10 Historic Challenges That American Women Still Face Today

Our blog post “10 Things That American Women Could Not Do Before the 1970s” has prompted amazing responses from Ms. blog readers. Feminists of the 1960s and 1970s worked tirelessly to secure the rights for women that we enjoy today. However, as many readers noted, we cannot get complacent: We must continue the fight to ensure equality for all. In light of some of the comments have a look at some challenges we still face today:

1. Getting paid as much as men.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963, which turns 50 this year, was intended to prohibit sex-based wage discrimination. However, women still receive an average of 77 cents to every dollar earned by men, and stories of income inequality are unfortunately all too common.

2. Being fairly and proportionally represented in the media.

In family films, there are, on average, 2.42 male characters to every female character. If that isn’t bad enough, don’t forget the disproportionately lower number of women film critics, directors and producers.

3. Becoming President.

49 countries in the world have had a woman leader; the United States hasn’t (yet).

4. Getting a cheap haircut.

The Danes have outlawed it, but in America you’re still likely to pay for a haircut depending on your gender rather than your hairstyle.

5. Occupational sex segregation. 

In 2009, men outnumbered women at a rate of 73 percent to 27 percent in all science and engineering sectors of employment.

6. Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.

This document complied by the ACLU and others shows that unfortunately, this is still a very real problem that many people face.

7. Sexual Violence.

Nine out of 10 victims of attempted or completed rape in the United States are women.

8. Getting access to free birth control.

Even under the Affordable Care Act, some birth control is only available with co-pay. The United Kingdom and other countries offer free birth control, why can’t we?

9. Getting blamed and shamed. 

Victim blaming, slut-shaming, and “rape-splaining” are largely targeted toward women victims.

10. Menstruation frustration.

Post-pubescent and pre-menopausal, women are still menstruating—and still getting patronized for it.

What other challenges would you suggest that we’re still facing? Please comment!

Photo by George Joch courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory under license from Creative Commons 2.0


Natasha Turner is a freelance journalist and editor based in London and a former Ms. editorial intern.