I totally agree with post number 4. Women are certainly coming a long way as far as education goes. More and more women are going to school first, and having families later. Many women are finding that they need to be self-reliant and dependent only on themselves.
Women's rights have certainly improved, as the previous posts outline. In addition, attitudes have shifted. Not only are women more equal in job advancement and pay, but the attitude of companies towards executive females has changed. It is no longer considered "odd." Look at the number of movies that portray women in powerful positions these days.
That being said, attitudes have not completely shifted. Society still believes that women are suited for housework more than men. If one parent is going be a stay at home, society still expects it to be the woman, even though more and more men are doing so. The term "career woman" is still common - you never hear about a "career man", which suggests that it is still not entirely natural (per society) for woman to focus on their job success.
Equality has improved in laws - but not as much in opinions.
One area in which woman have made major strides is education. More women than ever before are enrolled in law school, medical school, and schools of business and finance. Young women today do not feel social pressure to pursue only those professions which were once traditionally reserved for them, most commonly teaching and nursing. As a result, millions of women today excel in professions largely closed to them in the past.
I think that women's rights have improved significantly since 1980. If we examine what women were striving for then and examine where the movement is now, we see significant change. Initially, women's economic empowerment is vastly improved in the modern setting as opposed to thirty years ago, when women were first entering the workplace. It was a rare occurrence at that time to see women at work, and now it is something common, accepted, and even encouraged. There still is pay discrepancies between men and women, however there have been some initiatives that indicate the discrimination gap is closing. The first would be the passage and understanding of sexual harassment in the workplace. There has been a collective change of consciousness in how men are required by law to address and collaborate with women in the workplace. While some personal attitudes might not have changed, men and women both understand that the workplace is to be a setting devoid of derogatory, hurtful, and insensitive comments. Additionally, women have successfully fought for family leave rights, which are more prevalent now then they were back then. Finally, while we do not see as many women in the positions of power in business as we would like, there are more women in higher leveled and executive positions now then there were in the 1980s.
On a social level, women's rights have improved in both legal and social domains. Socially, women are seen as having similar opportunities as men and are more encouraged to have freedom of choice in what they do, as opposed to being socially stifled on a large scale as to what they must do. Legally, there is stronger legislation on issues of rape/ sexual assault and domestic violence. While there is still much more to go in terms of progress, advancement has been made. Women have been able to play a formative role in defining their own sense of sexuality and sexual identity. There are still elements that might not represent sexism as much as trappings of power and the linguistics of control, but there has been progress made in how women define their own sense of sexual identity. The last improvement has been that the cause of women's rights are not limited to strides in America. The women's rights movement has seen itself as a global movement, striving to reach out to women across the world in traditional and modern communities. We are now hearing the discourse include women from Africa, Asia, South America, as well as rural and urban settings. This has increased the appeal and understanding of women's rights as not a localized movement, but a globalized one.
I wouldn't say that women's rights per se have improved but individual rights as a whole have improved. Minorities, and disadvantaged peoples of all types, have seen their political power improve and this has resulted in many recent accomplishments and successes.
Even in the recent Heller decision in the US Supreme Court that allows individuals the right to bear arms is a great improvements for the rights of all individuals.