OPINION: Women work just as hard as men

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Lyric Aquino

I come from a long line of strong women; ones of power, intelligence and compassion. My mother raised three kids on a primarily single income household. She worked for the United States Steel Corporation, a male-dominated workspace for most of my life. In this environment,  my mother held her head high as she wore her mind and body down to provide for me and my siblings.

Often times she’d work 12-18 hour shifts and occasionally I’d go days without seeing her. It bothered me when I was younger. But as I grew older, I began to think about what she and the women in my family have sacrificed for their families.

My nana is no stranger to the inner workings of a male dominated field either. She worked at U.S. Steel before my mother in a time where women were significantly making less than men (more so than now) and workspaces like hers were filled with sexist remarks and hard labor. When times got tough and she was forced to change jobs, she did so without hesitation in order to give my family the support they needed. Both my mom and my nana worked tirelessly, coming home and raising children to better the lives of their children.

In male dominated fields of work, women are often times belittled, paid less, harassed or worse. According to a study conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, there was a 19.5 percent gap between the pay of men and women. While the number doesn’t look especially large, if we break it down with numbers found in the study, a man could make $52,146 while his female counterpart would only make $41,977.

I can’t help but think of my mother and nana breaking their backs, bruising their bodies and blistering their hands with grease to give me the ability to sit here on my Macbook pro laptop at Kent State University. I think about how their time, their bodies, their very existence have been deemed less important than men.

Many women are working just as hard as men to provide for their families yet primitive wage gaps are making their lives significantly more difficult. My nana and mother had the support of my papa and step-dad a luxury that millions of mothers don’t have. So when these wage gaps exist who exactly we hurting? The women? Their children?

Wage gaps affect everyone and while the general population seems to see an issue with them, little action is taken to actually end them. Be advocates for the movements you claim to believe in. Speak up and make a change. Look to your heroes in life for inspiration.I know I do. When I need sources for inspiration and strength, I see the faces of my mother and my nana and then I remember where I came from and who I want to be.

Lyric Aquino is the features editor. Contact her at [email protected]