Womanhood As a Right

Ally McAlpine/Fourth Estate

A discussion on inequality for women and minorities


Did you know that the more education a woman has, the greater disparity in her wages? How do you think that you could improve workplace inequality in the economy?

Held by Kappa Phi Gamma Sorority Inc. and Chase Dreams Not Boys, the Womanhood Panel discussed these issues along with other aspects of gender and minority rights in the workforce on Nov. 28.

Chase Dreams Not Boys is a women’s empowerment campaign geared towards minority women, which works to create an inspiring and uplifting environment for these young women.  

Founded in 1998, Kappa Phi Gamma is the first South-Asian interest sorority. Ridhima Bhatia, a sister of the sorority who led the discussion, emphasized the principles of character, leadership, scholarship, sisterhood, service, womanhood, culture and self they emphasis at the start of the presentation.

“We decided to host this event because one of our principles is womanhood and we really like to place an emphasis on women empowerment,” Bhatia said. “So, we decided to host this event as part of our founder’s month.”

After introductions, the meeting started with a TED Talk by Sheryl Sandberg, entitled “Why we have too few women leaders.” Sandberg is the current chief operating officer of Facebook, as well as the first woman on Facebook’s board of directors.

In the TED talk, Sandberg emphasized there is no easy or right answer to workplace inequality, but women who want to stay in the workforce should “one, learn to sit at the table; two, make your partner a real partner and three, don’t leave before you leave.”

The points Sandberg brought up kicked off an open discussion, in which Bhatia presented statistics such as how only 53 percent of employers provide women with some pay during maternity leave and how women earn 80 percent of what men do. For minority women, this issue is even worse.

One hot topic of discussion is the repressive mindset that wearing natural hair for an interview is sometimes considered unkept and unprofessional, presenting a barrier for a woman entering the workplace. If she manages to get a job, the glass ceiling will be another obstacle she must overcome, especially when she wants to get promoted within a company.

Another topic touched upon is how young women in some communities attend college to find a “MRS degree.” This group of women will go to college with the intention of finding a husband who is getting a solid degree. These women then go on to get married and have children who they send off to college to find a good husband, continuing this cycle.

Workplace inequality is no single individual’s fault. A large theme of the discussion emphasized that the mindset of American culture needs to shift.

According to Sandberg, many times success is positively correlated for men but negatively correlated for women. While a man’s aggressiveness makes him an assertive leader, a woman’s aggressiveness is considered as being bossy.

It was concluded that the most important aspect a man or woman should have in the workplace is both their willingness to listen to the problem of workplace inequality and to have an open mind to change.