Gender Inequality in the Workplace and How Women can Navigate it
Ways in which gender inequality manifests itself in the workplace today. These manifestations are occupational sex segregation, lack or cap on promotions, recruitment issues, difficulty to find or afford child care, tokenism, punishment for maternity leave, and sexual harassment.
We often think of the concept of the family as natural. We take it for granted and don’t give it much thought. However, the concept of the family is socially constructed. The family is a social unit. Within this social unit there is a gender division of labor. Women and men have different roles in the family. Often women’s roles are considered lesser. Women are traditionally the ones to stay at home and take care of the family and the household chores. The men traditionally work outside the home in the paid workforce. The notion of women’s ...view middle of the document...
Within our society and many others, women have been shunned out of many fields and higher education.
Here are a few theories that have been used to explain workplace gender inequality. The human capital theory asserts that inequalities between men and women in the workplace are due to differences in skills and experience (human capital), not overt discrimination. I highly disagree with this theory. The gender socialization theory claims that women and men are socialized to behave in gender appropriate ways from an early age. Therefore, women seek out jobs that best allow them to “do” their gender and so do men. This theory was truer in the past, but today both women and men are breaking out of this. More women are entering previously male dominated fields and some men are entering women dominated fields. For example more women are becoming engineers or architects or obtaining high level managerial positions. Men are becoming elementary school teachers or nurses. The last theory is gender organization theory. This theory states that organizations and everyday workplace interactions contain normative gender expectations that privilege men and disadvantage women. This was definitely true in the past and unfortunately still persists today.
Gender inequality in the workplace effects women in a myriad of different ways. Women receive lower pay for the same job with equivalent qualifications. They are often passed up for promotion, or do not get hired over men. Women are also subjected to sexual harassment. Also, they often feel the need to be overaggressive to assert competence, especially in male dominated fields. This over-aggression then reflects poorly on women by fellow workers. Tokenism places extreme pressure on the women who represent their gender at their place of employment. Being the only or one of few women at your workplace causes everyone to consider you as representing your entire gender. All these effects create added struggles that women face everyday at work. I encourage you to look for these and be aware of such issues.