Social Inequality in the Work Force

Topics: Gender, Feminism, Discrimination Pages: 5 (1519 words) Published: August 18, 2008
“What is the difference between sex and gender?“ is an inquiry which some individuals seem confused upon because both concepts are often misunderstood. Sex is a biological distinction between males and females, while gender is a socially constructed definition that relates to characteristics defining masculinity and femininity (Kilic). The latter is a structural feature of society, as the public maintains the dominant belief in preserving male advantages. This ideology that the public has learned to accept has led to unfair treatment against women especially in employment opportunities. Women specifically experience deprivation in the work force as they face discrimination based on their sex. Many women in the employment industries have the least authority, and are confide to lower-ranking positions than men. In “Difference and Dominance: On Sex Discrimination” by Catharine MacKinnon, the author offers a variety of concepts as to how a particular gender (male) is constructed as being dominant in society. MacKinnon introduces the theory of the dominance approach, which she believes parallel society’s practice of social inequality. The ideology of gender identity has created injustice for women as they have become subordinate to men in terms of power and status. Similarly in the article, “An Overview of Sex Inequality at Work” by Irene Padavic and Barbara Reskin, the authors also claim that gender is socially constructed based on the dominance approach. MacKinnon’s interpretation of the dominance approach is behind the construction of society’s ideology on gender identity; Padavic and Reskin’s article also provides an enactment of this approach, particularly on the issue of sex inequality for women in the workplace. Women experience sex segregation of jobs, sex differences in promotion/authority, and also differences in their earnings.

The discrimination that women endure is a result of society’s ideology of the dominance approach. This is a concept where, “sex inequality questions are questions of systemic dominance, of male supremacy” (MacKinnon 414). MacKinnon states that society has constructed an ideology where men are believed to have more power over women as a sex. The unequal distribution of power leads to men being at the top of the hierarchy while women are at the bottom. As a result, the oppression that women experience is reflected from subordination to men in society. MacKinnon argues that, “the dominance approach centers on the most sex-differential abuses of women as a gender, abuses that sex equality law in its difference garb could not confront” (413). Women are typically the ones who face abuse in terms of rape, sexual harassment, and battery. As a result, females are usually seen as inferior because men do not face these types of abuse (MacKinnon 413). The pornography industry is another example of how women are seen as being powerless against men. By exploiting females for the sexual entertainment of men, the power differential is maintained in society.

Similar to MacKinnon’s theory of the dominance approach, Padavic and Reskin’s article provide examples of how this is evident in today’s society. “An Overview of Sex Inequality at Work” focuses on women being discriminated on their jobs because of their gender. Padavic and Reskin claim that sex inequality occur in workplaces because it is embedded in the ideology of many societies (341). Like MacKinnon’s assertions, society focuses on a belief that gives preference for males to benefit. Padavic and Reskin argue that gender ideology is, “a set of widely shared assumptions about the way the sexes are and what the relations between them are and ought to be” (342). This is one of the factors that explain why there is sex inequality in the workplace. In this patriarchal society, men are seen as being the real “breadwinners” who deserve higher-paying jobs. On the other hand, women are seen as being homemakers who do not need real jobs that pay enough money...
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