During a regular Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) blog post, we focus on small business, growing your opportunities and raising public awareness. For this article, we’re going to shift our focus to what Women’s History Month means to some of the Millennials or Gen Y staff members at the WBDC and why it is so important to celebrate now, more than ever.
We asked, “Do you think junior to senior high school girls are aware of the suffrage movement?”
Kristin Travis:“Yes, but just like abolition, civil rights, religious, labor union movements, in the minds of youth today this is something that happened a very long time ago, and these issues are such that I believe they (wrongly) think have been resolved.”
Rebecca Glaubke: “I believe that many girls are aware of the suffrage movement but most do not know the details about all that happened and what women had to go through in order to fight for the rights we have now.”
2013 marks the centennial celebration of the first suffragists marching for equal rights to vote. In the past 100 years, women have seen great changes, both socially and economically, but have the core issues remained?
Bethany Hartley: “In 1913 we were dealing with being stereotyped and told what our position was by men, but today we deal with self-inflicted stereotypes. The same issues are still there, parity in the workplace, independence, etc. just coming at us from a different angle.”
Kristin: “Our biggest issue is the way we are portrayed to ‘mainstream America.’ The way we are portrayed in reality TV is deplorable. We are still shown in the media as those who are put in place solely to serve others (children and men): Susie homemakers, the mammies, the soccer moms, the wonder-women, the gold digger…the other.”
On the other side of the coin, change has brought about new issues. We asked, “What do you think is the number one issue women your age face today?”
Rebecca G.: “I believe the number one issue for women in their early 20s would be employment and living situations. For many women who are my age, it is tough to find a job right away after graduating and being able to afford to live on your own and away from your parents. There are few entry level positions that pay well enough to pay for rent or housing, whether you live by yourself or with roommates. Having few options makes it stressful to find employment that will pay well.”
Carolina Diaz: “I believe the biggest issue for women my age is the struggle to balance personal life with a career.”
From the perspective of the women we talked to, women’s rights is still an important issue – one that has only grown as the number of women in the workforce has increased. The need for organizations that bring together professional women and educate the next generation is all too relevant. In closing, we looked for a solution, and it’s a simple one that falls on the shoulders of women at any age:
Rebecca Diaz: “Women need to be educated about women’s inequalities in order to fully understand the importance of women’s rights. Read books, articles, use social media and any resource to learn as much as possible. Younger women need to be proactive in advocating for women’s rights. No one is expected to change the world in one day – but encouraging our network of friends, colleagues and our community to enforce education and equality on any level is change in itself. Don’t perpetuate discrimination against women by ignoring and conforming to social and cultural stereotypes. Let’s open our eyes, ignite conversations and demand change.”
We encourage you to share your thoughts on the biggest issues you see for women, young and old.