Feminism needs to return to the forefront

Around Kent State’s campus, women might not look like a minority.

In Fall 2006, 61 percent of all undergraduate students were women. Sixty-seven percent of all graduate students were women.

But numbers have nothing to do with minority status.

Students- – men and women – were still more likely to be taught by a man, even though most students studying to be teachers themselves were women. More men than women were working as tenure-track professors, which gave them more job security and higher pay. Most non-tenure track and temporary faculty, on the other hand, were women.

More women were hired as tenure-track faculty members in 2006 than men, but their percentage of the all tenure-track faculty at the Kent campus has stayed around 40 percent for years.

This year has already seen the disbanding of the Feminist Union due to lack of interest from the student body, and multiple alleged assaults, both sexual and physical, by men against women have been recorded.

When it comes to diversity in gender, the issue is about more than increasing interaction and understanding among the groups. It’s about increasing the awareness of the inequalities that still exist between the two.

Our generation has been raised with the idea that women can, and should, do anything men can do. A lot of people think the roadblocks to success have been removed for women. When they fail to raise to the levels men have reached, it is often viewed as a personal failure.

This just isn’t true.

If it were, there would be no need for a Women’s Resource Center or a Women’s Clinic at the health center, or a class in women’s literature or a degree in women’s studies.

But there is still a need.

Men don’t need a separate center or clinic because modern medicine and counseling techniques have been based on their needs. It is assumed that a class in literature would address the work of men authors. And men’s studies? Try public education.

This is not to say today’s men are to blame for our society’s failings anymore than white people living today are to blame for the slavery supported by their great-grandparents.

But brushing off the blame leads to ignorance about the problem.

Today’s women still face challenges in being taken as seriously as men, both in social situations and in the workplace. Women are still encouraged to pursue lower paying occupations than men, a factor that helps explain the wage gap, which has hovered near the three-fourths mark since the ’90s. The most recent data from the U.S. Department of Labor just last year saw that percent break into the ’80s.

At Kent State, upper-division classes in the arts, nursing and education, health and human services find their seats overflowing with women – valuable and necessary professions, to say the least, but traditionally underpaid – while men make up most of the students in the School of Technology.

The ’60s were a storm, filled with thunder, lightning and torrential downpours: Impossible to ignore. People can get used to a steady drizzle, brushing the drops out of their eyes and changing their paths to avoid small puddles.

As the progress of the women’s movement slowed, people got used to the small injustices that lingered.

It’s time for that to change.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board..