Gender Inequality in the Workforce
Principles of Sociology
Professor Jonah Cohen
January 9, 2018
Comprehensive utilization of individual potential regardless of gender contributes to development. However, one of our greatest obstacles in the workforce is that of gender discrimination which is firmly rooted not solely in fields such as politics and business, but similarly in science and education. The goal of some research is to examine gender stereotypes along with the features of their manifestation in the sphere of education and science. Some of the analysis also seeks to determine the validation of the fundamental mechanisms required for overcoming the gender inequality. The observations include an attempt to explain the phenomenon of discrimination against women in terms of the neoclassical economic and contemporary gender theories.
Gender, discrimination, gender inequality, segregation, feminism
Gender Inequality in the Workforce
Both economic and social aspects of modern culture are increasingly dependent on new scientific knowledge. It is well known that the sustainable development of society calls for the growth of certain highly developed specialists including scientists who can make discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The overall trend of involving women in all spheres of activity, including education and science, predetermines the necessity to formulate a policy of gender equality. Despite advances in the approach towards women’s participation in scientific activities, modern societies gender segregation continues to occur and is broken down into two forms of occupational segregation based on gender, vertical and horizontal segregation. Horizontal segregation takes place in the case of the distribution of men and women by type of activity. Vertical segregation is the distribution of men and women in the hierarchy within a profession. While trying to explain professional segregation by sex and the theory of human capital, the theory of “segmentation of the labor market” and “gender wage gap” are most often used. Gender segregation is carried out based on the totality of psychological characteristics and characteristics of a person’s social behavior. It often manifests itself in the form of existing barriers in society for women in the advancement of the career ladder. The concept of “glass ceiling” is also used to define gender segregation, which is an unofficially acknowledged barrier to advancement in a profession, especially affecting women. The glass ceilings for American women at least allow them to have the knowledge of things that are inaccessible (Alicea 2003).
To illustrate the theory of “human capital,” it is a fact that women have less professional experience due to the association with family responsibilities or the birth of a child and the workforce. This is interpreted by some statisticians for the cause why the overall production of women is lower than their male counterparts. When such conditions are factored in, women’s status should be adjusted for most types of work, otherwise, there will be discrimination against women. However, in the conditions of growing competition since the end of World War 2, the number of educated and highly skilled female workers is growing.
Even though studies by Richard Anker shows parents arrange a greater degree of education for their sons, and girls are more prone to be encouraged to master less prestigious professions such as nurses and assistants as opposed to men who are usually urged to become doctors and businessmen. Despite the regulations about equal opportunity and the rights to receive an equal education along with the free choice of a profession, opportunities for women in the labor market remain limited. It should be recognized that this theory is gradually losing its significance, as the average age of marriage increases which equates to the declined in fertility and the women’s birth rates. These trends contribute to the release of time and freedom in which women are now channeling into career development, thereby increasing their professional knowledge and experience. However, there have been no substantial shifts in the actual labor market so far, and professional segregation continues to occur.
In many instances, employers use mechanisms of hidden discrimination to subvert labor regulations. In their estimation, family responsibilities of women will continually interfere with activity and direct participation in the work process. This phenomenon is quite common and manifests itself at the stage of hiring. Discrimination of women by employers formed the basis of the theory of “Propensity to Discriminate” G. Becker. Per this theory, in the end, the employer-discriminator costs will be higher than the nondiscriminatory employer through spending money and time searching exclusively for male employees and will ultimately undermine competitiveness.
