In honor of International Women's Day, we sought out to ask the question "what do you think is the most important problem facing women today" to a few USC women we admire.

Varsha Sivaram, Queer and Ally Student Assembly Co-Director (Photo/Phyo Pyae Nay Chi Win)
Varsha Sivaram, Queer and Ally Student Assembly Co-Director (Photo/Phyo Pyae Nay Chi Win)

"The biggest problem facing women today has to do with the ability to make choices about oneself and one's body. We need to think fundamentally about letting women decide what they want to do given the fact that circumstances of the world have given so little to them. Regardless of what perspective you have, you should let people make choices for themselves instead of the law or men deciding what they have to do."   –Varsha Sivaram, Queer and Ally Student Assembly Co-Director

Mina M. Chow, Professor of School of Architecture (Photo/Ling Luo)
Mina M. Chow, Professor of School of Architecture (Photo/Ling Luo)

"When I was in college, I was grateful to the women who had come before me to win us a place at the table in the professional world. But now upon working in the real world for a number of years, I realize the challenges are more formidable than anticipated. Conflicts not only exist institutionally, they are implicit within societal and cultural norms—and even within us as individuals. Giving permission to myself even to have a voice is a battle I face every day. "  –Mina M. Chow, Professor of School of Architecture

Alison Trope, Professor of Communication (Photo/Manjia Chen)
Alison Trope, Professor of Communication (Photo/Manjia Chen)

"I think it's a hard question because there are so many obstacles facing women today, and it really depends on where you sit in an intersectional context, where you sit economically, racially, ethnically, nationally, geographically.We can look at the #MeToo movement and see gendered violence at both a micro level (personal experience with assault or harassment) and a macro level (the collective or cultural way this violence is normalized). But, this is only one lens to look at sexual and gendered violence in the world, and we need to keep in mind what gendered violence looks like in a range of contexts and power imbalances including using rape as a weapon of war, genital mutilation, and femicide."   — Alison Trope, Professor of Communication

Megan Biging, USC Women’s Rowing Assistant Coach (Photo/Radka Novotnikova)
Megan Biging, USC Women’s Rowing Assistant Coach (Photo/Radka Novotnikova)

"I think one of the biggest problem women face is the choice between homemaker and moneymaker. It's hard because I feel like women have fought so hard to be present in the workspace and get equal rights and same income, but at the same time there is the inherent need to be a mother. … I don't think it is a society problem. It is like a personal women's struggle. I would say it portrays to me mostly because where I am at my life. I am on the career path, but I really want to become a mom."  –Megan Biging, USC Women's Rowing Assistant Coach

Norma Estrada, staff at Little Galen (Photo/Radka Novotnikova)
Norma Estrada, staff at Little Galen (Photo/Radka Novotnikova)

"Women still have to fight to be respected. Sometimes we suffer because we are Latinos. We are bullied because of our English accent. … It was so difficult for me because I didn't speak English at all, and I didn't have the opportunity to go to school here. I went to school in Mexico but it's totally different. (Despite that,) my life improved a lot here, because in Mexico some men don't want women to work or study. We do have more opportunities here, but we still have to fight for it. I never thought I will have a driving license but now I do. I think we still have to continue fighting for equal rights for everybody because every woman is different." –Norma Estrada, staff at Little Galen

Meiling Cheng, Professor of Theater in Critical Studies (Photo/Serena Xinruihe Wang)
Meiling Cheng, Professor of Theater in Critical Studies (Photo/Serena Xinruihe Wang)

"If we understand how to combat internalized oppression, we can change the world." Born and raised in Taipei, Cheng always feeling that her parents wanted a son, even though they loved her very much. "Internalized oppression can be unconscious, but it affects your subconsciousness," she said. "After my husband passed away, I feel that I'm not enough for my family because I'm a woman, and that I need a man in the house in order to have a more secure life,"  she said, "but the loss is more than a gender-based thing."   — Meiling Cheng, Professor of Dramatic Arts

Laylah Fairlay, student in architecture (Photo/Keyu Huang)
Laylah Fairlay, student in architecture (Photo/Keyu Huang)

"For me, the issue of women is that we are not put into enough industries. We are always at the bottom, while the men are always dominating everything. I feel like there is a change that needs to be happening. Women need to step up, or men need to step out of the way and let us do our thing."   –Laylah Fairlay, student in architecture

*The quotes have been revised after the article was published, so that the content is better contextualized. We apologize for the initial confusion.