Women's equality movement symbol

This Date in UCSF History: A Hopeful Era for Women

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Originally published in Synapse on March 5, 1990.

We live in an exciting time. Throughout the world, walls we once thought were everlasting are being broken down. The struggles for freedom and better quality of life are finally having some effects. As we enter the closing decade of this century, we can see that progress has been made in this country. 

The increase in the number of women entering the medical profession is a small but crucial step in the right direction. Women have demonstrated that, given the opportunity for expression, we can excel. 

Many women have entered the male-dominated “career-world” and have discovered their potential for professional success. 

Furthermore, many women have successfully combined family life with demanding careers. 

We would ultimately like to see these achievements inspire a redefinition of societal priorities toward a greater recognition of the values of family and personal life. 

We need to find a common ground which incorporates all needs as worthy of equal consideration and ensures that all choices are available to all people.

American society has set a double standard of “ideals” that makes it difficult to achieve this cooperation. The amazing “wonder woman” who can do it all (does she even exist?) is not for everyone; nor is the stoic, stalwart man whose self-worth is measured by productivity alone. 

It is still not considered “normal” for a woman not to want a family and to devote herself solely to her career; likewise, it is still not acceptable for men to take paternity leave or be “house husbands.” 

Such traditional expectations perpetuate a “separatist” lifestyle, make it difficult to pursue more well-rounded lives, and severely limit our cultural growth and enrichment.

In honor of International Women’s History Month, we are very pleased to provide a “Women’s Issue” of Synapse. We hope that the “Focus on Women” section will be read by men and women alike. 

The issues covered are not unique to women — children, preventive health, and achieving a balance between career and personal life deserve thought and attention from everyone. Torture, brutality, and injustice ultimately affect us all. The oppression that prevails in Central America and other parts of the world may not exist here, yet rape and sexual abuse continue at alarming rates. 

Presently, the doors are still not completely open for women in the workplace; nor are the doors of opportunity open for men to accept alternative roles. 

The heaviest doors of all — prejudice, inequality, and sexual abuse — must be permanently closed. 

Here’s towards a future of greater understanding and equal sharing of our world.