The television drones on in the background, as a woman tidies up the home and begins cooking. She shouts, “Dinner is ready!” and a subsequent pitter-patter of feet enter the dining room. Her children storm into their seats, and shortly afterwards a man dressed head-to-toe in a suit enters the house with a smile on his face and a briefcase at his side. He kisses the woman on her cheek, and she asks the man about work.
This scene just painted reflects mid-20th century ideals and the reality in most households of that time. From this “women-in-the-kitchen” standard, a counter-culture was ignited. The 1970’s ushered in a second-wave of feminism, pushing women to further take on traditionally male roles. Women achieved monumental strides in equal rights in the workplace and at home. Yet, despite efforts to dismantle the patriarchy, the pathway to gender equality still remains out of reach.
Women have moved out of the house, yet men still are reluctant to move in. Society largely views the role as the primary caregiver as solely belonging to a woman, and judges men who take on this role. Consequently, paid maternity leave has been set in stone since the 90’s, yet even 20 years later, paid paternity leave remains scarce in the working industry. Therefore, often times in family households, the jobs of bread-maker and caretaker are left to the woman, creating unequal roles in the home, and further distancing America from the bright light of the future of gender equality.
Companies considered to be more progressive, such as Netflix, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft pave the way in providing equal maternity and paternity leaves. Most notably, Netflix offers new parents paid leave for the first year after a baby is born or adopted. States such as California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey, have also established laws regarding the implementation of paid family leave laws, and other states have begun considering putting these laws into effect.
Though progress has inched forward, gender equality is still stuck in a muddle of stigma and stereotypes. It still remains a “progressive concern,” and not a universal one, resulting in the continuance of the image portrayed previously and leaving the realization of gender equality far away.