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/

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