December 17, 2012
Women and Flexibility in the Workplace
The focus of this paper is to evaluate factors that have affected women`s pay in the workforce. The analysis of historical factors affecting women`s flexibility in the workplace as a continuous social and structural issue is added to the paper to explain the need for change because of the demands that accompany working female caregivers in the home. Historical and statistical data is provided to validate the issues surrounding unequal pay scales women commonly experience in the workplace. A hypothesis is developed to suggest the type`s of change that women hope to see take place in the workplace over the next ten years. Women have experienced low pay, long hours, and less than professional treatment compared to male counterparts for many generations. Economic recession has now driven more women than ever to enter the workforce generating a need for flexibility in scheduling working hours around family needs to decrease the decline of the home and family structure. Women have proven to be a driving force in the workplace and are demanding the deserved respect to continue to work without the loss of the ability to nurture home and family. Historical and Statistical Support that Woman are Paid Less than Male Counterparts Work typically performed by women has long been considered less demanding and therefore deserving of lower pay than jobs performed by male counterparts. The problem does not stop with types of jobs because statistical data also provides documentation that women performing jobs equal to male counterparts were paid less and received fewer or lower raises than men. “According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, in the last 35 years, women have been catching up to male wages at a rate of only 1/3 of 1 percent a year, equivalent to $2,000 in constant dollars over the entire period” (Kahn and Figart, 1998). In 1963 the Equal Pay Act became law, amending the FLSA and prohibiting discrimination by sex for wages for similar jobs. “At the time the law was passed, it was estimated that women were earning 59% of the average wage” (Giraffe, 2011). In 2011 the estimate had risen to 82% ratio of pay for women compared to men. Lower pay scales for women means lower retirement benefits, pension pay, and 401k`s. The low pay scales were insulting enough to the female gender but deeper issued existed such as the flexibility needed to care for children, home, and personal healthcare. Structural and Social Concerns Surrounding Women in the Workforce Women are typically the nurturers in the home. Mother`s have been responsible for childcare, PTA, grade-mothers, and sports moms for many generations before males began filling the roles because females were working outside the homes. Although it is not uncommon in todays society to see dad`s stay at home and fill the roles typically filled by women; it is a relatively new role for males in the last 25 years. The National Organization for Women, 2012, reports that, “Different societal expectations for wives compared to husbands and mothers compared to fathers”. Taylor, 2000, quotes Rita Donaghy, president of the Trades Union Congress, stating, “We want to see a labor market which does not penalize mothers but rather uses their skills in a modern and dynamic economy”. Women with children face issues such as childcare, adequate after school programs, leaving children unattended, and the cost for such care. While modern technology has assisted with housekeeping chores that reduces the need to spend as much time on housework; no technological advances assist with childcare will mothers are ay work. Other more serious issues are reported due to working moms. One study reports, “In examining 20 years of data for 89,000 children between the ages 7-17, the study concludes that children of working mothers are...