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Week of 3.13.09

Spotlight on Women

Read an excerpt from "On My Own Two Feet," a book which aims to empower women to take control of their finances.

March is Women's History Month and we want to know what you think: Has opportunity for American women now matched that of men? Share your opinion and experiences, and read other viewpoints below.

We also just launched a new beat on women and men in the twenty-first century we call "Life Now." Below, check out NOW videos, as well as debates, interviews and interactive features on contemporary issues affecting women today.

"Life Now" Reports

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Your Call

Commenter: Laura
We have come a long way, but have a long way to go.
We still struggle for each pay for equal work; inequality is still present in our education system and culture.

Commenter: Kate vanHorn
Every time a major issue is part of the news, the "experts" stand in a row. I am always negatively amused. They are men with a token woman once in a while. I get almost apoplectic when the issue is birth control or abortion. How on earth do we permit that? Actually we have not even had the vote for 100 years. Men continually make the rules regarding birth control and abortion or a woman's right to choose. The Catholic Church (and others) program their believers from birth. No man really knows about this topic and men have no qualifications to make such decisions. If women, well trained, want to use their kills, they can often reach their potential by creating non profits.

Commenter: Edward Bear
Dear Editor,
No, we have a long way to go.

My mother was born when a woman could be arrested for entering a voting booth. In the eighth grade, she was dragged out of school by her parents to work in the family store as well as mind her younger brothers. She was told that she "didn't need an education."

By the time she was twenty, her parents were ready to marry her off to a man she hardly knew, and what she did know, she didn't like. It made more sense to her to run off with my father, who she knew a bit and liked. I remain thankful, and am alive, thanks to her courage.

I believe there will never be Peace on Earth until humanity creates a Just Balance in which all people can truly live and thrive. There can never be a Just Balance on Earth until women and girls receive the same degree of Freedom, Justice and Respect at all levels of life as fully as men and boys.

Women and men are not the same, of course. But they are Equal Halves of the Human Whole. As long as women are oppressed, abused, belittled and minimized at the hands of men and institutions (religious and otherwise), and by tradition in many cultures throughout the world, there can never be Peace.

It is long passed time for most men to learn how to be better men, which means to not be oppressive and aggressive. There is greater strength in kindness and clarity than there is in overt power, which is the traditional pursuit of most males. Nothing wrong with power, unless it isn't leavened with kindness. Then it becomes trouble, as we have learned throughout our history of unending bloodshed and needless, widespread suffering. And for what? Extended power?

If every male makes a commitment to furthering the basic human rights of every female in his life, everyone's existence will be filled with more love and compassion, more wisdom, and the cause of Global Peace and Justice will be served and realized that much sooner. It is our best and, possibly, only chance for sanity and survival.

The tools are: Kindness/Awareness/Patience/Protection/Affection.

Come together,
Edward Bear

Commenter: Laura
No, it has not. Sexual harassment and lower expectations for women continue. Last year I was in a PhD program at Washington State University. My 65 year old advisor made the moves on me. When I ignored his advances he became angry and stopped speaking with me. Three months later he dropped me as a student. I struggled for six months with ombudsmen and the graduate school to no avail. I could not find even one professor willing to take on my research (the boy's club). I had to leave the university, and I lost thousands of dollars and two years of my life. I believe the men in eastern Washington do the "down low" because the misogyny and the impenetrable boy's club is rampant.

Commenter: Naomi Holloway
It is universally remarked that raising children is the most important, difficult, time and resource consuming job on the planet; yet it is the only job for which a woman who devotes her working years will get no salary, no health insurance, no pension, no social security; a job which is not treated as a job but as a luxury for which she must enter the market place to obtain the resources for the "privilege" of performing it. And these days it is not unlikely she will carry all this responsibility alone and end up destitute for having done it.

And what has this taught the children and the adults they grew into. They see no injustice in this arrangement. They accept as their due that these labors and sacrifices will be freely and lovingly provided by mothers without any obligation or necessity for pay-back. And what kind of society do these grown children create? The same old thing in a slightly different form. Slavery is not a thing of the past. Instead of property to be bought and maintained, women have become commodities - things to be used, used up, tossed aside. It could even be argued that, today, women's lives are more difficult than ever before. All attempts to achieve equality and respect for women will come to naught unless the "job" of motherhood, its impact on society and its economic demands are addressed, and mothers and their work are given the respect and consideration they deserve.

