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Jennifer Dispatch

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Are Men and Women Really Equal?


The more things change, the more they stay the same
So, you've just got your first job babysitting. Hooray! You get to earn some extra money, maybe start saving up to buy something cool? When you get home, you compare paychecks with your boyfriend. He just got his first job, too. You realize he is making more money than you are. Shouldn't your time be worth just as much as his?


Jenni and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day- A sickening feeling came over me…

Let's just get it out in the open, right here and now: women do not earn as much money as men. In fact, women receive about three quarters to every dollar that a man makes. How can that be? After all, this is the new millennium. Even the Declaration of Independence says there should be equal rights for all. Equal, it says, or does it?

If we go back to 1776, the Declaration of Independence states that "all men are created equal" and that "Governments are instituted among Men." Now, I don't mean to be too literal, but that is just what they meant. Thomas Jefferson, when he wrote the Declaration of Independence, was definitely looking out for wealthy, white men.

Jen champions the ERA!
Alice Paul worked with other feminists towards women's right to vote. She believed that all people are equal, regardless of their race, sex, or economic situation. In 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment was passed, giving women the right to vote. But that was only one piece of the puzzle. What about other rights for women, like equal protection under the law, which was given to men in the Fifteenth Amendment? Alice Paul was wondering the same thing. Three years after women got the right to vote, she wrote the Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA was later renamed as the Constitutional Equality Amendment (CEA). It has been placed before every session of Congress since 1923. That means it's been before Congress for over seventy-five years! Guess what... it still hasn't passed as an amendment to the Bill of Rights.

The Congress and the Senate passed the ERA, why isn't it an Amendment?
As the Civil Rights Movement has shown, making large changes in a society's institutionalized discrimination doesn't come easily. Usually, the majority group does not want to give up the privileges they enjoy. Since men hold the majority of government offices, could it be that our policy makers are slow to make changes to the laws that would affect women?

Why won't the states ratify the ERA?
Even though the ERA didn't pass, some laws did support women's equality. In 1963, the Equal Pay Act was signed. This made it illegal for employers to pay women a lower salary for an equal job. What an amazing concept! But, some employers changed the job descriptions of their women employees, instead of paying equal salaries. Some employers did change their ways, though. The wage gap started getting smaller. Women were earning more than they ever had. By the 1990s, the wage gap was at seventy-two cents on the dollar, as opposed to the fifty cents women were earning in the fifties.

Rosie the Riveter, a symbol of working women in America
Unfortunately, in the year 2000 and beyond, we have not seen the wage gap get any smaller. In fact, it is slowly getting bigger again. Organizations like the National Committee of Pay Equity encourage women to demand equal salaries. Getting an education is one way to do this. Learning to negotiate a good salary is another. And trying to get women's voices heard in Congress through lobbying is yet another way. The organization helps women with all of these strategies and even promotes an annual "Equal Pay Day" across the nation.

Becky and Jen, two more women who believe in equal rights for all!
Although we've certainly come a long way, there's still work to be done. Until the Equal Rights Amendment is passed, women will not have the same rights as men under the Constitution. Women are as intelligent, dedicated, and capable as men. When will our Constitution, and our paychecks, prove it?


Please email me at: Jennifer1@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Daphne - A fish, a bicycle and a woman named Gloria