Gender is a significant factor, which creates the social difference between men and women in society. Social differences are studied throughout people’s life. Overtime changes and variations depend on the community where people live. In many communities, men and women are assigned definitive roles as a result of their gender because it determines the power to do something. However, in the present day, women are still regarded as inferior to men and associated with lesser daunting tasks. As a result, men have grown to assert a lot of influence over women in many spheres of life, thus perpetuating gender inequality.
Gender inequality, especially discrimination against women in the workplace, is a social issue that many organizations find challenging to overcome. Francine & Lawrence observe “women continue to face significant obstacles in a male-dominated area, and experience greater difficulties in breaking through the glass ceiling when advancing to management levels” (17). In many organizations, women are regarded as inferior to men in the workplace. In South Korea, for instance, gender inequality occurs as a result of historical traditions according to which women have been lower than men for centuries. For decades, South Korean educated women were only allowed to get jobs as teachers.
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The issue of gender inequality between men and women goes beyond biological differences to incorporate societal values and beliefs. For instance, men have been traditionally assigned tasks that require a lot of energy because of their masculinity while women perform easier tasks. As a result, women have been regarded as the weaker sex and treated with vigilance. In many cultures and countries worldwide, men and women are by no means equal because their roles are clearly distinguished. Besides, each gender has certain unique attributes which cannot be duplicated. Gregory explains “differentiation in roles, responsibilities, and status in society do not imply that one gender is more superior or better than another” (135). Although, men are women are treated as equals in Russia, women have been seen to play a passive role in the political and economic facets of society.
In Coontz’s article, “Why Gender Equality Stalled,” the author argues that gender inequality in America dates back to 1963 when people felt that it was almost impossible to achieve equality. For instance, in the American culture, women are still described as ‘unequal’ even though they are more successful in life than men. This is because most people believed that women could not successfully pursue their careers and manage their families. Besides, according to a survey by the University of Michigan most women preferred men to make the main decisions in the house (n.p). However, for many years, the sole breadwinner of an American family has been the man. Many men believed that they had to toil in order to earn money and take care of their families while women became housewives. Although, in 1994, the women labor force began to take shape as more women became active participants in the economy.
Ethical hiring is just one of many aspects of gender inequality that women face in organizations. Gregory observes that it is not enough to guarantee formal equal access to jobs and positions in organizations. “It should also be statistically true that applicants who differ from each other only in characteristics that are irrelevant for the position they apply for have an equal opportunity to be hired” (81). Gender inequality laws govern the principles of equal hiring. But what about equal opportunities in promotion and career development awarded to women?
In the workplace, women are victims of gender inequality because they are believed to be a weaker sex that is venerable. This assumption has seen most women excluded from performing technical tasks and assigned simpler jobs. As a result, women have been deprived of the opportunity to exercise their full potential and take leadership positions in organizations. According to Newport, the selection procedure of women to get employment tends to be biased as compared to that of men. For instance, women are queried on intimidating questions regarding their status and families, thus locking them out of employment opportunities. It is quite appalling that, a woman with impressive credentials that a man is likely to be denied a job opportunity just because she is pregnant and due to deliver. This shows the extent of gender inequality that is exhibited in the workplace and society in general.
Gender inequality can be traced to societal basis, where women are regarded as unequal to men. The socialization of boys makes them grow up knowing they have a higher place in society, and women are supposed to be under their control. This was reflected in the way boys are assigned ‘tough’ chores at home while girls perform easier tasks. Today, women are discriminated against in the form of sexual harassment and given unequal chances for employment. A research has shown “women who are adamant to do sexual favors have been denied chances to get jobs or rise to managerial positions” Newport (139).
Newport perceives that it is not easy to achieve gender equality. Gender inequality starts from birth, through adolescence until adulthood (65). This upbringing is perpetuated by the different treatment accorded to girls and boys as they develop. Especially, during the adolescence stage, girls are cautioned against competing with boys, and instead, are asked to respect them because they will become their wives someday. For instance, in the Indian and Buganda community, women are socialized to be exceptionally obedient and submissive to men because they are not equals. For example, women in the Buganda community have been socialized to bend on their knees while serving food to their husbands as a sign of high opinion and to demonstrate that the husband is superior.
According to Coontz, gender equality began to stall during the mid-1990’s and the early 2000s. This was because a majority of Americans who preferred males as breadwinners and women as housewives rose by 40% (n.d). Besides, the issue of gender inequality was aggravated by the fact that, over 60% of women preferred a part-time job to get more hours with their families. As a result of discrimination and gender inequality, most married women quit their full-time jobs. However, this did not deter single women from augmenting their working hours to match their male counterparts.
In modern society, the issue of gender equality continues to raise a lot of concerns. This is occasioned by the fact that most women know about their rights, thus getting involved in the labor force. As a result, most working women believe that their husbands have to help them to take care of their children. However, the concept of goal sharing in terms of caregiving has not been taken positively as most men feel that women should be ready to sacrifice their jobs for the sake of the family. Coontz argues that most working parents advocate for equal rights where both of them take on responsibility for their children (n.p.). Although most families in America prescribe to this mode of parenting, gender inequality still exists. For instance, most organizations do not provide nursing mothers with additional benefits or a flexible schedule to have more time with their children. As a result, most of them opt to quit their jobs and concentrate on the family until children are old enough.
Coontz (n.p.) argues that gender inequality is widely witnessed in many organizations. For instance, it is a common phenomenon to find most women being paid less than men in similar positions. In spite of their educational level and job category, women still face a lot of discrimination because they are denied opportunities to hold senior and management positions. As a result of gender inequality, women find it extremely challenging to hold flexible jobs because they face a lot of prejudice and scrutiny at work. Therefore, challenges of the workplace such as the lack of family-friendly benefits make most women quit their full-time jobs.
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For many decades, women have been perceived as a minority in the workplace. Though there have been enormous strides to address the issue of gender equality, still there is an inadequacy of laws to address unfair remuneration and lack of employment benefits for women. Ethically this is a deficiency that requires urgent attention. In order to promote gender equality, women deserve to get more preference. Therefore, to address the issue of gender inequality, there is a need by organizations to incorporate affirmative action programs in their strategic plans so as to absorb more women in the workforce (Gregory 125).
Education is the primary solution to the problem of gender inequality. Women sometimes avoid certain professions because they are regarded as territories of men. For example, women are not attracted to work in the engineering field because it is mostly associated with masculinity. Besides, areas that portray the attributes of nurturance, such as nursing, hospitality and fashion are popular among women. Gregory (65) observes that there is a need to overhaul the entire education system to include gender studies as a compulsory course. As a result, children will get an opportunity to learn from an early age that men and women are equal and can succeed in life. Therefore, through a changed school curriculum, the superiority complex will be diffused, and women will have equal opportunities to compete with men without any fear of discrimination.
In conclusion, gender inequality remains a critical issue that needs to be solved. Although some improvement has been achieved through various women movements, men still continue to enjoy favors, especially in the work environment. However, today women have become better educated than most men and are aware of their rights. Besides, women are managers of international corporations and act as breadwinners in most households. The issue of gender inequality is of paramount significance in the workplace and society at large. Today, society is so polarized, and all genders should be given equal opportunities to advance their careers. In addition, the school curriculum should be evaluated to incorporate gender studies to ensure that children receive the right knowledge about gender equality.
- Coontz, Stephanie. Why Gender Equality Stalled. New York Times, 16, February 2013. Accessed on 6 May 2013.
- Francine, Blau & Lawrence Khan. The Gender Pay Gap: Have Women Gone as far as They Can? Journal of Management 21(1) 7, February 2007. Accessed on 7 April 2013.
- Gregory, Raymond F. Women and Workplace Discrimination Overcoming Barriers to Gender Equality. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2003. Print.
- Newport, Clara. The woman in the Thought of Work of Freidrich Hebbel. New York: Kessinger Publishing, 2010. Print.