One would think that the problem would have been solved by now, considering how many years women have been on this planet.

But here we are in the 21st century and women still do not have equal rights. Come on ladies, fight back! We do have the advantage of being the smarter sex. So how come we still work harder and longer hours than men do, and get paid less?

The unexplained difference in earnings came as a shock to me when I was 16 years old in 1944. Working part time in a department store, the revolting fact was revealed that men were paid more for doing the same job as women. It had nothing to do with age, experience or education. As long as they wore pants and had a man’s haircut they were worth more money. This was particularly galling to me when some of these so-called men were just teen-agers like me. In my view, some of them should have been paid less. Of course there was always the ongoing argument that men had a family to support. But within the ranks of the employees were many widows who also had families to support but no extra pay came in their envelopes. And those teen high school boys certainly weren’t married.

Now in 2013, I am not shocked to hear that the average pay for a woman is 77 cents of the dollar for a man. Shocked?  No, disgusted and disappointed. How many more centuries will it take?  Can we blame it all on men? 

Actually not when there are people like Phyllis Schlafly who played a major role in defeating the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) even after it had been approved by the Senate and the House. She had her following of Wimpy Women who cheered as she conjured up visions of girls being drafted and having to share unisex public bathrooms. The amendment was defeated in 1982, after only 30 states ratified it when the requirement was 38 states.

In spite of the ERA defeat there have been many improvements in women’s rights. Actually our status has risen all through my lifetime in so many ways. Consider the fact that women were given the right to vote in national elections in 1920, just eight years before I was born.

When I was in grammar school, all the teachers were single women, a requirement for the job, and of course all of the principals were men. Up until 1968, women hired by the airlines to be stewardesses had to be single and when they reached the age of 32 they were fired. And marriage while employed was also cause for immediate dismissal. My own experience with an airline working at the airport on the ticket counter, included being told that I could never be promoted because I was a female. That was in 1952.

Nowadays that department head is a woman.

I am glad that I have lived in this time to see the progress of the human race. But half of it is still not able to reach full potential and be treated as equal by the other half. Is that too much to ask?  I know that I won’t see it, but perhaps my great-granddaughters will.

Evelyn Metzger is a member of Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.

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