Motherhood and fatherhood are two very distinct functions, and mothers and fathers in the home or in the marketplace do not and cannot be expected to function similarly. It has been a great mistake to assume that by liberating women from being confined to the home they would automatically thrive in the world outside the home - a world made by and for men. This has overburdened women and left men disconnected from what's most real
and grounding, their families.

I suspect it could even be successfully argued that this "disconnect" is related to men's loss of place and sense of manhood which is now being expressed negatively in power and money games and violence. I suspect that if we had focused properly on the needs and well-being of mothers and children we might have avoided a few of these wars. And possibly even this financial melt-down we are now experiencing, but that's a longer essay.

At any rate, we damn well better do something because women are dying by the millions all over this world by bombs, starvation, disease; in wars, in refugee camps, on city streets, in their own homes, They are murdered by combatants, strangers, friends, lovers, relatives, and abused and used in horrible ways as tools by men to make war on other men. At the very best, they are overworked and underpaid. All this, and they are the bearers and nurturers of life! What does this say about our priorities?! So let's quite pussy-footing, mealy-mouthing, and piecemealing with this "issue" and that "issue". Get the priorities where they belong, and the rest can move into place. Mothers' work, home and children, goes on the top. And prove it by putting the "money where the mouths are". And no more saccharine statements or phony reverence for motherhood or hand wringing over their suffering children. Just get the resources in their hands, those hands that are doing the work. It's the only way to liberate women and properly raise children. Then the world's focus will have a chance to shift from death dealing to life enhancing.

Commenter: Cristy
To Larry:

Obviously you either did not read the question correctly.

Commenter: Cristy
Not even close! Until we get an Equal Rights Ammendment passed to assure women "Constitutional Equality" by the Federal Government, men and women will never be equal. The rights of women vary from state to state; not so for men. How can anyone say that that women are afforded the same opportunities as men when we have no Constitutional backing?

Commenter: Claire
I think in the last election cycle we saw the very ugliness of sexism as both Clinton and Palin were attacked using hateful sex-based language.

Studies continue to show that women are ignored, and even when a woman has an idea in a meeting that is adopted, those present still attribute the idea to one of the men.

It's going to take generations and cultural shifts before women are truly emancipated.

Commenter: Leslie Hauck
Has opportunity for American women now matched that of men? No. Not as long as women come out worse after divorce than men...Not as long as women don't get directly rewarded for taking on the job of "homemaker", what should be called Family Manager...Not as long as women still do the larger proportion of domestic labour...Not as long as women still get 66 cents on the dollar that men get for employed work in many spheres...

Commenter: Lester Ostroy
Women have passed men is opportunity. They work harder at school, get better grades, outnumber men at the prestigious grad schools and are better doctors, lawyers and businessmen. They enjoy complete control of our divorce courts. Women win custody 100% unless they are addicts or nuts. Women can get rid of the husband keep the kids, house, car and the husband's income. Men have no chance.

Commenter: anonymous in MN.
Quite frankly, opportunities for women are still not matched to those of men. We still are making less for the same jobs. We are overlooked because we are still sometimes veiwed as physically frail and emotionally unsuited for nearly every advanced opportunity within the male dominion. Until fathers decide that their daughters should be afforded every opportunity that they expect for their sons, we women will remain "contained" within the "good 'ol boys" system. We must play by their everchanging rules, play harder, play smarter, and for pete's sake-never be a threat to them. Each and every advance we make must be viewed as their idea or it just won't make it into the mainstream.

Commenter: Northeast executive woman
Opportunity still remains a problem. First with equal pay and second with the hiring process. Men hire men. Men hire their friends. Human resource departments are not aware of what goes on inside their organizations due to lack of follow up and communication. The field still remains very much an "old boys" club. Women are not even aware that they are being repressed because the repression is in the American employemnt culture. Gender remains a HUGE problem and is probably getting worse rather than better due to the lack of information on the subject within the workplace.

