Outdated Laws That Continue to Hold Women Back

  • Unpaid maternity leave and unequal pay are holding women back.
  • Discrimination in hiring practices continues to persist.
  • Abortion access is being restricted and negatively affecting women.
  • Divorce has become more equitable with laws protecting women’s rights.
  • Sexual harassment needs to be addressed, and perpetrators held accountable.

Regarding sexism in the legal system, the evidence is all around. The deck is stacked against women for as long as the world can remember. While some progress has been made in recent years, far too many laws continue to be biased against women, holding them back in both their personal and professional lives. From discrimination in hiring practices to unequal pay, women are fighting every day to overcome systemic gender bias. Here’s what you need to know about laws holding women back and what you can do about it.

1. Unpaid Maternity Leave

One of the most glaring inequalities in the legal system is the issue of unpaid maternity leave. Shockingly, the United States is one of only two countries worldwide that does not offer paid maternity leave, leaving women to choose between their careers and their families. Without the security of paid leave, women are forced to take unpaid time off or try to balance the demands of new motherhood with work responsibilities. The result is often a loss of income, lower social security benefits, and perpetuation of the patriarchal system that favors men in the workplace.

Unequal pay between men and women

2. Unequal Pay

Another biased law against women is the persistent wage gap between men and women. Despite decades of progress in this area, research shows that women still earn just 82 cents for every dollar men earn.

This gap is even wider for women of color, who earn just 63 cents for every dollar white men earn. Laws like the Equal Pay Act of 1963 were intended to address this issue, but they have proven insufficient. The best way to fight against this inequality is to speak out, demand transparency in pay scales, and support organizations that fight for equal pay.

3. Discrimination in Hiring

Women also continue to face discrimination in hiring practices, especially in traditionally male-dominated fields. Despite laws protecting against gender discrimination in hiring, women are often overlooked for promotions and positions of authority. One study found that women who negotiate their salaries were seen as “less likable” than men who did the same, revealing an inherent gender bias during the hiring process. It’s up to all of us to push back against this bias through awareness and advocacy.

4. Abortion Restrictions

Restrictions on abortion access are another area of the legal system that is biased against women. Although the U.S. Constitution protects a woman’s right to choose, many states have enacted laws that make it more and more difficult to access safe abortion care. These restrictions disproportionately harm low-income women, women of color, and women in rural areas. You can push back against these dangerous and discriminatory laws by supporting organizations that protect reproductive rights.

Divorce settlement in family

5. Divorce

Divorce is another area of the legal system that has become more equitable in recent years. Today, laws protect women’s rights during a divorce, including the right to financial support and joint custody of children (if desired). However, many states still have outdated laws on the books that unfairly govern alimony payments and distribution of assets. Knowing a reputable divorce attorney for women is essential so they know your rights and protect them. They can also make your divorce less costly so you can concentrate more on your family.

6. Sexual Harassment

Finally, you can’t talk about gender bias in the legal system without addressing the issue of sexual harassment. While the #MeToo movement has brought this issue to the forefront, women are still harassed and assaulted in the workplace and beyond. Often, the legal system fails to hold perpetrators accountable, instead placing the blame on victims. You can work towards a future where everyone is treated with respect and dignity by speaking out about your experiences, holding those in power accountable, and demanding change.

Advocating for Change

It can be tough to advocate for change, but by following these three tips, you can be a force of change in the community:

Join Organizations

One way to fight gender bias in the legal system is to join organizations that advocate for women’s rights. Organizations like the National Women’s Law Center and Women’s Equality work hard to level the playing field. At the same time, other non-profits advocate for specific issues like equal pay or reproductive rights.

Speak Out

It’s also important to speak out against gender discrimination when you witness it. If you see women being treated unfairly in the workplace or school, challenge it and speak up. Talk to your friends and family about these issues and spread awareness of the injustices that women are facing.

Support Legislation

Finally, support legislation that advances women’s rights. Contact your local representatives to inform them which laws need to be changed or amended to create a more equitable system for all genders.

By making our voices heard and advocating for change, the world can progress toward an equal legal system for everyone. With dedication and persistence, you can work together toward a brighter future where everyone is truly equal under the law.