Editorial: Holding up half the sky

“Women hold up half the sky,” a Chinese proverb reads, testifying to the literal and figurative importance of women across the world. March 8 marked the annual International Women’s Day, which takes place every year during National Women’s History Month.

The organizers of the highly attended Jan. 21 Women’s March on Washington created an additional rallying cause with a campaign scheduled for March 8 called “A Day Without a Woman.” The strike encouraged women to participate in targeted economic and caregiving boycotts to prove to the world the importance of their role in the smooth functioning of society.

The magnitude of the strike was exponentially smaller than the march, a testament to the limits of a social movement. However, the importance of acknowleding and advertising this strike is greater than the effect itself of these boycotts, for a few reasons.

Raising the profile of the issue of women’s role in society is useful because it forces many to consider the impact that a real and full strike would have on society. At the University, for example, that would mean that a huge number of resources would be unavailable to all of campus, such as food that women had been involved in preparing or selling, classes taught by female professors, library resources catalogued and organized by female librarians, health and counseling services provided by women, and innumerable others.

In University leadership, too, the effects of women are seen daily. Many of the deans and leaders of both academic and student affairs are women, which is also reflected in leadership and membership in many clubs and activities. The Bucknell Student Government (BSG) Executive Board is held by three women, as is the Executive Board of The Bucknellian.

A vast majority of our staff is also female, which means that if women were to truly participate in a strike, the weekly issue of the newspaper would not be executed. During a week where the men’s basketball team won the Patriot League championship to advance to the NCAA tournament and the women’s basketball team will advance to Patriot League semi-finals, a lack of coverage of these monumental achievements would surely be felt by community members.

However, gender equity at all levels of campus life is necessary to a fair and representative academic experience—adequate, if not equal, female representation in every academic department should be a given at this point. Twenty-four out of 40 of the University’s management professors are male, for example, which isn’t an earth-shattering disparity, but may result in first-year management students not seeing a person who represents their expected and intended academic experience. Also, the University has only ever had white male presidents, which isn’t to say that they were unqualified in any sense, but does speak to the University’s untapped future capacity for embracing more diversity in leadership positions.

Though the strike was largely less impactful for the reasons it intended, it was valuable in propping up larger issues and considering the full picture of how crucial the role of women is to society’s functioning.

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