We tilt our heads up and our eyes are met with the sight of sunlight striking the reflective canopy above. As luminescence penetrates the glass, we are greeted with images of our eager faces staring back at us. The roof is sturdy, displaying typical signs of wear and tear, yet showcasing a few long, winding cracks from what was sure to have been a good fight. Yet, it remains intact. We, as a group, have not yet succeeded to shatter it. We are trying, and we are close, but not quite there.
This is The Glass Ceiling, and we are the women of the world.
Take a look at the women of the Oscars. Meryl Streep. Ava DuVernay. Octavia Spencer. Viola Davis. These powerhouses remind us just how tough it is to be a successful woman in a male-dominated industry. As Viola Davis put it to Entertainment Weekly back in 2015: “The internal sexism within womanhood is very predominant in Hollywood, because we all want to be successful. There’s a plug to it: You all have to be skinny! You all have to be pretty! You all have to be likable, because that’s the formula that works. On an executive level. On a power level.” Conformance is acceptance and acceptance is the golden- and only- ticket to success. We must conform and not question what is given to us. And what happens if we do?
An example of discrepancy in the workplace has arisen recently in the entertainment industry. The touchy topic of female pay-rate, which has been beaten to a pulp since the signing of the Equal Pay Act back in 1963- has once again found its way into the spotlight. While modernists argue that the pay field has been leveled and women who get paid less simply work less or obtain lower-paying jobs, their opponents sharply counter that there is an ever looming prejudice against women in the workplace. The Huffington Post recently published an article detailing the pot stirring on the set of The Big Bang Theory, where it was uncovered that the male lead roles get paid 500% more than their female counterparts.
At $200,000 an episode, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch make just 20% of what their male co-stars do. Bialik, a four-time Emmy Award winner for her role in the show, is finally negotiating her contract and demanding fairer pay going into the show’s eleventh season. In a recent petition, the five leading stars- Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco (not for nothing, but the “pretty one” among the female characters on the show who is paid more), Kunal Nayyar, and Simon Helberg, have agreed to take a 10% pay cut in order to help their female co-stars salaries increase by 125%. This is just one example of the everyday struggle women face– from the fast-food industry, to the movie industry, and even into the fields of law or medicine. As women, we must earn everything we get and take for granted nothing we are given.
Beyond Hollywood, women who are highlighted in our society for their achievements sadly serve as tokens to perpetuate the fallacy that equality between men and women exists. Yet, their power makes their words carry weight; weight with which what they say gets noticed. And thus, these women continue to remind us of how important it is that we know our worth and fight to be treated with equal value. Michelle Obama- the former First Lady- used her position of authority to serve as an advocate for women and speak out in support for female rights. Her chime that, “as women, we must stand up for each other,” reinforces the words of G.D. Anderson that “feminism isn’t about making women strong. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” From Beyonce, to Hillary Clinton, to Madonna, female stars have worked to propel women forward into a realm of equality.
It is a blessing to have such strong role models here to inspire us, but it is still up to us to turn around and inspire others. In the words of Madeleine Albright, “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.”
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