Inequalities and Discrimination of Women In The Workplace

In countries such as Brazil, Bangladesh, Cyprus, Macao, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, and Singapore, women earn 60 percent less than what men earn (256). Although U. S. figures aren”t as extreme as these, women face discrimination in the workplace. In 1999, women held only 5. 1 percent of top executive management positions, and only 3. 3 percent of companies” highest paid workers were women (256). The term glass ceiling is used to describe the situation in which qualified women aspire to fill high positions but are prevented from doing so by the invisible institutional barriers (256).
Discrimination of women in the workplace is a result of men”s power and their reluctance to give up resources and their control over women and can be summed up for women of corporate America by looking at four categories. First, the quality of women”s work tends to be undervalued. Frequently, studies asking participants to assess a piece of work have found that it is evaluated less favorably when said to have been done by a women than when the same piece is attributed to a man (257). Although the tendency to favor a man”s work is not always found, when differences in evaluation are found they tend to favor men.
Further, women”s successes tend to be attributed to “luck”, and competent women are sometimes described as “unfeminine”. Society”s distrust in women”s abilities results from the stereotypical roles which label women as less assertive and expert than men. A second form of discrimination of women in the work place involves making unjustified assumptions about women”s values. Whereas men are assumed to have values that tend to perpetuate the system, women”s values are assumed to challenge it. Felicia Pratto and her colleagues conducted a study testing the status of the positions for which men and women were most likely to be hired.

They found that women were favored to fulfill hierarchy-attenuating jobs (jobs that seek to change the system or improve the lot of people who have been marginalized); men, on the other hand, were favored for the hierarchy-enhancing jobs (which maintain and strengthen the status quo). This was true even when applicants” resumes violated the stereotypes associated with men and women (I. e. men”s career history that indicated they were “attenuators” and women”s which indicated they were “enhancers”) (258).
The work place is made especially difficult for women with children. Up until the 1970s, pregnancy or the potential for pregnancy was used as a justification for discrimination in the U. S. , allowing employers to routinely force women to leave their jobs or take unpaid leaves (259). Women were even excluded from jobs because they might get pregnant. Looking at current issues, however, the U. S. does not hold any government provision for paid maternity leave for female workers, often causing mothers to bear an economic cost which is not borne by fathers (260).
Even when discrimination against mothers is not formal, our culture”s work-family dynamics disproportionately affects women”s careers. Much more women than men have primary responsibility for child care. Working mothers are judged by their community according to how well they parent and work but particularly according to how dedicated they seem to be to parenting. Women, generally, are expected to alter their work commitments when children have problems and are more harshly judged for not doing so (261).
A fourth and final aspect of discrimination against women in the U. S. orkplace lies in the notion that they do not have equal right as men to be employed. The U. S. situation is not as extreme as countries such as Russia and China, where many government bureaucrats and factory managers assert to anyone willing to listen that women belong at home, because in the U. S. such public pronouncements are likely to create an explosion of protests. Still, though, the perception that women”s household duties should come before their careers is widespread. Whereas men carry the obligation to earn an income and support their family, the nurturer role is assumed most important for women (260).
A review of 21 studies showed that between 16 and 46 percent of the identified lesbians, gays, and bisexuals surveyed reported that they had experienced some form of employment discrimination, as discrimination against individuals of these sexual orientations is legal in most workplaces in the U. S. Also, researchers found that lesbian and bisexual women earn about 13 to 15 percent less than heterosexual women. This is in part because they are more likely to be working in the lowest-paying female-dominated jobs, but it also suggest the impact of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (261).
Understanding the circumstances that promote stereotyping and lead to discrimination of women in the workplace provides some clues as to how an organization could act to reduce them. Companies can make an effort not to isolate women in particular job categories. Company managers can avoid falling into the notion that specific jobs require “masculine” qualities by examining job-related assumptions. They can base judgments of whether workers should be hired or promoted on clear and concise criteria. Last, they can develop formal guidelines to be modeled and enforced by top-level management about how to avoid discrimination (265).


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