A friend I follow on Twitter posted an inspiring TEDTalk, Ziauddin Yousafzai: My Daughter, Malala. Malala is the young lady who was shot by the taliban in Pakistan on her way to school. Malala and her father are both education reformers. Mr. Yousafzai, Malala’s father, talked about women’s rights, especially in a patriarchal society. He talked about his own life and what Malala experienced in Pakistan as a woman. He shared his opinion on the importance of equality between men and women within all areas of life. Education is so important for a child, both male and female, because once you attend school your independence and identity are acknowledged. Education is also the gateway to dreams and aspirations. Why would you restrict part of the population from that? Ziauddin Yousafzai asks himself at the end, “Why is my daughter so strong?” And his response was, “Because I didn’t clip her wings.”
Once I was done watching the TEDtalk, I started to really contemplate women in the workplace. I remember learning in college about how women’s salaries on average are lower than men’s. I remember learning about how women on average did not get hired in prominent, desirable positions over men regardless of their qualifications. Reminiscing on this lesson in school made me want to check again with the Department of Labor to see where exactly women were standing within the workplace.
The median weekly earnings of women in 2012 was $691 while for men it was $854. Women were only making about 65% of what men were getting paid in 1980. The percentage has increased to 81% in 2012. The unemployment rate in 2012 for women was at 7.9% while men were at 8.1%. There are some occupations in 1985 that the government either doesn’t have data for or woman just did not have positions in that field. Social work is one of those occupations lacking data from 1985. Currently, 80% of social workers are women. Another occupation without any data from 1985 is dentistry. Now, over 20% of those in the dentistry field are women. Women as lawyers as gone up form under 20% in 1985 to over 50% in 2012.
I am grateful for Malala and her father for sharing their story. Because of their voices it has inspired me to actually dig a little into what gender equality looks like in the United States. It is exciting to see how far we have come within the workplace. However, it is also very clear that we still have to keep moving forward to make that gap smaller and smaller. Read, I am Malala, to acquire some inspiration or just to learn more about those who fight for equality!