Inequalities of Gender

This paper discusses the general topic of the inequalities of gender, with particular reference to the situation in the United States of America, to determine whether there is complete gender equality in the country. The outline of the paper is as follows:   It defines gender equality, looks first at the history of women’s emancipation in the United States, how the movement began and what it hoped to achieve. It then assesses whether those results have actually been achieved by looking at a number of things such as what percentage of the workforce is made up of women, what salaries they earn, and what is expected in the future.

Based on this research it draws a conclusion as to whether there is complete gender equality in America. The term gender equality has quite a broad definition. For women, it means that she has the same opportunities in the country in which she lives as a man does. This means opportunity for the same education, the same jobs, the same salary, the same healthcare, the same basic rights, etc. Certainly, nowadays a woman in America, which is not known as the land of opportunity for nothing, is a more fortunate woman either than a woman in a less successful country or than an American woman in previous centuries.

Her chances of achieving her dreams are much greater than the chances of a girl growing up in a less economically rich country such as Botswana for example. An American woman can achieve things that may not have even been heard of by counterparts in poorer countries. There are even careers and opportunities available to women that are not available to men. Women’s rights in employment are looked after more than they ever were before. For example, most companies have policies whereby they have to employ a certain number of women.

Interestingly, however, America is not the leader of the field when it comes to gender equality. In a survey conducted by Think and Ask (2005) on in which countries genders are the most equal, the United States ranks only 17th on the list, with many European countries such as Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland achieving better results. There is no doubt, however, that much progress has been made in the last hundred and fifty years. Early feminists active in the abolition movement increasingly began to compare women's situation with the plight of African American slaves.

This new polemic squarely blamed men for all the restrictions of women's role, and argued that the relationship between the sexes was one-sided, controlling and oppressive. Most of the early women's advocates were Christians, especially Quakers. It started with Lucretia Mott's involvement as one of the first women to join the Quaker abolitionist men in the abolitionist movement. The result was that Quaker women like Lucretia Mott learned how to organize and pull the levers of representative government. Starting in the mid-1830s, they decided to use those skills for women's advocacy.

It was those early Quaker women who taught other women their advocacy skills, and for the first time used these skills for women's advocacy. As these new women's advocates began to expand on ideas about men and women, religious beliefs were also used to support them. Sarah Grimke suggested in her Letters on the Equality of the Sexes (1837) that the curse placed upon Eve in the Garden of Eden was God's prophecy of a period of universal oppression of women by men. Early feminists set about compiling lists of examples of women's plight in foreign countries and in ancient times. (Wikipedia, 2006) The movement developed and moved on from here.

Feminism of the second wave in the 1960s focused more on lifestyle and economic issues; "The personal is the political" became a catchphrase. Second wave feminism emerged with battles on three fronts. Many came from within the New Left, seeking to expand the agenda of civil rights and campus to the status of women, while becoming increasing vocal on the mistreatment of women within the movement. Others pursued a primarily economic agenda, advocating for equal access to and equality within the workplace. A third section confronted sexist socialization in the family, romantic relationships and at the interpersonal level. (Wikipedia, 2006)