Women’s Suffrage: Celebrating on the Road to Success

21 Aug

Published Friday, August 21, 2020

Women’s Suffrage: Celebrating on the Road to Success
U.S. Constitution, Amendment IXX

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.  Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
 
For the first 143 years of our nation’s existence, women’s rights were limited. Married women could not own property in their own names, nor be sure of custody of their children if they left their husbands. Women had no franchise – they could not vote nor hold elected office. Today, August 18, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment by Tennessee, the final ratification needed.
 
This should be the moment where we celebrate our ancestors' perseverance, courage, energy, and patriotism. And we do. We thank Lola Armijo, Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, Alice Paul, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and so many others for making it possible for women to obtain what we should have had in 1776 if “equal” had truly meant equal.
 (The community of women were not alone in this situation.)  
 

 

What About Now?

Do we think that the state of women in America today is what our suffragist ancestors imagined for 100 years after their success? Here’s some of what they would find.

Pay: Women still are underpaid compared to their male counterparts doing the same work. Overall we’re paid 81 cents for each dollar men earn, but Latina Equal Pay Day isn’t until November 20 since our sisters make only 54% of their while male counterparts.

Education: In 2019 57% of bachelor’s degrees were awarded to women. But a new study indicates that even though women students outperform their male counterparts academically, yet the males are perceived as equal or better students.

Work: Women represent 5.8% of the CEOs in the S&P 500. Women participation in STEM continues to grow but 24% of women in STEM jobs want to stay in them.

Political Life: Women are 26% of the US Senate and 23% of the US House of Representatives. And in this century, the US has seen a woman as a major political party’s candidate for President, and two women as candidates for Vice President.

 

What Do We Want?

The community of women is not monolithic. But here are 3 areas for continued change. Take us seriously – honor our knowledge and skill.

Equal Means Equal. It is unfair to compensate people with equal ability and experience in an inequitable way.

#MeToo. Make the workplace safe for women and men. In 1976 over 90% of women responded to a survey that they were harassed in the workplace. In 2016, 40 years later, that percentage had only dropped to 81%.

We've Come a Long Way

But we have much to do to reach the promise imagined by the women who worked so hard for our rights. Only when law and practice truly live up to the equality promised in the Amendment and when those rights (and the behaviors that should come with them) are secured for our daughters and their granddaughters will we be able to say we’ve arrived.

Please join the Board, volunteers and team of NUDC in celebrating this momentous milestone and this continuing journey. Happy Women’s Suffrage Month!

FIND AN EVENT: Link to Women's Vote Centennial Site

TAKE A LOOK: 1913 Women's Suffrage Parade