Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

MomsRising: Marking Women's Equality Day with a vote

Posted August 28, 2012

Growing up my parents were what they called “equal opportunity parents." Whatever opportunities my brother got, I got, too, and vice versa.

They were determined that we would both have the same advantages in life and cheered for us equally as we chased our dreams. It never even crossed my mind that being a girl could be a barrier to achieving anything I wanted because my parents refused to entertain that possibility.

Now, as the mother of a daughter and son of my own, what had felt like a simple question of fairness as a child feels like so much more. I want both my children to know that there is no one set way to be a woman or a man. Their future is theirs to create and their gender shouldn’t limit that in any way.

So, as a toddler, my son had both toy cars and baby dolls. My daughter can frequently be seen playing backyard baseball in a pink tutu. Fortunately, thanks to the many gains women have made over the last century, I can tell both my children with confidence that if they work hard enough they can be whatever they want.

But, as they set out in the world, I know that my daughter will still face challenges my son will not experience. Even though nearly 6 in 10 women now work outside the home and women nationally attain higher levels of education than men, the wage gap still exists.

According to a new report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, women in North Carolina still make only 83 cents to a man’s dollar. When men and women at the same education level are compared, the gender wage gap is even greater. North Carolina women with at least a college degree earn more than $20,000 less per year than comparable men, a wage gap of 29 percent.

And while women’s earnings are increasingly important to families’ economic security, both women and men continue to struggle with the high cost of child care and the lack of workplace policies like paid sick days or paid family leave that allow us to meet both our work and family responsibilities.

This past Sunday, Aug. 26, was Women’s Equality Day, when we celebrate the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote in 1920 and remember the struggle of many thousands of women and their allies whose decades of work led to that achievement.

Many of these women were beaten, jailed, and tortured for their efforts (if you haven’t seen "Iron Jawed Angels," I highly recommend it.) Winning the vote was a key victory on the way to many of the gains women enjoy today. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 66 percent of female citizens 18 and older reported voting in the 2008 presidential election, as compared to 62 percent of men in the same group. Additionally, 73 percent of female citizens reported being registered to vote.

We have come a long way in the last 92 years, but the struggle for full equality for our daughters and sons isn’t over. There is still a lot of work to be done and, as our great grandmothers knew, these changes can start with the vote.

This election year, I hope you’ll join me in making sure to vote yourself and inviting your friends to vote. When we do, we’ll be honoring the sacrifice of those who worked so hard for our equality while making the path ahead easier for our own children.

For information on your voting rights and key dates, visit And to get involved in helping make sure women vote this election year, please visit

Your voice and your vote can make a difference!

Beth Messersmith is the NC Campaign Director for and a Durham mother of two. She writes for Go Ask Mom monthly.


Please with your account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • carrboroyouth Aug 29, 2012

    "I am a woman and I make more in annual salary than my husband."

    That is pretty irrelevant unless your husband has the exact same credentials and job as you do. If that's the case, you should be making the same as him - no more and no less.

  • carrboroyouth Aug 29, 2012

    jabbog: it's not the job choice. The numbers come from the same job with comparable degrees and experience levels. In general, men are paid more for the same level of work that the women in the field also perform, even with the same background.

    I liked the style of the article that encourages people to be proactive and not victimized. Vote!

  • mrschizzy Aug 29, 2012

    I am a woman and I make more in annual salary than my husband.

  • americaneel Aug 29, 2012

    The whining never ends...

  • Mac1 Aug 29, 2012

    That misses the point, jabbog48152. For the SAME jobs, experience, and credentials, women earn less than men. This isn't about the types of jobs that women often choose, which would be the "apples to oranges" comparison you're making. Yes, some women may be able to choose lesser-paying jobs because they aren't the primary wage earner. This article is about the "apples to apples" comparison that shows women are still not being compensated at the same level as their male peers for the same work. My personal "earning power" as a women is hampered by both obvious and hidden biases in the workplace that have nothing to do with my individual skills and capabilities, but are based solely on my gender.

  • jabbog48152 Aug 29, 2012

    Re: " daughter will still face challenges my son will not experience. ...the wage gap still exists."

    This reveals a grave unawareness of the male side of the gender coin.

    For a bit of the balance that is always missing in such discussions, see:

    “The Doctrinaire Institute for Women's Policy Research”


    Women’s job choices – and men’s – tend to be influenced by “what the market will bear” principle. Since women in huge numbers are (still) either supported by a man (fully or partly) or anticipate being supported, they as a group are able to bear lower pay than those in the group expected to do most or all of the spouse supporting. Many women, married women in particular, might be comparable to teens who live with, and are supported by, their parents and who are able to accept a job that pays little, while their parents must earn enough to support both the teens and themselves.