Women in the U.S. are feeling increasingly unequal, facing down gender discrimination in nearly every facet of their daily lives including healthcare, pay parity, and workplace harassment. This is according to a new study by the Supermajority Education Fund, which recently criss-crossed the country on a bus with the goal of mobilizing women politically to fight gender discrimination in all its forms. And it’s found that women are more ready than ever to generate change.
Based on over 2,000 responses to the survey, roughly half of respondents said that the economy has hurt them during the past couple of years. To make ends meet, 28% of women are working two or more jobs. “Living paycheck to paycheck...being a single mother is extremely difficult,” an anonymous 37-year-old in Indiana told Supermajority. “Rent, food, bills, insurance, car payment etc., is all increasing, but job pay remains the same. I'm very thankful for my job but feel that if any major life event should happen, my savings would be wiped out and I'd be back at square one.”
Supermajority met women where they live in an effort to understand a diverse array of experiences. “Women, especially women of color, have been abandoned and punished by this system. Half of all of the women surveyed said the economy over the past couple of years has hurt them and it’s worse for women of color and those without a college degree,” Alicia Garza, cofounder of Supermajority Education Fund, said in a statement provided to Refinery29. “Gender equality will not be a reality until everyone — no matter your race, religion, gender, or background — has an equal opportunity to rise.”
That fight for equality includes our most basic needs. When it comes to healthcare, for example, three in 10 women surveyed said they have been unable to afford a bill or medication in the past two years. Those in the LGBTQ+ community are 13% more likely to be in this category, and younger women and women of color struggle the most, a spokesperson for Supermajority told Refinery29.
On top of that, women continue to face a hostile workplace and lower pay. Despite some of the advances of the #MeToo movement, one of three women, across every age group, report having been sexually harassed at work by a boss or coworker. It’s no wonder, then, that 82% of women told surveyors we won’t have real equality until “all women can fight sexual harassment and discrimination without fear of losing their paycheck.”
Over one in three women said they know they’re being paid less because of gender — and it’s not only the wage gap, but a “promotions gap”: 24% of women said they believe they’ve been passed over for promotions based on gender. “I have been turned down for promotions in favor of a man who openly says, ‘I just fool around at work all day. I don't know why I got this job and not you,’” an anonymous 34-year-old in Florida told Supermajority. And, three in 10 women with children at home said they have suffered consequences at work because they have kids, like lower wages and missed opportunities for promotion.
Amid these conditions, women reported that gendered violence is a daily concern. Three in 10 women said they’ve been assaulted by someone they know, and many women said they don’t feel safe. “I always keep an eye open. I can’t have both my headphones in. I always have my pepper spray… I always make sure to notice if somebody is walking [behind me],” an anonymous 21-year-old in Georgia told Supermajority.
For these reasons, women are mobilizing like never before. According to the study, three in 10 Democratic and Independent women voters have contacted an elected official, compared to far fewer Republicans, and one in five Democratic voters have marched, protested, or attended a rally. Also, three-quarters of female registered voters said they are interested in joining a “women’s equality organization” — such as Supermajority — with Democrats and women of color more likely to say they want to join. One in five Republican women said they are very interested as well.
During the organization's recently wrapped up nationwide bus tour, Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren both made it clear that they hear women’s concerns.
“One of the best ways that we can avoid and prevent [domestic violence] is to make sure women have economic opportunity,” Harris said in her appearance during the tour’s finale. “So they’re not reliant on an abusive relationship to keep a roof over their head and put food on their table. … When people would say to me, ‘Kamala, talk to us about women’s issues,’ I would say, ‘You know, I’m so glad you want to talk about the economy.’”