Lines of feminism can be drawn through history for centuries past. From property rights, to suffrage and Title IX, the landscape of our gendered society has transformed immensely. As we now prepare to usher a woman into the seat of vice president, it is time to both marvel at progress and look toward areas where work still needs to be done.
Research shows that the United States. is slowing down on the long journey toward gender equality. Looking from a macroscopic lens of society, it is clear that women hold influential positions across many different realms, from higher education to government and far beyond. Tufts specifically has been admitting female students since 1892. Yet, when we zoom in closer, we can still see deeply ingrained gender disparities.
It is time to move into a new era: fourth wave feminism.
Data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that the number of women in the labor force is not expected to significantly increase from 2016 to 2024. While countless women are currently fledging widely successful career paths, our society has hit a ceiling. Unless we make it not just possible but acceptable for men to infiltrate the domestic realm, feminism will falter.
Thankfully, studies show that this change is possible. The Pew Research Center has demonstrated that the majority of Americans acknowledge the necessity for continued advancement of gender equality. The first step to change is identifying areas of weakness. Some of the most prominent obstacles to gender equality that Americans point to include sexual harassment, different societal expectations and a dearth of women in positions of power.
Increasing the number of women in positions of power will have a ripple effect on our society. By placing strong women like Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in high government offices, we can change the archetype of working women in America. This is not to say that every young girl will grow up to preside over the Senate, but rather that it would be normalized for men to occupy more “domestic” roles. As a result, women can break through the ceiling that is currently stifling societal progress.
At Tufts, there are many organizations dedicated to gender equality. The Women’s Center, for example, sheds light on gender inequality and provides resources to empower women. By providing students with the space and educational platform for holistic, intersectional feminism, this center acts as the base for a generation of students who will enter society ready to create long-lasting change.
It is up to every one of us to educate ourselves and others and to normalize men immersing themselves in the domestic world. We must build on the significant strides that the women of our generation have already taken toward a fourth wave of feminism, such as through movements like #MeToo, in order to create a world where gender does not determine opportunity. It is time for a new wave.