RGM Blog 10 – The Glass Ceiling

Most people are familiar with the idea of the Glass Ceiling. The concept that it is harder for women to reach high ranking and executive positions because of gender discrimination. As a woman, I have experienced gender discrimination in the workplace in a variety of ways and it can be extremely frustrating and unfair.

“The glass ceiling is a barrier “so subtle that it is transparent, yet so strong that it prevents women from moving up the corporate hierarchy.” From their vantage point on the corporate ladder, women can see the high-level corporate positions but are kept from “reaching the top”… The glass ceiling “is not simply a barrier for an individual, based on the person’s inability to handle a higher-level job. Rather, the glass ceiling applies to women as a group who are kept from advancing higher because they are women.” More information about the glass ceiling can be found here.

This glass ceiling phenomenon is caused by many factors.

Many men feel that women are distracted from their work with the responsibility of household chores or raising a family. In addition, women workers can seem less valuable because many have to take maternity leave at some point in their career, so they have to pause their work and the company has to hire someone to fill in for them for a short time. According to one expert, the “glass-ceiling can also be attributed to years of male leadership in the corporate world which has created a masculine, patriarchal working environment.” Men have dominated the business world throughout history and have created somewhat of a ‘boys club’. They like to work with other men because they feel that they are better suited to be leaders and men are more likely to hire people that they feel are similar to them, namely men. More information on the causes and effects of the glass ceiling can be found here.

All in all, this problem has become a cycle that perpetuates itself. Women are overlooked and given less opportunities, then because not as many advance as high as men, men believe that they are not suited for the position and only hire other men. Of course there are many contributing factors including outdated gender roles, sexism and sexual harrassment in the workplace, the gender pay gap, and more. The point is, if we do not become educated on this issue and its causes and work to end it, then it will continue like a feedback loop. Women can be just as capable and intelligent as men, we just need to be given the chance to prove that.

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RGM Blog 9 – The Effect of Christianity on Gender Roles

Religion has a great influence on the culture that it presides in. In America, we say we do not have a national religion, but studies have shown the the majority of Americans are Christians or believe in the Christian god. More information and statistics about religions practiced in the United States can be found here.

Because so many Americans identify with Christianty, I think it is important to examine how this influences our attitudes on gender and gender roles.

In the Christian Bible, it outlines many rules of conduct for women and men. Specifically it talks about family dynamics and the gender roles that a husband and wife should adhere to. “The wife is to “submit”, “respect”, and “serve as a helper”, and is explicitly delegated the role of caring for the household and children…Attempts to resist this chain of authority are said to be a result of not “want[ing] to acknowledge or submit to God as our head.” In other words, if a wife wants equal status with her husband when it comes to setting rules for the children, she is clearly being defiant against God himself.” More information about religious ideas and biblical teachings regarding gender roles can be found in the article linked here.

There are many more examples of Christian ideals for women that seem to highlight the view that women are secondary to men and their role is to serve men and not take care of the house and the children, nothing more. As a women, I find these statements to be demeaning and sad. I respect other people’s religions and beliefs, but these rules seem extremely discriminatory and archaic.

We have seen time and time again in modern society that women have valuable skills and ideas to offer and can be in a variety of roles and positions, not just housewife and mother. Regardless of religious beliefs, I think that many people can agree that these ideas have become outdated. I think it is extremely important to practice tolerance and open mindedness when it comes to religion, but it is also important to examine the gender roles and ideas ascociated with it and to consider if they still have a place in our modern society.

 

RGM Blog 8 – Shaming Vulnerability in Men

We live in a society where gender roles are strongly defined and have the influence to shape our opinions. One of the most damaging gender roles for men is that they are taught that vulnerability and showing emotions makes them weak.

In reality, vulnerability and expressing emotions is a very important aspect of interpersonal relationships and self growth. The gender stereotype that men must not show their negative emotions and instead keep them bottled up, can be very detrimental to both the man and our society as a whole. Shame is a very powerful emotion and motivator and men are shamed often for not acting “manly” enough, or not lining up enough with our society’s predetermined definition of masculinity.

