Work for women’s equality not over
Continued increases in women enrolled at universities sees no correlation in real world
Increasingly, women are the ones who go to college. As of fall 2014, which contains the most recent data, 56 percent of students enrolled in postsecondary institutions were women. A majority of higher education students are women, a trend that would have seemed impossible 60 years ago. Here at AU, we can see this trend pretty obviously. Women make up 63 percent of the student body.
Women are leading the way at universities, both literally and metaphorically. But, where are the women leaders outside of universities? There are less women at the heads of businesses, politics and other areas of power than men.
In terms of actual leadership positions, women are still behind. They are only 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs, and only 16.9 percent of board seats at these companies. Politically, women hold few key positions: they are only in 20 percent of Senate seats and 18.5 percent of Congressional seats. We still have not had a female president.
With so many women seeking and graduating with degrees from prestigious universities, it seems like the rest of society would start to see more equal representation. This is still not the case.
There is no legitimate reason that a woman can’t be a CEO, head of a law firm or any number of powerful positions. Here on campus, we have a woman of color as our Student Government president. But out in the “real” world, we rarely see a woman of color in such a position. For some this reality is acceptable, and many people think we have come far enough. However, this view ignores the bigger picture of our society.
Unfortunately, the fight is far from over. Sexism and racism are still the modus operandi of society, and women who graduate from postsecondary institutions know this. Everyone can contribute to the fight for equality. From supporting women’s right to health care, advocating for Title IX policies or helping women run for office are all vital steps to gaining equality that anyone can do. Promoting intersectionality in movements is an important step forward that everyone should take. Taking some sort of action should be an everyday thing.
We will never see women leading huge companies— or the United States— if we continue to deny that being a woman is still a disadvantage in society. With healthcare rights being taken away from women and the recent revelations about Harvey Weinstein, it is more important than ever for women to be recognized. Men in positions of power are creating policies and careers for women. It is long past time for women to have the opportunity to do this for themselves.
I ask every woman enrolled at AU to look around. There are much more of us here. Every single one of us has a dream to change the world. It’s time to fight now, for a tomorrow in which all women will have the chance to lead.
Samantha McAllister is a freshman in the School of International Service and a columnist for The Eagle.