Why the Women’s Strike was so important in the fight for economic equality
Turning this space over to The Fairness Project’s wickedly smart and wildly talented Digital Director, Cheryl Hori, who sent this email out yesterday. Five must-knows about women, our broken political system, and our broken economy, with five perfectly curated giphs:
If you haven’t heard already, today is International Women’s Day.
Women across the world are going on strike today (myself included), and while I would love for this to be a “free day” in which I can get those three loads of never-ending laundry done, going on strike today holds a lot more meaning for each of us than we might think.
And men: You’re not off the hook either — the below also applies to every mother, daughter, niece, spouse, coworker, boss, barista, and female friend in your life.
In the fight for economic equality, here’s why today is so important:
1. Women are underrepresented in Congress and state legislatures but overrepresented in minimum-wage jobs.
It’s been nearly 100 years since women won the right to vote, but fast forward to 2017 and only six governors and less than a quarter of all state legislators are women.
The numbers are almost inverse when it comes to the minimum wage: Women make up half of the workforce but represent two-thirds of minimum-wage workers and nearly 75 percent of tipped workers.
With a majority of Congress being men, and a majority of minimum wage workers being women, it’s no surprise that Congress hasn’t raised the federal minimum wage in eight years.
2. Those tipped workers put up with far worse than we realize.
Ever worked in a restaurant? I have. While interning full time, bartending was the only thing that paid the bills. But the federal subminimum wage (the wage you get if you’re a tipped worker) has been stuck at $2.13 for over two and a half decades. And you can bet that the IRS came for all $16 in wages I’d make in a shift.
This $2.13 wage — that’s less than a loaf of bread — forces tipped workers to rely on gratuity, leaving them impoverished at almost twice the rate of the U.S. workforce.
Women make up the majority of restaurant servers where workers are often forced to work long and unpredictable hours (nothing like an 18-hour shift on football Sundays).
So before you decide to not tip your bartender for not being “friendly enough,” she might not be smiling because she’s exhausted or she might be one of the 80 percent of female servers to have experienced sexual harassment at work.
3. Women are still expected to be the primary caregiver for their families. What?! Is it 1960?!
Today, women are still expected to be the primary caregivers to their children. According to the National Partnership for Women and Children, two-thirds of caregivers are female yet less than half of working mothers have paid sick leave for themselves or their children.
Of the 2.8 million working, single parents out there, 80 percent are women earning low wages where they are almost guaranteed not to have sick days.
4. “Women’s work” is code for “lower-paid work.”
Did you know that raising the minimum wage reduces child poverty in women-led households, and nearly half of female-run households with children were living in poverty. Why? Well, some industries are just dominated by women and these“pink -collared jobs” (as economists call these industries) don’t pay very well.
Despite the high skills and education required to be a teacher, nurse, or home health care worker, these jobs often carry the stigma of “women’s work” and remain among the lowest-paid in the nation. Ugh. The worst.
Wake up, people! “Women’s work” is “equal work.”
5. Women may dominate higher education but aren’t welcome in male-dominated fields.
After Sandra Day O’Connor graduated third in her class from Stanford Law School, 40 firms refused to interview her because, she was a woman. Can you imagine?!
Nearly 70 years later, women STILL face many uphill battles. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) recently studied why we don’t find many women in STEM fields, and among their findings they cited stereotypes, gender bias, and “the climate of science and engineering departments in colleges and universities.”
But ladies: This doesn’t have to be the norm. We have the power to change ALL of this!
In January we marched in every major city in the world. In February we stormed townhalls and stood up for our health care. And this month, we’re showing the world what a day without women in the workplace looks like.
But striking today or wearing red in solidarity isn’t enough. We need to stand together and build each other up. We need to turn out to every election from 2018 until — forever. The battle for equality is long from over, but we can start today.
Standing with you,
The Fairness Project
Back to our regular programming, also keep an eye out for The Fairness Project’s big announcement later today.