“The number one shame trigger for men is being perceived as weak. Men walk this tightrope where any sign of weakness illicits shame, and so they’re afraid to make themselves vulnerable for fear of looking weak.” More information about shame and its societal effects on men can be found in the article linked here.

This kind of shaming can have a variety of consequences on the man and his life. Not only will society look upon him poorly because he is not adhering to the societal gender norms that our culture perpetuates, it can affect his health and personal life greatly as well.

“It is the external and internal suppression of men’s desires and aspirations that contributes to epidemic levels of male anger and reactivity, male depression, alcoholism, domestic violence, divorce and suicide.” More information on the effects of suppression in men can be found here.

Not only are these health effects very negative for the man himself, the problem can become much more far reaching. When a man turns to violence as a solution for his suppression, it can affect his family and friends and even have an impact on society itself.

It is important that we become more aware of this problem and work on being more tolerant in our own lives and as a society. We all experience hard times and negative emotions and should be free to share those with our friends and family without fear of shame. If our society became more tolerant on this issue, I believe we would see less violence, depression, and alcoholism in men, as well as a variety of other positive personal and societal effects.

RGM Blog 7 – Women in Politics

One large problem regarding gender inequality today is the shortage of women in politics. Many say that if women want to be in politics and are qualified enough, they will get there, but what they overlook is that there are many prevailing attitudes and damaging stereotypes that can make the road to public office much harder for females.

Although women make up a little over half of our total population, their representaion is not even close to being where it should be. “Not only has the United States never had a female president, women still make up far less than half of Congress. This year, women hold 98 of 535 seats in Congress. That’s just 18%.” More information on these facts and statistics can be found here.

In addition, even though we consider ourselves to be one of the most developed and advanced countries in the world, this is an area where we lag behind considerably. “The United States [ranks] 78th worldwide in female political representation.” Many much less developed countries come before us when it comes to perentage of women in office, including Rwanda, Cambodia, and Costa Rica. More information on these rankings and greater insight into this problem can be found in the article linked here.

I believe there are many factors that discourage women from running and also make their path to victory much more difficult than their male counterparts. Long held attitudes, many stemming from religious traditions, of women being subservient and possesing less leadership skills have contributed to how we view women in society and in their occupations. Many also feel that women are simply too soft and emotional to handle the stress and pressure of public office, especially that of the president.

Unfortunately, our society tends to reinforce these ideas, even when presented with a qualified and mature candidate like Hillary Clinton. The cultural feedback loops created by misogyny and the objectification of women as well a variety of other factors are a huge contributor, in my opinion, to this problem of political underrepresentation. The first step to changing our society is changing our attitudes. I hope with time that once we experience a women in the White House, it will open the door for greater numbers of women in office as well as greater acceptance.

 

RGM Blog 6 – Slut Shaming Women

Many women are familiar with the very common societal phenomenon of slut shaming. Growing up as a woman in our society can be hard because there are so many areas in which women are judged very unequally to their male counterparts and are subjected to punishment for things that are not objectively their fault.

Thoughout school, women’s dress codes are much stricter than men’s and women are told not to wear certain things that might distract their male classmates, instead of placing blame on the male classmates for not paying attention in their classes. “When speaking with Leigh Gaskin, a professor in gender and women’s studies, she said the way that women and girls are told to dress a certain way, specifically in high school, sets them up to be slut-shamed in a lot of ways.” By telling a women that their clothes distract men, educational institutions are basically saying that men can’t control themselves and their sexual impulses, and the women are the ones responsible for this. It also presents the idea to men that women are a sexual conquest. “When a woman has multiple partners, she’s labeled a slut, whereas men are seen as players, who have “scored,” so to speak. This is an example of the double standards that women are often subjected to.” More information on slut shaming and these examples can be found in the article linked here.

I believe slut shaming is part of our cultural history of male dominance and women being seen only for their beauty and virginity since ancient times. Although in our modern society, we have progressed far when it comes to gender equality, this double standard is still very much alive and can be very damaging.

“Slut shaming has a multitude of negative impacts on young girls ranging from inferiority complexes to alarmingly low self -worth and -respect due to the double standards that surround slut shaming. Brought on by a condemnation of female sexuality in a society enthralled by sensuality, slut shaming is an all too common nightmare for many adolescent girls.” More information about the effects of slut shaming can be found here.

