Gender Equality

-Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is

that they take their feet off our necks.

The Equal Rights Amendment


“In February 1921, six months after the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the National Woman's Party held a convention to determine the future of their organization. During this conference, Alice Paul endorsed turning the National Women’s Party's attention to eradicating all forms of sex discrimination. The National Women’s Party adopted this plan drafting and advocating for a constitutional amendment that would ensure the equal rights of all Americans, regardless of their gender. This Equal Rights Amendment stated that “men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and at every place, subject to its jurisdiction.” This sweeping amendment would touch on every part of American law and was introduced in Congress in 1923.”

-Sarah Paxton
Listen to Prologued Episode 4 here!


“Paul’s crusade in the 1920s was unsuccessful, but in the 1950s, Michigan Congresswoman Martha Griffiths took up the torch. A former judge elected to the House in 1954, Griffiths worked to have sex discrimination added to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and pushed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to double down on its enforcement of the Act. She also introduced the amendment on the House floor every year, but was unsuccessful until 1970, when Griffiths filed a discharge position that forced the legislation out of committee and led to the amendment being passed by the House. Although the Senate failed to pass it that legislative session, Griffiths reintroduced it the following year. It passed the House on Oct. 12, 1971 and the Senate on March 22, 1972.”

-Tara Law

Read more here!



“As states were busy ratifying, Schlafly was setting up a movement that would help put an end to that honeymoon. Many look at Schlafly as a defender of femininity; a 1950s housewife who staged rebellion to save her breed. She was anything but. Schlafly was a veteran of politics with years of elite education and political experience (though little of it successful) to build on: She was an honors graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and a masters program at Radcliffe. She twice ran unsuccessfully for United States Congress. She authored dozens of political (some might say conspiratorial) books and she was active in national Republican politics for decades before picking up the STOP ERA mantle…


In addition to running the Eagle Forum, she wrote and published The Phyllis Schlafly Report each month. In 1978, in the very midst of leading the national campaign against the ERA, she attended and graduated from law school at the Washington University of St. Louis. Oh, and she also raised six children.


Schlafly was the woman who organized and empowered women to fight the organization and empowerment of women. She did it all, and she did it against all odds. By the time STOP ERA was founded, 30 states––out of the necessary 38–– had already passed the ERA. And she shut it down in 10 years’ time, just her and an organization that she created.”

-Kate Klonick

Read more here!

“ In January [2020], Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the amendment, bringing the nation to a quorum on the issue of gender equality under the U.S. Constitution. With three-fourths of the states having ratified the proposed provision, Congress is imminently bound to legislate…


The fate of the ERA is far from certain. This summer, the above-mentioned federal judge allowed the five states that rescinded their ratification of the ERA—Alabama, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Tennessee—to intervene in the case to argue against the lawsuit to add the ERA to the U.S. Constitution, bringing new obstacles for the process towards codification. Nevertheless, ERA Coalition polling shows the overwhelming majority of Americans (94 percent) are in favor of the amendment, with near unanimous support from millennials. Its passage would build on far-reaching calls for equality propelled by the #MeToo movement, and provide a critical foundation for new legal challenges and policy changes to advance women’s rights.”

-Caroline Bettinger-Lopez & Delphi Cleaveland

Read more here!


Political Equality


“On the federal level, women wouldn’t hold office until the twentieth century when Montana elected Jeanette Rankin as the first woman in Congress  in 1916 after she ran on the platform of women’s suffrage…


While other women joined the US House of Representatives in the years after Rankin’s election and the passing of the 19th Amendment, many of these women inherited their late husband’s seat rather than being elected on their own merits. Part of this was surely because women running as wives of previously elected men fit the supportive wife characteristic of a true woman, but it was because there was no concerted effort to support and elect female candidates. So while the women’s rights movement faded in the aftermath of the 19th Amendment, female candidates failed to pick up much steam and, between 1919 and 1970, the average total number of women in the House of Representatives and the Senate was approximately 13.  It wasn’t until the feminist movement of the 1970s that effective lobbying organizations geared toward the election of female candidates to federal office emerged.”

-Sarah Paxton
listen to the Prologued Episode 7:

“Earn your Spurs” here!



“Chisholm’s campaign was the most successful of these female presidential and vice presidential candidates of 1972. Before entering national politics, Chisholm had served in the New York State Legislature and worked as a teacher and director of child care centers. In 1968, Chisholm became the first African American woman elected to Congress (and she hired an almost all-female staff)…

Her colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, which she had helped to found, accused her of not waiting her turn and let it be known that they preferred a man to be the first African American major party candidate for president. ..

Chisholm hoped to use her historic candidacy to draw new people to presidential politics—inner city residents, women, people of color, and young people recently enfranchised by the 26th Amendment which lowered the voting age to 18. At the 1972 convention, Chisholm carried 151 delegates and earned the right to speak from the main podium.


