenue than the women’s teams. Mr. Stone reports that this mentality of the men bringing in the money and deserve the resources and attention is common.  Larry Stone writes, ¨ The NCAA provided an array of photos from all the men’s games, none from the women’s. The Wall Street Journal reported that the phrase ‘March Madness’ had been reserved by the NCAA for exclusive use by the men only.¨ 

How can women’s sports make enough revenue if they are barely aired on TV? How can women’s sports make connections with fans if they are not on television at the same level that the men are? How can women’s sports earn the respect of the fans if the very organization that oversees them doesn’t respect them? 

Equality needs to start being in everyone’s vocabulary when it comes to women in society. Equality means an individual or group of people that is given the same resources or opportunities. On the other hand, equity recognizes and shows that each person is in a different situations and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome. This is what we need in gender equity. 

Change needs to start and it starts with you passing on this article or even speaking out on how women are viewed and treated. Become the change and solution– not part of the problem.