Gender Inequality in the Workplace

As we begin to discuss the ways in which there are gender inequalities here in America, it makes sense to start where many Americans find themselves daily- the workplace. There are, obviously, a variety of options when it comes to jobs. There are literally millions of places where people are employed and that is a good thing. However, because the human condition likes to hold tight to tradition and organization, many jobs are gendered. For example, women in CEO positions and men working as nurses tend to make us question why they chose a field that tends to be dominated by the opposite sex. If that question isn’t so blatant in our minds, we still are able to see the paradox.

(Roach, 2000)

You know, I get it. If a job is typically dominated by men, women who are pursuing this career may get some backlash. However, one must ask why this is even an issue. If I wanted to be an auto repairman, why wouldn’t I be taken seriously? Because I am a female. This inequality goes beyond snide remarks and attitudes- it can lead to physical and emotional harm. In fact, if I got a job anywhere, I am statistically more likely to be sexually assaulted than my male counterparts. A study from 2008 reported that about 58% of people experienced some form of sexual harassment at work. Out of the 58%, 79% of the victims were women. The industries with some of the highest reports of sexual harassment were the following:

  • Business and trade
  • Sales and marketing
  • Hospitality
  • Civil service
  • Education and teaching

(Statistics, 2008)

Wow, what a well rounded list! So basically, sexual harassment happens in all work environments. This is tragic. It is tragic for the men who experience sexual harassment in the work place; however, it is imperative to notice that this is happening primarily to women.

The other side of workplace gender discrimination is displayed through the one thing we are all working to get-money! There are plenty of rewarding jobs that don’t bring in the most cash flow, but let’s face it- money does make the world go round. Did you know that women statistically make less money than men do? This, my friends, is a little thing that’s referred to as the wage gap. Let’s look at some statistics:

Statistically, men make more money than women do. This varies from state to state.

(Wallace, 2014)

On average, women earn 77 cents to every dollar that males earn for an equal amount of work.

(FACT, 2012)

The pay gap is worse for women of color.

(The Simple Truth, 2015)

There have been many times where I have talked about this issue and people have brought up the point that maybe women are doing jobs that require less skill than the jobs that men are doing. This point would make the wage gap something that it is not. Instead of demanding equal pay for equal work, it would be more like

tumblr_msxy70KKdm1si5x45o1_

Hey, we’ve all been there right?

All jokes aside, we must remember that the wage gap is a real thing. Women are receiving less pay than men who are doing an equal amount of work. Kerri Sleeman, a supporter of the Paycheck Fairness Act, was directly effected by the wage gap. She worked in a company that specialized in laser welding assembly systems. When she was hired on as a supervisor, she was told that pay was unnegotiable. However, because they offered her immediate benefits, she took the job and worked with them for years. The company filed for bankruptcy when the economy took a hit in the early 2000’s, and she signed up for a mailing list so she could see the company’s list of bankruptcy claims. When she looked at the list of people on the payroll, she noticed something peculiar. Men than she has supervised were claiming to have made more money than her during a bi-weekly period. She was the boss and she was making less money than people who were working for her…. What? Here is the end of her story:

 

 Soon after, Sleeman talked to her former supervisor and asked him about the pay disparity. He said that she probably wasn’t misled — salaries likely weren’t negotiable when she was hired. But he said that the people she supervised — lots of young men — were the sole breadwinners for their wives and children, and that was probably taken into account when their salaries were figured. Sleeman was married at the time but had no children — and, of course, was a woman. The supervisor was not apologetic, Sleeman said.

Yet Sleeman said this was the same supervisor who had told her again and again, “If I could duplicate you, I’d be able to get rid of the rest of the staff.” Sleeman thought back to times where she had taken over projects for some of these men because they weren’t performing. But she feels the value of her work apparently didn’t matter as much because she was not a male breadwinner.” (Bankruptcy, 2013)

The inequity in this story is crystal clear and this is something that is happening every day. Gender equality needs to happen, but it doesn’t have to happen at the expense of men. I think that there is a fear, especially with income equality, that if we say “yes, women need to be getting paid equally for the work that they are doing”, then we are ultimately saying to the men, “now boys, let the girls have a turn. It’s only fair.” Equality for women in the work place isn’t just going to positively benefit women, but men as well. Think of these women as your daughters, your sisters, your friends- would you want them to have less, simply because they are female? Equality is a hard thing, but until we face it and talk about it man-to-man (hahaha), we aren’t going to get anywhere.*

References:

*Note: this idea comes from the seminar we had in class about being a “post-racial” society. These things are hard to talk about, but until we start talking about things we will never get anywhere. You have to recognize the problem before you can address and understand it.

