EXAMINING GENDER EQUALITY
How rampant is gender inequality on our campus?
Looking at the world today, gender inequality is at the forefront of an all out equality war. The Free The Nipple Campaign “is an equality movement . . . The issues we’re addressing are equal rights for men and women, a more balanced system of censorship, and legal rights for all women to breastfeed in public.” According to the HeforShe campaign website, “HeForShe is a solidarity movement for gender equality that brings together one half of humanity in support of the other half of humanity, for the benefit of all.” Emma Watson and Miley Cyrus are two celebrities who are very vocal about the issue. Gender equality is a hot topic on a global scale, but what about right here on our campus?
Union College stands firm on its values. According to our website, our core values consist of learning, discipleship, service, mentoring, diversity, community, and stewardship. Union’s statement of diversity says “Diversity enriches campus life. We create cordiality of discourse, encourage respect for differences, promote inclusiveness, and welcome diversity among employees, students and leaders.”
The 2014-2015 school year has been one of firsts. Vinita Sauder has been the first woman to be inaugurated as President of Union College and campus security hired its first female security guard. Looking at Union College faculty and staff, there are about 3 women to every 2 men. School leadership positions fare well with equal opportunity, as club presidents consist of both male and female leaders. Business, psychology, and music club have male presidents and ASB, Amnesty/Tiny Hands International, and social work club have female presidents. Union employment wages are equal across the board and sports work to reach out to both genders by including a girls and boys basketball team and several co-ed intramurals.
The Clocktower sent out a survey asking the student body if they believed gender equality is an issue on our campus. Of those who responded, 28% said they believed there was while 72% said there was not. Those who disagreed that there is gender inequality cited having a woman on the security team, stricter rules in the women’s dorm, jewelry being allowed for both women and men alike, and co-ed sports opportunities.
Senior English major Sarah Ventura says “Our campus is doing so many things right and I’m thankful for it. That being said there is gender inequality on this campus. However it’s mostly subversive. It’s in the way that we think, speak, and assume.” Some of her examples included how the majority of our secretary positions consist of women and how common phrases such as “you’re such a girl” have been integrated into college culture.
Inonge Kasaji, senior social work major agreed by saying “Yes there is [gender inequality], but it’s not blatant. In a lot of ways we are advanced, such as having women in leadership positions, but it’s the small stuff. For example there are more men than women on the Board of Trustees committee.” She also mentioned how “it’s more people based” and how biases come from our perception of women in leadership roles.
Makenzy Jean, senior theology major stated “There is acceptance on campus, but once a woman is in power, they’re seen differently. Woman have to change who they are as a leader to gain the respect of men who think they shouldn’t be in leadership. Although we do have women in leadership roles, we still value them [as] less than they are. But our campus does a good job with being open minded about integrating woman in and respecting them for their leadership qualities.”
Ryan Millsap, sophomore theology major, would disagree. “Never have I seen or heard anything that might suggest there is an issue. There are an incredible amount of women that lead. We don’t really have any sort of barrier when it comes to what men can do that women can’t.”
Perspectives vary across the board for students. In the end, we’re left asking what more could administration do to promote equality? Do we find more equality issues within student or administration culture? Is there a gender equality issue on campus? These questions are the kind we as a community answer every day, whether consciously or unconsciously. We decide what kind of college we attend and we can make Union a platform for diversity. We must all make the decision to stand by our core values and allow everyone an equal opportunity on all levels.
Debbie is a junior studying elementary education.
EQUALITY IS FOR EVERYONE
Addressing society’s harmful stereotypes
All over the world, women and men are demanding equal rights. #YesAllWomen, #HeforShe, and #Feminisation are just a few hashtags that, when tagged along with quotes about gender roles and inequalities, has helped the topics spread through media like wild fire.
At the forefront of the discussion is feminism.
Junior theology major Jessyka Albert defines feminism by saying, “it isn’t placing women above men but being proud of who you are as a women.”
Senior elementary education major Kelli Vigil laughed for a few seconds before responding, “being female and proud of it.”
David Kabaje defines feminism as, “Being beautiful, being respected, for the qualities that come from the heart or from the inner self.”
Merriam Webster defines feminism as “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” So feminism isn’t just about women but about men as well. Gender equality discussions need to involve both males and females.
One way to do this is by addressing harmful stereotypes and behaviors that society encourages for both males and females. Two of these stereotypes are an emotional female and stoic male. When asked if he feels like he needs to suppress his emotion Daniel Ikpeama sophomore music major Daniel Ikpeama responds, “It is definitely the norm to do so.” Society encourages men to hide their emotions as a way of proving their masculinity from young ages.
Females who are abused are often described as “battered,” but women are not the only ones getting beat around. Safe Horizon did a study and found that “Men are victims of nearly 3 million physical assaults in the USA.” Batteredmen.com has hundreds of stories of men who are abused by their significant others. For example, the website shares the story of a man who came home drunk and fell asleep. He woke up to to his wife beating him with an iron skillet which resulted to him going to the hospital to get stitches. Although the police had taken him there, no charges were filed against his wife. Raising awareness about inequalities that men and women both face helps address the issues that affect us all, whether we realize it or not.
Addressing gender inequalities means discussing harmful gender roles and stereotypes for both males and females. Acknowledging that there are two sides to this situation makes it more approachable.
If we want to move forward and provide equality for all, everyone must play their part.
Naomi is a sophomore studying chemistry and pre-med.