Contemporary Social Problems and the Workplace – SOC 402
July 19, 2010
Inequality and its Effects in the Workplace
Gender, ethnicity, and race inequalities and the issues surrounding them in the workplace have been on the forefront of society’s mind for decades. The problem of inequality in the workplace has become one of the most important and vital issues in our society today. In order to understand fully the reasons for these inequalities, one must try to understand the factors that cause gender, ethnicity, and racial issues within the workplace, yet in this case, we will tend to focus mostly towards gender inequality in the workplace. One typically thinks locally in these situations, and Americans have fought hard for equality, yet over half of illiterate people throughout the world are females. Gender inequality is an issue that has been shaped by men from generations to generations. Each man carrying down his own ideologies mixed in with the previous generation’s to create this mold that women are expected to conform and fit into. In America, women have fought long and hard to have many of the same rights as men. Education, the right to vote, and career status are just a few examples of some of the many important things these women fought for. In other countries, women are not as fortunate to have such a voice to be heard, and thus their fight ends before it begins. On April 11, 1996, President Bill Clinton proclaimed “National Pay Inequality Awareness Day”. The goal of the government was to change and eliminate discrimination in the workplace in 1972 when the Equal Employment Opportunity Act was established. The heart of both of these acts was and is to protect the individual’s rights as well as promote employment opportunities for everyone within the workplace. Obviously the government is aware and trying to prevent and protect the rights of these individuals through the passing of these acts; so the question remains what are the reasons why women, ethnic groups, and minority races still being treated unfairly at work? The gendered income inequality can also be attributed in part to occupational segregation, where groups of people are distributed across occupations according to ascribed characteristics; in this case, gender. Occupational sex segregation can be understood to be made up of two directions. The first direction would be made up of occupational sex segregation and occurs as men and women are thought to possess different physical, emotional, and mental capacities. These different characteristics make the genders vary in the types of jobs they are suited for. This can be specifically viewed with the gendered division between manual and non-manual labor. The second direction is made up when occupational sex segregation occurs as occupations are stratified according to the power, authority, income, and prestige associated with the occupation and women are excluded from holding such jobs. An example of this type of gender inequality includes women that obtain a role in the workplace that is assumed for a man. Women have celebrated obtaining such roles, but once occupied, have had to fight to keep them. Caitlin Crawshaw interviewed Gail Powley for her article depicting workplace diversity and quickly learned Gail’s success in such a role. Ms. Powley revealed that her secret was “It’s all about attitude, so when they saw my attitude wasn’t to make them change at all, but to find ways to work with them, they actually welcomed me” (2010, para. 2). Historically, inequality has favored white males relative to similarly qualified females, ethnic, and minorities especially in the workplace. Wage discrimination is the discrepancy of wages between who groups due to a bias towards or against a specific trait with all or other characteristics of both groups being equivalent. In the case of gender inequality, wage discrimination...