Contemporary Gender equality
According to feminist scholars, women experience gender inequality as a result of economic, political, and educational discrimination. Women’s position in U.S.work force reflects their overall subordination in society.
Gendered Division of Paid Work
Where people are located in the occupational structure of the labor market has a major effect on their earnings. The workplace is another example of a gendered institution. In industrialized countries, most jobs are segregated by gender and by race ethnicity. Sociologist Judith Lorber (J 99-l: 194) gives this example:
In a workplace in New York CitY-for instance, a handbag factory-a walk through the various departments might reveal theM the owners and managers users users ers are white men; their secretaries and bookkeepers are white and Asian women; the order takers and data processors are African American.women: the factory hands are [Latinos] cutting pieces and [Latinas] sewing them together; african American men are packing and loading the finished product; and non-English-speaking Eastern European women re leaning up after everyone. The workplace as a hole seems integrated by race, ethnic group, and gender, but the individual jobs re markedly segregated according to social characteristics.
Lorber notes that in most workplaces, employees are either gender segregated or all of the same gender. Gender-segregated work refers to the concentration of women and men in different occupations. jobs. and places of work (Reskin ar d Padavic, 2002). In 006, for example, 97 percent of all secretaries in the United States were women; 88 percent of all engineers were men (US. census Bureau, 2007). To eliminate gender segregated jobs in the United States, more than half of all men or all women workers would have to change occupations. Moreover, women are severely underrepresented at the top of u.s. corporations. Only about 0 percent of the executive jobs at Fortune 500 companies are held by women, and only eight women are the CEO of such a company
Although the degree of gender segregation in the professional labor market (including physicians, dentists, lawyers, accountants, and managers) has declined since the 1970s, racial-ethnic segregation has remained deeply embedded in the social structure. As the sociologist Elizabeth Higginbotham (1994) points out, African American professional women find themselves limited to employment in certain sectors of the labor market. Most are concentrated in public sector employment (as public schoolteachers, welfare workers, librarians, public defenders, and faculty members at public colleges, for example) rather than in the private sector (for example. in large corporations, major law firms, private educational institutions. and private hospitals). cross ll categories of occupations, white women and all people of color are not evenly represented, as shown in • Table 11.2. Labor market scg multitool-the division of jobs into categories with distinct working conditions-results in women having separate and unequal jobs (Amott and Matthaei. 1996; Lohrer, 2005). The wage gap between men and women is the best-documented consequence of gender-segregated work (Reskin and)
Padavic, 2(02). Most women work in lower-paying, less-prestigious jobs, with little opportunity for advancement. Because many employers assume that men are the breadwinners, men are expected to make more money than women in order to support their families. For many years, wOollen have been viewed as supplemental wage earners in a male-headed household, regardless of the omen’s marital status. Consequently, women have not been seen as legitimate workers but mainly as wives and mothers (Lorber, 005).
Gender-segregated work affects both men and women. Men are often kept out of certain types of jobs. Those who enter female- dominated occupations often have to justify themselves and prove that they are “real men.” They have to fight stereotypes (gay, wimpy” and passive) about why they are interested in such work (Williams, 2004). Even if these assumptions do not push men ut f female-dominated occupations, they affect how the men manage their gender identity at work. For example, men in occupations such as nursing typically emphasize their masculinity, attempt to distance themselves from female colleagues, and ry 10 move quickly into management and supervisory po ” positions (Williams,2004).
Occupational gender segregation _ontributes to stratification in society, Job segregate.i is structural; it does not occur simply because :’dividual v-orkers have different abilities, motiv.zones, and material needs. As a result of gender and racial segregation, employers are able to pay many i.ien of color and all women less money, promote them less often, and provide fewer benef ts.