Posts Tagged ‘equality in the workplace’

The Motherhood Penalty!

November 28, 2009

According to three Cornell University sociologists, the pay gap between mothers and childless women is larger than the gap between men and women!  The study is called “Getting a Job: Is There a Motherhood Penalty,” published in the American Journal of Sociology in 2007 and winner of the 2008 Rosabeth Moss Kanter Award for Excellence in Work-Family Research.  The results showed that mothers were 100% less likely to be hired.  They were ranked as less competent and less committed than non-moms.  In addition, they were offered $11,000 a year less pay than an equally qualified childless candidate. 

As for men, well, fathers were ranked higher than non-dads.  In other words, fathers were more committed and more competent than non-dads and mothers!

Are you shocked with the results of this study? 


The Gender Organization Theory

November 27, 2009

The Gender Organization Theory states that organizations and everyday workplace interactions contain normative gender expectations that privilege men and disadvantage women.  Images of men’s bodies and masculinity saturate organizational processes, trivializing women and contributing to the maintenance of gender segregation in organizations.  

The images above represent a secretary and the other image is teamwork.   

Do you believe organizations structure their positions and pay scales with gender in mind?

Have you seen these warning signs on the road Men at Work?

The Gender Socialization Theory

November 24, 2009

Researchers have stated that the Gender Socialization Theory is another factor in the phenomenon of the wage gap.  At an early age, boys and girls are socialized to behave in gender appropriate ways.  Girls and boys are treated differently and are placed into different learning environments.  They develop different needs, wants, desires, skills, and temperaments.  You have heard people say boys don’t cry, girls play in the house with dolls, boys have to go outside and get dirty, etc.  Therefore, these boys and girls grow up to be different types of people based on their gender socialization roles given. 

As adults, women will select jobs that best allow them to “do” and “be” their gender and so do men.  If men or women deviate from their roles, they will receive negative responses for behaving like the opposite gender.  For example, men who are nurses have a difficult time defending their masculinity.  Women, on the other hand, entering a male dominated field have to defend their femininity, as well as, demonstrate their ability to be as good as a man. 

Gender socialization leads to society trying to push individuals into certain social roles despite their preferences. 

Do you believe the Gender Socialization Theory is the cause of inequality in the workplace? 

The Human Capital Theory

November 23, 2009

“Human capital refers to the stock of skills and knowledge embodied in the ability to perform labor so as to produce economic value” (Wikipedia, Human Capital).  The human capital theory states that inequalities between men and women in the workplace are due to differences in skills and experience, not discrimination.  And, that women have less favorable jobs because they have more interrupted careers, work in more part-time jobs, and take different educational paths than men.[1]

The argument continues with a belief that women expect to devote more time to children and household work, which leads them to under invest in human capital. The theory also suggests that women self-select into female dominated occupations.  Thereby, women choose women’s work, regardless if it pays less, because they want work that is similar to household responsibilities.  

What an interesting theory as to why a wage gap exists….

Do you agree with the Human Capital Theory?

[1] Devey-Tomaskovic, D. 1993. Gender & Racial Inequality at Work The Sources & Consequences of Job Segregation. New York: ILR Press, p. 12.

The Glass Ceiling

November 22, 2009

The Wall Street Journal coined the term “glass ceiling” about 20 years ago.  It refers to an invisible barrier that prevents women from obtaining high-ranking positions in business.  This is obvious by the disparity of men and women CEOs heading the Fortune 500 companies.  Currently, there are only 15 women CEOs heading the Fortune 500 companies.  Researchers still debate on why women don’t make it.

The following are some reasons that have been tossed around:

Women don’t do enough networking.  In other words, women will bury themselves in work hoping to be noticed.  Instead, the guys are out playing golf and networking.  By networking, they’re gaining valuable connections and they’re getting the inside scoop of the goings on in the company.  This heads up information will help them climb to the top. 

Women tend to nitpick; they obsess over details. 

Women don’t sell themselves they believe in meritocracy. 

Women take whatever salary is offered to them. 

Women don’t take risks.

Women are exhausted.  They tend to stay late at the office while the guys are out networking and once they go home, they have housework to do.

Women are content they don’t want to break the glass ceiling.

The above represents just a few reasons why a wage gap exists and the lack of women in high-ranking positions.   

What are your thoughts on how to break the glass ceiling or why the glass ceiling has not been broken?

The Gendered Workplace

November 18, 2009

Women and men have always worked.  Women worked outdoors, too.  Yet, in the 1950s, something changed.  A division of labor was created with the concept that dads head out to work every morning, leaving mom to stay at home with the children, to be a full-time housewife and mother.  Television programs such as Leave It To Beaver, The Honeymooners, and I Love Lucy were classic examples of the phenomenon of a traditional division of a new labor system.  The concept occurred after World War II to help American men reenter the workplace and return women from the workplace back into their homes.   

