November 29, 2020

7 Inequities: A Weeklong Look at the Biases Women Face

Women are living in a world that’s made for men.

Whether it’s the cars they drive or the medicines they take, they’ve almost all been developed with men in mind. And that can have life-threatening consequences for women.

If that’s hard to stomach, consider this:

The U.S. health care system — including the care itself and the training of would-be health care workers — makes it less likely that women’s conditions will be taken as seriously as men’s. This also can have life-threatening consequences for women. And it’s far worse for women of color.

Or, consider this:

Women put in more hours of work over their lifetimes, but get paid less for it overall. And that’s not just because of the gender pay gap (which is also far worse for women of color), but also because women do far more unpaid work — cooking, cleaning, caring for children — than men. In other words, they’re working more and getting less. And that’s holding women back.

[Learn more about the inequities facing American women. Try “In Her Words: 7 Issues, 7 Days”]

The inequities that women experience — so many of them invisible — are a stark reminder that we do not live in a country that treats women and men equally. Far from it.

Many Americans might agree with that. According to a 2020 Pew Research Center survey, a vast majority of Americans across demographic and partisan groups think that women should have equal rights with men. And while they think progress has been made in the past decade, a majority of respondents believe the country hasn’t done enough to give women equal rights with men. (Although 10 percent said the country has gone too far in giving women equal rights with men.)

It doesn’t help that U.S. leadership is still predominantly male — women comprise just one quarter of Congress — because if women aren’t at the table making decisions, who, exactly, is looking out for women? Even feminist men can overlook the basic stuff that women deal with all the time. (Menstruation, for example. Hello, tampon tax!)

Yes, of course, there are exceptions. There are female chief executives, female political leaders and certainly many women in positions of power. But when you break it down by the numbers, the examples are pitifully few.

This column kicks off a seven-day exploration of the inequities faced by women in the United States. Join us, and each day you’ll get a new issue sent to your inbox.

On Day 1, you’ll learn how cars are not designed with women’s safety in mind. On Day 2, you’ll find out why — even with all the strides that have been made toward equality at home — women still do the bulk of unpaid labor. Later in the week, we’ll examine the double standards in health care, the persistent inequities in men’s and women’s economic status, and more. Click below to get started.