In 1964, the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was established, and women finally had hope to be respected as men were. Women knew they could now be seen in partnership with men, rather than cowering under their authority.
Unfortunately, laws do not always function as citizens want them to. Gender stereotypes were not drastically changed following the installation of this act; no men became suddenly aware of their prejudice towards women. Few men resolved to fight for their mothers, sisters and daughters with every bit of power they had naturally inherited.
According to the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 25% of women are harassed at work and more than 74% of those who filed sex discrimination charges were women.
These numbers are why groups have formed to fight against the double standard between men and women— one of them being Northwestern’s own Women in Leadership Club.
“We aren’t afraid to acknowledge the disproportionate advantages that are out there for men and women,” Camber Herrig said, a member of the club’s leadership committee along with Alyssa Buren and Jillian Simon.
While removing gender gaps in the workplace is not necessarily the focus of women on campus, they are working to dismantle inequality by initiating conversations.
“Words like feminism and discussions around gender equality can often get misunderstood, so we want to be a tool for people to hear experiences and learn more about what gender equality can look like on campus and in the world,” Buren said.
In the past few semesters, Women in Leadership has discussed women’s health, gender gaps in confidence, negotiating salaries and interviewing tips.
“We aim to base our topics around empowering and educating women, but we also want to create a fun and safe environment for any necessary discussion, as well,” Herrig said.
The group hopes to discuss further topics like gender and hold a self-defense class.
The club is not the only group on campus uplifting women in leadership roles.
For some Christians, women serving in ministry goes against their understanding of scripture. A national survey of 11,000 congregations completed by Faith Communities Today reported that only 1,300 had ordained leading female pastors.
Dr. Cambria Kaltwasser, assistant professor of biblical and theological studies and director of the NW core, co-chairs Women in Ministry along with Barb Dewald, associate dean of Christian formation. Women in Ministry aims to hold a series of conversation that are geared toward encouraging women and their discernment toward the call to ministry.
“Too often, women with gifts for teaching God’s word and discipling others aren’t encouraged and praised in those areas, which have traditionally been seen as men’s domain,” Kaltwasser said. “As women ministers ourselves, Barb and I are intent on coming alongside these women by providing a safe space to discern their calling.”
Last year, Women in Ministry adjusted to COVID-19 and held less gatherings. However, they are ready to return in their full force. Currently, the club is leading a book club and has hosted multiple conversations with guest speakers this semester.
Men and women were created to be equals. Institutions such as governments, education on women’s rights and organizations like Women in Leadership and Women in Ministry are steps towards equality.
“God calls women, as God calls men, to live as those who are befriended by God in Jesus Christ,” Dr. Kaltwasser said. “This means that women are called to use all of their gifts, not just the ones that our cultural has traditionally been comfortable with.”