Reader Survey Results: Spring 1999 -- Women and Girls at Work and School

by Jill Roth, Intern

In the Spring 1999 issue of the National NOW Times, we asked our readers if women and girls are treated fairly in the workplace and on school campuses. The following is a summary of the results:

1) Do you think that workplace and/or school conditions have improved for women/girls in the past twenty years? Why or why not?

Readers' responses were split: 63 percent said yes and 37 percent said no. Many people recognized improvement over the last 20 years because of increased enforcement of Title IX and greater involvement of women in professional occupations. However, other readers concentrated on the common occurrence of sexual harassment and the fact that some men still do not accept women as their equals.

"The problems are still around, but by becoming aware and being able to recognize harassment an discrimination in the workplace and our schools, there is an opportunity for change."
- BJ Davis, Arlington, VA

"I am 76 and have really seen change. Yes - women are braver and less afraid to speak out an fight back."
- Geri Forber, Ramona, CA

2) What do you think is the most important change on the job or in school in the past twenty years?

The three most popular answers were: the establishment of sexual harassment and sex discrimination policies; the increase of equality, including equal pay; and more opportunities in jobs and in education, such as math and science. Other important changes included prohibitions against sexually explicit pictures in the workplace, more women as lawyers and judges, and more equality in general.

"Equal pay laws and their enforcement. I was once told that I was paid less than my assistant because he had a family to support and I was married to an engineer."
- Mary Paxson, Monterey Park, CA

3) Have you ever felt discrimination against, discouraged or harassed at work/school because of your gender? In what way?

The answer to this question clearly illustrates how much NOW's work is still needed. All but one person answered the survey "Yes." The most common problems: being harassed; not paid fairly; not given a promotion or award when deserved; accused of trying to do men's work; and not given a fair chance to succeed.

"Yes! All of the above. I am told I can't do things. My body didn't seem to extend above my shoulders. I was not given a fair chance."
- Katie Macdonald, Durham, NC

4) What do you think is the biggest problem that women/girls have at the workplace or on campus?

The most popular answers were: the backlash against women's gains; sexual harassment; not being taken seriously; and the glass ceiling on pay and advancement. Other responses included lack of respect, women being viewed as sex objects, existence of the "boys club" and lack of educational opportunities.

"Discrimination and lack of education/skills that are needed to succeed in life, not just for work/school."
- Lori Whitney, Madison, WI

"Attitudes. Men actually feel superior in intelligence to women!"
- Sandy Van Tiburg, Aurora, IL

5) How do you think NOW and other civil rights groups can improve today's conditions for women/girls in the workplace and on campus?

Many readers said: elect women into political offices; keep fighting to pass the ERA; and lobby for civil rights laws. Others answered: recruit male feminists, support unions, "take your daughter to work day," and unify and organize women.

"By always saying our message over and over and being the thorn in the side of people that want status quo."
- Gladys Benson, St. Paul, MN

"Civil rights groups can criticize the macho, patriarchal mentality and emphasize respect for women."
- Marion Gerst, Thousand Oaks, CA

Summer 1999 National NOW Times
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