While she ultimately lost the nomination to George McGovern, Chisholm considered her campaign a victory.”

-Kimberly Hamlin
Read more here!

“So by the 1984 election, women were not only voting in higher numbers than men, they were voting more for Democrats—which made securing the amorphous “women’s vote” essential  if Democratic Presidential nominee Walter Mondale were to defeat  Reagan. Acting on polling data that suggested that a woman on the ballot would capture the “women’s vote,” Mondale chose Geraldine Ferraro to be his running mate, making her the first female vice presidential nominee of a major political party.  “

-Sarah Paxton
listen to the Prologued EPiosde 7: “Earn your Spurs” here!


“Some were dubious about the move, attributing it to Mondale's desire to "pander to pressure groups." Others were ecstatic. It's a "dream come true," effused Stephanie Solien of the Women's Campaign Fund. Gloria Steinem, a leading feminist, dismissed the doubters: "Half the human race is not a special interest."…

Ultimately, having Ferraro on the ticket made little difference in the 1984 results. But it was clear that something important had transpired that day when Mondale made his historic selection.”

-Ken Rudin
Read more here!



In 1992, the ‘Year of the Woman,’ “a surge of women candidates ran for office and won. When the ballots were counted, America had elected a record-breaking four women as senators and 24 women as representatives to Congress. These included lawmakers who are still in Congress today such as Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Patty Murray (D-WA).”

-Li Zhou
Read more here!

“Do women focus any differently on particular issues? And there is evidence that the women would pay more attention to issues related to women Children and Families and try to put that on the agenda more…


So there were a lot of women involved in terms of influence for women in Congress, you get more influence, both as numbers increase, but also as seniority increases and you reach positions of power. So Nancy Pelosi as speaker has a lot more power to steer the agenda and put issues that she thinks are important to women.“

-Michelle Swers
Listen to Prologued, Episode 8:

“The New Normal” here!

“In 2018, on the federal level, another record-breaking number of women ran and won Congressional office so that women now account for nearly a quarter of the federal legislature. This included an uptick in Queer women and women of color in Congress, including two Native Congresswomen, representatives Deborah Haaland and Sharice Davids. It also included four high profile victors in the 2018 midterm, collectively referred to as “The Squad”, comprised of Representatives Alexandria Ocasio Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressly of Massachusetts, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.”

-Sarah Paxton
Listen to Episode 8 of Prologued here!


“A record number of women ran for and were elected to office in 2018. Their success resulted in claims of a “women’s wave” or another “Year of the Woman” in American politics. But the 2018 election neither upended gender disparities in political representation nor gendered hurdles for women candidates in the U.S. Much of the attention to gender and the 2020 election has been focused on the Democratic presidential primary, but that contest is only one part of the gender story of election 2020. More than 500 offices at the congressional and statewide level (and many more in state legislative contests) are also up for election this year, providing multiple sites for us to evaluate not only the numerical presence and progress for women, but also the different ways in which gender shapes campaign terrain for all candidates.”

-Kelly Dittmar
Read more here!


Economic Equality


Unequal pay hurts women. It hurts their families.

And it hurts us all.

-Lilly Ledbetter

“The Women’s Bureau was established in the U.S. Department of Labor on June 5, 1920, by Public Law No. 66-259. The law gave the Bureau the duty to “formulate standards and policies which shall promote the welfare of wage-earning women, improve their working conditions, increase their efficiency, and advance their opportunities for profitable employment.” It also gave the Bureau the authority to investigate and report to the U.S. Department of Labor upon all matters pertaining to the welfare of women in industry. The Women’s Bureau is the only federal agency mandated to represent the needs of wage-earning women in the public policy process.


Before World War I, three-fourths of all women employed in manufacturing were making apparel or its materials, food, or tobacco products. During World War I, the number of women in industry increased greatly and the range of occupations open to them was extended, even though they remained concentrated in occupations such as domestic and personal service, clerical occupations, and factory work. In 1920, women were about 20% of all persons in the labor force. Today, women make up about 47% of the U.S. labor force.”

-The U.S. Labor Department
Read more here!



“Title VII was a section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a key piece of legislation that aimed to eliminate discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, or sex. Title VII specifically barred employment discrimination. 


Except sex was not initially included in the bill. 


Virginia congressman Howard Smith opposed civil rights legislation and added sex as a poison pill, hoping the addition would be a deal breaker for those who supported the bill and ultimately keep it from passing. 


But it didn't work. Instead, civil rights activists and women inspired by The Feminine Mystique and rallied by Betty Friedan pushed for Title VII to pass. 


