Women’s equality means women and men should have equal rights.
Equality for women has taken shape throughout history in different forms — women’s suffrage, the right to vote and the right to work for equal pay.
The American Civil Liberties Union said there is an ongoing struggle for women with gender bias. “Ongoing struggles include ensuring equal economic opportunities, educational equity and an end to gender-based violence,” their website states.
Illinois State University students were asked the question: What does women’s equality mean to you?
Junior dance major Kayla Motley said it means being viewed as an equal to her male counterparts.
“I’m held to the same standards. I don’t receive any specialty treatment,” Motley said.
Senior journalism major Maddie Bounds held a similar viewpoint.
“Women’s equality, to me, means being equal to everybody. Men, women, should be equal — no one’s greater and no one’s less,” Bounds explained.
However, a great deal of students found the question hard to answer. Many were unable to provide an answer because they were not sure what women’s equality meant for them.
Why was a seemingly straightforward question so hard to answer?
“Why is it so hard?” asked ISU communication professor Karen Schieler. “Is it because we don’t think about it, we just do?”
Schieler said she never felt negatively affected as a woman.
“I feel like in some things I’ve been treated differently, like when I’ve gone to get my car fixed or something like that. But then I’ve also seen men be in the same situation and be treated the same way because they don’t know anything about the subject,” Schieler said.
From a male perspective, junior journalism major Lane Henkins said women’s equality is the power of doing whatever one wants to do.
“An example that comes to mind is a guy powerlifter and people are like, ‘Oh, that’s a guy thing,’ and then if a girl wants to do it, people think, ‘Why? Why do you want to be so manly?’ I mean, who cares, just do what you want to do,” Henkins said.
Today, there are a lot of movements to fight, or stand up for, a woman’s right to do what she wants. Movements like the Women’s March and the #MeToo movement push women to no longer be silent about injustices done upon them.
Many people feel differently about each movement or campaign set up by women, but the foundation of each event is for equality. With all these movements and campaigns, has there been any progress?
“I feel like so much progress has been made that women are treated equally in the workplace,” Schieler said. “It’s not really an issue with younger generations because they have seen women, [they have] seen their parents, not only being [a mom] but work[ing as well], and I think that definitely has changed the perception of women in general.”
Being equal to a man has been a way of life for many in the younger generation. It is not something that is often thought about. But, in some cases, there are some discriminatory actions against women and they are now taking a stand against those injustices.
To many, women’s equality means to be treated the same way as a man: to hold the same opportunities, to have the right to work in predominately male occupations and to not be afraid of possible assault just because of their gender.
Equality has come a long way since the women’s suffrage movement, but to some, there is still more work to be done.