Why We Celebrate Women’s Equality Day
Less than 100 years ago, women didn’t have the right to vote. That was the law of the land. On Women’s Equality Day we celebrate August 26, 1920, the day the 19th Amendment gave women that right. As we recognize many other achievements since that important day, we need to focus on policy, legislation, practices and advocacy that positively impact women’s lives.
To some people gender equality is no more than a slogan. But dig down and you start to understand what gender equality really means.
It’s what’s we’ve been hearing about for decades: paying women the same as men for the same or equivalent work; equal access in education and sports; and a woman’s right to self-determination over her body, to name a few.
It’s also about issues we wouldn’t immediately associate with equality: well-lit streets for safer sidewalks after dark; sidewalk curb cuts that make it easier to move strollers and for disabled people navigating curbs; Federal law making it illegal to fire a woman for being pregnant; and raising the minimum wage, including tipped worker minimums — because according to the National Women’s Law Center, women make up “more than 6 in 10 minimum wage workers nationwide.”
FemResources, the nonprofit I founded to advance women’s careers in technology and engineering, is based on the principle of gender equality.
Our vision is for the tech workforce to be 50% women by the year 2025. Moving the needle towards gender equality in technology seems like a Sisyphean effort. We’re up against cultural forces and stubborn ingrained biases that repel many otherwise talented girls from choosing a STEM (science, technology engineering and math) career. For young women who can’t imagine a life outside tech or engineering, these forces can be powerful barriers to entry and career longevity.
The good news: awareness of these issues is more widespread than ever before. Male allies have joined the conversation. Tech employers are making serious efforts to attract women to their workforce. Women are speaking out about sexual harassment and assault. There are laws protecting women from being fired simply for being pregnant or asking for a flexible work schedule.
To succeed in our efforts we need to understand where we’ve been, know where we’re going, and continue working on the best ways to get there. Learn more