And it did. But Friedan supporters weren't finished yet. When the Lyndon B Johnson administration and the newly formed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission began to enforce Title VII, they ignored the clause barring sex discrimination. In reaction Eileen Hernandez, a member of the EEOC, quit in protest and Betty Friedan founded the National Organization of Women. NOW applied pressure to the Johnson administration until finally in 1967, President Johnson issued Executive Order 11357, officially ordering the enforcement of the sex clause.”

-Sarah Paxton
Listen to Episode 5 of Prologued here!


“The gender gap in pay has narrowed since 1980, but it has remained relatively stable over the past 15 years or so. In 2018, women earned 85% of what men earned, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings of both full- and part-time workers in the United States. Based on this estimate, it would take an extra 39 days of work for women to earn what men did in 2018.”

-Nikki Graf, Anna Brown, & Eileen Patten

Read more here!

“Black women typically make just 62 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, and that disparity has not narrowed over the last quarter century. Indeed, from 1967 to 2018, the most recent year for which data are available, the wage gap for Black women narrowed by just 19 cents.”

-The National Women’s Law Center

Read more here!



“One persistent question that researchers have yet to conclusively answer about the gender wage gap is why women tend to have jobs, such as teaching or nursing, that tend to pay less. [Saadia] Zahidi sums up the debate: “Are they lower paid because women are primarily occupying them, or is it just coincidence that women happen to be going into these professions?” It’s not clear what it is that drives some women to go into lower-paying industries, as many do in the U.S., it’s important to bear in mind that women earn less even when it comes to high-paying jobs.”

-Bouree Lam

Read more here!

“Children are particularly damaging to their careers…


To achieve greater pay equality, social scientists say — other than women avoiding marriage and children — changes would have to take place in workplaces and public policy that applied to both men and women. Examples could be companies putting less priority on long hours and face time, and the government providing subsidized child care and moderate-length parental leave.”

-Claire Cain Miller

Read more here!

Social Equality


Culture does not make people. People make culture.

If it is true that the full humanity of women is not

our culture, then we can and must

make it our culture.

-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“The phrase “sexual harassment” was coined in 1975, by a group of women at Cornell University…


The issue soon made the news, especially after a widely reprinted New York Times article used the phrase “sexual harassment” in its headline that August. A 1976 survey by Redbook showed that 80% of respondents had encountered sexual harassment on the job…


By 1977, three court cases confirmed that a woman could sue her employer for harassment under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, using the EEOC as the vehicle for redress. The Supreme Court upheld these early cases in 1986 with Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, which was based on the complaints of Mechelle Vinson, a bank employee whose boss intimidated her into having sex with him in vaults and basements up to fifty times. Vinson was African American, as were many of the litigants in pioneering sexual harassment cases; some historians suggest that the success of racial discrimination cases during these same years encouraged women of color to vigorously pursue their rights at work.”

-Sascha Cohen
Read more here!


Sexual Harrassment


“The 1991 hearings for [Clarence Thomas’s] confirmation to the Supreme Court became the first major moment of national attention on sexual harassment in the workplace, after allegations of past harassment lodged by Anita Hill, a former colleague, were leaked to the press.


Hill, like Thomas, was an African American graduate of Yale Law School. She first worked for Thomas, eight years her senior, at the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights and then at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission… Thomas denounced the proceedings as a “high-tech lynching for uppity blacks,” but Hill came out at least as badly bruised as him, with Republican senators among her assailants…


Thomas’s confirmation and the attacks on Hill did produce a quick political backlash. With new visibility, sexual-harassment complaints to the EEOC—ironically, Hill’s and Thomas’s former employer—spiked. The following year, a large crop of women ran for Congress, inspired in part by the specter of aging white men grilling Hill, and four were elected to the Senate.”

-David A. Graham
Read more here!

The historical record shows that when we found the evolution of more structured societies, these societies tended to be immediately patriarchal, because war was part of the involvement and where you have warfare and where you have patriarchy, you have violence against women. This doesn’t mean that violence against women was defined as a problem throughout history. It is only relatively recently say in the last few centuries that it has been defined as a legitimate problem. One example of this is that even as recently as 1948, with the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, violence against women was not contemplated. The kinds of violence that we think of as gendered violence against women tend to be things like sexual assault and domestic violence, and incest and sexual slavery, etc. And those were considered to be private matters. Even sexual assault by a stranger was considered to be a private, not a public matter.”

-Cathy Rawkowski
Listen to the History Talk episode on

Violence against Women here!

In the 1970s, activists “argued that domestic violence was, like rape, a problem rooted in the abuse of power and it was perpetuated because it had never been seen as a problem in the first place. They highlighted police departments’ policies of looking the other way when men beat women and a social-service system ill-equipped to deal with battered women.


Feminist activists in the 1970s responded in two broad ways.


First, they established shelters for victims, often organized, funded, and run outside of the existing social-service system. These became places where women could not only find immediate help but also change their domestic situation.


