Late last month, Donald Trump accused Hillary Clinton of playing the “ woman card.” Presumably he meant she was trying to gain an advantage by playing up the fact that she is a woman.

But what does a woman card really entitle its holder to?

Lower wages

Women who work full time earn lower salaries than men across most job sectors. Although the pay gap shrunk from the 1970s to the 1990s, it has remained about the same since 2001, with women earning between 76 cents and 78 cents for every $1 earned by men, according to the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Women are less likely to have health insurance and a retirement plan through their employer than working men.

The pay gap widens as women and men advance through their careers. A major reason for this, researchers have concluded, is that women take time off or seek more flexible work schedules to care for their children and aging parents, responsibilities that disproportionately fall on women.

And, while the gap has shrunk in recent decades, women still do more housework than men.

Domestic violence

Although domestic violence among women and men is underreported, women account for 85 percent of victims. This puts them at higher risk of homicide, depression, health problems and suicide. Intimate partner violence is the leading cause of injuries and death among women of childbearing age in the United States, and pregnant women may be at higher risk of this violence.

More than a third of the women killed in the United States between 2003 and 2012 were killed by a male intimate partner. Only 2.5 percent of male victims were killed by a female intimate partner.

Few seats at the table

Although women make up nearly 51 percent of the population in the United States, there are only six female governors. Women account for only 24 percent of state legislators across the country. In Maine, women hold 29 percent of the seats in the State House. Colorado has the highest percentage at 42 percent; Louisiana has the lowest at 11.8 percent.

Women hold just 19 percent of the seats in Congress. As a result, congressional committees made up entirely of men hold hearings on contraception and abortion restrictions.


Millions of people have watched a video, released last week by Just Not Sports, of male sports fans reading real and malicious tweets directed at two female sports reporters. The tweets were so mean and vulgar that the men had difficulty reading them out loud. Sometimes they apologized for what they had just read, which included suggestions that the women be raped and killed.

Such commentary directed at female journalists, especially those who report on what are traditionally considered male-dominated realms such as sports and politics, is not unusual. The Guardian in England recently reviewed a decade’s worth of online comments posted on its website. Of the 10 reporters who received what the Guardian termed the “most abuse and dismissive trolling” comments, eight were women.

Here are two examples of comments blocked by the Guardian:

“Funny how so many journalists are female, and how many are feminists! A disproportionate number pollute journalism. Jusrt [sic] shows that men DO tend to do ‘harder’ jobs than keyboard bashing, while the technology that men designed and built is used to provide these harpies with a medium from which to spout their biased, sexist, hateful misandry.” This comment was blocked for being sexist and derailing the discussion.

“Stupid ugly woman writes stupid ugly steaming pile of dog-shite” was blocked for being offensive and an ad hominem attack.

Women in the U.S., the U.K. and other western countries, of course, are much better off than women in many parts of the world, including countries where girls are killed for attending school and women are forbidden from working.

Still, a “woman card” doesn’t seem to confer the many benefits that some imagine.

The BDN Editorial Board

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Editorial Page Editor Susan Young, Assistant Editorial Page Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked...