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Unlike sex, gender is a socially constructed concept which has many ramifications in the social, political, and economic realms. The social construction of gender roles is responsible for the division the productive labor forces into one which has historically been private and unpaid, known for more than a hundred years as “women’s work” and another which occurs in the public sphere and his remunerated. Although women have entered the paid labor force in great numbers over the past 50 years, so-called “women’s work” has relegated women to child-rearing responsibilities, maintaining a home, cooking and cleaning and everything else which has historically been unpaid. Importantly, much of this work, child rearing, cooking, etc is both unpaid and often unappreciated. Historically, men worked outside the home, earning a paycheck and have been the breadwinners of the traditional nuclear family. Since the 1960s women have entered the labor force in incredible numbers and have begun to earn the respect they deserve for the work that they do. Despite this important change, men still have much more power in our society and it remains structured upon the notion of patriarchy. Accordingly, women face many hurdles to direct employment in the paid labor force in the United States (see Bernbach 33-75).
While female participation in the labor force has grown tremendously over the past half-century, women still lag behind men when it comes to getting paid for the hard work that they do. According to the American Department of Labor and Statistics, women on average earned $.80 on the US dollar relative to their male counterparts. From a sociological perspective, what can help account for the disparities women face in the labor force? Discrimination is one challenge women face in the paid labor force and this concept can be defined as the prejudicial treatment of others based upon perceived or real
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