Cases of Gender Inequality in the Workplace

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It was not too long ago when men were considered to be superior to women. Men were often the breadwinners of society while women took on the role as stay at home wives. Women had little to no rights. Their only purpose in life was to satisfy their husbands and bare children. Over the years, things slowly started to change for the better. Women were able to go through education and started working in male dominant careers. However, there is still a huge problem of gender inequality today.

Gender inequality often start out at home. Gender is defined by Newman as “psychological, social, and cultural aspects of maleness and femaleness.” This is the place children socialize into gender norms. Newman defines socialization as “process through which one learns how to act according to the rules and expectations according to a particular culture.” Norms is defined by Newman as “the culturally defined standard or rule of conduct.” Conforming to gender norms can cause a lot of harm, especially to women. Newman defines society as “a population of people living in the same geographic area who share a culture and a common identity and whose members are subject to the same political authority.” In many patriarchal societies, boys are preferred over girls because they believe they are more useful. Patriarchy is defined by Newman as “male-dominated society in which cultural beliefs and values give higher prestige and value to men than women.” Boys are sent off to school while girls are just expected to be married off. Women’s role as mothers and wives are devalued and often deprives them of their rights and many opportunities. In many countries, women are not even allowed to own property. At home, boys are expected to do chores such as mowing the lawn or painting, while girls are expected to do the cooking and cleaning. This division of chores tells kids that they have to take different roles based off of their gender. Newman defines roles as “a set of expectations, rights, obligations, behaviors, duties- associated with a particular status.”

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The European Institute for Gender equality defines gender inequality as “Legal, social and cultural situation in which sex or gender determine different rights and dignity for women and men, which are reflected in their unequal access to or enjoyment of rights, as well as the assumption of stereotyped social and cultural roles.” To understand how gender inequality came about we must start from the beginning. From the moment girls and boys are born, they are treated differently which results in them taking certain roles as they grow up and mature. At birth, the color blue is associated with boys, while the color pink is associated with girls. When describing girls, certain words are used such as affection, fragility, and daintiness. Compared to boys, who are often described for their physical aspects such as strength, toughness, and masculinity creating a stereotype. Stereotype is defined by Newman as “overgeneralized belief that certain trait, behavior, or attitude characterizes all members of some identifiable group.” This outlook tends to shape and limit behaviors which eventually become identity standards. Newman defines identity as “essential aspect of who we are, consisting of our sense of self, gender, race, ethnicity, and religion.” Many tasks in society tend to be linked to a gender. Cooking, cleaning, housework, and taking care of kids are typically a woman’s task. By continuously performing tasks linked to a certain gender, it defines what it means to be a man or a woman.

One of the places where inequality is prevalent —its gender inequality in the workplace. There is an underrepresentation in women leadership roles, women are doing unpaid labor, and there is a discrepancy in what a woman makes compared to what a man makes for the same job. Half of the workplace is made up of women, and although they typically receive more degrees compared to men, they continue to earn less than their male counterpart. The women’s median earning is 82% of what men male. One in four of working women say they have earned less than a man who was doing the same job and are four times more likely to have been treated as incompetent because of their gender. Female dominated careers tend to have the lowest wages in the U.S.  Women make up about 63% of those earning the minimum wage. way15% of working women state having received less support from senior leaders compared to a man doing the same job and one in ten women say they have been passed over for the most important assignments due to their gender. Women make up less that 5 percent of CEO positions. Within federal agencies, women were more likely take jobs that had relatively short job ladders which in turn would reduce their chances of promotions compared to men. Colleges and universities that were wealthier had a larger gender gap in salaries).

An obstacle that women often face in the workplace is sexual harassment. 81% of women have reported to experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace, both physical and verbal assault. Women workers who work at restaurants and rely on tips are twice as more likely to experience sexual harassment. Women who experience sexual harassment at work report increased anxiety and depression, which can cause a decrease in productivity, worsen their performance, decrease in involvement and job satisfaction. Often times women do not even report the harassment do to the stigma and embarrassment they fear they will face. Stigma is defined by Newman as “deeply discrediting characteristic that is viewed as an obstacle to competent or morally trustworthy behavior.” Newman defines embarrassment as “spontaneous feeling experienced when the identity someone is presenting is unexpectedly discredited in front of others.”

A problem that most women face that not many men experience is objectification. Many of the tv shows and movies we watch today have the same plot, the boy falls in love with the girl, and her only role is to be the boys love interest. According to Bonnie Moradi and Yu-Ping Huang, “sexual objectification occurs when a women’s sexual parts or functions are separated out from her person, reducing her entire being identified with the body.” Sexual objectification is when girls and women are constantly monitoring themselves and their appearance in order to maintain a certain appearance, they seem is acceptable. Objectification theory is when gender roles, socialization, and sexual objectification experiences promote self-objectification. Self-objectification promotes body shame and anxiety as it encourages individuals to consistently monitor their outward appearance. There has been a causal link examined between self-objectification and body image problems. The study would have some participants wear swimsuit and others wear a sweater as the control in front of a full-length mirror. Those participants with high self-objectification raised levels of body shame, general shame, and body related thoughts. Yes, men also experience sexual objectification, butt the difference is that men often times do not experience the negative effects nearly as much as women do.

There are ways that we can reduce gender inequality. We must start with the parents. Parents should not force their children to conform to traditional gender roles. They should encourage their kids to choose what they want to wear, play with, and what activities to do regardless if it is not manly or girly. There should be an increased public awareness of the problem. Laws related to gender-based discrimination in the workplace and sexual assault and or harassment should be strictly enforced. We should encourage women to Finally, there should be an increase in efforts to employ more women in male dominated careers such as stem occupations and politics. Doing these will not eliminate gender inequality but hopefully it will decrease it.

In conclusion, gender inequality is still a huge problem today. Women face unequal pay and are at a disadvantage in the workplace, face harassment on a day to day basis, are objectified and face body image issues from self-objectification. As a society we must all come together to fix this problem as it affects all of us. 

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