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Women as a Minority Group

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Women as a Minority Group

Women have been discriminated against since the beginning of time, as early as the first people, Adam and Eve. Eve was called the evil one, who ate fruit from the tree of knowledge. Once she had the knowledge to know right from wrong, she chose to do wrong and give the fruit to Adam. Examples like these can be shown all over history books, in stories, tales and legends across the entire world. Women have been subordinate to men in virtually all societies throughout history. The ideology that one sex is superior to the other is called sexism. The presumption of male sexism led to patterns of prejudice and discrimination against women. These prejudices and discriminations have led to many beliefs or ideas of why women are inferior to men. They range from brain size to sexual differences, including personalities based on genitalia. Cross-cultural studies demonstrate how the socialization process and societal expectations of men and women produce variances in sex-role norms and behavior.
As the realization of women as an exploited group increases, the similarity of their position to that of racial and ethnic groups becomes more apparent. Women are born into their sexual identity and are easily distinguished by physical and cultural characteristics. In addition, women now identify that they are all sufferers of an ideology (sexism) that tries to justify their inferior treatment.
In all societies around the world, women are treated as if they are a minority group, just like any racial or ethnic group that is out of the norm. The justification for considering women as a minority group and the existence of sexism becomes clear through the examination of social indicators, including education, employment, and income. Education was sex segregated for hundreds of years. Men and women went to different schools or were physically and academically separated into "coeducational" schools. Males and females had separate classrooms, separate entrances, separate academic subjects, and separate expectations. Women were only taught the social graces and morals, and teaching women academic subjects was considered a waste of time.
Even after these prejudices were overcome, the education system still maintained sexism in both obvious and subtle ways. Books reinforced sexual stereotypes, with male characters heavily outweighing female characters and males portrayed as active and adventuresome while females were portrayed as passive. Stereotypical activities, like boys creating things or earning money, and girls shopping, cooking, and sewing, existed in each and every textbook. In all standard English, male pronouns are used to describe a hypothetical individual no matter what the actual gender of the person may be. Although many of these stereotypical portrayals have been removed through court cases and pressure on publishers, there are still problems today.
Sexual bias still remains in schools today, even though there has been a great many changes in the past 20 years. Girls enter school in the first grade with the same skills and ambitions as boys, if not more, but classroom sexist conditioning results in lower self-confidence and aspirations by the time they graduate from high school. Even though, two out of every three teachers may be women, they tend to favor sexual stereotypes, recalling more positively the assertive male students while liking least the assertive females. Teachers call on boys more often, give them more detailed criticism, and praise the intellectual content of boys' work more then girls' work, while more likely praising girls for their neatness. Teachers also allow boys to shout out answers and take risks, but they reprimand girls who do the same thing for rudeness. Additionally, few educators encourage girls to pursue careers in math or science.
Employment is another social indicator that helps to show the inequality between men and women. The number of women working has shown an increase over the past 20 years. Even though over 60% of all women are working, there is still a significant difference in male-female career categories. Most of the women working are in traditional low-paying, low-status jobs. These low-paying, low-status jobs are sometimes called "pink collar" jobs, and they can include bank tellers, bookkeepers, cashiers, health technicians, librarians, sales clerks, secretaries, and telephone operators. In contrast, male-dominated occupations are higher-paying, higher-status jobs.
A discriminatory policy that keeps women out of top management positions, high profile transfers, and key assignments is called the glass ceiling effect and becomes another problem women must face in employment. If women do get employed with a company and begin to move upwards, they are then limited to move upward only so far. This usually keeps women out of positions of vice president and above. Women will have the greatest success moving up to middle management positions, including assistant vice-president and office manager.
An additional burden working women must face is at home. After coming home from work, women must continue to do the same amount of household chores as full-time homemakers. Their husbands contribute to only about one third of all housework. The majority of working women still must, and want to, take care of their children, as well. These could be contributing factors to the reason women are feeling constantly fatigued, emotionally drained, and torn by their conflicting demands of their multiple roles.
The third social indicator which clearly shows the inequality of women is income. Ever since pay equity became a civil-rights goal in the 1970s, women and minorities have made some progress, but still a significant gap remains. Among year-round, full time workers ages 18 and older, women earn 58 cents for every dollar earned by men. Women with a bachelor degree or higher earn only 55 cents for every dollar earned by men. Women still earn less than men in almost every field, including those dominated by women. Variations in qualifications and superiority may cause some of these differences, but even if those are controlled, the difference in pay still exists.
Women must choose to either put all their efforts into their careers, or all their efforts into their families. This choice is reflected in the pay inequity. If a woman is willing to drop everything for her career, then she must go an extra mile to prove to the company that she is fully committed. Even after going the extra mile, executives may assume that a woman's family responsibilities will interfere with her productivity and that the company will incur additional expenses for maternity and family medical leaves.
If a woman chooses motherhood, then she must lower her occupational goals and expectations. A woman with children will fall behind a childless woman in earnings, as the childless woman goes up the corporate ladder faster. Women will then risk career advancement by having children. Also, a working mother must not only juggle a family and a career, but she must find child-care as well. Child care costs are the major reason why most women end up just quitting their jobs. The majority of a working mother's salary goes directly to the child care provider. If women were paid equal to men, more families may be able to pay for child care expenses and working mothers could continue to work and get ahead.
Women have been treated unequally since the beginning of time. Just recently have things began to change for the better for women and the future of our society. The increase in women's equality rights will take time, but some day women and men will be treated equally. This cannot happen until each of us is able to look at a person and just see another individual, not a male or a female, white or black, rich or poor… a person as just a person.

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