2012 was dubbed “Year of the Woman” by Salon, The Washington Post, and others. More women were running, more women were elected. We celebrated a victory for women. Beautiful, right?
On the surface.
I came across this infographic at Salon. Needless to say, I was disappointed. With my optimist and “we can do it” mentality, I’ve celebrated our victories as women and I greatly admire the women who have taken those steps. I crave stories of infamous and “everyday” women working hard, overcoming struggles, and raising children. There’s a problem though. We must remember to look at the larger picture and realize that these victories shouldn’t be rare or small.
I stand with others when I say I have a problem with “Year of the Woman” because it sounds temporary. It is also old news. 1992 was also named “Year of the Woman” when the number of women in the Senate tripled… to six. You might recall Senator Mikulski saying, “Calling 1992 the Year of the Woman makes it sound like the Year of the Caribou or the Year of the Asparagus. We're not a fad, a fancy, or a year.” Is the portrayal of our victories and careers a bias in itself? Women making strides isn’t a trend “in season” and it certainly isn’t a phase. Would “revolution” be more appropriate?
I felt the same way recently when I was doing research for a post and saw the discrepancies between the salaries of men and women. Clearly I’ve known there is a gap but there is something that hits you when you see those numbers. Numbers don’t lie. It moves you. There is something that hits me when I see this infographic. It is an interesting dynamic. Each time I reflect on the larger level, I find myself thinking on the smallest level: “What am I doing to revolutionize women?” Maybe if we begin to have this approach and start acting on it then collectively we will truly be able to celebrate.
(Photo Credit: Emily Nemens)
Barbara DiGangi, Licensed Master Social Worker, works in New York City where she fuels her passion for social innovation and women empowerment. Barbara is the co-founder of Project Bond, www.theprojectbond.com, a movement to promote healthy relationships throughout the lifespan.