While clicking through my normal news articles today I came across a Huffington Post article that I found pretty run-of-the-mill, another summary of statistics, with little to no proposed answers. Eyes glazing over- I read through it, predicting the next set of numbers and the lack of any personal story or narratives from women. The article was written by Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, giving a typical numerical breakdown which supported an undisputable fact- that women are severely under-represented in government. I wondered what aim Governor Shumlin had in composing this article and unsurprisingly was greeted with a motive (maybe I’m just cynical).
Throughout the piece, Governor Shumlin spelled out his own efficacy in encouraging female participation in legislation.
Since the first female governor 40 years ago, Governor Shumlin seems to be assuming the legacy has been halted by lack of young women to mentor, supplemented by surveys which show lower interest levels of women for political fields.
Ironically enough, Peter Shumlin was appointed by Governor Madeleine Kunin to fill an empty seat in the Vermont House of Representatives, a career progression through a female mentor.
Don’t get me wrong- I respect Governor Shumlin for even bringing up the issue, but unfortunately I came across this on a day when I was too tired of problems without supposed solutions. It is easy to imagine an idealized future for America’s young women and it is easy for Governor Shumlin to boost his own favor with female voters to ensure he, as a man, stays in office –a paradox in itself. There is nothing wrong with Governor Shumlin in my eyes, but there is something wrong with the same record on repeat, with no one around to switch it over, a fact he himself seems conscious of as he says, “it’s time we stopped just minding the gender gap and actually closed it”.
So I started wondering, what are the aspirations of young women now-a-days then? Where is the young lady of America channeling her intelligence, effort and creativity?
According to CNN, the most common job for women in 2010 was the same job in 1950- “Secretary with a median salary of $34,304.” Sixty years later, with “phenomenal” changes in the workforce, there happens to be absolutely no change in this reality. While the top job for American men is a truck driver, both of these professions rely on little professional training and are easily accessible without a collegiate degree. As of 2010, full-time female workers are earning 78 cents to every dollar a man earns.
I’m living in a society where I know at least four girls going to beauty school for every girl going to a four-year university. The stability of a trade is tempting, I know this and have observed it all around me. I’m a liar if I pretend I haven’t been tempted myself.
It is difficult for young women (and men) to pay the monetary costs and overcome the pressures of higher learning without any guarantee of pay-off, when there is an alternative option which is more immediate (and in many ways aesthetically gratifying).
I’m sitting here venting about no answers to women’s occupational policies and you know what- I don’t have an answer either. Who’s to blame anyways, the workforce, the education system, the media, the society, you or me? So Governor Shumlin- I suppose we are on the same boat. I want off though; I’d rather drown in my own turbulent waters than mindlessly continue along with the current.