#OnThisDay: Women’s Equality Day

“I don’t think a woman can handle this job.” That’s a direct quote from a job interview I had in a large city. It was an interview for a position in city government. At the time, I had a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration.

My father had just died, I was 24 years old, single, and desperate for a job. It was 1977.

If that happened today

If that happened today, I would come back at the older white male interviewer with a hundred reasons why not only could a woman handle the job but that I was the best-qualified person of any gender for the job.

If it happened today, I’d not only file a lawsuit, I would tell the interviewer it was beneath me to work for a city government that had such low regard for women.

But that was 1977. It was against the law under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to discriminate in the workplace on the basis of sex, but it was just the way things were and I was too young and desperate for a job to make a fuss about it. I didn’t want to get labeled as a trouble maker before I even started my career in government.

Today is Women’s Equality Day

The 19th Amendment to United States Constitution was passed by Congress on August 26, 1920. It gave women full and equal voting rights.

Women’s Equality Day was first celebrated in 1971 by a joint resolution of the US Senate and US House of Representatives. The resolution was sponsored by US Representative Bella Abzug, a Democrat from New York.

How you can celebrate Women’s Equality Day

Use #EqualityCantWait, #WomensEqualityDay, or related hashtags on social media networks.

Register to vote, if you haven’t already done so.

If there are American children and young people in your life, take time today to seriously speak with them about Women’s Equality Day. Ninety-nine years sounds like a long time to a young person, but try to help them see that in the big scheme of things it really wasn’t so long ago.

The way I would try to explain it to another person is to tell them that my mother was almost eight years old when women won the right to vote. My two grandmothers were 43 and 44 years old when they were allowed to vote for the first time.

Take time to read about one or more of the suffragists who risked their lives in and prior to 1920 in an effort to get the US Government to allow women to vote. Susan B. Anthony is perhaps the most famous suffragist. Others include Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone.

We’ve come a long way, but…

We’ve come a long way since 1920 when the 19th Amendment was passed by Congress, and since 1971 when Women’s Equality Day was first celebrated, and since 1977 when a city’s human resource official said that he didn’t think a woman could handle being that city’s assistant community development director; however, women still have so far to go in the workplace.

Melinda Gates has been vocal recently about the pay gap between men and women in the United States. Some of the statistics she has brought to light are staggering and extremely discouraging.

The World Economic Forum projects that, at the current rate of progress, it will take the United States of America 208 years to reach gender equality. Let that sink in. That’s the year 2227. That’s as long into the future as it has been since the year 1811.

#EqualityCantWait

Melinda Gates posted an EqualityCantWait.net video on LinkedIn on August 6, 2019. Here’s a link to her post on LinkedIn. It includes the five-minute video:  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/heres-why-equality-cant-wait-melinda-gates/. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

What about my great nieces?

I have four intelligent great-nieces. They all excel in school. One of them will graduate from college next spring. Another one is a freshman in college. The other two are just several years younger. Their interests are diverse and I can’t wait to see what career paths they take. They can’t wait until the year 2227 to make the same salary as a man.

I don’t want anyone to dare to say to any one of them, “I don’t think a woman can handle this job.”  And I don’t want them to work their entire lives and not be paid exactly what their male counterparts are paid. My great-nieces cannot wait 208 years for the United States to reach gender pay equity.

Since my last blog post

I’ve continued to edit and tweak my novel manuscript as I use C.S. Lakin’s Scene Outline Template. I’m about halfway through this stage of the process.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading Beneath the Tamarind Tree:  A Story of Courage, Family, and the Lost Girls of Boko Haram, by Isha Sesay.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time and your projects are moving right along.

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog.

Let’s continue the conversation

Do you take your right to vote for granted?

Regardless of the country you live in, regardless of your gender, regardless of the color of your skin, regardless of your religion, regardless of your economic status – don’t EVER take your right to vote for granted.

No matter which of those categories you find yourself in, know that people sacrificed and risked their lives to give you the right to right. Many gave their lives in the pursuit of voting rights.

There are thousands of people around the world who still risk their lives to cast their vote. There are millions of people who would be willing to risk their lives just for the opportunity to vote.

Let the children and young people in your life know how important it is for them to register and vote as soon as the law allows them that right and responsibility.

Janet

Go Set a Watchman

I’m a little slow to add my voice to the national conversation about Harper Lee’s book, Go Set a Watchman, but I finished reading it last week and want to comment on the book.

Some people are afraid Atticus Finch will fall off his pedestal if they read Go Set a Watchman. They refuse to read it because they’ve heard that Atticus turned out to be a racist. Ironically, those people are a bit like Scout. In To Kill a Mockingbird, little Scout idolized her father. He was her world after her mother died when she was a toddler. Atticus was an astute trial lawyer and a wise father. In Scout’s eyes, he could do no wrong. When the young adult Scout came home from New York on the cusp of the Civil Rights Movement, she discovered that Atticus was human. I urge readers who loved the Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird to read Go Set a Watchman. It is another literary masterpiece by Harper Lee. You will struggle along with Scout as you and she discover that Atticus is human.

I’ve heard it said that Harper Lee’s editor read the Go Set a Watchman manuscript and advised Ms. Lee to write a book about Scout’s childhood because she wanted to know about that. That might be true, but I have a hunch that Ms. Lee’s editor sensed that America was not ready for Go Set a Watchman. Times were volatile, and Go Set A Watchman could have been an incendiary book at the time it was written. Perhaps it worked out for the best that we were made to wait until 2015 to read and savor it.

Now I hope someone finds another unpublished manuscript by Harper Lee. Wouldn’t that be a treat?

The Dry Grass of August

Today was great fun! I got to hear Anna Jean Mayhew, author of The Dry Grass of August, speak at the public library in Kannapolis, NC. The event was well attended and she answered questions until there were no more. She’s a very entertaining speaker.

Discussions of The Dry Grass of August generate interesting questions and conversations about the days before and during the Civil Rights Movement. Today’s audience was a cross-section of ages and people who grew up in various parts of the United States. Today’s program brought several perspectives to light.

The discussion about race relations combined with A.J.’s talking about her writing and life experiences made for a very enjoyable afternoon.