Second, activists fought for the adoption of mandatory arrest policies, which require police to arrest a perpetrator when there is probable cause to believe that a domestic assault has occurred.


Despite the radical transformation in how we view domestic violence that has characterized recent years, the process has been anything but straightforward.”

-Peggy Solic
Read more here!

“Now, it’s not just an entire generation—it’s the entire nation. No matter whether an accusation is made about violations on campus, in the workplace or on the streets, it is essential that the accounts be taken seriously and the accusers be treated respectfully. But in the debate over campus sexual assault, believing accusers, especially female ones, has become a virtual article of faith. Many Democratic politicians have expressed an opinion similar to the one recently tweeted by California Senator Kamala Harris, regarding college campuses: “Survivors of sexual assault deserve to be believed, not blamed.” As Harvard Law professor Jeannie Suk Gersen wrote in the New Yorker, wanting to examine the evidence before coming to a conclusion has come to mean being perceived on campus as being “biased in favor of perpetrators.”…


Statistics on the scale of the sexual assault problem on campuses nationally are controversial. And there are no good numbers about the breadth and nature of schools’ responses. But we do know that since the Dear Colleague letter was issued in 2011, more than 200 civil lawsuits have been filed by the accused, almost all males, against their universities, according to one advocacy group that tracks such suits. And these plaintiffs are getting an increasingly positive response from judges, who often express astonishment at the campus procedures that have been promulgated. In a scathing rebuke of today’s investigation and adjudication processes on campus, the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management, a leading Title IX consulting firm, released a white paper in April accusing many Title IX officers of “victim-favoring” and putting students’ “sexual decisions under a microscope.” The paper warned that unless campus processes were reformed, a backlash could “set back the entire consent movement.”

-Emily Yoffe
Read more here!


“The original “Me too movement,” was created by the civil rights activist Tarana Burke in 2006, out of her work with young women of color who had experienced sexual abuse. Since the sexual-assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein broke in 2017, the term has been adopted as a rallying cry for survivors of all kinds of gendered violence.”

-Parul Sehgal
Read more here!

6773079251_2a3c8a6040_o (1).jpg

Reproductive Health

“Reproductive rights, especially those pertaining to abortion and birth control have been subjects of increasing political debate through the 20th century. Abortion and birth control were criminalized on a state by state basis during the 19th century. But this usually allowed for abortions to be performed if the woman's life was at risk. At a time when childbirth was extremely dangerous for women, middle class and elite women could seek out a sympathetic doctor and obtain a legal abortion. Working Class women and Women of Color often couldn't afford medical care, let alone a sympathetic doctor. This left them to endure an unwanted pregnancy or risk a “back alley” abortion, which was often just as deadly as it was illegal. During the mid-20th century, abortion and birth control rights became a controversial debate point between religious organizations who published articles and pamphlets on the sanctity of human life and feminist activists who saw reproductive freedom as essential to the liberation of women from male domination.”

-Sarah Paxton
Listen to Prologued, Episode 5 here!


“The easy availability of birth control devices alarmed Anthony Comstock, a onetime salesman in New York City who believed that they assisted the vice trade by divorcing sex from marriage and childbearing. [Andrea] Tone argues that Comstock was an enemy only of open sexuality, not of private passion, but he was surely no friend of sex without fear of pregnancy even in the marriage bed. In 1873, joined by like-minded allies, he successfully lobbied for Congressional passage of a bill that branded contraception obscene and prohibited its distribution across state lines or through the mails. Similar legislation was soon enacted in 24 states.


Historians have long believed that not least because of the Comstock law, birth control was available mostly to well-to-do Americans until around World War I.”

-Daniel J. Kevies
Read more here!

“The Court held that prohibition of birth control for use in marital relationships was unconstitutional in Griswold.  Later, in Eisenstadt, the Court extended its ruling in Griswold to protect unmarried couples access to birth control.  The Court struck down prohibitions on interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia.  Definitions of obscenity became narrower in Fanny Hill v. Massachusetts.  Roe restricted the state's ability to regulate abortions.  Yet these decisions, though revolutionary, were revolutionary only for many Americans, not all.”

-Marc Stein
Read more here!


“Today, there is at least one abortion clinic in every state, and most women of childbearing age live within an hour’s drive or so of one, the new analysis found. In more than half of states, including the entire West Coast and Northeast, that would still be true without Roe. In other states, like Missouri and Mississippi, with one clinic each, some women are effectively already living without Roe’s protections, because the driving distance to the nearest clinic is prohibitively long.


Without Roe, significantly more women -- concentrated in the South and Midwest -- would be living without an abortion clinic nearby: Eight states have passed trigger laws that would ban abortion almost immediately, and at least 13 more states would probably ban it, legal experts say.”

- Quoctrung Bui, Claire Cain Miller,

& Margot Sanger-Katz
Read more here!