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How have women been discriminated against in the workplace and how has it improved

This book had a very good global view of this issue, excellently covering subjects such as women in rural employment, home working, exploitation of women in developing nations, education, and the need to organize for change. In the context of the question asked, I used this book to take a more global look at women in work, in particular women in developing countries. It had an extremely insightful chapter on women in rural employment, which I cover during the course of answering the question. Coyle, Angela. 1988. Women and Work: Positive Action for Change. Basingstoke; Macmillan Education. The scope of this book initially covers a fairly broad view of the problem of discrimination against women in the workplace.

It then proceeds to give varied accounts of the hardship women face in the workforce, taking different professions and areas of work, as examples of how this burden was faced. It also gives an interesting perspective on solutions to these problems, with the use of positive action. In relation to the question asked, this book contributed to my research in a couple of ways. Firstly, because it was published in 1988, it made for a good comparative study to view against more recent trends in women’s equality in work. It was useful as well because it gave a good synopsis of, not only trends in 1988 but also how the situation changed from the 1950s onwards, to arrive in the late 1980s. In addition, it also was helpful in so much that it took particular work environments and highlighted the various discrepancies between the male and female workers.

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Garcia-Beaulieu, Carmen. August 2004. ‘Women’s Employment among Blacks, Whites and Three Groups of Latinas: Do more privileged Women Have Higher Employment?’, Gender and Society. Vol: 18, No. 4, pp 494-509. This journal entry is a comparative study dealing with more privileged ethnic, national origin, and education groups and how likely they each are to work for pay. In the study, conducted in the United States of America, the author compares white women to black and three groups of Latinas, namely Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans. This study was very helpful for my question because it brings up another side to gender discrimination in the workplace, namely race discrimination. It contains a lot of useful data to show these comparisons between these different women. Additionally, this study contained information to show how responsibility for children is affecting the employment of women across the different divisions.

Gatens, Moira. 1998. Gender and Institutions: Welfare, Work and Citizenship. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.
The main body of this book covers a few important issues with women’s employment discrimination. Once again it gives a fairly broad coverage of this issue but gives a lot of insights into areas such as sexual harassment at the workplace, how the male has work advantages and discusses workplace change through the affirmative action act. This book was of significance to the question because it dealt with legislative actions being taken to ensure equal employment opportunities for women. As well this also gives an insight into how sexual harassment in the workplace first came into the global consciousness during the mid-1970s in America, by feminists. In addition, it shows how government regulations stipulate the unlawfulness of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Hakim, Catherine. 1996. Key Issues in Women’s Work: Female Heterogeneity and the Polarisation of Women’s Employment. London; Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Athlone. This book had a very wide range on the problems of work discrimination. The whole book is dedicated to this exact subject and gives very insightful views in explaining exactly what the problems are, how they have been caused, and looking for solutions, both in the present and in the future. It was the main text I used in formulating my answer. It gave very good details on the pay gap and it also gave helpful insights on the impact of childbirth and maternity leave on women’s work. In addition to this, it gave a good overall analysis of male dominance in the workplace and male attitudes towards women in the workplace. Also, it had a very good chapter on European law, pertaining to women’s rights in the workplace and showed how EU law has progressed over time to include various other equal rights legislation.

Wirth, L. 2002. “Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling: Women in Management”, Proceedings of First International Conference: Pay Equity Between Women and Men: Myth or Reality?. Luxembourg. This document examines women and how they are managing in terms of getting into senior executive jobs and higher management. It deals with the problems many women have in reaching higher executive positions. It was useful also because it gives a lot of data and figures showing the disparages that exist between men’s and women’s wages in a more recent context than other books studied for this question. It also gives helpful data on women in management. In addition, this document gives an account of the stumbling blocks, which are preventing women from breaking through this ‘glass ceiling’ and examines the persistent segregation of men’s and women’s jobs. Finally, it offers very useful strategies for women to reach these goals of top executive management.

Introduction. In this study of gender discrimination in the workplace, a lot of areas will be briefly covered. We will look at issues such as how women have been discriminated against in the past, male attitudes towards women at work, pay gaps, sexual harassment, childbirth, ethnic and rural issues, women trying to reach upper management and executive positions, and finally legislation on equality in the workplace. This issue of women’s rights in the workplace has been around for many years, and even though the problem has been improving, this essay will contend that there is still a lot of work to be carried out to ensure that absolute equality becomes a reality for all women throughout the world. During this examination of gender equality, we will take a more general, global view on the issues at hand.

Main Body. The first thing that must be discussed when looking at this issue is how exactly have women been discriminated against in the work environment. Firstly we can look back to the past to see problems in the workplace as they were back then. Using Angela Coyle’s book as a guideline, we can see that from the 1950s up until the 1980s, women have been marginalized in work, given lower-paid jobs, less important work, and have had little or no power in the higher positions within companies. “the overwhelming concentration of women in low paid, low-status work, which is segregated from men’s work and where the real contribution we make is systematically undervalued and marginalized. Our under-representation in positions of power means that we neither participate in nor determine the decision-making processes which so affect our working lives”, (Coyle, 1988, 1).

