By Noel-Marie K.
As citizens of the United States of America, we like to believe we are part of an advanced society. We are told that we live in the greatest country in the world, feel we are of a superior kind, and look down to the nations who do not appear as evolved as us. We solicit “The American Dream” which offers an opportunity for any citizen to obtain success through hard work, though we are guilty of the most ancient form of discrimination that defies that exact proposal. Women in the United States experience a plethora of different types of discrimination. One type of which takes place in the American workplace. A substantial example of this kind of discrimination can be found on a woman’s paystub, where one will find that, on average, women are paid less than half of what men are paid for the same occupations (seventy-seven cents on the dollar less for every dollar a man makes, to be exact, according to a recent study from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research). Although we deem ourselves the land of the free, and may be under the impression that all people are treated as equal, gender discrimination in the American workplace proves otherwise. Sexism in the workplace exists all throughout the United States, and, contrary to what we have been told, prevents some of us from achieving the equal life, liberty, and happiness, which, upon our birth or entrance into this country, we have otherwise been promised.
Females have more trouble obtaining high-level positions and face greater harassment threats in the workplace (with 80% of sexual harassment charges at a person’s work coming from women) than males (Berman). While women are fighting for equality, they are, in the meantime, obligated to succumb to “the man”, and accept our inadequate salary as pay. Men are blatantly seen as the superior sex, and there is not a lot being done about it, for example, more than 90% of people who are “in charge” in the United States (meaning that they hold high-ranking positions in the workplace – manager, executives, etc.), are, in fact, men (Berman). As a result, when females attempt to achieve greater or equal pay, they encounter many problems; they are the underdog. We have witnessed it throughout history, and seen how difficult it is for those without the upper hand to achieve equality, even in a place like the United States. We have witnessed inequality and discrimination, and still do witness it to this day, with blacks, Hispanics, Asians, homosexuals… the list goes on. It is no secret as to why more than half of the workers in the United States are prohibited to discuss wages amongst one another (Goudreau).
It is difficult to be a feminist in this day and age, fighting merely for gender equality, because, unfortunately, the term feminist is often synonymous with the term “man-hater”, which is what too many women appear to be (ruining it for the rest). Lashing out is a result of female suppression and discrimination in the workplace, and it does not help “the fight” for equality. In addition to the reduced pay that women receive, we also face a variety of unconscious stereotypes in the workplace that hold us back. For example, some claim that women do not need as much money as men because they are not the primary “breadwinners”; women, allegedly, cannot perform certain tasks, or do certain jobs they way that men can – some work is widely considers “men’s work”. It is also believed by many that women are supposed to act a certain type of feminine in the workplace. Any signs of dominance or assertiveness in the workplace shown by women is thought to be the breaking of a role, for women cannot possibly be committed to their jobs – they are the primary caregivers to their children (Chait). Most employers, when faced with the accusation that they pay some or all of their female employees less than their male employees for the same positions, use these stereotypes as an excuse as to where the difference in pay comes.
In the United States, there are many minority groups who have risen above their initial social status upon entering this country. Although there is not group more superior to white males at this point in time, there are many other groups who are up-and-coming, and striving for that same status, and for equality. The problem right now, a problem I believe to be just as large as unequal pay among different genders, is the fact that people are dealing with this inequality in the wrong way. There are intelligent, more strategic ways to go about receiving what you want from your employer. Although it is difficult, for the majority of women in the United States are paid less than men, the only way to deal with this is peacefully and with sense. Sexism in the workplace remains a substantial problem in the land of the free, and the home of the brave.
Berman, Jillian. "11 Ways The American Workplace Is Still Really, Really Sexist.” Huffington Post. The Huffington Post, 20 Feb 2013. Web. 6 Oct 2013.
Chait Barnett, Rosalind. "Ageism and Sexism in the Workplace." American Society of Aging. Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, 17 Dec 2007. Web. 10 Oct 2013. <http://generations.metapress.com/content/l123853u21285836/fulltext.pdf?page=1>.
Goudreau, Jenna. "America's Most Sexist Jobs." Forbes. Forbes, 24 Jun 2011. Web. 3 Oct 2013. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2011/06/24/americasmost-sexist-jobs/>.