Copyright © 2005 Henrietta W. Hay
Women's Continuing Fight
February 18, 2005
I have been fortunate recently to meet a number of delightful young women. Actually by young I tend to mean anyone under 65, but for the moment I am referring to those under 25. Many are working and going to school at the same time. Several are mothers. One of them is in Peru.
She went for the adventure and climbed Machu Picchu, last week. My special friend is a Senior at C. U. and plans to be a designer. Who knows what she will have designed by the time she is my age?
I can't say I envy their enthusiasm and activity, but I do admire it. I worry about them a little though. Many young women in America tend to think that their freedom to choose their lifestyles is their God given right. It is vital that they know it is a privilege that has been fought for since the early days of our nation. Women couldn't even vote until 1920. And progress since then was slow until what is known as the second wave of feminism that started in the '70's and really got things rolling.
Since then women have made giant strides in politics, medicine, business, the scientific world and just about every other field. But this is no time to slack off.
The new 109th Congress has more women than ever before. There are 68 women in the House of Representatives and 14 women Senators. Nancy Pelosi from California is the first Minority Leader of the House. And
Christine Gregoire was finally declared the winner of the race for Governor of Washington. after a bitter battle.
A lot of the political progress has been due to Emily's List, a powerful organization which is raising big bucks for Democratic pro-choice women candidates,
In the field of science, we had a recent academic hailstorm when the president of Harvard, Larry Summers suggested that biological differences may help explain why more men than women excel in science.
The presidents of three top universities -- Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Princeton (two of the three are women) took scholarly exception to Dr. Summers' theory. They wrote, "Speculation that 'innate differences may be a significant cause of under representation by women in science and engineering may rejuvenate old myths and reinforce negative stereotypes and biases." See, kids, we have to keep at it.
In the business field there are some big cracks in the glass ceiling. Martha Stewart put a major crack in it, but is spending six months in jail for lying. One can't help wondering whether she would be there if she weren't a famous woman. After all, what she did men have been doing for years.
Probably the first woman to crash through the glass ceiling is Carly Fiorina. In 1999 she became president and C.E,O of Hewlett-Packard, which later combined with Compaq Computer Co. Last week she was fired, which proves there is some equality. Women can be fired from big jobs even as men can, although we hate to see it happen. But she will be able to buy groceries. She is expected to collect a severance package of $21.1 million. Power to her!
So I would like to say to all those young women out there, "Go Girl.
But it ain't free and you have to work for it. And don't forget all the women in the past whose shoulders you are standing on."