Looking backward: 50 years of progress

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webmaster | 03/07/13

One of the good reasons for getting old in life is that, as the years pass, we gain perspective about events of the past. Sometimes these events spark a momentary interest; other times they simply pass unnoticed.

Recently, I came upon a website that enumerated significant things that occurred 50 years ago. The year was 1963, and I doubt that I thought that much, if anything, would develop out of the topics of conversation of my fellow students on campus.

For example, I was the student who was responsible for selecting and keeping track of books in the paperback section of Spartan Bookstore, which also sold non-textbooks, at San Jose State University. One of the books that I had to keep restocking was “The Feminine Mystique” by Betty Friedan. Because of its popularity among the college population, I bought a copy and read it. Basically, it was an analytical account of women’s lives during the decades after World War II. I found it to be interesting, but not inspiring.

However, the book is now credited with igniting the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s, and Friedan went on to organize and lead the National Organization for Women. Later that year (June 10, 1963) Congress passed the Equal Pay Act. At the time, women earned 59 cents for every dollar that men earned, even if they were doing equivalent work. Over the years, the ratio improved, although full equality has not yet been reached. But, in 2009, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in an attempt to close the lingering gap between men’s and women’s remuneration for equal or equivalent work...


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