Why Women's Equality Matters To Everyone

Photo courtesy of Michael Marty
Nearly a century ago, on August 26, 1920, women were finally granted the right to vote. In the past 100 years, a lot has changed...but we aren't where we should be yet. Here, Michael Marty, senior vice president of Care.com, an organization that helps families find care for children, seniors, and other family members, shares an open letter to his 8-year-old daughter on why he will never stop fighting for gender equality.

Dear Kyla,

You know the way you’re starting to feel about the end of summer — excited to begin a new school year, but also wishing for a few more carefree beach days on the Cape? Well, that’s kind of how I feel about you growing up. Before your mother’s and my eyes, you’re becoming this amazing young person — funny and kind, thoughtful and brave. But there’s a part of me wishing for few more carefree years in which I can protect my little girl from all of the challenges the world will inevitably throw her way.

As I sit here writing this, I know 2016 is an amazing time for girls to grow up. This summer, we saw our first female Presidential nominee from a major party. That made me think about a recent conversation you’ve probably already forgotten. We were walking, and you looked up and saw some geese. Most of them were flying in a V formation, but you asked about the one off to the side. I said something like, "He's a wild man, off doing his thing." And you replied resolutely, without missing a beat, "She might be a girl, Daddy."

Do you know why I’ll always remember this conversation? Because in that moment, I saw the world through your eyes. To me, it was just a goose; to you, she was a fierce individual making her own path. I hope you keep that perspective. Always. For your generation, it will always be normal to have women running for or even serving as President. For you, it will be normal that there are women Supreme Court Justices, CEOs, and Army Rangers. Those particular glass ceilings won't exist for you. But, as your father, I’m painfully aware that, for all the really important progress we’ve made, there are still biases, limits, and gender stereotypes that unfortunately shape the way many young women and girls see themselves. That’s why I’m writing you this letter.

This Friday is Women’s Equality Day. It commemorates the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920, which granted women the right to vote. Days like this are important because they remind us of our history and how far we’ve come, while also helping us reflect on the work we still have to do — and how much more in the world we want to see fixed. It makes me crazy to think that, because we still don’t have equal pay in this country, you — my daughter — might not earn as much as a man (who’s lucky enough to be your equal) until you’re 50 years old. That's when we’re projected to close the gender wage gap: in 2058. And to think that should you decide to become a mom, having a family could make it even harder for you to get ahead in your career! As a man, that was never an issue for me.

When you were born, I was an officer in the Army. There was no paid paternity leave available to me, so I took my accrued leave (vacation time) in order to be there for you and your mother — striving then, and to this day, to be her equal in parenthood. At the same time, I thought it was important to show those who looked to me for leadership that a father can selflessly serve his nation without sacrificing his commitment to family.

It’s important to have leaders who aren’t afraid to challenge systems that perpetuate injustices, institutional biases, and inequalities. That’s why I’m doing the work that I do today, alongside some amazing people at Care.com. That’s why I’m answering the call of my boss, who happens to be a real-life superwoman, as we fight to make equal pay just another glass ceiling shattered for your generation — through initiatives like the White House’s Equal Pay Pledge, which our company signed earlier this year.

As much as I wish I could shelter you from even the possibility that you’d ever be made to feel less than anyone else because of your gender, I know I can’t. But I also can’t stand around.

As a man, as your father, that’s one of my responsibilities to you. As much as it’s my instinct to protect you from harm and provide an environment that sets you up for success, it’s my obligation to help institute workplace policies and culture that empower you to follow your dreams and make them a reality. I need to do my part to make sure more women are getting hired and promoted, and that more moms feel supported to return to work — so that my daughter can see this is the way things are, rather than the way things should be.

It has never occurred to you to think of being a girl as a limitation — it never should, and I hope it never does. I don’t want you to have to choose between family and work, between getting a promotion and getting to your child’s recital. You may only be eight now, but I truly think about this every day. It’s why I work so passionately and proudly for a company that is striving to shatter that barrier, too, by helping businesses level the playing field for working moms and dads.

The world is changing fast — almost as fast as you’re growing up. I can’t stop time and keep you 8 years old forever, but I can try like hell to change the world and give you the true equality that your generation expects and deserves.

I haven’t decided exactly when I’ll give you this letter. Maybe for your 18th birthday...the first year you vote. That will also be the year that, together, we’ll celebrate America’s 250th birthday. Until then, keep making me proud.

All my love,

Daddy

Michael Marty is a senior vice president and general manager at Care.com, overseeing global operations, consumer payments, and all domestic and international business-to-business products and services, including Care@Work by Care.com, the enterprise arm focused on helping companies support their working families. Michael is also a husband, father of two, and a combat veteran of the U.S. Army.

Michael has held various roles within the tech space, specifically in the digital media, gaming, and mobile industries. Before venturing into the tech industry, he was an officer in the U.S. Army, which included a combat tour in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Michael was selected as a "Top 40 Under 40 Military/Veteran" and is a recipient of the General George C. Marshall Foundation Leadership Award. Michael holds a BBA in Marketing from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
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