A message from Dr. Zea Borok on Women’s Equality Day
I thought it important for us to recognize an important day in history — the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment on Aug. 26, 1920 — the day women were guaranteed the right to vote. In some respects, it is difficult to imagine that just 100 years ago, women were denied the right to have a voice in choosing the elected officials whose decisions directly impacted their lives. While we have come a long way since then, we clearly still have a long way to go on the journey toward gender equality and equity.
Gender disparities are playing out directly in front of us and are being exacerbated by the current pandemic. In April of this year, the ratio of women in the workforce dropped below 50% for the first time in 40 years. Since that time, close to 1 in 7 Black women and Latinas — or more — have been jobless. Frontline workers —64% of whom are women — face greater exposure to COVID-19 every day. And many of these women also bear the brunt of caregiving and family responsibilities, and they can’t afford to lose a job if they get sick.
These are just a few examples of the gender-regressive effects occurring today. As stated in this recent McKinsey report, what is good for gender equality is also good for the economy and society. We must continue to push to advance gender equity for all, even if progress seems slow at times.
Part of moving forward is remembering our past and honoring those who fought to ensure our equal rights. And with that, I say … fight on!
All my best,
Zea Borok, MD
Director, Center for Gender Equity in Medicine and Science (GEMS)
Chief, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine
Director, Hastings Center for Pulmonary Research
Keck School of Medicine of USC
University of Southern California