It is important to understand that sex is a basic human need and we all have the right to decide what we do with our own bodies. If we stopped the dichotomy of judging girls and praising boys for sexual activities, I think we would see higher self-esteem in girls and a step in the right direction towards a more objective and gender equal society.

RGM Blog 5 – Women in Education – A History

It is no secret that throughout history women have been largely exluded from education. In many developing countries they are still denied this right that we so callously take for granted here in America. Even here, it is only in recent history that women have been given the same educational rights as men, and there are still reforms to be made before things are completely equal.

Many of the earliest colleges in  America were founded in the seventeenth century, however these were not open to women. “While Harvard opened in 1636, the first college to admit women did not do so for another 200 years. Women did not begin attending college in equal numbers to men until as recently as 1980.” More information on this statistic, the history of colleges, and women in education can be found here.

Although the gender has a much shorter history than men when it comes to access to education, since getting their attendence up to equal numbers, women have actually been earning more degrees overall. “In 1982, women earned more bachelor’s degrees than men for the first time, and women have increased their share of bachelor’s degrees in every year since then. By 1987, women earned the majority of master’s degrees for the first time, and within another decade, more women than men earned doctor’s degrees by 2006, and female domination of college degrees at every level was complete.” More statistics like this and information about women and their history earning degrees can be found in the article linked here.

So ironically, the thing that women were told throughout the majority of history by nearly every country, empire, and civilization that they were not suited for, they excel at. It is important to understand that while women and men are biologically different in many ways, women are no less intelligent and intellectually capable, and should be treated as such. Today we still see rampant gender discrimination in academia even though women have equal rights when it comes to attending school. We need to end this idea that women are only suited for certain pursuits, certain majors, and certain levels of education and understand that a more diverse educational system and workforce is beneficial for all.

RGM Blog 4 – Sexual Assault Against College Women

Violence against women is a huge problem in our country and the world in general that has been largely unremedied. Whether it be domestic abuse, sexual assault, rape, sexual assault in the military, or even elder assault, women are the victims of hundreds of thousands of assaults in this nation every year and we need to spread awareness and work to decrease this number.

As a college student, rape and sexual assault that occurs on college campuses is an important issue and a scary reality for many people that I know. One in five college women has been sexually assaulted while in college. One in Five. That’s 20 percent, and far too high. In 2014, “President Obama established a White House Task Force to protect students from sexual assaults,” but this did little to remedy this problem. The sad truth is that “women and girls nationwide experience about 270,000 rapes or sexual assaults annually.” More information on sexual assault against women and these facts can be found here.

Violence against women in not a new problem, but with technological advances and greater access to information which leads to more awareness, we should be able to act against this and put some solutions in place. Although nothing will solve this problem completely, we can certainly work to decrease the number of victims. Putting in place more safety stations where students are able to access a phone or press a help button that will alert the authorities and emit a loud sound to draw attention would be a good and relatively cheap start to lowering the number of asssaults that occur on campuses nationwide. It would not be hard for many colleges to put more of these kinds of stations in place in evenly spread locations throughout the campus.

Another potential solution would be closer parking options. In my experience with UNT, parking is a huge issue. According to a report by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, over the past 25 years, more than 70 percent of college students have worked while attending school. The full report can be found here.

If we can assume that roughly half of those students are women, that’s 30-40 percent of all students who are women and have jobs in college. As a college student, most jobs that are available are in retail and food service which often cause employees to work shifts into the night hours. When you live on campus and  don’t get back to your dorm until after dark, a close parking spot can be the difference between safety and danger. When I was a freshman and worked, we had parking right behind the dorm I lived in, so this was not an issue, but now due to greater volumes of commuter students and more buildings being built on campus, UNT forces residents to park in a parking lot all the way across campus. I believe this can be very unsafe for women walking back to their dorms alone late at night. This should be an saftety issue that is considered when parking regulations are made.

All in all, we need to recognize that while this is an issue that many have knowledge of, there is not much actually being done about it. It is up to us to push our schools and universities to become more cognizant of just how important their student’s safety is and to prioritize it.