Women still fight for equal rights

Published 9:10 am Wednesday, January 15, 2014

As a devoted Downton Abbey fan, I make sure to tune in each week. In the last episode, one of the female characters made a comment about how previous to 1920, the possibility of a woman dining in public would have been unheard of.

While the series takes place in England, it still made me think about how recently it was that women truly gained equal rights.

It was only 94 years ago that women were granted the right to vote with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. That may seem like a long time ago, but in terms of history, it was very recent.

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With the exception of World War II when the United States was desperate for a workforce, a woman in the work place was uncommon before the ‘80s. There are exceptions to this, such as teachers and secretaries, but for the most part, men dominated the workforce.

It was not until the ‘90s that a woman could be a mother and a professional and that laws were enacted to protect women who choose to be both.

When I was in college, I worked at the school library. One of my bosses, who was a librarian, revealed to me that she originally got a degree in engineering in the ‘70s. I was stunned and asked why she was no longer in the engineering field and she explained that once she became a mom, she was forced to choose between her role as a mom or her career.

Not because she thought she couldn’t do both, but because the workforce dictated that she must make a choice.

The idea of becoming a lawyer, a judge, a doctor, or even a reporter was not one every young girl would think possible 40 years ago.

These days when you ask young girls what they want to be when they grow up, they immediately answer, a doctor, an astronaut, or a number of things that in the not so distant past would have been unthinkable.

I am lucky to be a part of a generation that continues to push the boundaries of the women’s place in the workforce and thanks to Downton Abbey, I am reminded every week just how fortunate I am to be writing this article right now.