The fight for gender equality and women’s rights is not a new issue; it has been a very long, very hard fight. Women have been denied staple rights in virtually every aspect of life. One major area in which discrimination towards women is extremely prevalent is the work place. Gender discrimination is one of those topics that’s not openly discussed often within the workplace but many, if not everyone, notice it. Many companies are aware of the gender discrimination in the work force. In fact they have been aware for a very long time. In the 1990s, a national poll of chief executives of companies was taken regarding gender and the advantages and disadvantages faced by people of each gender (Faludi 1991). This poll revealed that over 80% of these chief executives acknowledged the discrimination towards female employees (Faludi 1991). This same poll showed that less than 1% of these same companies had the goal of putting an end to, or finding a solution for this gender discrimination (Faludi 1991). This was proof that gender equality or better described as, inequality, was not a target that the corporate world seemed very concerned with.
One of the major issues that can be extracted from gender inequality in the work place is the obvious presence of the gender wage gap. The gender wage gap is the difference between wages that are earned by women and those earned by men (Gender Wage Gap 2014). Employers are taking advantage of this specific gender stereotype that has been seen as a result of gender socialization over the years. Gender socialization plays into this issue because it is an explanation as to why girls and boys are expected to act in certain ways (Boundless 2014). Gender socialization can be traced back centuries; it can be used in relation to why women and men are expected to have certain qualities, wants, and skills. Gender socialization could be attributed to reasoning behind inequalities such as the gender wage gap, by drawing the connection that society does not expect women to be able to be as competent at these jobs as men, therefore they do not deserve equal pay.
The concern of the gender wage gap was recently brought to attention by a group of students at a high school in Utah (Carlisle 2015). Good 4 Utah recently published an article about a group of students held a bake sale where they were selling cookies, however males were asked to pay a dollar for a cookie, whereas women were only charged 77 cents (Carlisle 2015). The reasoning behind the sales prices created was to expose the fact that in America, for every dollar a man makes, a woman doing the same job will only receive 77 cents (Carlisle 2015). In Canada, the wage gap is even larger; for every dollar a man makes, a woman only makes 74 cents (Gender Wage Gap 2014). These statistics were published within the past two years, which is a huge indicator that this is still a very current topic.
However when researching the gender wage gap and the articles and messages published about the topic, it is interesting to look at who is facilitating this message. For example, the story that was reported about the group of students at a high school in Utah raising awareness about the gender wage gap was a white, upper class male. The reporter, Randall Carlisle, probably does not experience this wage gap, or any work place discrimination of any kind. The kind of language Carlisle uses to describe the situation and what the young student are advocating speaks to this. For example, Carlisle describes the bake sale as “controversial”. The use of this term brings up the notion that the point that they are trying to prove isn’t necessarily correct or supported.
It is important to look at who is speaking when trying to unpack the significance behind someone’s statement. Another example of this surrounding the gender wage gap involves Patricia Arquette’s Oscar speech at the 2015 Oscars. Arquette thanked “every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation” (Bruenig 2015). The language in which she uses backfires on her entire point, by referencing the gender stereotype and socialization that woman must give birth. Also Arquette is a woman of high social class, and also happens to be white, this leads to prove how white privilege, the term for societal privileges that benefit white people, also taints her speech, hindering the point she is trying to make. This lack of acknowledging any intersections between gender and race and discrimination give off the impression that Arquette is focused on the justice in the wage gap for white women or women of high class.
Women’s rights and gender equality, especially in the workplace are not new battles, but the increasing awareness is encouraging. The fact that a group of students took it upon themselves to show people the unfairness of the gender wage gap and create discussion about it, is inspiring. However it is equally as important to pay attention to the people delivering the messages in order to receive the entirety of the story and get to the root of the issue. The gender wage gap is not fair, and is a problem that needs to be exposed to the public more in order to create the change it deserves.
Bruenig, Elizabeth. “The Problem With Patricia Arquette’s Oscar Speech”. New Republic., Feb 22 2015. Web April 3rd 2015.
Carlisle, Randall. “Gender equality bake sale causes stir at Utah high school”. Good 4 Utah., 17 Mar 2015. Web April 3rd 2015.
Faludi, Susan. Backlash: the undeclared war against American women. 1st ed. New York; Crown, 1991. Print
“Gender Socialization.” Boundless Sociology. Boundless, 14 Nov. 2014. Retrieved 07 Apr. 2015 from https://www.boundless.com/sociology/textbooks/boundless-sociology-textbook/gender-stratification-and-inequality-11/gender-and-socialization-86/gender-socialization-495-3393/
“Gender Wage Gap”. Pay Equity Commission. April 2014.