Gender Disparities in the Workplace The 20th century witnessed tremendous shifts in civil rights. From decreasing racial divides to increasing acceptance of sexuality, the century was a watershed period for progress. One of the major movements within this spectrum of understanding was the feminist movement…
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Even so, it is recognized that notable disparities still exist. This essay examines these workplace gender disparities through a consideration of overarching elements, culture, education, opportunities, and legislative procedures. A broad array of research has examined gender disparities in the workplace. A great degree of focus has been centered on inequalities, and indeed men are still recognized as making higher annual salaries and more consistently holding upper level management positions than women. Still, an equally strong amount of research has considered the disparities that exist as a result of socialization. In this context of understanding theorists have argued that from an early age men and women experience disparities in social interaction, as men view themselves in a hierarchical social order, while women view themselves in a network of connections where the primary goal is to establish intimacy and avoid isolation (Hahn). One recognizes that such differences come to prominently play out in workplace scenarios, as these differing forms of acculturation challenge managerial styles and workplace interactions. To a degree these disparities can be linked to the inequality and largely patriarchal workplace order that has emerged. Such inequality has resulted in significant pressures for change, with government, women’s rights groups and activists promoting measures that would encourage more workplace equality. Another prominent consideration in gender disparity is differences in workplace culture. Within this spectrum of understanding specific differences exist among the types of jobs that men and women traditionally work. For instance, women have traditionally been relegated to careers as childcare providers, secretaries, nurses, librarians, and teachers. In addition to divergences in the types of jobs that are traditionally held by men and women there are differences in dress code expectations. While dress formality remains contingent on the specific environment, men are generally expected to dress in shirts with ties; conversely, women are expected to wear blouses, dresses, or skirts. There also exist notable salary differences between men and women. One recent study revealed that women in IT related fields received an average of $25.08 per hour while men received $29.66 for the same job (Vermeulen). Another study revealed that female secretaries earn just 83.4% as much as male ones, and female truck drivers 76.5% as much (Fitzpatrick). Education regarding workplace gender disparity is another major factor. A major concern in recent years has been sexual harassment. The challenge with sexual harassment has been successfully distinguishing the term from accepted modes of social interaction. Legally sexual harassment is prohibited in the workplace, but it is recognized that significant amounts of harassment still occurs. A major difficulty in eliminating sexual harassment is workplace culture wherein individuals are afraid to report the harassment out of fear of losing their jobs. The first workplace sexual harassment lawsuit was filed in 1974 with Barnes v. Train (Devey). However, in the 1976 case, Williams vs. Saxbe, the term sexual harassment was first used (Devey). While workplace gender inequality must be countered internally, it is also important that changes occur in the political apparatus. In these regards, the 20th century has experienced significant progress. The first woman elected to political office was
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