Caroline Connolly | Staff Writer

Equality is a word we hear often: gender equality, LGBTQ+ equality, racial equality, and more. With Hillary Clinton as our first female presidential candidate of the Democratic Party and powerful women leaders in widely varied fields, it is undeniable that women have more rights than ever before. However, gender inequality still exists––and it’s important to recognize this fact.

I have been a feminist for several years now, and it’s affected my life in many ways. A major issue in our world today is the wage gap between genders. Overall, men are being paid more than women in most job fields. As a feminist, I believe that wages for both sexes should be equal. Just because someone is a man does not mean that they should be paid more money than a woman. Just because someone is a woman does not mean they should be paid more. Wages should be equal for both genders.

In her “Best Supporting Actress” acceptance speech at the 2014 Oscars, Patricia Arquette said, “The issue of pay inequality is really important because experts say it will take 40 years for that gap to close. We don’t have 40 years to wait.”

Beyoncé has said, “We need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality. It isn’t a reality yet. Today, women make up half of the U.S. workforce, but the average working woman earns only 77 percent of what the average working man makes. But unless women and men both say this is unacceptable, things will not change. Men have to demand that their wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters earn more—commensurate with their qualifications and not their gender. Equality will be achieved when men and women are granted equal pay and equal respect.”

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, “In 2015, female full-time workers made only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 20 percent. Women, on average, earn less than men in virtually every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio.”

For millennials whose relatives have struggled with gender inequality, empowering women and invoking change is a common passion.

“My grandmother was a pioneer for closing the wage gap as an HR manager in the 1970s,” Office of Women’s Development administrative assistant and senior social work major Courtney Frybarger said. “In light of her amazing bravery in battling the male-dominated world of business, I am very passionate about ensuring women feel empowered to earn the wages that are rightfully theirs, based upon their qualifications and skills and not on their gender.”

However, striving for gender equality can be a challenge even in a Christian community.

“Being a feminist is hard, especially as a Christian,” Senior journalism major Josie Jimenez said. “It seems like I’m constantly arguing and debating with people who refuse to acknowledge the fact that as a woman, I am constantly demeaned and am constantly told that I’m not living the right kind of life. But this is a fight that I will not give up. We’ve come so far and we have so far to go.”

Senior liberal studies major Selena Latzke agrees that identifying as a feminist can be a challenge as it is often paired with a negative connotation. Therefore spreading awareness on what feminism truly means is a common goal.

“The term ‘feminism’ has definitely received negative connotation to it lately, but going so far as to hating someone because they don’t agree with you is not what a feminist believes in, and is not what the movement is about…As someone going into the teaching/education field, I would want all students to know they aren’t limited to what they can do and be in life simply because of their gender, race, socioeconomic background, sexuality, etc.”

Others however have found solace in Christian communities when discussing feminism, including our university’s campus.

“Being a feminist at APU has been a blessing because this institution, far more than other Christian universities I have encountered,” Frybarger said. “ It gives opportunities for women to pursue leadership and provides places like the Office of Women’s Development to facilitate that empowerment.”

Effective conversations about equality and closing the wage gap is the first step in solving the problem of gender inequality. Solving this problem will not occur overnight, but over time. The world has come a long way in terms of gender inequality getting, but of course there need to be more changes moving forward.