Dotty Nygard is a registered nurse who has worked at the local community hospital in Tracy for 27 years. She is a proud union member with the California Nurses Association (CNA), lead facility representative and Chair of the Professional Performance Committee. 

The belief that women are the weaker sex and men are simply better in certain professions than women continue to damage our society. “There are still lots of hurdles and lots of discriminatory practices out there that we are still facing in this 21st century,” says Dotty Nygard. Despite the demands for gender equality and the improvements  through the last decades, women still aren’t viewed or treated as equal. Why is gender inequality still an issue?  

“My dream is that we remove all labels and we be a society that values both women and men equally who strive to make things better.” -Dotty Nygard  

Part 1: Exploring Gender Inequality  

Q: How do you feel about the gender inequality within our country? 

A: The 1972 Equal Rights Amendment is still is not ratified. It has taken 50 years to get us to this point and yet we are still not at the finish line, but I am optimistic that it may finally be within reach. And why are we are still dealing with wage gap inequities and fighting to eliminate discriminatory pay practices? 

 I know progress shows we are changing the stereo type of “the weaker sex”, as more women enter unchartered roles and we continue to dismantle stigmas. In a female dominated profession, Nurses take an oath to advocate and provide equitable care to their patients, regardless of sex, race, ethnicity or religious belief. 

 Our patients are equal. It would be ideal if we could get past labels and see each other as equal human beings. I hope in my lifetime we can succeed in achieving gender equality so that my daughter and future granddaughters can feel secure and confident in their role as young women and as an equal participant to their family, their work or their community. – Dotty Nygard 

 

Q: What does feminism mean today and what is modern feminism fighting for? 

A: The first thing that comes to mind besides equality, is mutual respect. That we are fighting for mutual respect, equal opportunities and freedom from sexual harassment. Feminism is about supporting and empowering a movement of inclusiveness. 

No woman should feel unsafe in their home, their workplace, or in their community. – Dotty Nygard 

 

Q: How is it like being a nurse in the pandemic? 

A: Covid arrived last winter. It was the “Year of the Nurse 2020”, honoring the 200th Anniversary of Florence Nightingale. It was bitter-sweet to have our communities elevate us to Heroes and yet we had to fight so hard for PPE, staffing, testing and protections for our patients. We are nurses, this is our job. We want our employers to provide for us what we need to do our job. We want to follow our standard principles of infection control and keep each other and our patients safe. I witnessed colleagues get sick. I lost friends. As frontline workers, we had to deal with the fear of taking home covid to our family members and I saw a lot of “nurse burn-out”.  

It has been an incredibly difficult year filled with emotional trauma.  

We witnessed how unprepared we were for this pandemic from all levels; local, state and federal with the lack of emergency stockpile, equipment and personnel. It also showed vividly how broken our healthcare system is and how our employers prioritize profits over caring for our patients. 

But even through all this chaos, I have been especially grateful and proud of our union, CNA.  Nurses have fought relentlessly for PPE supply, testing, safety standards and against relaxing our CA Ratio Law. And its Nurses that continue to push against a profit driven system that has put money over what truly matters, human life. But we win when we stand together. SOLIDARITY MATTERS! – Dotty Nygard  

 

Q: Making the world a better place is something we all want to see. We want to see that change with gender equality. What do you think is the first step to bring change to the world?  

A: Allow more women to be at the table! We must continue to get more women elected into positions of leadership and governance. 

We must continue to empower and teach our young women to dream big and to go after whatever their hearts’ desire, there should be no limit whatsoever.  In the last couple of years, we have seen women taking on incredible positions, positions of equal leadership. Look what we just did- We just elected a biracial, woman of color to be the Vice President of the United States of America. – Dotty Nygard  

Q: There’s been major progress towards gender equality for example with the 19th amendment securing all women the right to vote, women in the workforce, the equal pay act, but this progress shouldn’t and isn’t over yet. Do you think change towards gender equality has slowed down or has increased? 

A: I can only hope as we elect more women in Government, we will pick up the pace and accomplish great things. Gone is the excuse that women are “just not there yet.” No, we’ve been here and ready to go for decades, you refused to recognize us. It’s our time.   I’m excited for the next election cycle as we elect more women into political roles that will benefit gender justice and equality. -Dotty Nygard  

 

Part 2: Women in Politics  

Q: You have run for congress and city council. Can you talk to me more about those experiences? 

A: In 2016 I listened to a Presidential Candidate, addressing issue after issue; equal pay, good-paying jobs, free college education, clean energy and protections for our environment and that we need a healthcare system that allows all of us to be able to have access without any type of burden or barrier. Senator Sanders inspired me. He believed our democracy built by the people for the people included all of us, teachers, firefighters, factory workers, mail carriers, nurses, etc. Nurses are critical thinkers and problem solvers. I got involved. 

   We all have common issues. We want a safe community to live in, a roof over our heads, we want our children to attend a school that gives them great opportunities, we want to have a paycheck that we can live on, we want to have healthcare, we want to live in a world where we’re not afraid of the climate catastrophes that are continuing to happen. It starts with conversations on how our communities achieve common strategies for a healthy and sustainable future. That’s why it’s so important to be involved, to be engaged, and to know what’s really going on in your community at the local level, state level, and federal level. Did I want to win? Absolutely. Did I know it was going to be a struggle to get there? Absolutely. I wanted to participate and to be able to push the conversations on the issues. Especially healthcare, I know firsthand how broken our system is and it’s time for a system that doesn’t prioritize profit over caring for people. I may not have won a seat but I felt I accomplished elevating the conversation on issues that mattered. 

To make our country the best it can be we all have to participate.   Allowing for change to happen it takes all of us to get to the ballot box and to know what you are voting for- be informed – make your vote and your voice count. You can’t complain about something and not vote because if you want real change it starts at the ballot box. -Dotty Nygard  

 

Q: Do you feel like there’s a double standard for female candidates and how are women criticized when it comes to American Politics? 

A: Yes,  

I had received some correspondence from a group of men in my district, sharing how I needed to dress and present myself. It made me both angry and annoyed. Did the male candidates I was running against receive the same correspondence? 

 Yes. I experienced gender biases. If you are passionate, you are perceived as angry or emotional, too quiet you are weak or timid, loud – aggressive. You  

 It wasn’t going to silence me or stop me from participating in critical conversations with my constituents.  The time I spent engaged as a candidate taught me, as a woman, that I needed to demonstrate that I was not going to allow the political process to have boundaries -Dotty Nygard  

Dotty Nygard is a very inspirational leader in our community. Her passion for wanting gender equality is very inspiring to our young women. Her past experiences continue to motivate her to fight for what is right. Women are capable enough to bring many amazing contributions to our society. Over the last few centuries, women have achieved so much and have targeted the stereotype of the “traditional” women’s role. Now women are taking on leadership positions that are playing a key role in the development of our society. We need to achieve gender equality for our society to thrive to greatness. We all must continue to bring change by fighting for gender equality in order to resolve this issue once in for all.  

 

Goldeen, Joe. “Striking nurses walk out at county hospital, jail, clinics, Public Health.”Recordnet.com, 17 Oct. 2020