(3 of 10)
Education, the democratic equalizer, has not guaranteed women an even entry into the job market. Of women with five or more years of college, 6% take jobs as unskilled or semiskilled workers, and 17% of the women with four years of college enter the labor pool at these lowest levels.
The number of women in the higher business and professional categories is grossly disproportionate both to the population and to the educational background of some women. Women constitute only 9% of all the professions, 7% of the doctors, 3% of the lawyers, 1% of the engineers. Average starting salaries in each of these fields are lower for women than for their male counterparts.
Even when women enter more "traditional" fields, they have trouble reaching the top. Nine out of ten elementary-school teachers are women, but eight out of ten principals of these schools are men. Harvard will have two tenured women professors in its arts and sciences faculty this year; there were none last year. Yet 15% of the graduate degrees awarded at Harvard in recent years have gone to women. Women in public life are scarce. Ten female Representatives and one Senator serve in the current Congress. Twenty in 1962 is the alltime high. The route to the Senate for seven of the ten women in the history of that body has been by election or appointment to seats vacated by death, often those of their husbands. There have been just two women Cabinet members, and despite promises to bring women into the highest levels of Government, the Nixon Administration has yet to name the third. Of the 8,750 judges presently sitting, only 300 are women, most of whom serve on county courts. For the fall elections, however, politicians are rapidly beginning to realize that women constitute an important voting bloc. In New York State, a Women's Liberation spokesman reports, aides of major candidates are calling Women's Lib offices to ask, in effect, what they should say to attract this vote.
Revolution in the Revolution
The sudden awareness is another indication of the rising interest in the drive for women's rights, which in its current phase began in 1963, when Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique, a book exposing the vacuity of many suburban housewives' lives. In 1966, she founded the National Organization for Women (NOW), whose goals have now been largely adopted by the movement. Today it is the single largest group within the movement, with 5,000 members.
The civil rights movement, in an ironic way, created additional converts to the feminist cause. During the Southern turmoil of the middle '60s, many women volunteers found that sexist discrimination extended even to the revolution. "Civil rights," says one organizer, "has always been a very male-dominated movement." Most radical organizations saw to it that the "chicks" operated the mimeograph machines and scampered out for coffee while the men ran the show.