Today, the norm is the dual-earner couple.  Women work for the same reasons men do – to support themselves and their families, to experience a sense of accomplishment, and to ensure a secure future.  Yet, many Americans still believe in the male breadwinner and female housewife model even though our lives do not reflect it.  They believe that there are certain jobs better suited for women than for men.  Unfortunately, the jobs identified as better suited for women and the jobs that women are attracted to tend to pay less! We (society) continue to adhere to gender ideologies that no longer exist.   

According to sociologist, Arlie Hochschild, women that are hired in an all male workplace are hired for a purpose.  He states, “In the all-male workplace, women’s role was to lubricate the male-male interactions.  Women performed what sociologist Arlie Hochschild called emotion work, making sure that the all-male arena was well oiled and functioning smoothly.”[1]  

The consistent persistence of traditional gender ideologies and changes to the economic necessities makes this a difficult workplace arena for both men and women.  Women face persistent discrimination based on gender and men are angered because the workplace policies make them feel like they’re walking on eggshells.  They’re afraid of making a remark to a woman for fear that they may be taken into court for sexual harassment.  

So, how do you change the gender ideologies of society?   

Do you know of any woman who stayed home because their husband believed in a traditional division of system of labor?  Please share their story.  


[1] Kimmel, M., 2004, The Gendered Society, New York: Oxford University Press, p. 185-186.  

The Glass Escalator

November 15, 2009

What Happens When Men Do Women’s Work

The sex segregation in our U.S. labor force is a monumental problem in our society.  Women consist of 46.5 percent of the total labor force and are projected to account for 47 percent by 2016; yet, men and women are still confined to predominantly single sex occupations!  Therefore, forty percent of men or women would have to change major occupational categories to achieve equal representation of men and women in all jobs[1].

Christine Williams conducted a study of men entering the feminized fields of nursing, primary teaching, library science, and social work.  She finds that these men fared well; all had positive outcomes.  The men who worked in women’s jobs increased the status of that particular field which led them to promotions and salary increases.  However, the reverse occurred to women who entered male fields; the outcomes were less positive and promotion and acceptance was quite difficult.

According to the study conducted by Williams, the more female-dominated the specialty, the greater the preference for men.  Although, there were cases where men were barred from certain jobs, for example, in a rural town in Texas, school districts refused to hire male teachers for grades K-3.  Also, in some private Catholic hospitals, male nurses were excluded from positions in obstetrics and gynecology wards.

Men who worked in a woman’s job, experienced pressure from management to move up and out of their current positions to a more suitable, prestigious job.  There was a case study of a male kindergarten teacher who won a Teacher of the Year award; was told he needed to move towards administration or teach in a university setting despite his aptitude and interest in staying in the classroom.

Bonding occurs easily.  Men bonded with their male managers naturally, which in itself is an incentive and a transparent emphasis of the distinctiveness of the female majority.  Although not all men experienced this preferential treatment, openly gay men encountered walls.  Interestingly enough, not all these men had male managers or supervisors; some had female bosses who also treated them with high levels of acceptance.  Women appear to be eager to have men enter their fields and help them along their way.  Unfortunately, women encounter the reverse with male managers.

It’s apparent that both men and women who work in nontraditional occupations encounter discrimination.  Men are given preferential treatment in hiring and promotion decisions, they have a higher-level acceptance in the field, and are well integrated in the workplace culture.  Christine Williams calls this phenomenon the glass escalator effect.

Conversely, women entering traditional male professions encounter discrimination, harassment, exclusion from formal networks, and lower salaries.

[1] Williams, C., cited in Sacks, N. E. and Marrone, C., Gender and Work in Today’s World A Reader, MA: Westview Press, 2004, p. 105.

The Equal Rights Amendment is Reintroduced!

November 15, 2009

Alice Paul - 1920

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was reintroduced in the House of Representatives on July 21, 2009, as H.J.Res. 61. Lead sponsors are Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Congresswoman Judy Biggert (R-IL). 

The ERA is a constitutional amendment, which would prohibit denying or abridging equal rights under law by the United States or any state on account of sex.

Thirty-five of the necessary 38 states have ratified the ERA.  When three more states vote yes, the ERA might become the 28th Amendment.  A “three-state strategy” will be used for ratification.

The three-state strategy is based on the legal analysis in “The Equal Rights Amendment: Why the ERA Remains Legally Viable and Properly Before the States,” by Allison Held, Sheryl Herndon, and Danielle Stager, published in the Spring 1997 issue of William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law. 

