In today’s society, women have been given the short end of the stick. Their positions in institutions of higher education and the workforce do not stand at the same level as men, and in many cases they have been relegated to a subservient position. Men often receive greater opportunities, privileges, and status in higher education and the workforce, even though there are no quantitative arguments proving that men are smarter or more productive than women. Many men have heard of the word feminism from a young age.
Yet, they have not fully seen it in all of its forms. It is a multi-issue, multi-faceted movement moving further than it ever has into mainstream discussions within society. The movement, which has gained fervor now that Donald Trump sits in the White House, is growing at an exponential rate. The relatively low status of women compared to men in higher education regarding sexual harassment and rape cases is seen in recent events such as Columbia University’s response to student Emma Sulkowicz’s claim that she was raped by a fellow student.
The school was initially not alarmed at her outcry and did not formally act upon her ordeal until other Columbia students joined Sulkowicz in support by bringing mattresses to the office of Columbia President Lee Bollinger. Even the NYPD was lax in their investigation surrounding the report. News outlets across the nation reported on the issue and put pressure on Columbia to take action. In a later rape incident, the infamous People of the State of California v. Brock Allen Turner case, Turner came out relatively unscathed.
He was found guilty for three counts of sexual assault and only served three months of jail time before being released early. He was also required to register as a sex offender. An overwhelming majority of people have criticized the sentence for being too lenient, and Turner’s luck with the legal system has brought more attention to rape culture and sexual assault on college campuses. The aforementioned events Even though women earn more undergraduate and graduate degrees than men, they still face discriminatory treatment on college campuses.
Despite having more flexible career opportunities and less rigid societal family structures, women still suffer far more than men in college when they experience and forever painfully remember sexual assault. While some colleges have doubled down on effectively handling female sexual harassment, this is not the rule. In fact, most male college rapists have either not been expelled or have only faced relatively minor punishments for sexually assaulting female students. All too often, female students on college campuses experience sexual advances like Esther does.
Esther finds herself being pushed to the floor by her date and trembles with fear thinking, “It’s happening. If I just lie here and do nothing it will happen” (Plath 89). In the majority of rape incidents, female victims face much more ostracism and shame than the rapists. They are called sluts and whores for being taken advantage of, often while they are unconscious, and the perpetrators only receive a slap on the wrist for poor judgement. If men do not support and push for efforts to make college campuses safer for both men and women, the initiatives to end college sexual assault will surely fail.
For this reason, in Barack Obama’s “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like” article in Glamour Magazine, he espouses the importance of “the young men who’ve joined our It’s On Us campaign to end campus sexual assault. ” Obama’s words testify to the importance of men in solving the problems that are common to both men and women regarding college sexual assault on college campuses and the fundamental importance of men being proactive in advancing goals that are not just beneficial to female students but also men and all students regardless of sexual identity.
The gender gap, unfortunately, also pervades the numerous fields of study offered in college. In a Princeton Article entitled “Women seen as lacking natural ‘brilliance’ may explain underrepresentation in academia,” statistics regarding the prevalence or avoidance of women in certain areas of study are readily exposed. For example, for one year’s class, over ninety percent of the students pursuing a degree in Art History were women. Over seventy-five percent of students pursuing a degree in Physics were male.
This phenomenon is not rooted in biology but rather gendered societal norms. Such expectations and definitions of what constitutes “normal” begin at a young age under the influence of parents. Girls are more likely to be fed books while boys are fed Legos. Statistical data on k-12 student performance on standardized tests reinforce another gender norm: boys outperform girls in math and girls outperform boys in reading. Results like this negatively reinforce self-defeating beliefs in girls that they should stick to majors and career paths that are traditionally female.
More troubling is the notion that some girls purposefully pursue “safe” majors that do not involve science, technology, engineering, or mathematics because they know that in the workforce their male counterparts would earn more and do so faster and advance. Even though women have an advantage in admission to prestigious technical schools like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvey Mudd College, Carnegie Mellon University, and the California Institute of Technology, there are still more men than women. As a consequence, women are often unequipped for technical careers.
This not because women are incapable of handling nonhumanity classes; it is because women are less likely to receive exposure to such classes. If parents are careful to not abide by outdated, sexist educational beliefs, their daughters can become more successful. After all, women are just as capable as men to learn and love STEM subjects. The challenges that women face in higher education continue to follow them in their work. Even though women are more likely to attend college and graduate school, men are statistically paid more.
In Emma Watson’s speech on gender equality at the United Nations, she asserted, “… the reality is that if we do nothing, it will take seventy-five years, or for me to be nearly 100, before women can expect to be paid the same as men for the same work. ” Women also face discrimination in certain careers that are typically male-dominated. For example, women who pursue careers in finance face challenges in advancement. In a the investment banking division of large investment banks, there are typically four roles: analyst, associate, vice president, and managing director.
While there are plenty of female analysts and a smaller number of female associates on Wall Street, most of the vice presidents and managing directors are male. This relates to the stereotype that men are better than women in fields involving science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. In the Opinion: You are not equal. I’m Sorry. #WomensMarch, the extent that women face discrimination in career advancement is evinced by the startling statistic that only 4% of CEOs in the United States are female.
The fact that the United States has been ranked 45th in the world for gender equality shows that we still have a long way to go before women are treated fairly. There is no concrete reason why women deserve to earn a lower median weekly wage compared to men. Nor is there any reason why being a secretary is still deemed as being the job of a woman while being a software engineer manager at a large corporation like Snapchat is that of man. It is for certain that some girls are raised with the false notion that they cannot do certain things and should pursue other ventures that are more “realistic. This is the case with Ester when she complains that her mother “was always on to me to learn shorthand after college, so I’d have a practical skill as well as a college degree” (Plath 32). The same perplexities that Ester faces in the Bell Jar are the same that many women today must overcome. Esther’s thoughts regarding her perceived inability to achieve her career dreams pronounce themselves when she laments, “From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked” (Plath 62).
Oftentimes, the mere thought of achieving high levels of success in the workforce is overwhelming enough for some women to feel that such achievement is unattainable. It is for this reason some women feel too intimidated to pursue traditionally male jobs. Women may also be deterred by the disingenuousness of some companies who claim that women typically cannot hold top positions because of their commitment to having and raising children, accompanied by time off from work.
However, these problems can easily be solved with policies that streamline and facilitate means of promotion and initiatives that do not penalize women for pregnancy related work absences. As a result of being born as biological women endowed with uteri and ovaries, women oftentimes receive no compensation for maternity leave or are even fired. Yet, if companies really wanted to be competitive in the marketplace, they would retain female employees.
Doing this would increase the skills and experience of the employees, create a larger number of competent leaders, waste less money on training new employees, and incentivizing women to stay with the company. A woman who knows that she will be fired or receive no pay for being pregnant will not join a company with that policy. Policies incentivise behavior, and policies that protect women help female employees and the company. The aforementioned benefits show that actually treating female employees fairly would help all parties involved.