Cross-posted from TomDispatch.com
Women make up more than half the population of the United States, about 51 percent. We women are 55 percent of college students and we take more degrees than men. About 44 million of us between the ages of 15 and 50 have children, but only 5 million or so are stay-at-home moms. That’s because we go out to work: this year 74.6 million of us over age 16 make up almost half (47 percent) of the labor force. Forty percent of us work in fields thought to be ours by tradition: we are 90 percent of nurses, 93 percent of dental assistants, and 97 percent of preschool and kindergarten teachers. But we are also more than half of the nation’s pharmacists, a third of its physicians and surgeons, a third of its lawyers and judges, and a quarter of its computer programmers. We are the majority owners of 38 percent of U.S. businesses, employing millions and annually generating revenue in the trillions of dollars.
But here’s a problem: as workers, we don’t get fairly paid. For every dollar a man earns, we average about 79 cents. These days, young women may get closer to 90 cents, but by age 35, if not before, they hit a wall; for older women, the wage gap only widens. Due to that gap, the average full-time working woman over the course of 40 years will be cheated out of $418,800; she would have to work 10 more years to make up the difference. If she’s black, she will be shorted $840,040 and need to work 23 more years. If she’s Latina, she will lose $1,043,800 and need to work another 34 years. Then there’s the special case of the financial and insurance industry: there, women make only 60 cents to a man’s dollar. All this despite the fact that Congress passed an Equal Pay Act more than 50 years ago. In addition, most of us run into a low-hanging ceiling. Take K-12 education, for example. Women are 76 percent of its teachers, 52 percent of its principals, but far less than a quarter of its superintendents. Similarly, women are 73 percent of medical and health care managers but only 4 percent of health care CEOs.
You’d think we women could turn for justice to our political representatives, but they’re in short supply. In many of the world’s parliaments, between 40 percent and 63 percent of the members are female, while in the U.S. that number hovers at about 19 percent. And it’s a peculiarity of our Congress that congressmen feel entitled to interrupt, rebuke, and silence our congresswomen. (Think of Senator Richard Burr lecturing Senator Kamala Harris, or Republican Majority leader Mitch McConnell officially silencing Senator Elizabeth Warren.) Then, of course, there’s our demented president tweeting a doctored video of his big, fat self driving a golf ball to knock Hillary Clinton to the ground, a clear incitement of his woman-hating fans to violence against the first woman to be nominated by a major party for the presidency. (Lock him up!) And this long after 70 other countries around the world have been led by women, just as 20 are today, including our allies Germany, Great Britain, Norway, Switzerland, and Estonia.
Living in such a backward, misogynistic, and violent country as the United States can make strange things happen inside women’s heads, as TomDispatch regular Mattea Kramer explains in her piece “Trump Is in Your Head.” That’s what gender discrimination is meant to do. But at long last it made Hillary Clinton rightfully angry. It makes me angry, too. How about you?