It’s been almost 100 years since women won the right to vote, and there have been many other achievements since 1920 that have led to greater gender equity.

Some might argue that the U.S. achieved gender equity and women can do all of the things men can. However, while women have greater access and agency than they did 100 years ago, we do not live in a post-feminist society.

As we approach the 100-year anniversary of women’s suffrage and the passage of the 19th amendment, we must also reflect on the past. We must think about the strong, courageous, feminist women in our families, and we must also look forward to the future generations of girls and women.

For many millennials, our great-aunts and grandmothers were the first in their family to finish high school. As products of the Great Depression, these women were privileged to have finished high school, and many worked full-time before they graduated.

Hawaii marchers 2017 Womens March Washington DC as marchers head towards The Mall. 21 jan 2017
Hawaii participants at the Women’s March on Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2017. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

For women born around the time that the 19th amendment passed, receiving an education was a luxury, and so these women placed a premium on women’s education. They wanted their daughters and granddaughters to finish high school and attend college, and so we did.

During the 1970s as women’s liberation spread across college campuses nationally, a new wave of feminism surfaced. Millennial girls grew up with moms, baby boomers, and byproducts of the women’s liberation movement.

Greater Gender Equity

We played soccer or T-ball for three years because our moms said it would “build character” or “make things more equal.” Instead of asking our parents to confront the T-ball coach when we were stuck playing outfield (despite being as capable as the boys), we were encouraged to confront the coach ourselves.

These generations of women are the women millennials look up to, and yet, even they lived in a time after the 19th amendment passed. The women of our matriarchal lineage inspire and influence us, and yet none of them grew up in a time before women had the right to vote. These women inspire us to complete our Ph.D.s; they inspire us to become doctors and lawyers; they inspire us to be mentors and mothers; and they inspire us to advocate for issues such as equal pay and Title IX.

What will gender equity look like two, three, or even four decades from now?

As we look forward to the future, we must continue to think about greater gender equity for future generations. We must think about the fact that even at schools where faculty are unionized, women still make less than men on the dollar. We must think about how even when women work to break the glass ceiling and take administrative positions, they’re so often relegated to director and chancellor positions at community colleges, which pay less than four-year universities.

What will gender equity look like two, three, or even four decades from now? Our hope for all future generations of women is that they won’t have to compete with men to earn 80 or 90 cents on the dollar; that they can live in a world where girls and women are viewed as equals because they are feminine, because feminine traits are more valued in our society.

Finally, as we reflect on the passage of the 19th amendment, we think about how current feminists and future feminists can secure a vision for the future that aligns with women such as Sojourner Truth who called for inclusive activism and an inclusive society regardless of race or gender.

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