Today, we are hearing a lot about racial inequity and inequality. However, we cannot overlook other types of inequity, including gender inequity. You may be wondering, what is gender inequity?
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We know this can be a complicated topic, which is why we are going to break it down. Let’s start with some definitions. Gender equity is fair treatment for men and women according to their needs.
In comparison, gender equality is equal access to rights or opportunities despite gender. Equity and equality can be very confusing. So, an easy way to remember is equality is the end goal, but equity is the means to get there. If you are looking for more information on equity versus equality, check out our past article called Equity Versus Equality: The Difference Between Two Similar Words.
Now that we know the difference between equity and equality let’s turn our attention to gender inequity and inequality. Gender equality in the United States has come a long way in the last 100-years, but that does not mean discrimination and sexism do not still exist. Sadly, there is plenty of data to support gender bias and discrimination.
The Facts and Figures
COVID-19 has shown us many things, but it has highlighted the disparity in gender equality. According to Economic Policy Institute, women have disproportionately served as frontline workers in various roles. “Women make up 73 percent of government and community-based workers, 76 percent of healthcare workers and 78 percent of social workers.”
Additionally, women make up 67 percent of workers making minimum wage according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Women Business Collaborative (WBC) with Ascend, C200 and Catalyst found a mere 8 percent of women represent the CEOs at Fortune 500 companies. According to the Census Bureau, among full-time workers, women earn 82 cents to every dollar a man earns. The wage gap has been all but stagnant for the last ten years, only increasing by 4 percent. Remember, equality makes things equal, and equity makes things fair. We all must ask ourselves, do women have equal and equitable access to leadership roles? Do women have equal and equitable access to pay raises?
However, gender inequity goes beyond the workforce and Fortune 500 companies. Let’s look at a couple of examples of gender inequity outside of economics.
Gender Inequity Goes Beyond Leadership Roles and Pay
Women’s Heart Health
Gender equity is not just about economics, for 1 in 5 women, it’s about life or death.
Did you know heart attacks and cardiovascular disease has been the number one killer of American women since 1984? Why? Studies show no physical reasons why more women die from cardiovascular disease than men. These studies concluded that women are dying at higher rates because of the response to their heart attacks, not their symptoms.
Women do not commonly have the same symptoms as men; most women report that their symptoms as mildly painful. According to the American Heart Association, “Even though heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States, women often chalk up the symptoms to less life-threatening conditions like acid reflux, the flu or normal aging.” Often women are their family’s primary caregivers, and the idea of being sick can feel like ‘just another thing to deal with.’ However, self-care is so crucial to the health and wellness of women.
Educating everyone about the signs and symptoms of a heart attack in women is vital to turning around these statistics. According to Heart.org, some symptoms that may be a sign of a heart attack in women are:
- “Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
- As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.”
The “Pink Tax”
Gender inequality is inescapable. It’s something that all women face every day, even at the grocery store. Gender-based pricing is known as the “pink tax.” It’s not uncommon to go into a store and see pink and floral items advertised specifically for women and girls. Many of these items tend to be up charged compared to a comparable item marketed towards men, think women’s and men’s razors.
According to an article by Healthline, in 2010, Consumer Reports highlighted the matter nationally with a study that found, at the time, women paid as much as 50 percent more than men did for similar products.
As you can see, gender inequity and inequality can be found from the grocery store aisle to the board room and various places in between. However, we believe that the U.S. is working to turn the tide, and you can play a pivotal role in righting the gender inequity ship.
4 Ways to Challenge Gender Inequity
Fighting gender bias is no easy feat; after all, people seeking gender equality are fighting hundreds of years of social and systemic pressure.
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That doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that we can do to tip the scale towards a more balanced country. You can make a difference when it comes to gender bias and inequity!
- Encourage Friends and Family to Become Mentors
Mentoring children and young adults is a great way to be a role model for the younger generation. Actions speak louder than words. Show them through your life how to challenge their gender bias.
- Encourage Those Around You
Everyone has a role to play when fighting for gender equity. Encourage those around you to speak up. Show them how they can actively work on their gender bias and educate others to do the same.
- Educate About Basic Terminology
Sometimes learning the most basic terminology can help when it comes to gender bias and inequity. Start using the phrases and terms that get people curious. You can start with definitions we discussed in this article!
Gender equality: equal access to rights or opportunities despite gender.
Gender equity: fair treatment for men and women according to their needs
- Use Social Media
Social media has been used to tear women down and create conflict. Instead of only finding the negative, use your social platform to uplift women around you. You may inspire those around you to do the same by being a positive influence.
Learn More About United Way Whitewater Valley
We hope that you learned something about gender inequity and can join us in our fight for the health, education and financial security of everyone in Wayne and Union counties. There is a lot of work to be done which means we need your help to make positive change in our community.
Get to know more about our program partners working in our four focus areas: childhood success, youth success, economic mobility, and access to health. Read more about their stories here, or sign up for our newsletter to learn more about what we do at United Way of Whitewater Valley.