American Dream for Women- Yes or No

Topics: Gender role, Gender, Masculinity Pages: 5 (1730 words) Published: March 21, 2013
Gender- Inequality in labor force
The American Dream, one of the most attractive things which draw thousands people to the United States, is just a simple promise: equality. This is where people can work hard and expect to gain from their effort. This is where opportunities are equally provided for anyone who has determination to improve his or her life. Anyone can have equal access to the American Dream. However, it depends. If you are White, you can dream that dream. If you are non-White, you cannot. If you belong to the middle and upper class, you have the right to dream. If you find yourself struggling to have daily meals, you do not have that right. Similarly, if you are male, go ahead, but if you are not, you have to step back. Gender has always been a big problem with the American Dream. Women cannot move themselves to better lives in the same way that men are able to. Gender creates deep-rooted inequality against women in the labor force, through the social construction of gender roles and femininity. Inequality between two genders shows up as early as in the beginning of one’s career. Influenced by gender roles, women and men tend to choose jobs that can help them fulfill their social expectations (Weisgram, Dinella, and Fulcher 245). For example, men would prefer jobs with high monetary reward to fulfill their breadwinning roles, and women would choose jobs which allow them to have time with their family as they are supposed to be the main caretakers. Women, raised with the idea of femininity, would choose careers related to caring or serving such as teachers and nurses, while men would be more attracted to careers in technology and management fields, which require the supposedly masculine characteristics such as decisiveness. As a result, women have a tendency to choose their careers in female-dominated fields, whose monetary reward generally is lower than those of male-dominated fields. This division of the work force also influences women’s expectation of their future salaries. Research shows that men overall have higher pay expectation than women, and people intending to work in male-dominated fields have much higher pay expectation than those who want to work in female-dominated fields (Hogue, DuBois, and Fox- Cardamone 222). Low pay expectation can result in receiving lower pay offers in an equally qualified pool of job applicants, and starting wages can affect one’s career in his or her long term payment (Hogue, DuBois, and Fox-Cardamone 215). This reflects that in reality women who work in male-dominated fields earn 26% more than other women who have female-dominated jobs, as the U.S. Department of Labor reported in 2008 (qtd. in Hogue, Dubois, and Fox-Cardamone 215). Women, influenced by their gender roles and the concept of femininity, experience inequality in their work choices and pay expectations. Women face difficulties during their careers because of their traditional gender roles as main family caretakers. Wives, not husbands, are generally the ones who have primary responsibilities in domestic work, either household chores or child care. In dual-earner families, men usually share housework with their partners, yet women still have the main responsibility in organizing family life (Rubin 247). Most people used to consider women entering the work force as expanding their traditional role without men changing theirs (Gilbert and Rader 164). Women were seen as being in conflict between outside work and family; the more time they spent on working outside, the more they would neglect their supposedly main role. Questions were then raised about whether working mothers had negative effects on their children as well as the family as a whole. Although research showed that having dual-earner families had no effect on preschool-age children, especially if additional income was used in daily childcare, this whole viewpoint discouraged women from working outside for a long time (Gilbert and Rader 164). Even...
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