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Women in Our Society

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  • March 25, 2008
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Women in Our Society
Hopefully we can all agree that absent exceptional circumstances, we should strive for a society that treats men and women fairly. However, it would be a mistake to think that the only sort of unfairness that matters is gender inequity. It’s unfair that tall people and pretty people earn more money than average. It’s unfair that more personable individuals are more likely to get hired or promoted even for jobs where these skills are not essentials. Human interactions are rife with unfairness. We make generalizations based on the clothes people wear, the language they use and the objects they own. As decisions about jobs and pay require humans judgment they are infested with all kinds of unfairness.

Income
April 24th is national Equal Pay Day, an auspicious day to have a hearing about proposed legislation addressing pay equity. Equal Pay Day is observed in April to indicate how far into the next year a woman must work to earn as much as a man earned in the previous year. Because women on average earn less, they must work longer for the same pay. For women of color, the wage gap is even greater. Nationally, women’s average wage is 77 per cent of men’s average wage according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Just why is there a wage gap between men and women? Basically, the wage gap is the result of a variety of forms of sex stereotyping and segregation left over from a pre-industrial age, which steering girls to certain limited education and vocational choices; sex stereotyping and discrimination in the workplace, including discrimination in hiring, promotion and pay setting; occupational segregation and steering by employers; bias against mothers and care-takers in employer leave and attendance policies not cured by the Family; undervaluing women workers and traditional women’s work. In the field of pay equity studies, “it is generally accepted that a gender-dominated occupation is one in which 70% of one-sex hold jobs in the...