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December 15, 2011

Gender Equality Still Up for Debate

by The Centinal

By Faith Middleton – Staff Writer

Girls are told from a young age that they can do anything boys can do. But can they? Are females and males afforded equal opportunities at home, school and work?

In the roots of society, women usually had few rights. Literature from Greek culture portrays powerful women as a threat to society. However, the world has made progress in gender equality since then. There are women on every level of authority: every level but one.

The lack of a female U.S president thus far sheds light on the true temperament of America regarding gender. World leaders, law makers and professionals claim that women and men are on equal footing. Why, then, do citizens and senate continue to elect male presidents and vice presidents?

It would seem as though it is mostly voters who are stuck in the past regarding selection of leaders. Some leaders, such as United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, push for women’s rights and the equality of genders.

In a closed forum in Washington on December 3, Clinton criticized Israel for its treatment of women. She was astonished at the fact that women must sit at the back of buses in some places. Her beliefs were that the prejudice Israel projects against women is a threat to Israeli democracy. Israel ‘s Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan believed that the government should take action to ensure the equality of men and women.

Many corporations and unions have taken steps to close the gap of pay between men and women of the same profession. However, the gap remains in other professions. The median earnings of women in the United States were 77.4% of the median earnings of men in 2010. The gender pay gap is steadily closing, but it is still there.

“The fact that wage disparity still exists suggests that equal opportunities for men and women are not available,” Charles Weinberg, Centennial English teacher, said.

The gender wage gap is a result of the traditional “Male-breadwinner” belief. While a man went to work and made a living for his family, the woman stayed home and took care of the children. As the sole provider for the family, men were paid more.

On the other hand, a scramble for correcting past errors may be giving women leverage over men. After all, girls in school have some opportunities that boys do not have.

“Boys can’t play Volleyball,” Fernanda Schaefer, Centennial Sophomore, said. “In Brazil, boys could play Volleyball [on a school team] so there aren’t equal opportunities [in school for girls and boys].”

Some may argue that the policy “separate but equal” goes for gender in the school system. Once they hit a certain age, children lose interest in certain things and generally focus on more gender-oriented activities and subjects. For example, most boys are not interested in Cheerleading. Girls are seldom interested in Football. Girls of this age are steered to performing while boys tend to be allowed to “play rough”.

Whether there are equal or unequal opportunities for the two genders in the present, it is up to the next generation to determine whether this will change.

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