By Dawn Onley
Women, we can be anything we want to be. Anything. At. All.
This is not the condescending pat on the back that your first boss may have given you, denying your salary increase at the same time he encouraged you to go after positions he knew you’d never fill. It’s not the teacher asking your mother what she wants to be when she grows up and then reminding her that secretary and domestic worker were more suitable career options.
Never mind the studies that still show that for every $1 that a man makes, a woman brings home $.79. The fact that pay inequity still exists is discriminatory, plain and simple, and it belies our worth and our destiny – both individually and collectively. As women, we can and should demand better. We can and should use the power of our voice and our vote, and if need be, our protest and our march.
The reality is it’s not easy. It can be damn tough, quite frankly.
But it is possible. We are possible. In 2016, we are making huge strides in many business sectors – and of the ones where progress is moving a bit slower (manufacturing, science, high tech, green energy, mathematics), there are initiatives underway to boost the number of women entering these fields.
We are shaping the world. We always have, really. In the United States, it’s hard to imagine where our nation would be without the work of such notable women like Fannie Lou Hamer, Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Jane Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, Bessie Coleman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mother Jones, Phyllis Wheatley, Dolores Huerta, Roger Arliner Young, Roxie Collie Laybourne, Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Marian Anderson, Clara Barton, Shirley Chisholm and Helen Keller, just to name a few.
We continue to make history. We are becoming Army rangers. Female Marines are training alongside men to be integrated into combat roles. Last year, the first, full-time female official was hired by the NFL, and the year before that, Economist Janet Yellen because the first female chief of the Federal Reserve.
We are heading up divisions researching planetary space. We are taking on leadership roles in government, healthcare, business, academia, social sciences, and so much more. We are excelling in athletics. Across all racial and ethnic lines, women earn more undergraduate and graduate degrees each year than men.
Just yesterday, Hillary Clinton became the first woman to earn the Democratic nomination for president of the United States. In her remarks at a rally in Brooklyn, Clinton said that we all “owe so much to those who came before,” those pioneers who began fighting for women’s rights in Seneca Falls, N.Y. in 1848.
We owe it to our mothers and grandmothers to live the lives that they could only dream of. We owe it to our daughters, and our sons, to be an example of what is possible through faith, hard work, grit and determination.
We owe it to ourselves to be anything we want to be. To be all that we can be.