August 26 is Women’s Equality Day

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Sirivia Rice
  • 319th Force Support Squadron
The New York Times' first, female editor, Jill Abramson, was dismissed from her position after she confronted top brass executives about her unequal pay. Jill found out that her pay and benefits were less than her male predecessor, Bill Keller. Why was Jill paid less than her male predecessor Bill? Why didn't she have the same equality for her pay and pension benefits? I want to enlighten you on what women had to go through and still are going through to receive their equal position in life among their male counterparts and how Women's Equality Day became recognizable as a "day."

Women's Equality Day commemorates American women achieving full voting rights under the U.S Constitution by the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. This historic event was the culmination of a massive civil rights movement that spanned decades. The 19th Amendment reaffirmed that America is a place where anything is possible and where every person is entitled to the full pursuit of happiness.

During the Great Depression most Americans were against women working. Society saw it as women taking jobs from unemployed men; however, in the face of acute wartime labor shortages during World War II women were needed in the defense industries, civilian service and the armed forces. Women responded differently to the call to work; depending on age, race, class, marital status, and number of children. Half of the women who took war jobs were minorities and lower-class women who were already in the workforce. They switched from lower-paying, traditional female jobs, to higher-paying factory jobs. As more women were needed companies began to recruit women right out of high school. It became evident that married women were needed, but were pressured not to work especially if they had young children. The government even feared that a rise in working mothers would lead to a rise in juvenile delinquency.

From 1941 to 1945, more than 200,000 women served in the U.S. military, while more than six million flooded the American workforce. Countless additional women, single and married, supported the Allied war effort through activities like civic campaigning and rationing. omen became streetcar drivers, operated heavy construction machinery, worked in lumber and steel mills, unloaded freight, and much more. Those women successfully transformed these experiences into opportunities for future generations to come.

In today's society women are now being acknowledged and considered comparable talent for various opportunities. For example, Michelle Janine Howard is the first female four-star general officer in the 238-year history of the United States Navy to be promoted to admiral and she's also the first African American female to achieve the highest rank in military history. Other examples of women who broke down barriers include women who hold higher level positions equal to their male counterparts such as: Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors; Indra K. Nooy, CEO of PepsiCo, Inc.: Ann E. Dunwoody, retired four-star general, United States Army; and Janet C. Wolfenbarger, current four-star general of the Air Force Material Command. Jill Abramson, as already mentioned, was the first, female editor for the New York Times; however, her concerns related to equal pay show that we still have a ways to go to ensure equality among all.

What does Women's Equality Day mean to me? It tells me that I have it exceptionally well according to history; but there's always room for improvement. It also gives me a broader perspective of what women went through and how they paved the way for women today to be treated and recognized as equals to our male counterparts and that the same respect should be given to us as well. We, as women, have accomplished so much throughout the years and have been able to eliminate the stereotypical mentality that our place is in the kitchen barefoot and pregnant. Today, women are being acknowledged for the jobs and positions that they are in and are doing them well! Women's Equality Day not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but it also shows how women directly influenced American history, society, and culture.