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To this day, 99% of all U.S. employers pay men more, when compared to their female counterparts (Van Kampen). Gender inequality in the workforce, has been an ongoing issue, for quite some time now. Strides to eliminate the wage gap, and reduce gender discrimination have been made, however, as a society, we are not even close to being where we should. There are many things that can be done and put into legislation, to help eradicate gender inequality in the workforce and beyond. Sex should no longer determine if a human being is qualified or educated enough, for an occupational position. Gender discrimination within the workplace is prevalent, and needs to be put to an end.
What does inequality in the workplace look like?
Gender discrimination in any workplace environment, can take on many different forms; unequal pay, job classification, and hesitancy to hire, are a few examples. To start, unequal pay, more commonly known as the wage gap, is the most consistent and notable discrimination, within the workforce. On average, women working full-time earn only 78 cents, for every dollar a man makes (Van Kampen). Not only this, but women of color tend to earn even less when working full time, as seen on the graph, to the right. There is no justification as to why women earn less than men, however, men continue to be paid higher incomes, even with less qualifications. In addition, when regarding job classifications, men typically are of higher authority. Only 4% of the world’s CEOs are women (Harvard Summer), the rest are men, more specifically caucasian men. Women are seen as fragile and less able to manage businesses, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. In four out of ten families, women, if not equal, are the main breadwinners, and provide the most income for their family (Van kampen). This subjective stereotype that women are not capable of providing, or being stable, is completely false and needs to be disposed of. Hesitancy to hire, is also an issue that women face when submitting applications, and trying to obtain jobs. When overlooking potential candidates for a job, women are 2.9% less likely to get hired, when a man is up for the same position (Stanford University). Although this might not seem like a lot, if an employer had to make a decision whether they hire a male or female, the man would most likely come out triumphant. Knowing this, inequality can be disguised throughout the workforce in many different platforms,; however, becoming educated on said platforms could be both beneficial for women, and the future of employment.
Has this always been an issue?
Gender inequality, within the workforce has been an issue, since more and more women have joined it. Prior to 1963, it was legal for any corporation to pay women a lower salary than men (Lister). The equal pay act of 1963, was the start to equal pay. This act, although self explanatory, made it illegal for any women to get paid less, when compared to a man. Since it was legislated, many other acts came into fruition like: The civil rights act of 1964 and the civil rights act of 1991, which granted equal rights to women in all levels of employment, and made sexual harassment cases prosecutable. Although the questions still stands, how is there a wage gap if it is by definition illegal? The most simplistic answer there is, is that the government hasn’t made it a priority to prosecute. The deficit in women’s wages, are the result from a failed judicial system. The fact that women aren't being paid what they’ve rightfully earned, is downright criminal, and needs to be seen for the problem it is.
Are there any solutions?
Besides the obvious, there are many precautions we can take to reduce and potentially eliminate gender discrimination, within the workforce. According to Shelley Correll, a Sociologist at Stanford University, “The change we can realistically expect to produce in any one instance will be small, imperfect and incomplete.” (Stanford University). In the published paper she wrote entitled “Gender and Society”, Shelley talked about how the solution to reduce inequality, is found in a ‘small wins model’. Although ideally, we as a society would want to completely decimate workforce inequality in the blink of an eye, realistically that is almost impossible. This being said, Corell’s small wins model focuses on starting on the small differences, which would eventually lead to complete eradication. According to the article, the model focuses on “educating managers and workers about bias, diagnosing where gender bias could enter their company’s hiring, promotion or other evaluation practices and working with the company’s leaders to develop tools that help measurably reduce bias and inequality.” (Stanford University). Overall, if workplace environments would focus on implementing this model into their everyday atmosphere, gender inequality would potentially vanish.
Why is workforce equality important?
Every human being deserves equal treatment, no matter their physicality. For years women have been deprived of equal treatment, based on stereotypes that were implemented in a past society. First hand women have been discouraged because of their sex, and been seen as less than when compared to male counterparts. In an informal interview I had with Michelle Michener, local adolescent therapist, she stated that “I think it’s important to include everyone especially when it comes to pay...” “...Equality starts with the little things.” Workforce inequality has lead to a discouraged and segregated society, which to michelles point, is not a step in the right direction. Equality is important in everything we do, however, eliminating the wage gap and making workplace environments more gender friendly, is a starting point in complete neutrality.
Gender Inequality within any workplace environment, needs to be diminished, for the betterment of society. Weather it’d be through unfair pay, job classifications, or harmful stereotypes, women deserve to be respected along with their male colleagues. As a society, it is our duty to eradicate these injustices, that have been occurring for quite some time. Step by step, we can defeat discrimination, for our women and their rights. Together we can stand up for what is right, and make sure all men and women are created equal.
“Gender Inequality and Women in the Workplace.” Harvard Summer School, 13 Apr. 2017.
Stanford University. “New Approach to Reducing Gender Inequality at Work.” Stanford News, 21 Dec. 2017.
“Gender Inequality in the Workplace.” Van Kampen Law, 2 Apr. 2015.
Lister, Jonathan. “The History of Gender Discrimination in the Workplace.” Bizfluent, 26 Sept. 2017.