All is’ms are ugly, evil, and are unethical, both from a spiritual and US Constitution perspective. But there is another factor that often is a not addressed. That is the economic cost to all of us of the is’ms in this case sexism.
As a son, husband, and father, I have watched sexism take place from a variety of perspectives. When I was 5 ½ my father was killed in a farming accident on a poor farm in NW Minnesota. My mother, almost 40 with six children spread out over 17 years started going to college to obtain a teaching degree. When I was 10, we moved to a town in West Central Minnesota for her first teaching degree. Two things happened in the first couple of years that my mother told me about years later.
- One, after her first year of teaching, she wanted to buy a small house and her salary allowed her to qualify for a loan. However, my uncle who had farmed with my father and still farmed the family farm had to come to town to co-sign the loan papers. Women could not sign loan papers by themselves, at least at that bank at that time.
- Two, about the same time, she had to approach the school board to obtain “head of household” pay. Keep in mind, they knew she was a widow, had three children at home in the school system, and a total of six children. One would think that this group of men, primarily farmers and business owners, along with the school superintendent, would have been able to figure out by themselves my mother was the head of household. But at that time, women were routinely paid less than male teachers who were the head of household. She was able to receive the increased pay, about $50 which not much today, but in the early 1960’s was serious money.
My senior year in college at the private liberal arts college I attended, I was the first student tour guide. In other words, when high school seniors visited the campus with one parent or both, I gave the campus tour. One spring day, I was giving a tour to a young lady from Eastern Montana and her parents. She had a great high school academic and activity record, exactly the type of student the college wanted. The tour lasted about an hour including lunch and the mother and daughter were bright, engaging and full of questions. The father, never said a word. Finally, as the tour was ending, I asked the father if he had any questions. He said, only one. He then said “what is the male female ratio at the college”. I answered the questions and then though I knew the answer, I asked why this was his question. He said something to the effect the only reason he would pay to send his daughter to a private school was for her to find a good husband. Judging from the mother and daughter’s reactions, I think it was a pretty long drive back to Montana.
My daughter has faced sexism a number of different times. One that comes to mind are when she started working and eventually became a partner in the firm I started and eventually sold the end of 2016. Though many clients treated her well with respect, there were some that assumed she, as a female, was an administrative assistant and never understood or respected her experience and credentials.
The above are just a few examples of sexism I have seen and I would suspect most if not all women can list many examples of sexism, both personally and generally. The good news is we have come a long way. The bad news, is we have a long-ways to go. It is important and beneficial to discuss that sexism is ugly and evil. It is also important to realize the cost of sexism to all of us. Anytime, the best person, the most hardworking person, the most talented person, the most experienced and knowledgeable person is held back by discrimination and stereotypes, we all lose. Society in general and our economy in specific is less efficient, less productive and more expensive.
Hopefully when my granddaughters become adults, sexism will be a history lesson, but all of us, and especially men will have to work very hard to make this come true.