Bankruptcy Court Revealed. (2013). Retrieved September 27, 2015, from http://www.aauw.org/2013/05/09/heartbreaking-pay-inequity/

FACT SHEET: Fighting for Equal Pay and the Paycheck Fairness Act. (2012). Retrieved September 27, 2015.

Freidman, A. (2015). Do We Really Want Equal Pay? Retrieved September 27, 2015.

Hines, D. (2014). Why Women Are Paid Less Money Than Men in 2014. Retrieved September 27, 2015.

Patten, E. (2015, April 14). On Equal Pay Day, key facts about the gender pay gap. Retrieved September 27, 2015.

Roach, J. (Director). (2000). Meet the Parents [Motion picture on DVD].

State Data – Women in the States. (n.d.). Retrieved September 27, 2015.

Statistics. (2008). Retrieved September 27, 2015, from http://www.aware.org.sg/ati/wsh-site/14-statistics/

The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap (Fall 2015). (2015). Retrieved September 27, 2015.

Wallace, R. (2014). By the Numbers: A Look at the Gender Pay Gap. Retrieved September 27, 2015, from http://www.aauw.org/2014/09/18/gender-pay-gap/

An introduction to gender inequality

Over the course of history, the human race has made great strides towards equality for all. Compared to the way people were treated just a mere 100 years ago, we’ve certainly progressed a great deal. Women, for example, can vote, live on their own without the aid of a man, and even hold down steady jobs. So with all these rights, why is gender inequality still such a heated topic?

I think we can answer this question by looking at the ever-present stereotypes. Back in the day, women were considered to be weak and dainty. The purpose of a woman was to find a husband and start bearing children for him, while also taking care of the house and preparing the meals. For the most part, this changed as women began to join the workforce; however, they were still expected to quit working and basically become housewives after having children. Today, women aren’t expected to quit working after having children, but mothers who do work full-time are often seen as neglectful, often being called “part-time mothers” as an insult.

The wage gap is an issue that affects more than just women, it affects people of different races as well. I don’t want to delve too deeply into this topic right now, as we have a future blog on it planned out already, but I do want to point out that the statistics show that men do make at least 22% more per dollar than women do (“Pay Equity & Discrimination”). This amount definitely is not as bad as it has been in the past, but it is still shockingly high considering that men and women are supposed to be “equal.”

So what’s the big deal here? If there are statistics that are saying that women are getting paid significantly less for doing the same work as their male counterparts, why isn’t there being something done to fix it? Why isn’t this being seeing as an issue? It seems as though when things are presented as being a problem, or as a social inequality rather, the people who point out the problem receive backlash. I think back to the video we watched in class about income inequality and how President Obama was scrutinized and accused of trying to start a “wage war”. This is often a similar case for the wage gap. It seems as though when people try to highlight this as a real issue, it gets shot down because the only people who care about the wage gap are feminists- you know, the ones that don’t shave their legs. And why would we want to listen to a group of empowered women, anyway? They never get anything done. Well, except for that whole right to vote thing. And bearing children. And the women’s suffrage movement. You get the point.

'We can take you on, but we'll have to let you go if a man 'needs your job'.'

So again we ask, why is this such a heated topic right now? Because, despite how far the women’s movement has come in the past 100 years, it was never really finished. We got the ability to vote, and we gained a lot of freedom that we didn’t have before, but issues such as the wage gap were ignored and brushed under the rug to be dealt at some later time.

Picture it this way; gender inequality is a race track, perfect equality between men and women being the finish line. The racers all take their starting positions and rush forward as the starting gun is shot. One racer, symbolizing here the women’s movement, starts out slow, then speeds up and starts to pass the other racers as thousands of women cheer him on in the stands. The finish line is in sight, and it looks like the racer is going to win; finally, equality for all! Yet within a few feet of the finish line, our heroic racer stops. “Well, this is probably close enough,” he says, to the audience’s horror. The thousands of the women in the stands start to yell in protest. “You’re so close!” they scream, “Keep going!” But the racer simply stands there, hands on hips, surveying the finish line and mumbling about how he did a pretty decent job considering, while the other racers start to close in behind him.

Equality is only a few feet away people; let’s make that final push and win this race.

Next time on the Gender Inequality Blog: We discuss the wage gap in more depth. And later, we talk about gender inequality in politics! Stay tuned!

References

Anon. n.d. “Pay Equity &Amp; Discrimination.” Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Retrieved 2015         (http://www.iwpr.org/initiatives/pay-equity-and-discrimination).

West, Johnathan. https://www.cartoonstock.com/cartoonview.asp?catref=jwe0257