Have we really progressed?

Oct 5, 2015, 17:00 IST


Once upon a time, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there lived a French artist named Albert Bergeret who imagined a fantastical future where women worked in the same professional fields as men did. Considering women were still fighting for their right to vote then, it was certainly progressive of the artist to envision women on equal footing with men. In the year 1902, Albert, who designed trading cards, decided to produce a series that depicted his futuristic imaginings.


Woman depicted as firefighter

Although his series of professional women do seem to be designed as eye candy for men in some instances, the fact that they represent various professions reserved solely for men until then, is significant. The French artist’s series depicted a future where women help posts as military leaders, firefighters, policewomen, doctors, journalists, lawyers, students etc. This was certainly progressive in an age where women were expected to remain within the domestic sphere, were seen as the lesser human in the eyes of law and were not allowed a formal university education.

In the 21st century, women seem to have achieved the progress Albert Bergeret envisioned decades ago. Women certainly have the right to education today and can vote. We have women in prominent posts in a wide spectrum of fields. We do have doctors, lawyers, soldiers, police, business heads etc who are women. The USA might even have its first female president. But there are still miles to go. Although women hold various professional posts, there exists a double standard that leaves women at a disadvantage.


Woman depicted as a General

While there are women in the corporate world, the percentage that has managed to break through the glass ceiling is small. Even today, to have a female CEO or HOD is a big deal. Gender stereotypes still exist, as does gender inequality. We are still fighting for equal pay.

For instance, while young girls are being encouraged to take interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and hold 25 per cent of the jobs in these sectors, a survey conducted among Boston’s research centres found that women are paid half of what their male counterparts are. This holds true in most fields—sports, acting, etc.


Woman depicted as a Journalist

And of course, sexism still exists, both professionally and in the domestic sphere. Extraordinary women like Hillary Clinton not only have to deal with the challenges of politics but also deal with double standards for being a woman. For instance, the presidential candidate faces a lot of negative comments for her wardrobe choices and overall appearance, which takes away from the significant work she’s done.


Woman depicted as the Master of Arms

As women, we do have a lot of catching up to do, since we weren’t on equal footing with men. But it seems we still have to fight tooth and nail at each stage towards progress. Do you think women are finally treated as equals? Do we enjoy the same rights and treatment as men? What do you think?


Woman depicted as Mayor

Photographs: www.boingboing.net