If we think that men and women are not in a war, please consider the following statistics. They are taken from our book A Womb of Her Own. (Routledge 2017) Every 15 seconds, a woman is beaten by her husband or partner. (Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1991). Three to four million women in the United States are beaten in their homes each year by their husbands, ex-husbands, or male lovers. (“Women and Violence” 1990, 12). One in four women report experiencing domestic violence in their lifetimes. Domestic violence affects all cultural, religious, socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds.
Despite these devastating statistics, in 2015, Congress opposed the reauthorization of The Violence Against Women Act, the cornerstone of our nation’s response to domestic and sexual violence. Conservatives objected to the act because it also served noncitizens and people in same-sex relationships. On March 27, 2015, Rep. Gwen Moore, a Wisconsin Democrat, expressed outrage after revealing that she had been the victim of domestic violence and sexual assault. “Violence against women everywhere knows no ethnicity and no socio-economic boundary,” she stated (In Her Words, The Daily Beast, March 28, 2012). In 2015, the act passed.
Any war inevitably turns on economics. Money confers power and power wins wars. Equal pay, paid sick leave, family leave, and other basic economic issues are mine-filled battlefronts for women. (Chozick 2015) Imagine a mother of two diligently doing the same job as a father of two. She works equal hours, has equal responsibility, and has equally excellent performance reviews. Yet, according to the National Women’s Law Center, she only makes 78 cents for every dollar he earns. That means she is cruelly penalized for being female: she earns $10, 876 less per year than her male counterpart. She and her family are shortchanged on a daily basis and her future Social Security earnings are also unfairly diminished. (National Women’s Law Center 2014)
For women of color, the pay gap is even more pronounced. Although enforcement of the Equal Pay Act and civil rights laws has helped narrow the wage gap, addressing the remaining pay disparities is critical for women and their families. (National Women’s Law Center, 2014). Yet conservatives appear determined to slash programs that help working people house, feed, clothe, and educate their children.
Working-class women are often saddled with jobs that have low pay and little flexibility. One in three American women–42 million women, plus 28 million children–either live in poverty or are on the brink of it (Clark County Prosecuting Attorney ). About 7 million Americans are working two or more jobs today, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Women are more likely to juggle multiple gigs than men, representing more than half of the total at 3.7 million. (Tahmincioglu, NBC News, March 21, 2010)
Female managers and executives face their own struggles. Nowhere are women less equitably represented than in the corporate corridors. The dearth of women in the top business echelons is well documented. Despite women earning 57 percent of the nation’s bachelor’s degrees and despite studies that illustrate women’s great value on Wall Street and as executives, their numbers remain small. Females make up only 16 percent of directors of Fortune 500 companies, 4 percent of chief executives and 10 percent of chief financial officers at Standard & Poor’s 500 companies. On Wall Street, a small number of traders and executives are women. In hedge funds, women manage a mere three percent of assets.
According to Kathy Caprino, writing in Forbes (February 12, 2013), “…In corporate America (which remains male-dominated at the leadership levels), the differences in women’s style, approach, communication, decision making, leadership values, focus and energy, are not at all understood or valued. Many organizations still make women ‘wrong’ (consciously or subconsciously) for their priorities and styles that clash with the dominant culture. Further, the emphasis many women leaders place on connection, empathy, emotional cue-taking, consensus-building, risk-taking, mutuality, and questioning are often misconstrued as a ‘less-than’ leadership style.”
Caprino contends that women are still “being diminished, sidelined, suppressed, and thought less of because of being women and because they are different from the leadership norm. Further, women are pushed aside regularly when they make their family priorities known or demand time off after having a child (and don’t kid yourself – this is a form of discrimination to be sidelined for prioritizing time off for child bearing).”
In a recent study by Northeastern University professor, Benjamin Schmidt (2015) concludes that men are more highly praised in professional settings than women. In the classroom setting, women’s appearance or personality were the more critically emphasized qualities in contrast to men’s skills and intelligence. This mindset carries into business and politics. (Miller 2015)
Ellen Toronto is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Spring, Texas and has been practicing since 1980. In 2017, she was elected a Fellow in Psychoanalysis by the American Psychological Association. In 2016, Dr. Toronto's practice was recognized as one of the top Ann Arbor Psychology practices. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Michigan. Dr. Toronto is married to Robert Toronto, Ph.D., and together they have four sons and eleven grandchildren.