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March is Women's History Month - Do You Think You Know All About It?

Author: 
Sandy Rodriguez
March 1, 2018

Which of the following could women NOT do in 1960 that they can do today?
1. Apply for a credit card or get a loan.
2. Get a no-fault divorce.
3. Own and control property in their name.
4. Be accepted at a graduate school.
5. Serve on a jury.

Are you sitting?  The answer is all of them.  In fact many of these inequities were addressed even much later than that. 

Now match the year in which women can do these things in all 50 states:
a) 1972
b) 1973
c) 1974
d) 1981
e) 2010

Credit Card / Loans: Until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act in 1974, women were not able to apply for credit. Regarding Loans, until 1974, banks required single, widowed or divorced women to bring a man along to cosign any credit application, regardless of their income. Women were also not able to apply for credit until then.  Thank you Congress for the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

Divorce: Before the No Fault Divorce law passed in California in 1969, taking effect in 1970, spouses had to show the faults of the other party in order to obtain a divorce:  adultery, abandonment, cruelty, or felony. Then it took the next 40 years for the rest of the states to catch on, the last of which were South Dakota in 1983 and New York in 2010.  What took you so long, New York?

Property: It wasn’t until 1981, that married women had any ownership rights to property. Unmarried women required the permission of their father or brother in order to own property, like a home.  Thank you U.S. Supreme Court for finally getting that straight.

Graduate School: In the late 1960s, less than 1% of those being accepted into law and medical schools were women.  And it wasn’t until 1972 when Congress passed Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments Act, that that low percentage began to creep upward. Lo and behold, by 2016, women earned the majority of doctoral degrees for the 8th straight year and outnumbered men in grad school 135 to 100. [American Enterprise Institute – aei.org]

Jury: The Civil Rights Act of 1957 gave women the right to serve on federal juries, but not until 1973 could women serve on juries in all fifty states.

Source: http://www.thingscouldbeworse.org/home/weve-come-long-way-baby-changes-womens-rights-since-1960/

In each of these cases, it was public discourse, dialogue and deliberation that resulted in social, political and societal change. At Everyday Democracy, we recognize we have come a long way, but we also know more can be done for gender equity, racial equity and the nurturing of a democracy that creates opportunities for ALL people. During Women’s History Month this March, let’s begin to plan the next wave of progress for all.

Issues: 

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