Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Ah, Yes, the Woman Card!

Here Are Just a Few of the Many Unfair Advantages to Which You Are Entitled BECAUSE YOU HAVE YOUR WOMAN CARD!!!!

Since it looks like Donald Trump has now secured the Republican nomination for president, it's time to whip out those woman cards and see what benefits, advantages, privileges, and other goodies they guarantee you as a woman.*

It certainly looks as if those cards guarantee women the right to work their asses off to get an education. Today more than half of all college and university students in the United States are women, and women earn more than 57 percent of all bachelor degrees. Women now account for more than half of all students enrolled in M.A. and Ph.D. programs in the United States; in the academic year 2013-14, they earned 59 percent of the master’s degrees, and 52.2 percent of the doctorates. Women account for nearly half of all the students enrolled in medical and law schools in the United States, and their enrollment in business schools is increasing rapidly.

And, wow, does all that education (guaranteed to them by their woman's card) pay off: If you're lucky enough to be carrying that woman card, here's what you can look forward to:

  • Women occupy 19.4 percent of the 535 seats in the U.S. Congress--there are 20 women in the Senate and 84 in the House of Representatives. In state legislatures, women hold 24.5 percent of the seats--1,812 of 7,383 members of state legislatures.
  • Six of fifty state governors are women. In the 1,391 U.S. cities with populations of over 30,000, women are mayors in 262--18.8 percent.
  • There have been no female presidents of the United States in the 240 years since the country declared its independence in 1776.
  • Of the 112 justices who have served on the U.S. Supreme Court, four have been women.
  • Women hold  4 percent of the CEO position in Fortune 500 companies.
  • According to the most recent U.S. Census, about one-third of U.S. physicians are women, 31.5 percent of lawyers are women, 17.5 percent of clergy are women, and 9.7 percent of civil engineers are women (United States Census Bureau, “Labor Force, Employment, and Earnings,” Table 616, “Employed Civilians by Occupation, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin,” Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012 [Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 2012]).
  • In the increasingly important world of technology and social media, here are some numbers: At Apple, women make up 18 percent of the company’s management, and while Amazon’s website proclaims its commitment to diversity, only 18 of its 120 "most senior managers" are women, a mere 15 percent. Meanwhile, Microsoft reports that only 26.8 percent of its total workforce is female and that women represent only 17.3 percent of its leadership. At Google, women account for 22 percent of the leadership, at Facebook, 20 percent, and at Twitter, 28 percent.
  • And the wage gap persists; although the Equal Pay Act was passed fifty years ago, in 1963, today women in the U.S. still earn 78.6¢ for every dollar earned by men.
  • Hamilton may be breaking records for Tony nominations, but the picture isn't so rosy for women. In commenting on the opportunities for women writers in theatrical productions, playwright Marsha Norman recently noted, "Women have lived half of the experience of the world, but only 20 percent of it is recorded in our theatres." In other words, "if life worked like the theatre, four out of five things you had ever heard would have been said by men." Onstage and back stage, there is also a colossal gender gap: significantly fewer roles for female actors than male, and noticeably fewer female directors, set designers, lighting designers, sound designers, and choreographers, among other crucial roles.
  • At the same time, on screens both large and small, women face similar inequities. Recent studies of the top 100 films released in 2015 reveal women accounted for only 11 percent of the writers, 7 percent of the directors, 22 percent of the producers, 20 percent of the editors, and 3 percent of the cinematographers. On screen, women played leading roles in only 21 percent of the top 100 films of 2014—but not a single woman over the age of forty-five "performed a lead or co lead role." And none of these numbers address issues of pay equity.
  • While women are more fully represented on television screens than they are in film—in the 2014-15 prime-time season, 40 percent of the “major characters” on broadcast, cable, and Netflix programs were female—they still comprised only 25 percent of the writers, 12 percent of the directors, 38 percent of the producers, 20 percent of editors, and 1 percent of directors of photography, among other roles.
  • Meanwhile, women and girls constitute the majority of the 54.3 million Americans who live in poverty.
  • Two-thirds of the low-wage workers in the U.S. (earning $10.50 per hour or less) are women. Four out of five of these women have at least a high-school diploma--33 percent have some college, 10 percent a B.A.
  • More than twice as many women over the age of 65 (over 3 million) as men (over 1.5 million) lived in poverty in 2014; the poverty rate for women 65 and older was 12.1 percent, 4.7 percentage points higher than the poverty rate for men 65 and older (7.4 percent).
  • On a really cheery note, 94 percent of women who are murdered are killed by men they know.
  • And while exact numbers are impossible to know, the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that there are about 293,066 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year. While this represents a significant (49%) decrease in recent years, it still means that a sexual assault occurs every 107 seconds. While men and boys are also the victims of rape and sexual assault, 9 of 10 victims are female. But note: as the CDC recently reported, the numbers of rape victims are significantly under-reported--as many as 88 percent may not be counted in national rape statistics.
  • And if all this isn't enough, you can be sure your woman card will earn you criticism for your ambition, your weight, your hair, your complexion, your smile, your breasts--well, okay, basically your entire body--your clothing, your voice, your laugh, your tone, your emotions, your driving . . . Well, you get the picture.

That woman card sure gets you the deals, huh?

*Update, 6 January 2022: The links in this post remain live (as of today), but please note that many of them now send you to sites with current data rather than to the figures, charts, and/or graphs that were available when this essay was posted in 2016.

Update, 6 January 2023: Another check shows that the links in this post remain live, though there are many changes to what they link to now. And as far as social media: Facebook has become Meta, but information about women in leadership has been obscured--it is not readily available, and you have to be persistent, but if you're willing to dig, at least some details can be gleaned. As for Twitter, under the "leadership" of Elon Musk, the link now leads to an empty page . . . 

Update, 8 January 2024: Another check on the links. Again, they all work, but some data has been updated from the info I posted in 2016, and still more, particularly for tech and social media companies, has been obscured—I’ve left these last links as is so you can see the sorry state of affairs. When it comes to Twitter, now “X,” all I can say is WTF. I love that the link that used to take you to data about gender in management now takes you to a page that says “Nothing to see here.” Fitting. 

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