It's been 98 years since women officially gained the right to vote, the first major step toward gender equality in America. Today, it would appear that women have the same fundamental rights as men. But is that true?

Despite women’s rights, the reality is that women still experience inequality on a regular basis.

Gender discrimination plays out in ways you might not see at first. For every "right" there's a shadow side of "reality." Lack of enforcement, power imbalances, social stigmas. Much remains to be done to achieve full gender equality here and worldwide.

circle-1  Explore the gap between rights and reality.

RIGHT: Women can choose to refuse sex.
  • Many women are afraid that if they say "no," he'll ruin her reputation, career, or life. Just like Harvey Weinstein, Larry Nassar, or Leslie Moonves, men can abuse power to solicit sex.
  • Refusing to give him what he wants can be a death sentence. 1,000 women a year are murdered by a current or former intimate partner.
  • Thousands of women and girls are trafficked for sex every year against their will – yes, even here in the U.S.
RIGHT: Women have the right not to be abused.
  • 1 in 4 women will experience intimate partner violence during her lifetime. For black, multiracial, and Native American women, the odds are 1 in 2.
  • The abuser may even be an authority figure like a police officer — which complicates the process of reporting abuse.
  • It's very difficult to walk away from abuse. Victims are often dependent on an abuser for housing and money. It takes, on average, 7 attempts to finally leave an abusive partner.
RIGHT: Women can have any job if they're capable of the work.
  • 42% of women say they have faced discrimination on the job because of their gender. In male-dominated fields such as law, finance, technology, engineering, construction, and mechanical work, the discrimination is even worse. This deters women from these jobs.
  • Men will typically find a clear path upward to top management positions, while women encounter a "glass ceiling" that keeps them from advancing to the top. Women who are assertive are called "bossy", while their assertive male peers are seen as "leaders."
  • Women run into deep prejudices for being "too emotional" to trust with serious responsibility, preventing them from moving up.
  • Working mothers face a harsh double standard — they're called selfish for prioritizing their career before their family's needs, while women who leave work early to pick up the kids from daycare get called lazy or uncommitted to their jobs.
  • Women who want to become entrepreneurs face serious loan discrimination. For every $1 of small business loans that goes to women, $23 goes to men.
RIGHT: Women receive equal pay for equal work.
  • Women working full time in the United States on average are paid just 80% of what men are paid — a gap of 20%. For black women the pay gap is more like 37%, and for Latina women it's a troubling 46% wage gap.
  • Even in the same field, there is a pay gap. A female physician earns $19,900 less than a male physician even after adjusting for factors like rank, experience, and education.
  • Men find a clear path upward to high-paying management positions, while women encounter a "glass ceiling".
  • Women are more likely to take time off from their careers because social conventions pressure women to prioritize family over career. In the majority of homes, even dual full-time working couples, women are more likely to be the primary caregivers for children and elderly parents.
RIGHT: Women can go to college.
  • 66% of college debt in the U.S. belongs to women. Because women earn less on average, it will take them longer to pay off that debt, meaning they'll also pay more interest than a man will on the same size loan.
  • More single moms are pursuing higher education, but are less likely to complete their degrees due to working full or part time, the high cost of daycare, and rising housing costs.
  • Women graduating with the same degrees as men enter into the job market to find that their degrees are not worth the same. One study found women were payed an unexplained 7% less one year out of college than their male peers.
RIGHT: Women can own wealth and property.
  • Car dealers tend to make more expensive initial offers to women than to men—asking almost $200 more from white women and $400 from black women.
  • Because a woman is more likely to have employment gaps due to caregiving responsibilities, and likely to have earned less when she was employed, it becomes harder to save and harder to retire. One study suggests that by retirement, women will have missed out on over $1,000,000 lifetime earnings.
  • Women are 80% more likely than men to live in conditions of poverty by the time they're 65.
RIGHT: Women can run for office.
  • Currently, women are 22% of the Senate (a record number), 19% of the House, and 12% of State Governors. For every woman in office in the U.S., there are three men.
  • Women who want to enter politics are less likely to have substantial wealth and also/therefore seen less favorably by party recruiters and gatekeepers.
  • Women in politics are also subjected to harmful stereotypes that devalue their work, question their competency, and demonize their ambition.
RIGHT: Women have the right to vote.
  • Though women gained the right to vote in 1920, black women and men were disenfranchised until the 1960's. In the South, practices deliberately blocked black people from registering to vote and voting.
  • Today, racial gerrymandering creates "majority minority" districts, reducing minority representation in adjacent districts and diminishing the effectiveness of black people's vote.
  • In some states, felony disenfranchisement means that women and men in detention centers, prisons, and on probation, are denied their voting rights (in some cases, even after they've served their time).


circle-1 Take action & speak your truth.


What's your reality?

Share a moment when you felt the weight of a sexist reality. Tag it: #womensreality


It’s time to drop some truth about the harsh realities we face as women. Start a conversation to shine light on shady sexism holding us back from true equality.






If all the women who have experienced hardship just for being a woman talked about it and tagged it #WOMENSREALITY, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.

We might teach people that even though human rights are important, human rights don't guarantee equality. If we want to empower women, we need more than our rights. We need to actually do what's right. We need people and institutions to stop acting in ways that create more inequality.

The #WomensReality campaign is about naming our truth. It's an opportunity to say, "You know what? I AM treated differently because I'm a woman. And I won't accept that."

It's a dose of reality. A wake up call. A culture shift.

Post a status about a time when you've faced a sexist reality.





LiveYourDream.org is an action network—an online community of nearly 100,000 volunteers and activists—addressing some of the most serious challenges women and girls face today, such as gender-based violence and lack of access to quality education.

The LiveYourDream.org action network is powered by Soroptimist, an international nonprofit committed to economically improving the lives of women and girls who face obstacles such as poverty, violence and teen pregnancy. Volunteers create impact through two life-changing programs leading to economic empowerment—Live Your Dream: Education & Training Awards for Women and Dream It, Be It: Career Support for Girls.

Not a member of LiveYourDream.org yet? Sign up today!



Preparing Girls for Career Success


Opportunity Through Education


Ending Violence Against Women & Girls