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Equality For Women

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How would you like to earn about an extra million dollars? Is this hard to do? Then answer is no, all you have to do is be born male and graduate college. Throughout history women have strived for equality. The informal slogan of the Decade of Women became "Women do two-thirds of the world's work, receive 10 percent of the world's income and own 1 percent of the means of production" (Robbins, 354). Throughout the world the disparity of rights for women is immense.

The inequalities between girls and boys are evident prior to children beginning elementary school. Girls are made aware that they are unequal to boys as soon as they start. Even different behaviors are acceptable for boys than for girls, for instance. Every time students are seated or lined up by gender, teachers are affirming that girls and boys should be treated differently. Girls are praised for being neat, quiet, and calm, whereas boys are encouraged to think independently, be active and speak up. Girls are socialized in schools to recognize popularity as being important and learn that educational performance and ability are not as important.

"Girls in grades six and seven rate being popular and well-liked as more important than being perceived as competent or independent. Boys, on the other hand, are more likely to rank independence and competence as more important" (Bailey, 169).

A permissive attitude towards sexual harassment is another way in which schools reinforce the socialization of girls as inferior. When schools ignore sexist, racist, homophobic, and violent interactions between students, they are giving tacit approval to such behaviors. We as a society taunt boys for throwing like a girl, or crying like a girl, which implies that being a girl is worse than being a boy. According to the American Association of University Women Report, "The clear message to both boys and girls is that girls are not worthy of respect and that appropriate behavior for boys includes exerting power over girls -- or over other, weaker boys" (Bailey, 173).

"Because classrooms are microcosms of society, mirroring its strengths and ills alike, it follows that the normal socialization patterns of young children that often lead to distorted perceptions of gender roles are reflected in the classrooms" (Marshall, 334). Gender bias in education is reinforced through textbooks, lessons, and teacher interactions with students. Gender bias is also taught through the resources chosen for classroom use, using textbooks that omit contributions of women or those that stereotype gender roles, further compounds gender bias in schools' curriculum. Teachers need to be aware of the gender bias imbedded in many educational materials and texts and need to take steps to alleviate it.

We need to look at the stories we are telling our students and children. Far too many of our classroom examples, storybooks, and texts describe a world in which boys and men are bright, curious, brave, inventive, and powerful, but girls and women are silent, passive, and invisible (McCormick ,40).

Teachers can help students identify gender-bias in texts and facilitate discussions as to why it exists.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, that required schools receiving federal funds to provide equal opportunities for women and men, sports participation by women in high school and college has increased dramatically. In 1973, for example, when 50,000 men received some form of scholarship for their athletic abilities, while women received only 50 scholarships. Now, Women receive about 35 percent of the money allotted for college athletic scholarships, but this should be 50/50.

In addition to the glaring pay gap between what the coaches of men's teams receive compared to the coaches of women's teams, men who coach women's teams tend to have high salaries than women coaching women's teams. Women also have fewer opportunities than men as athletic trainers, officials, sports journalists, and other adjust positions (Massey, 236).

The inequalities between the sexes become more pronounced as girls enter the workplace. Figures released by the US Census Bureau in 2003 show that the pay gap between women and men has widened. Though over forty years have passed since the Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963, at which point women earned 59 cents to the dollar men earned, progress to attain its goals has been slow. With more families becoming dependent on women as breadwinners, and with approximately half of women entering retirement alone, the wage gap is a crucial issue that affects the health and well-being of women and their families. Reports from Women's eNews say "The poverty rate for women and girls increased to 13.7 percent from 13.3 percent in 2002, increasing for the third straight year. " In addition, the uninsured rate rose more sharply for women at four percent, with the rate for men only rising one percent (Sullivan).

The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that the typical prime-age working woman earned $273,592 over the 15 year period between 1983 and 1998, compared with $722,693 for the typical prime-age working man. In addition to the wage gap, this discrepancy occurs because women work more part-time jobs and take more time out of the workforce to raise children.However, the Asheville Citizen-Times reports that in October 2003 the General Accounting Office released a report titled "Women's Earnings" that examined 18 years of data. The report found a 20 percent earnings gap between men and women that could not be explained, even after accounting for factors such as occupation, industry, marital status, and job tenure (feminst.org).

Medical researchers were perplexed. Reports were coming in from all over the country: Women were twice as likely as men to die after coronary bypass surgery. To solve this sociological puzzle, researchers measured the amount of time that surgeons kept patients on the heart-lung machine while they operated. They were surprised to learn that women spent less time on the machine than men. This indicated that the operation was not more difficult to perform on women.

As the researchers probed, a surprising answer was unfolded--unintended sexual discrimination. Physicians had not taken the chest pains of their women patients as seriously as they took the complaints of their men patients. They were ten times more likely to give men exercise stress tests and radioactive heart scans. They also sent men to surgery on the basis of abnormal stress tests, but waited until women showed clear-cut symptoms of coronary heart disease before sending them to surgery. Having surgery after the disease further reduces the chances of survival.

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