By Allison Bechard, IV Form
Knock Knock, Is Anyone Even Listening? Says the Feminist
Sexism, despite constantly being viewed as a thing of the past, remains a predominant issue, especially in the workplace. Undeniable strides towards equality have been taken, yet females are still oppressed, being granted fewer promotions and less money than their male counterparts.
1. Males and females tend to receive different and unequal treatment when it comes to applying for jobs. Even though women often meet the same criteria as males and have superior test scores, men still get employed over them.
2. Men often receive more money from the moment they start their careers, leaving women to only earn $0.79 for every $1.00 a male makes.
3. Women are judged by different standards due to common misconceptions and stereotypes placed upon them by the dominant group. Women often find themselves without a sponsor to champion their work causing their careers to stall.
4. Men are reluctant to sponsor these females as they are afraid of losing power, despite this superiority being historical.
Even before the start of activism in the U.S, females have always been oppressed due to their lack of privilege as the minoritized group. Even though progress has been made in combating this issue of gender inequality, women are still greatly underrepresented and are still denied certain rights. In the workplace, the gender gap remains larger than ever, as females continue to be granted fewer promotions and receive lower wages than males. Females often find themselves being treated as less than, have a harder time moving up within careers, and are judged by different standards than that of the opposing gender. Although this issue is not portrayed in the media, sexism in the workplace still remains a predominant issue. Improvements need to be made within companies as the best people should be promoted and all should be paid fairly, which will, in turn, benefit the company as a whole.
When it comes to applying for jobs, males and females tend to receive different and unequal treatment. Even though women meet the same criteria as males and have superior test scores, men are still employed over them. This employment gap occurs across all industries as males hold institutional power. Four in ten women are found working in jobs that are portrayed by the media as “feminine jobs,” like health care and nongovernmental education (Hartmann), while only one in four men works for these companies. Throughout the U.S., women are seen working with other women in occupations that are considered feminine (Harbin). This is due to occupational segregation, which is a key aspect of many companies. Based on societal norms and what is considered “ladylike,” occupational choices are restricted as there are set cultural “rules” as to which gender can have certain jobs. On the other hand, one in three males work at masculine jobs like construction and manufacturing, but only one in nine females. Working in these different industries affects the economic status of both genders as they are paid differently. Females who are to work in the construction business are only paid 75% of what males make (Hartmann).
In nearly all occupations, females make far less than that of males due to the fact that they are held back from promotions and high rankings within companies. This gender pay gap continues to be much more pronounced than what’s commonly presumed. As of 2019, women earn just $0.79 for every $1.00 a male makes (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Even in common occupations for females, males are still getting paid more. As seen in Table 1, in nine out of the twenty occupations, three-quarters of the workers are women (Harbin). This wage gap is largest among financial managers with males making over $500 per week more than females (Harbin). On the other hand, in male-dominated occupations, there aren’t even enough female workers to estimate their median weekly wage. In addition to this gap varying from occupation to occupation, it also varies depending on a woman’s race and her age. From the age of 16-19, males are already being paid more as part of the dominant group (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). This gender wage gap then continues to increase as one gets older as seen in Table 2.
|Age||Men: Median weekly earnings||Women: Median weekly earnings|
|16 to 19 years||$507||$439|
|20 to 24 years||$ 619||$559|
|25 to 34 years||$ 899||$ 806|
|35 to 44 years||$ 1,143||$ 925|
|45 to 54 years||$ 1,184||$ 926|
|55 to 64 years||$ 1,153||$ 855|
|65 years and older||$ 1,079||$ 846|
Although both males and females witness the problem of gender inequality, they have different frameworks and ideas as to what is causing it. Males, as the dominant group are often blinded by their power and privilege, as the world is created to benefit them. Focusing on subjective experiences in addition to this blindness causes sexism to be invisible and leads them to believe that there are just “ too few qualified women in the pipeline” while females think differently (Carmichael). 40% of women say they are judged by different standards and, in comparison to males, appear inferior (Carmichael). These standards are rooted in common misconceptions and stereotypes formed about females. Being judged by different standards also causes them to receive fewer opportunities as they are less likely than junior men to get that first promotion (Carmichael). 32% of women also say they lack sponsors to champion their work, causing their careers to stall (Carmichael). Men feel this reluctance to mentor junior women out of fear of losing power and authority. The #MeToo movement played a big role in this reluctance as males are now uncomfortable working with younger females for fear of being wrongly accused. Those women who go without sponsors then find it difficult to move up within the workplace, despite being equally qualified (Carmichael). This all adds to the gender gap within companies, and it’s not due to a pipeline problem.
Females are “banging their heads on the glass ceiling, but it seems many men don’t even hear the commotion” (Carmichael). These major discrepancies in promotions and wages can’t be due to qualifications, but rather sexism and the institutional and structural power males hold. All institutions are shaped by this dominant group reflecting their needs onto society. Undeniable strides have been made in the workforce, however, women are still treated as less than. Women continue to not be taken seriously, are questioned, and are insulted via microaggressions. These microaggressions are everyday slights that are manifested in daily lives portraying internalized dominance of males. However, there are plenty of things companies can do to remedy this problem. This includes focusing on fairness, by promoting the best people (Carmichael). Men must use their institutional power and address biases against women by calling them out. Sexism in the workplace is no longer a “thing of the past” it is here and it is now, we just need to start seeing the world in almost the same way.
To raise awareness about sexism in the workplace, I ran a workshop in correlation with the Southborough Society. This workshop was open to all in order to teach about the oppression females face, as well as ways in which high school students can prepare for what’s to come within companies. I used my knowledge/vocabulary from the book, as well as statistics to express this issue during the meeting. I also put together an activity that connected common gender stereotypes to the wage gap. This allowed everyone to see that despite being a “feminine” job males still earn more and are getting readily promoted. At the end of this discussion I had people write down something they had learned or taken away from what we had talked about. A majority of people were shocked at how little females are making in comparison with males, despite having equal qualifications. They were also surprised to see that wage correlates not only with gender, but also with race. I hope that through this meeting I was able to show that sexism in the workplace and female discrimination in general is still a predominant issue, causing females to fall behind and constantly hit roadblocks within their careers.
Allison Bechard is a Ⅳ form boarding student from Ashland, Massachusetts. She loves spending time with family and friends, but she always leaves time to read and play softball.
- Carmichael, Sarah Green. “Where Women See Bias, Men See a ‘Pipeline Problem’.” Bloomberg.com, Bloomberg, 16 Oct. 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-10-16/gender-bias-in-the-workplace-or-a-pipeline-problem.
- Harbin, Vanessa, et al. “The gender wage gap by occupation.” Fact Sheet Series, Apr. 2012. Gale OneFile: Gender Studies, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A294194564/PPGB?u=mlin_c_stmarks&sid=PPGB&xid=cac76f73. Accessed 11 Dec. 2019.
- Hartmann, Heidi, et al. “Gender Differences in Sectors of Employment.” Women in the States, https://statusofwomendata.org/gender-differences-in-sectors-of-employment/.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Table 3. Median Usual Weekly Earnings of Full-Time Wage and Salary Workers by Age, Race, Hispanic or Latino Ethnicity, and Sex, Third Quarter 2019 Averages, Not Seasonally Adjusted.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16 Oct. 2019, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/wkyeng.t03.htm.