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Data on the rise of women

No matter how amazing a woman is, she won’t be respected by her own sex unless she’s loved by a member of the opposite one. Women are petty this way.

Is this true?

Despite the suffragette movement, the introduction of the birth pill, the notorious ‘Persons’ Case in Canada and the pro-choice activists permeating our society, we have not yet finished the battle for improvement in women’s rights, health and status. Granted, we have come far, but we have not reached equilibrium yet. A friend of mine brought this statistic to mind: Of people employed by UBC making over $125,000, only 20% are women, and they make on average $9,000 less than their male counterparts. In our own backyard, the scales are imbalanced.

I come from a family where divorce and the state of singleness (by choice) is rampant. I have two successful aunts (one a self-made millionaire) and the other a retired nurse who decided to never wed after the Vietnam War. They chose their careers and ambitions, and they never looked back. I never thought this to be peculiar.

Women are choosing to delay marriage and to pursue careers in almost every corner of the world. The birth rates in Italy and Japan are under 2.1 – the replacement level for a population. A sagging birthrate means that fewer working-age people will be around to support a growing population of elderly; a social crisis looms. However, after being repressed academically, socially and economically for centuries, women finally have the opportunity to climb the corporate ladder. When it comes to choosing between financial freedom, children and a marital relationship – women have more at stake at men because of our biological makeup which has us predestined to be the childbearing one in the relationship.

So, what does one choose? Maureen Ciarniello, the associate superintendent of Vancouver schools once remarked to me at a social that she wouldn’t have been able to reach her position had she had children. Was she right?

I glanced around the room, and everyone was suited-up and a member of the male sex. There wasn’t a single female administrator at that social aside from Maureen. Of course, that could have been an anomaly, but statistics show across the board that although men and women may obtain the same education, a woman’s ability to reach the higher echelons is somehow stunted in the process of her arriving there. This could be due to how a woman is perceived in culture – as the weaker sex in the eyes of some.

Perhaps religion has to do with it as well. I’m opening a new can of worms here, but with all due respect, religion plays a large role in women’s status. While in New York City and speaking to my Muslim friend and host (a most delightful young man), he spoke to me about how the Qu’ran said that a man ought to be in charge of the financial affairs. Since I have a Mormon mother, I attended Mormon service from time to time.

After service, Sunday classes commence and I distinctly recall being in a young women’s class about why one had the duty to God to be a good wife and mother. Not marrying, according to the teacher (taught by a young architecture graduate of Brigham Young University), was something displeasing in God’s eyes, to which I countered with the example of my two aunts who missed much of their youth and romance due to the war. What does one do when one does not have the opportunity to experience romance during times of war? The teacher did not know how to respond.

Reverting back to the original question, my respect for a woman who is divorced or unmarried is no less than what I have for a woman who is married or in a relationship. Some women love other women, and in this case, does she deserve to have less respect? No. If she is confident, comfortable in her own skin, contributing back to society and delighted to be a woman, Aretha Franklin’s R.E.S.P.E.C.T can continue to play on.



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