Plastered all over prime-time television is Gap’s latest catchy ad for their new “Boyfriend Trousers” for women. The ad has the typical Gap look with a white screen, the fresh faces of a couple arguing over pants to the tune of “Anything you can do I can do better.” Sure, the ad is just for pants but the message behind it is one that is age old. Anything men can do, women can do better. Well, maybe not better, but just as well.
During the month of March, we honor the great strides that women have made in history. Whether it is honoring a single mother for her strength or a presidential candidate for her courage, the month is dedicated to recognizing strong women and their contribution to society.
In the past few years, we have seen big milestones for women on Capitol Hill. Condoleezza Rice became the first female African-American Secretary of State in 2005, Senator Nancy Pelosi was elected the first female speaker of the house in November 2006 and Senator Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for president and is now one of the democratic front-runners.
But unfortunately, in a male-dominated world, Clinton winning the presidency, or any woman for that matter, may be far fetched. Clinton is even doubted by her own gender. Some feel that she isn’t fit for the job because she won’t be respected by her male peers or the rest of the world won’t look at the U.S. as the super power we claim to be.
Even Speaker Pelosi is a minority on her own turf. Out of the 435 members of Congress, only a dismal 74 are women. This is surprising considering 65 percent of women reported voting in the 2004 presidential election, 62 percent higher than their male counter parts, according to the most recent U.S. census.
On the other hand, Cabrini is an institution where most leadership positions are held by women. Our president is a woman, along with the chair of the board of trustees, three vice presidents and 7 women department chairs.
When we look at how far women have come, it’s hard to believe that it was less than 90 years ago that women were granted the right to vote. It’s even harder to believe that they were denied it in the first place.
We are led to believe that women have equal rights but a stereotype still exists. Women are still not paid as much as males in the workplace and they are not given the same opportunities for advancement. Women earn only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, according to a 2006 article in the Washington Post.
Laws can be passed until we are blue in the face, but laws can’t change mentalities. People need to realize that the stereotypes of gender are just that, stereotypes. And, while some women and men may fit them, there are many who don’t. Gender does not dictate skills.
Why do we continue to base our judgments on ancient stereotypes rather than the qualifications of a person? Gender does not decide how well a person can run a company or lead a nation. If Senator Clinton is going to be a good president it will be because she has the right skills and qualifications, not because she is a woman.
Gender isn’t a personality trait, it isn’t a learned ability and it isn’t a leadership skill. It is a classification based on anatomy. It does not determine how well someone will do their job.
So women, have confidence in your own sex and men, don’t doubt that a women could do your job just as well. They say behind every good man there is a strong woman. It’s time for women to step out from behind the curtain and for society to take notice of their accomplishments and abilities.