August 26, 2010
August 26, 1920 – women finally gain the right to vote.
Fast forward 90 years.
August 26, 2010 - we’ve come along a long way baby.
Communication theorists still argue that gender differences are due to inequalities in social power. For example, Janet Holmes suggests that because of women’s lesser social power, they are more apt to communicate with greater deference and politeness than are men. Further, Deborah Tannen illustrates that while women tend to use “rapport talk,” in an attempt to build a common bond while communicating, men use “report talk,” meaning they state the facts and just the facts, with little time for niceties.
Why is it acceptable that women are deemed to be sugar, spice, and everything nice? Due to these perceived inequalities, one could argue (and I will) that a woman who speaks her mind is labeled as pushy, obnoxious, and speaking out of turn. However a man who pushes his opinions on others and acts aggressively will be viewed as a fine leader, if folks are following.
Is this misnomer the reason why women have a harder time ascending to leadership positions?
Consider these statistics. Presently, a mere 28 women hold Chief Executive Officer positions in Fortune 1000 companies. That’s a piddly 2.8%. In fact, the first woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company (Katherine Graham of the Washington Post Co.) wasn’t even appointed until 1972. An even more interesting tidbit is that the first minority woman to hold a CEO post didn’t come along until 1999. She was Andrea Jung, the first ever female CEO of Avon. Pretty ironic since women have been selling Avon since 1886 (34 years before we won the right to vote), yet men led the charge for the company’s first 113 years.
Sadly, in 2010, only 92 of the 535 members of Congress are women. However, according to the US Census Bureau, in the 2008 elections 54% of the 131 million who voted were women. That doesn’t seem equitable, does it?
If we look further at our government, we’ll find that Madeleine Albright, the first woman Secretary of State and highest ranking woman in the U.S. government didn’t come along until 1997 (that was only 13 years ago people!). The first female executive chef of the White House didn’t get cooking until 2005. And, it was only three years ago that Nancy Pelosi became the first woman Speaker of the House. What is wrong with this picture?
The media doesn’t help our plight.
Michele Obama’s wardrobe is more often a headline than the work she does. In fact, the first time she was photographed in shorts there was uproar. Political analysts (and I used that term loosely) debated whether shorts were appropriate attire for the First Lady? Um, do y’all remember the miniscule running shorts that Bill Clinton used to wear? He didn’t leave much to the imagination, jogging around Washington DC as if he were smuggling grapes. Perhaps that is why the interns were all a flutter?
Speaking of Clinton and interns. He had sex in the White House, got a slap on the wrist and remains revered. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of Bill Clinton. But, for arguments sake, if a female elected official was caught having sex in the White House she would be branded a whore. Not collecting $1 million per public appearance.
Now, say our former President wanted to be sure that no first babies were a result of his dalliances with wanna-be-first ladies -- he might opt for a vasectomy. And, because most insurance companies cover a vasectomy, the President would pay a minimal co-pay and, after the swelling subsided, he would resume his oval office activities.
However, female infertility, which affects one in every 10 women, remains treatable, only for those of means because of the great expense. Currently, only 15 states throughout the country require or encourage some type of infertility treatment. Yet, I am pretty sure that women live in every state in the US, no? Infertility is a medically recognized disease that affects men (yup, men too!) and women equally. Still, many insurance companies do not provide coverage for treatment to overcome this disease, but single out infertility for exclusion. Anyone care to tackle this debate?
On the 90th anniversary of our right to vote, I have to ask what exactly are we celebrating?
Only 72% of female US citizens over age 18 are even registered to vote. And, only 65% of those voted in the 2008 elections.
Why are we celebrating a right that 69,715,750 women don’t even exercise? Frankly, we should be embarrassed.