Why you should care
Because the fight for equality has not stopped.
The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which ratified the right of women to vote, celebrates its 95th anniversary this week. In that time, a lot of amazing progress has been made that should be celebrated, such as the passing of Title IX and the subsequent prevalence of women in sports. But women across the U.S. and around the world know there’s still plenty of work left to do. For example, public harassment of women continues to be a problem, as does fair treatment in the workplace. Check out the following OZY stories that speak to those problems and how they may be solved.
Scandinavians Don’t Believe in Female Scientists
Women have made progress in nearly every segment of Scandinavian society except one: science.
A recent study found that people in Denmark believe all scientists are men and that this belief affects major parts of its educational structure. In Norway, only one-third of science majors are women, and the Netherlands has a similar statistical problem. This region-wide problem looks even worse when countries that are traditionally believed to block opportunities for women, such as Iran, have more progressive views of the scientific ability of women.
Only about a third of Norwegian science majors and researchers are women, according to UNESCO data used in Miller’s study. That’s compared with half in Thailand. Another recent study found that violence against women in Scandinavia was particularly high — in Denmark, more than half of women have experienced physical or sexual violence. As for the Netherlands, progressive views around sexuality and, of course, drugs have not translated to gender equality, says Simone Buitendijk, vice rector of Leiden University. “The world thinks we’re progressive, but in many ways, we are not,” she says.
France’s Public Harassment of Women
The statistic is mind-boggling: One hundred percent of French women say they are harassed on public transport. This is the result of a study of 600 women in the Paris region, who noted problems with everything from catcalling to rape. How can this occur in the Western European nation famous for its progressive attitude toward sexuality and other human rights? It turns out harassment is a pervasive problem that’s been around for a long time — and not just in France. Indian and Vietnamese women also experience high rates of harassment. In fact, it’s a global phenomenon that needs to be curbed if women are to rise to equal footing with men.
Following their report, HCEfh has issued some suggestions to rein in what it claims to be ubiquitous harassment. The first: to mimic New York and launch a program designed to curb harassment. Wait for the catchy name: “Stop Sexist Harassment and Sexual Violence on All Lines.” (Oh, France …) The plan includes a nationwide media campaign with posters, stickers and even audio. Transport officers will be trained on how to best react to such incidents, and women will be informed about phone numbers they can call for immediate help — HCEfh is even considering printing the number directly on Métro tickets.
China’s Gender Discrimination Problems
A bipartisan advisory group recently found that 87 percent of recent female college grads in China say there is still gender discrimination in the job search process. And the problems are cringe-worthy. There are the job ads that specify a need for tall, single and young women for “pink collar” roles, aka secretaries. Women also earn less and are required to have higher qualifications than men. China does have laws barring employment discrimination on the basis of gender. It just rarely enforces them.
“There is this dual situation; women are making gains, and at the same time, they have lost ground,” says Cara Wallis, a communications professor at Texas A&M who has studied gender dynamics in China. So basically, women in China have to choose: Fight for a career and get branded as a “leftover,” or marry and stay home and abandon your career. Is there a door No. 3?