Pauline W. Hoffmann, Ph.D.

Professor, Entrepreneur, Advocate, Writer

Fight for Equal Opportunities for Women is Not Over

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The following editorial was featured in The Buffalo News on August 3, 2016 after Hillary Clinton accepted a major party nomination for president. I wrote it as Dean, Russell J. Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Immediate Past President of the Buffalo Niagara Chapter of New York State Women, Inc.

Hillary Clinton’s historic nomination by a major political party as a candidate for president of the United States put more cracks in the proverbial glass ceiling but notice that the ceiling has not come crashing down.

It is 2016 and most developed nations have had a woman at the helm at least once. It remains to be seen if the United States will join the ranks of other nations. No matter your politics, Secretary Clinton’s nomination is significant.

Each year I see young men and women in the classroom who think the fight for equal rights is over. It is a testament to our successes that young men and women think the battle is won. Secretary Clinton’s nomination is a step in the right direction. We should certainly celebrate her success but remember that much work remains. And the remaining work crosses party lines impacting us all – men and women.

The American Association of University Women notes that the gender pay gap between men and women has narrowed since 1974 but women are still paid 79% of what men are paid—to do the same work.

Most developed nations have a family leave policy that allows both mothers and fathers to spend time with the family. According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, most states in the U.S. don’t provide adequate paid family leave or any paid family leave. Both men and women benefit from fair family leave policies.

And lest you think it’s merely about equal representation, a recent Catalyst study noted that companies with women on boards of directors, and thus increased gender diversity, do better financially than those without such diversity.

Equally upsetting was the photographic coverage after the event. Several newspapers carried photos of men, including former President Bill Clinton and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, instead of a picture of Secretary Clinton. Additionally, The New York Times ran a story asking “what to do with Bill,” her husband, should Secretary Clinton win the White House.

New York State Women, Inc. has been empowering women personally, professionally and politically for over 100 years. We continue to fight for civil rights and health and economic opportunities for women. We won’t stop until we have achieved our goals.

I hope I live to see the day when we no longer preface the accomplishments of women with “the first woman to” and we just say her name alongside the names of other qualified men and women who’ve earned their spot at the top. When recognition is for a job well done.

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