We also need to look at the pay gap which occurs throughout the world between genders. Even though almost every country throughout the world has passed laws granting the equal treatment of women in the workforce, the wage gap between men and women is still a persistent feature of nearly all nations’ labor force. Reasons for this are numerous, but a couple of reasons can be described as follows. Firstly, because on average women have less labor market experience than men and also work in different areas to men. Another reason is the relative qualifications between men and women. If we take a country like America for example, where women’s qualifications are relatively high compared to other countries and where America has had a stronger legislative approach to equal rights than most other western countries, we still see that America is one of the countries with the largest gender gaps, in terms of pay, (Hakim, 1996, 149).

There has been a lot of legislation introduced to counter and prevent gender inequality. The ‘Treaty of Rome’, signed by the six original member states of the EU, “laid down the principle that men and women should receive equal pay for equal work”, (Hakim, 1996, 190), in Article 119, in 1957. Other legislation has later been ratified throughout Europe in the years following this initial legislation, such as the Equal Pay Directive of 1975 followed by the Equal Treatment Directive of 1976, which “laid down the “principle of non-discrimination” as regards access to employment, promotion, vocational training, working conditions, termination of employment and employment-related social security benefits”, (Hakim, 1996, 190).

Another area, involved in this issue, is the advancement of women into senior executive positions and higher management. Even though women have been progressing in terms of getting jobs that have previously been reserved solely for men, expectations have fallen short in women getting the top jobs within their chosen fields. This is in spite of the fact that data shows that women are very much qualified to be achieving these high-powered positions. It would seem that discrimination is greatest in jobs that exert the most power. The study done by L. Wirth threw up some interesting data pertaining to this subject.

  • Women hold 1 to 3 percent of top executive jobs in the largest corporations, worldwide.
  • Only 8 countries have women heads of state worldwide.
  • Only 13.8% of the world’s parliamentarians are women.
  •  Only 1 percent of trade union leaders are women, though women are almost 40% of their membership, globally. (Wirth, 2002, 3).

When we think of women’s gender struggles in the workplace, we can often zone in on urban issues relating to this issue. Yet we must explore women in more rural settings, because three-quarters of women worldwide, live in rural areas. Most of these women work in agriculture and a wide range of related activities. In particular, we will look at women working in underdeveloped areas of the world such as Africa and Asia. Women are an important part of the labor force on plantations, in all regions in developing countries, yet, “in almost all cases women’s wages are less than men’s”, (Bullock, 1994, 37). Not only are the women’s wages significantly lower than men’s, but as they work on the plantations, living conditions are often extremely poor, with barely any amenities for recreation. Nor do they have sufficient amenities for the care or schooling of children.

Conditions on the estates have often been described as little better than serfdom. Women are also expected to work longer than men, carrying out household tasks and chores as well as working on the plantation. This is how a woman working on a plantation in Costa Rica describes her day. “We work approximately sixteen hours a day, inside and outside the house. I work with the cabuya like a man, combing it, spinning it, and cutting it down. Then I can ‘rest’. I do the things that need to be done in the house. That’s what they call our ‘rest’. We leave one job to do another”, (Bullock, 1994, 41). This shows how rural women have poorer wages, more insecure employment, and longer working hours.

Conclusion. It is fair to say that women have come a long way in their struggle to overcome workplace inequality. Areas have improved with more and more organizations, throughout all sectors, adopting equal opportunity policies. With that said there is however a very long way to go in full equality being achieved throughout the labor force. The figure discussed in relation to women in higher management is a stark reminder that women still need to strive forward in their obvious repression in the workplace. As well as this, women working in the more underdeveloped countries are still very much second-class citizens. Their struggle probably has been glossed over because of more critical economic and social problems which are occurring throughout their countries, yet they are most definitely being discriminated against in the workplace. As an overall summary of the struggle for gender equality, one must contend that while great leaps have been made over recent decades, the struggle for equality, most defiantly rages on.

Bibliography

  • Bullock, Susan. 1994. Women and Work. London, Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Zed Books.
  • Coyle, Angela. 1988. Women and Work: Positive Action for Change. Basingstoke; Macmillan Education.
  • Garcia-Beaulieu, Carmen. August 2004. Women’s Employment among Blacks, Whites, and Three Groups of Latinas: Do more
  • Privileged Women have Higher Employment?, Gender and Society. Vol. 18, No. 4, pp 494-509.
  • Gatens, Moira. 1998. Gender and Institutions: Welfare, Work and Citizenship. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hakim, Catherine. 1996. Key Issues in Women’s Work: Female Heterogeneity and the Polarisation of Women’s Employment. London; Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Athlone.
  • Wirth, L. 2002. ‘Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling: Women in Management ’, Proceedings of First International Conference: Pay
  • Equity Between Women and Men: Myth or Reality?. Luxembourg.

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How have women been discriminated against in the workplace and how has it improved. (2021, Mar 24). Retrieved April 11, 2021, from https://essayscollector.com/essays/how-have-women-been-discriminated-against-in-the-workplace-and-how-has-it-improved/