Community Commentary: Women still suffer from inequality at work, at home

Nicki Minaj once said, "When you're 'assertive', as a girl, you get called a bitch, but a boy gets called a boss … it is a double-standard."

When women aim for success, they have to deal with many different stereotypes and issues, whereas a man can be a "boss" in every aspect of his life: work, relationships and family.

While trying to become successful, women have to deal with much more than men in having to also undertake their gender roles to please the societal norm. As a female rapper, Minaj is an excellent example of a young woman who rose to stardom by constantly fighting against the stereotypes put upon her by men. I feel that her story truly depicts the struggles of women today who are trying to become successful in the workforce.

I interpreted the quote to mean that women are not taken as seriously in the workforce as men are, and that we are expected, especially by men, to be sentimental and ladylike in all aspects of our identity. It would be impossible for one woman to express all of her different roles with just one personality.

Take a successful businesswoman, such as Beyonce, for example. She is an extremely powerful woman who has to be assertive in her work, act as a friendly role model with her fans and be loving and emotional with her personal relationships and family. If, for instance, her emotional family-woman traits came out in the workplace, she would not be as successful because she would be perceived as lacking confidence and an authoritative personality. Similarly, if her traits as an assertive businesswoman came out in her social life, many would consider her to be a "bitch."

It is obvious that in the United States, women and men do not have equal rights in the workplace, considering that women make only 77.5 cents for every dollar that men earn.

Family dynamics are modernizing, and many families have recently become reliant on dual incomes. In the state of the economy, women are forced to work in order to provide for their family, in addition to having the ladylike qualities of a mother and wife.

A poll by Compensation.BLR.com and HR.BLR.com found that "47% of employers offer no paid maternity leave to employees."

I also learned that in Canada, both men and women are guaranteed up to 37 weeks of unpaid parental leave, and women are granted a total of 52 unpaid weeks.

In the United States however, men and women working at companies who have more than 50 employees are given only 12 weeks of unpaid, job-guaranteed parental leave. These statistics show that many companies in the United States are not supportive of women working full time, putting us at an extreme disadvantage, compared to Canada, which gives women the time they need. Also, women have many more responsibilities than just moneymaking when trying to become successful. Most of us will also have to hold together a family and take care of our womanly responsibilities.

I can also personally relate this idea to my family, in which both of my parents work. My father is a lawyer, and my mother is a high school guidance counselor, but I have always felt that in general, my mother works harder than my father does. My dad goes to work all day, gets home around 6:30, and my mom goes to work all day and gets home around 4:30.

My dad has a higher income and longer work day, so it appears as though he works harder than my mom. However, his life outside of work is much less stressful. He gets home in the evening, sits on the couch, watches sports, eats dinner and goes to bed.

On the other hand, my mother returns from work, cooks dinner for the family, does everyone's laundry, does the dishes, tidies up around the house, checks her email and when she is finally done taking care of her children and her husband, she goes to bed.

I feel that this is representative of the majority of dual-income families in the United States, and that women have to play many different roles just throughout the course of one day in order to fulfill their responsibilities.

I have much respect for my mother and all of the things that she does for our family, and I also have much respect for my father in holding the family together economically and being our main source of income, but I often wish the family workload were more equal.

Sure, parents make children do chores and help out around the house, but in the end the mother is still working the most. I understand that not all women are interested in starting a family, or even getting married, but it is instilled in us as the norm from the day we are born. Everything around us plays a part in this perception of life for a woman.

MARY YEAGER, who grew up in Newport Beach, attends the University of Oregon.

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