In the “theory of segmentation of the labor market”, segmentation consists of the division of professions into “male” and “female” segments (Bergmann 2008). Irish political economist John Elliott Cairnes referred to this phenomenon as that of “noncompeting groups”. This theory is aimed at explaining the predominance of men in employment and the restriction of women and wages within an industry, rather than the reasons for gender segmentation of occupations. The rationale for this pattern is the presence of stereotypes about “female” and “male” professions. Female jobs often require and encourage a “serving” orientation toward providing services to other people. These characteristics are often encouraged by family and schooling institutions. However, the number of women in the sciences and technical knowledge is growing. In recent years, women in the United States have acquired more doctoral degrees for the fourth consecutive year. Gender theories of occupational segregation support the view that when a woman acts as a researcher, she can rethink common theories and methods, which allows her to re-evaluate the object of research. Such views on the role of women in science are usually called the “feminist point of view.” This theory in the 80 years of the twentieth century was developed by Sandra Harding and Meryl Hintikka (Whitt 1990), Nancy Hartsoka and Dorothy Smith.
Feminist criticism of the discrimination of women researchers was also expressed by economists P. Ingland and A. Brown ( Pasinetti 2005) who sought to explain the question of gender inequality from the point of view of the psychoanalyst. Psychologists found that women’s desire for power is not as equally pronounced as in men, which allows women scientists to focus on the details of the object that are being analyzed. In addition, the natural sociability and openness of women also promotes cooperation. After analyzing the features of the functioning of the brain of the representatives of both sexes, it became clear that full-fledged scientific research requires the cooperation of both men and women. In their opinion, the social aversion of women in leadership positions in traditionally “male” fields, including science, relate to the fear of men losing their gender identity.
In addition, gender stereotypes are due to three components which play a significant role in discrimination against women. The first factor is the appearance of gender roles for men is the social level they occupy which are traditionally considered being more important for men than for women. The uneven distribution of family and household responsibilities is the second factor that causes segregation in the labor market. In keeping with the studies conducted, time women spend on paid work all over the world is 1-4 hours less than men, and to care for family members they spend approximately 2-10 times more. The third factor is discrimination are wages. Studies conducted by American scientists D. Treiman and H. Hartmann show that the gap in pay for women and men in the United States by more than 30% is due to the presence of gender professional segregation. This discriminatory practice has been weakened in recent years due to the 111th Congress of the United States, which enacted and President Obama signed into law on January 29th,2009, a regulation known as the “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act” ( EEOC ). This new act prohibits sex-based wage discrimination between men and women who work in the same establishment and who perform jobs that have substantially equal skill levels, effort, and responsibility under similar working conditions. One of the provisions in this act clarifies that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit resets with each new paycheck affected by that discriminatory action and not the 180-day statute of limitations from the day of initial employment which was previously utilized.
Some of the disadvantages outlined above provide women with fewer opportunities to show leadership abilities or at least a sense of an equal role in the creation of a product. Women, who despite the widespread notion of a “weak field”, could occupy key leadership positions, not only for the possess of intellectual potential, but should also become examples for imitation. Almost universally, women in science, politics and senior management positions are represented in business to a much lesser degree than men. The task of the gender policy of a democratic state is to overcome such contradictions: to not achieve a purely quantitative balance of women and men in certain positions or in certain professions, but to ensure truly equal rights and opportunities for each person, based on his and her abilities, aspirations, skills, and not gender.
Most countries have signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, adopted on 3 September 1981(Khanna 2016). In total, 136 countries around the world now formally recognize the equal opportunity of all citizens and the inadmissibility of discrimination against women. A low percentage of women in the general composition of the human resources potential of world science has become the subject of research by many sociologists, and issues of gender equality in employment are among the most urgent. So, considering the growing employment of women in all spears of activity, including science, and the scale of parity. First, extensive education and vocational guidance of young women. Secondly, financial support of scientific activities and professional development of women. Thirdly, the introduction of statistical gender monitoring in all components of the scientific policy. Fourthly, the introduction of gender equality programs in educational institutions of all levels. A higher degree of gender equality will contribute to economic efficiency, provide a performance boost, which is especially important in the conditions of increasing international competition and gain. Thus, the implementation of social policy measures to support women in science will ensure gender equality not only soon but also in the long term.