Women’s 100yrs Suffrage

Sophia Dewael, MVcurrent writer

The 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote, was not ratified until August 18, 1920. Women of the late 19th and early 20th centuries campaigned hard for this amendment. Two of the major leaders of this movement in the United States were Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who together founded the National Woman Suffrage Association.

Although poor men and Black men each had to fight for the right to vote and be equal to rich white men, their journey was nowhere near as long as the fight for the rights for women, especially Black women, to vote. Universal suffrage was granted to white men in 1856 and then to Black men in 1869, while many women had to wait over half a century later than men.


And even though white women were given suffrage in 1920, Black women were not afforded this right. In theory all women should have been given the right to vote at this point, but different states set up laws that acted as obstacles to many women, but especially women of color. 


Some of the laws that stopped them from voting were passing literacy tests and making owning land a requirement. This targeted all women, but mainly women of color because they were not given equal opportunities in school. In addition, women often did not own land and the right to own land was withheld from them for many years. The wage gap between men and women largely resulted in women having to depend on their husbands to provide for their families. There is yet another wage gap inequality between women of color and white women.


Although women have come a long way in America, they are still not truly equal to men in today’s society. Women are noticeably less equal in the midwest and more conservative areas. A study done by PayScale shows that in 2020 women are only making $0.81 per every dollar that a man makes. Many people have been laid off in 2020 due to the coronavirus, and statistics from PayScale also show that women have been more at risk for being laid off.


Patriarchy is an idea that could be a contribution to the large pay gap between men and women. Patriarchy is the structure of a system, or a society, in which males are more dominant. This idea led to women being viewed as less capable than men for a large amount of history. Many women are influenced into going into the non-STEM job fields as opposed to the fields of math and science. This in itself sets a precedent on how men are supposedly smarter and more capable than women. Also, the science and math fields that are made up of mostly men, pay more than other careers.


There is even this phenomena in the Intro to Engineering class at Mt. Vernon. When I was in the class, I was one of only three girls in the class. The ratio of girls to boys in the class mimics the ratio in the professional job field.


“There is still the stereotype that gives girls the fear of workshop classes,” said Elizabeth Hiatt, MV 2020 Alumni who was in that Intro to Engineering class.

I also contacted the teacher of that Intro to Engineering class, Mr. Hankley. He shared that he thinks, “there is still the stigma and also how children are raised that it isn’t normal for girls to take engineering. Also since girls know that there aren’t going to be many in a class this can be a put off as well.”


Although America has come a long way since 1920 and the rights are now equal in law, citizens must remove the influences and stereotypes forced on the different genders in order to truly become equal.