I knew I needed feminism the first time I was told I couldn’t chase my dreams because I was in a relationship with a man. According to him, he should have been a priority above any dream. So I was given a choice and, needless to say, I chose my dreams instead.
Years down the road and I was still chasing that dream, but was somehow met with the same disadvantage of still being a woman. I worked for years trying to reach my goal in the museum world, but living in Texas meant facing conservative views of male superiority in all of my efforts. I was often put down, demeaned, and even denied opportunities to succeed because I am destined to have a woman’s job.
A woman’s job. I was told by an adult man that I was destined to only have a woman’s job. I should have asked him what exactly he thought a woman’s job was, but instead I chose to prove it to him by earning one myself. I spent nearly two years in this institution and watched hardworking women bust their beautiful lady butts without due respect. Meanwhile, men walked into success just as easily as they walked into work every morning. I am not saying that because they are men they automatically work less. I am saying, however, that because we are women our work is automatically worth less. After all, we only see about 80% of our earned paychecks (Fall 2016 Study from American Association of University Women).
Part of this dream has always been to further my education. I spent years working for it. When I was finally met with an opportunity to see that dream become a reality with the Pratt Institute, I knew this was my chance to prove I could have more than just a woman’s job. My passions are in line with museums and libraries and the digital advancement of resources through innovative technologies. I want to see technology focus more on the issue of educational advancement for those who are told education is a luxury, when in reality, education is a right. By being digital, museums and libraries break down barriers to learning. These institutions are no longer reserved for established scholars with fat pockets. They should be rewarded to anyone with the hunger to learn. This will also break down prejudice, giving women the opportunity to be just as successful as men through greater access to resources.
Science and technology have been on the rise in recent years, but these fields are still to no surprise exclusionary to women. In a recent study by Dr. Catherine Ashcraft, Senior Research Scientist National Center for Women & IT, 57% of the American workforce is made up of women. Despite the majority of working women in America, only 25% of technology jobs and 5% of technology leadership jobs are held by women. Statistics are much worse for racial diversity in women. This exclusion of women in the technology force is an unconscious bias of their inability to perform at the same level of a man with the same experience. We see this also in the art and design world. I have personally witnessed it tremendously in the museum world. Despite museums being female dominant, leadership roles are in majority held by white men (2015 Survey by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation). This phenomenon can only be explained by unconscious bias. However, as pipelines for leadership roles typically reflect internal promotional hiring, we can only hope to see greater gender equality in future museum leadership. Again, the key word we are given is “hope.”
We are in the dawn of a new age politically, socially, culturally, and educationally. Women make up the new majority of the workforce and the education field. Yet gender inequality is still something I and many women have to battle with every day. We are literally watching a great and qualified woman who has spent decades preparing for the role of President of the United States fight for her life to overcome a highly uneducated misogynist who has spent more time demeaning women and losing money from failed businesses than he has holding any political experience. She worked for this stage, and he walked onto it.
The requirement for women to work harder to overcome unconscious bias is the sad reality of our world, and why I am a working so hard in my education and my career to become one more positive force for the future of females in fields like museums and information science. The need for women to succeed is why I am a feminist.