I asked Anna Maria Ward, a student at UT Austin, to answer a few questions because I wanted a college-aged woman’s opinion on some of the things that are currently going on in America that affect women specifically.
Is the gender pay gap a concern for you, considering that you will be entering the work force when you graduate from college? According to the Pew Research Center, men of all ethnicities (Asian, white, black, Hispanic) still made more than women in 2015.
“The gender pay gap is definitely a concern for me, as I plan on diving into the entertainment/performing industry – a field that’s pretty notorious for its tendency towards inequal pay.”
Has there ever been a time where you have faced sexism in the workplace? If yes, can you describe one event?
“Hoooo boy. Has there ever been a time where I HAVEN’T experienced sexism in the workplace? Since I have an ungodly amount of anecdotes regarding this particular subject, I’m going to gloss over all the times I haven’t been taken seriously or actually been listened to by my male coworkers/employers…I’ll jump straight to the problem I’ve found to be most pervasive in my work environments: sexual harassment. Every single job I’ve ever had – barring, of course, the one job that only had female employees – I’ve had to deal with guys acting disgusting towards me. For example: When I worked at Torchy’s Tacos, I had the inexpressible joy of being leered at/propositioned by/threatened by/etc. my wonderfully creepy, markedly older male coworkers. And then I had to split my tips with them. Also – the cherry on top? None of them could ever be actually disciplined or fired because Torchy’s was understaffed. So that was great.”
Is there something in particular that you would like the next president to do to close the wage gap and potentially lower the levels of sexism in the workplace?
“Well, if we’re being honest here, the next president is either going to be Hillary Clinton or – yikes – Donald Trump. (Sorry, third-party hopefuls.) If Trump wins, any chance of a closed wage gap or decreased sexism flies out the window. Not even going to go there. If Clinton wins, I believe she will work towards fulfilling her promises of bettering the prospects of women in this country; however, it’s a multifaceted issue that doesn’t have a simple, direct solution. Raising the minimum wage, implementing better PAID maternity/paternity leave options, introducing and ENFORCING workplace policies that combat hostility against women, and actually requiring businesses to be completely transparent with their pay data would be helpful. Also, women would – in general – have the ability to work more hours if men and women actually split household duties 50/50. There are a lot of factors at play.”
According to several sources, Donald Trump interrupted Hillary Clinton 51 times during the first presidential debate. Do you believe this was because he is sexist or do you think that it is just Donald Trump’s nature to interrupt?
“I think it’s both, honestly. He does have a tendency to interrupt people in general (because he’s, you know, an egomaniac), but he obviously has a pretty significant history of treating women atrociously. His sexist views no doubt contributed (at the very least, on a subconscious level) to his disgraceful treatment of Clinton throughout the debate.”
Do you think it is okay for the federal government to be involved in regulating paid maternity and paternity leave?
“Yes. Human beings have kids. Human beings also need money to live. We’re talking about some pretty fundamental rights here.”
What are your thoughts on President Obama protecting Planned Parenthood permanently?
“What hyper-conservative lunatics fail to realize is that Planned Parenthood is NOT some baby-murdering, Satanic institution. ONLY THREE PERCENT OF PLANNED PARENTHOOD’S WORK IS COMPRISED OF ABORTION SERVICES. It’s literally an affordable education and health service. It helps about five million people a year. Obama is literally protecting the lives of millions of people. We need Planned Parenthood. (Sorry, I get SUPER mad about this.)”
To the left is Anna Maria Ward, a student at UT Austin studying Journalism. She is also minoring in Theatre in Dance and completing a certificate in Business Foundations.