By Julia Esposito, 11th Grade Student at Guilford High School
“And lift off of the STS-7 and America’s first woman astronaut…” It was 1983 when NASA sent Sally Ride among the stars. Even NASA, a highly progressive organization, solely designated males to occupy the most conspicuous positions of the group for over 22 years. I only wish to imagine the sweetness of these words to the young, prospective women of this time who were often told that they had only three career paths: a teacher, a secretary, or a nurse. While Sally Ride made one of the first few steps towards women obtaining male-dominated professions, as a nation and as a planet, there was and continues to be more walking left to do.
It has been over 33 years since Ride’s milestone in women’s rights, and yet women are still oppressed when interested in high power jobs. This thought of guaranteed failure causes young girls and teens today to avoid falling into a career path which they may otherwise like, but believe that their gender restricts them from being successful. I believe that leading by example is the most convincing motive for girls to battle the career inequality they may face in the future.
For much of my life, I desired to become a powerful CEO of a company on Wall Street. I enjoyed researching facts about the people who worked in the prestigious district and their alma maters and so on. However, I noticed that as I continued my research, very few women occupied top positions. In fact, as stated by Meredith Jones from the World Economic Forum organization, there is currently an 80:1 ratio of men to women managers just in the sector of hedge funds on Wall Street. We live in a world in which men think that females are treated as their equals, but when provided stunning facts as such stated, all some have to say is “Males do it better” or “If they deserved the job, they would get hired for it.” But the fact of the matter is that jobs that should have gone to overqualified women are still being given to under qualified men. And who is often making this decision? The powerful male who is all too nervous to give a person of the opposite sex jurisdiction in a company. Are they afraid? Are they sexist? Young women can also not abstain from recalling that men doing the exact same type and quality of work are earning higher salaries just for the sake of their gender or that the male boss has a better relationship with a male rather than a female. How can we expect young women to desire a male-dominated profession when they will only have their success decided not by what knowledge and ability they possess but rather by the anatomy of their body?
This reluctance a young woman has in today’s society to endeavour into a career highly occupied by men can only be faced with the recognition of women that have had large and lasting impacts. The legacy left behind by women like Susan B. Anthony, the speeches orated by others similar to Michelle Obama, and the quintessential works of women like that of those who coded spacecraft missions will only increase the faith young women have today in their own ability. My hopes lie within trying to become a woman as impactful as these to show that our gender is no reason to restrain our intelligence and that, in fact, our gender is what makes us that much more powerful and efficacious in our effort.
We shall not let the past treatment of women pursuing their careers stop our battle and prevent us from honoring our hard working ancestors. While it is inevitable that we will be faced with challenges while we seek this equality, we will rise together and exhibit our extraordinary competence for every professional career that has resided within the woman ever since there was man.
This blog post was an entry into Young Women Rising’s annual essay contest in which 11th grade students were asked “What is one of the most important issues facing young women today and how do you see yourself having an impact on that issue?”