I am a caucasian woman with an ivy league degree and commendable, consistent employment record. I can not tell you how I see incompetence in the workplace gets you promoted. I think that is the bigger issue. People at the top are either part of the "old boys" club or individuals (usually men) with bachelor's degrees. For some reason, individuals with advanced degrees often times are not hired into positions that need advanced knowledge and thinking. Logic and a moral compass are lacking. Most companies make things up on the fly and their policies are not based on a solid academic footing.
Most companies do not do their research. And if they are doing their research they are not checking the sources of their research which may show bias.

Opportunity for women remains elusive as much of the American workplace still functions in an "old boys" incompentent, uneducated mentality. The gender problem is in the culture and that is why many people do not see it unless you have studied and researched the issues yourself. Women still have to flirt to get ahead which is very sad. Myself included.

Commenter: Sara Jones
As a Boomer my job opportunities were limited to teacher, nurse, airline stewardess, waitress, shop worker or factory worker. I'm happy to say that women have now entered all professions, and although we are still paid less, we have the opportunity to become President. When the first women were elected to the Senate, there wasn't even a women's restroom for them, and this was not too long ago.

Commenter: norman kautsky
Women dominate TV and to some extent radio, as reporters, correspondents, hosts, analyzers, and interrogaters both nationally and internationally I am not advising my son to enter this field as his profession.

Commenter: donald eldridge
the greatest mistake we made as a nation was to allow women in a mans role in any goverment positions. and to allow the feminest to gain a foot hold in america.this is whats wrong with our kids today mommies wanting to be daddies.go home woman and be a woman the role you are suppose to do.

Commenter: Pastor Karen
It depends on what opportunities you are talking about. Women have access to education and to most jobs, provided they are willing to work very hard, harder than many women want to work when they have young children. Women have access to jobs, but working out two careers is not easy, especially in rural areas.

Commenter: Glen H.
I think opening opportunity's doors is the one major area of success for the baby boomer generation, but I do not care for the cavalcade of promotions and bemoanings of women's issues to the neglect of such other problems as schooling for boys and other family issues. Over 25% of married women earn more than their husbands so we would do well to go beyond women's money issues alone and recognize the need to promote family values.

Commenter: Sleepless in St. Louis
Absolutely! Women and men now have the right to work from sun-up to sun-down away from their families, allowing their children to grow up as strangers to their parents and siblings and be raised by employees of the state.
Women now have the same right as men to enjoy sexual licentiousness and immorality, as well as encouraging their daughters to express themselves in ways that demostrate how independent they are from any stuffy norms or values.
Women and men now share the same opportunity to be free from the demanding rigours of religious duties, including the ever-pesky faith, hope and charity.
And best of all, women and men are ever equal to enjoy limitless television and pizza while those elected to protect their best interests divide them and their families, even as they sit together on the same couch.

Commenter: Beth Lancaster
It is advertised in businesses that there are opportunities to advance. However, that just isn't the case. Too many times jobs that have openings for advancement in management are men selecting other men for those positions. I have seen it where seniority and education do not guaranty anything, least of all advancement in your employment.

Commenter: audrey hall
Not as long as a woman such as Brooksley Born, former SEC Commission member can be ignored to the point of her resignation, for consistently warning of the Madoff transgressions for OVER A DECADE. .The male dominance in most of these situations, where POWER is the single most entrenched philosophy to be overcome, makes heroes
such as Ms Born, a regrettable rarity! All the more to
ARE WOMEN? Amazing!

Commenter: Dawn Bushman
My mother and I were talking about this. There are a lot of women who are working where there husbands have lost their jobs.

While this may seem like a change in the breadwinner culture, it's also businesses who are hiring women because they can pay them less and get away with it.

Commenter: Larrry
I'm tired of women complaining about their circumstances. Women in America have much better opportunities than in other countries!

Commenter: Billi Ling
Watch "Is your daughter safe at work?" It is shocking to see how young women are being treated in the workplace!

If this is what I have to worry about for my daughter....

Commenter: Annika Paris
You betcha!

No, although Sarah and Hillary show that women have come a long way, there is still the problem of women being paid less than men.

Women make only 75 cents, or something like that, for every dollar that men earn.

Commenter: J. Parker
Opportunity for women (such as it is) would seem to drop precipitously with age. The same women who were denied opportunity due to their gender (early boomer women) are now denied opportunity due to their age. Terribly unfair! So close and yet so far away!

Previewing the Superpower Summit

Spotlight On Women

Update: Tomatoes of Wrath

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