If you visit the third floor of Penfield Library on the Oswego State campus, you will find yourself surrounded by walls lined with headshots of 32 former senior professors. There is one woman on the wall. Her name is Dorothy Rogers, and she was a professor of psychology between 1946 and 1985. She began working as a professor during a time when the field was male-dominated. These photos are there due to a project Dr. Robert Steiner gave to a photography class in 1967. The guidelines of their project were to get a portrait photo and that “he be a senior professor.”
Only one woman was selected to be photographed for this project because there were almost no female senior professors to select from. Marie Wilson, Founder and President Emeritus of The White House Project said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” And that is why we need more women exploring careers in fields previously seen as for males. Women have come a long way, but it is difficult for young women to imagine themselves as president because there has never before been a woman president. We need more women to be running for president, because once we see it, that image will never wash away.
According to the Center for American Women and Politics, in the 113th U.S. Congress, 99 out of 535 people in Congress are women. In the U.S. Senate, 20 out of 100 are women. In the U.S. House of Representatives, 79 out of 435 are women. On the U.S. Supreme Court, we currently have three women serving out of the 9 justices. Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed by former President Bill Clinton and joined the court in 1993. Elena Kagan was appointed by President Obama in 2010 and Sonia Sotomayor was also appointed by Obama. Before these three women, the only other woman on the U.S. Supreme Court was Sandra Day O’Connor, appointed by former President Reagan.
What is the significance in these numbers? It tells us that the women’s movement is not over. The pictures on the third floor of the library are photographs that should inspire we female college students to continue to grow. Now, I take five courses this semester and have only one male professor. Women are working in professional places, but we have got to keep on climbing. Ideally, everything should be half and half. We need 50 women out of 100 in the senate. We need four or five women on the Supreme Court, not three. We need a female president, because with a female president, more women will be given the opportunity to be appointed as judges. The women that are in the public eye are often scrutinized. “Who’s the hottest?” “Who’s wearing the best suit?” With more women on the ballot, we can eliminate these degrading attacks that men do not deal with.
Women on the Court will have a more adept understanding of a woman’s situation in a legal dispute than a man ever could. How could a man make a decision about abortion, when anatomically, he will never be able to have a baby? How could a man make decisions about birth control? He would never be able to know what it feels like to take a birth control pill. And only a woman would be able to identify with another woman going through a divorce settlement. We need women in all professional avenues of the U.S. so that women can have fairer treatment, but also make the U.S. an equal place to live.
According to an article by National Public Radio in June of 2014, men in America are still earning 19 percent more than women, even though 40 percent of women in 2014 are the sole breadwinners in the house. In a country where we pride ourselves on freedom and equality, women are still earning less money than males, even though the same NPR article highlights a documented fact that on average, women are scoring higher GPAs than men by senior year of high school. The average GPA difference between men and women is about 20 points, with men having a 2.90 and women, a 3.10. Women scored higher in all subjects including math, English, science and social studies. Now tell me that a woman is not equipped to become president.
I sit here in The Oswegonian office and I wonder why I am not getting an ice cream cone or sitting in the sun instead, and I know why. It is because I need to work hard so that one day I can be in a position of power without having any gender struggle ahead of me. As far as the section-head editors at The Oswegonian, I am one woman in six. When students walk past The Oswegonian office, they often look at me through the window. I am glad for this, because I am proud to show everyone what I can do. I can make a section and I can do the work with no problem. I hope that by maintaining this position, I am encouraging other women to do so as well.
With more women in different fields of the workforce, we can begin to deconstruct the patriarchal community that we exist in. Some women are excluded from certain positions, and this needs to stop. Every avenue should be an avenue for women. We should work toward having a society where the professional world is open to everyone and college is our place to start.