This strategy is based on the “Madison Amendment,” concerning Congressional pay raises that became the 27th Amendment to the Constitution in 1992, after a ratification period of 203 years!  Therefore, the ERA’s ratification period of less than three decades should meet the standards required by several Supreme Court decisions. If the “Madison Amendment” made it through after 203 years then the ERA should not have a problem.  Your Thoughts?

The thirty-five states that have ratified the amendment are Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. 

The unratified states are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.

We are three states shy of the thirty-eight ratifications necessary for inclusion in the Constitution. 

How can you help?  If you live in, or are particularly interested in, one (or more) of the following not-yet ratified states, contact the state’s ERA leader or organization for guidance as to how best to help their ongoing campaign to achieve their state’s ratification of the ERA.

The Beginning…

November 14, 2009

Women's Right MovementThere is unfinished business in our United States Government.

First Lady Abigail Smith Adams, wife of the second President of the United States, John Adams, strongly believed in women’s rights.  She is known for her March 1776 letter to John Adams and the Continental Congress, requesting that they, “Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.  Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember all men would be tyrants if they could.  If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.”[1] 

Regretfully he did forget the women; consequently, creating a path to inequality into the 21st century.  American women saw that the new Constitution’s rights were well served for certain white males.  They were treated according to social tradition and English common law and were denied most legal rights.  In general, they could not vote, own property, keep their own wages, or even have custody of their children.  This was not a new beginning for women; it was a new beginning for men!

Nevertheless, the women’s rights movement was already in progress in Europe.  As swiftly as word travels today via the internet, word traveled from London to America via books. 

In 1789, during the French Revolution, Olympe de Gouges published a Declaration of the Rights of Woman to protest the revolutionists’ failure to mention women in their Declaration of the Rights of Man.

Mary Wollstonecraft’s wondrous book called Vindication on the Rights of Women was published in 1792 advocating equality of the sexes and the main doctrines of the later women’s movement.  She ridiculed existing ideas about women as helpless, charming adornments in the household.  Society had bred “gentle domestic brutes.”  “Educated in slavish dependence and enervated by luxury and sloth,” women were too often nauseatingly sentimental and foolish. Mary Wollstonecraft believed that education held the key to achieving a sense of self-respect and anew self-image that would enable women to put their capacities to good use.

Margaret Fuller, one of the earliest female reporters, wrote Woman in the Nineteenth Century in 1845.  She argued that individuals had unlimited capacities and that when people’s roles were defined according to their sex, human development was severely limited.  

So far, my list mentions three women, but I did not include Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Lucretia Mott, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, and many, many others.  Please feel free to respond to their works. 

The momentum continued and in 1848, the first Woman’s Rights Convention took place in Seneca Falls, New York.  This was the first public demand for equality.  The two-day convention produced the Declaration of Sentiments, which was modeled after the Declaration of Independence. 

Seventy-five years later, in 1923, the Equal Rights Amendment was first proposed but never made it into the Constitution.  The fight for equality continues today.


Female Representation

November 13, 2009


We are in the 21st century and women are still fighting for equal rights in the workplace.  They are receiving less pay compared to a man who is in the same position as they are, which suggests unequal pay for equal work; undeniably noting that women are still experiencing pay discrimination.  According to the Institute of Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), women earn an average of 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.  Based on the median earnings of full-time, year-round workers, women’s earnings were $35,745 and men’s earnings were $46,367. 

Let us look at female representation in the Fortune 500 companies.  There are only 15 women CEOs heading the Fortune 500 companies and the remaining 485 are men!  Unquestionably, a male dominated arena.

How does the female representation in our government look like?  In Congress, women hold only 16% of the seats.  The U.S. ranks #69 among countries with the highest percentage of women in government.  Sixty-eight other countries are above the U.S.  The highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. Government is Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House.

Are women less educated?  In 2005, the Publication Reference Bureau  (PRB) stated that women have outnumbered men in enrollment at colleges and universities by 8%. The gender composition has shifted to the extent that women make up the majority enrolled in colleges and will continue to rise through 2009.   Therefore, it appears that there are and will be more women that are educated than men.

There have been attempts to rectify the historical wage gaps by imposing legislation.  The first attempt to close the gap was in 1963.  The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) prohibits wage discrimination based on sex.  It requires that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work.  The job does not have to be identical; it has to be substantially equal.  Equal work is defined as work that requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility and is performed under equal working conditions.  The EPA is the first national civil rights legislation focusing on employment discrimination.

The following year the Civil Rights Act was introduced and it further strengthened the EPA.  The Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, and gender in employment.  It prohibits inequity in recruitment, hiring, wages, assignment, promotions, benefits, discipline, discharge, layoffs, and almost every aspect of employment. 

There is unfinished business in the U.S. Government.  The Acts have not worked.  The problem can be resolved and equality achieved with the Equal Rights Amendment.