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The Struggle for Equal Rights of Women in America - Research Paper Example

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The Struggle for Equal Rights of Women in America

According to the research findings it can therefore be said that Thomas Jefferson’s timeless words, “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” have resonated throughout history – a clarion call and one of the guiding posts of American democracy. Many critics have commented, however, that the sentence, so pivotal and so much a part of a nation’s collective soul, has completely left women out of the equation. Its intent was to be a definite statement against slavery, ending centuries of oppression against Africans and calling for an America grounded on the principles of equity and equality, but the use of the word “men” had been construed as an exclusion of women – unfortunately replacing racial prejudice with gender prejudice. Another way of looking at it, however, is that there was no explicit intent to exclude women, that the use of the word “men” simply reflects the tenor of the times, and not a prejudice of Thomas Jefferson or a wanton disregard of the rights of women at large. However, what this tells us is that gender equality was not considered important, or an issue that deserved to be taken up. Indeed, from a sociological point of view, the history of women’s struggle is a history of constant and relentless assertions against a systemic patriarchy and structures of dominance. America is often considered by the rest of the world as a shining example of gender equality and feminism. Whilst in many regions in the world, women were still dealing with issues such as genital mutilation, lack of access to reproductive health, state and religion sanctioned differential treatment between men and women, America has taken striding and definitive steps to ensure that women are offered the same possibilities and opportunities as men. However, the plethora of rights available to women in the United States of America was not handed over to them in a silver platter – it was the outcome of decades, even centuries, of struggle for equal rights and equal opportunities. It was made through the pioneering efforts of brave women who refused to be constrained by circumstances and who demanded the right to exercise their agency and chart their own destiny. This paper traces the evolution of equal rights in America and the progress that women have made in the face of numerous challenges and barriers to their development. It will look in particular into how the social and legal norms have initially been complicit in creating gender differentials and how women have overcome these and have in fact been able to reshape social structures and the legal system in order to advance their cause. This paper will also look into the progress that has been made by women engaged in the professional practice of math, science and engineering and the particular challenges and issues that women face as they embark on their careers. Finally, this paper will recommend some strategies that can be employed in order to further improve women’s prospects and create more inroads and opportunities for women to explore and eventually conquer. If we begin to trace the root of gender differentiation, and even subordination, it is imperative to consider the notion of gender as social construct and see how men and women are assigned different social roles and are treated or considered differently because of perceived biological differences. As expressed by Lorber (1994: 56) – Western society’s values legitimate gendering by claiming that it all comes from physiology – female and male procreative differences. But gender and sex are not equivalent, and gender as a social ...Show more
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Summary

The paper operates mainly based on research questions which can be stated as follows: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal? Does this mean that the founding fathers of our country did not consider women to be equal? …
The Struggle for Equal Rights of Women in America
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