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We, the women of the 21st century, in order to insure justice, enable economic prosperity, combat inherent historical and traditional bias against the exercise of rights by women, and provide for the common welfare, establish this 4th Wave of Feminism.

The differences that exist in pay between men and women performing the same jobs, a.k.a. the gender gap, constitute a well-documented (but highly disputed) phenomenon. There isn’t much debate about whether or not women earn less than men do, but exactly how much less women are paid is debated. Currently, this figure is usually estimated at about 76% – meaning that women earn 76% of what men doing the same job earn. According to Ellen Bravo (of the Miami Herald), as of 2003 women in the U.S. indeed made 76 cents for every dollar earned by men doing the same job. She states that this figure is even more disparate in the context of race, with Black women making 67 cents for every dollar earned by males and Latino women making 54 cents.

  • In the United States at the beginning of the 20th century less than 20 percent of all college degrees were earned by women. By the end of the century this figure had risen to about 50 percent.
  • As of 1998, 23 percent of all doctors were women, and today, women make up more than 50 percent of the medical student population.
  • At the beginning of the 20th century about 5 percent of the doctors in the United States were women. As of 1998, 23 percent of all doctors were women. While the numbers of women in these fields has increased, many women still continue to hold clerical, factory, retail, or service jobs (as office assistants, on assembly lines, or as cooks.)
  • Despite the Equal Pay Act of 1963, women have continued to receive less than equal pay of their male counterparts. In 2001, six women brought suit against Walmart, claiming they received less pay and promotion opportunities than their fellow male coworkers. One woman claimed that she was paid $23,000 less a year than a man doing the same job. In 2004, the case Dukes v. Walmart became the largest class action lawsuit in history, with approximately 1.5 million women claiming to have suffered similar discrimination at Walmart.

Sexist practices have often been so permissible and encouraged that they have become institutionalized. Several groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Organization for Women (NOW) have since formed to fight against such practices, leading to the creation of groundbreaking laws such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963. However, identifying and challenging sex discrimination in the workplace has often been too difficult for the average person to attempt and even harder to prove in court. For example, in a 2007 Supreme Court case, Lilly Ledbetter, a former employee of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, recently had a judgment in her favor overturned that had awarded her back pay and damages for several years of receiving disproportionately low pay in comparison to her male counterparts because she waited too long to file suit. After a 5-4 decision delivered by Justice Samuel Alito, the court issued a statement saying that “Federal law states that ’employees must file their discrimination complaints within 180 days of the incident,'” a task that dissenting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg claimed was unreasonable considering that quite often women have no reason to suspect discrimination until certain unfair patterns develop and they are made aware of them.

When women were originally “allowed” to join the workforce by men in the 20th Century, they were paid one-half to two-thirds of what their male counterparts earned. Since they could perform many jobs at the same level as men, it became economical and considered “good business” to hire women at lesser wages. Today many businesses establish offices and hire people in other countries for the same reason.




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