It’s clear that feminism and the women’s rights movement have made tremendous strides in the last century. While there’s still progress to be made, it’s uplifting to see how far we’ve come in redefining gender roles and expectations.
The numbers show promising trends. Women now make up 47% of the U.S. labor force, up from 30% in 1950. The wage gap has narrowed too – women now earn 81 cents for every dollar earned by men, versus 60 cents in 1980. Education rates have skyrocketed as well. As of 2021, 44% of women held a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to just 11% in 1970.
Culturally, we’ve witnessed major shifts in female empowerment and freedom of expression. Women proudly embrace their sexuality, interests, and identities in ways past generations could scarcely imagine. They freely pursue careers in STEM, politics, business, and other fields once dominated by men.
But the progress goes beyond women’s advancement. Traditional masculinity has expanded to become more vulnerable, emotional, and nuanced. Men are more comfortable showing affection, being involved fathers, and rejecting aggression or homophobia. Gender non-conforming and trans identities are also gaining acceptance.
No doubt, we still have ground to cover. Discrimination and harassment remain critical issues. Workplaces need more equal parental leave policies. STEM fields have low female representation. But the trend lines point to a society increasingly devoid of rigid, binary gender roles. We’re constructing a culture that honors each person’s unique humanity, capabilities and dreams.
While past feminists planted the seeds, we are the ones privileged to see the fruits of their labor. The women’s movement watered and tended this garden for generations. Now we enjoy the harvest – a world where identities bloom in every shape, size and color. A world where each person can thrive as their true, authentic self. The fight goes on, but we should take a moment to celebrate how far we’ve come.