Women are subjected to occupation gender segregation and unfair pay gaps in comparison to men. Nevertheless, women are working diligently and successfully to break down these unjust barriers that are keeping them from having equal opportunities. According to Margaret L. Andersen and Dana Hysock Witham, in Thinking about Women: Sociological Perspectives on Sex and Gender, gender segregation is “the pattern whereby women and men are situated in different jobs thought the labor force” (128).
This can be made an example of in obvious occupations such as: kindergarten and preschool teachers, nurses, librarians, and house cleaners, versus college professors, doctors, lawyers, and construction works. The former, when typically imagined, the first image that comes to mind is a woman, whereas the latter is associated with a man. These occupations are associated with certain genders because generally speaking those jobs are and have traditionally been a certain gender dominated. Philip N. Cohen, and Matt L.
Huffman, in Occupational Segregation and the Devaluation of Women’s Work Across U. S. Labor Markets, hypothesis that gender segregation in the workforce exists because of the “discrimination both in the allocation of workers across the job categories and in how female-dominated jobs are rewarded relative to male-dominated jobs” (882). Women are “blocked access” to typical male dominated jobs because of social ideas and cultural norms that say that women cannot effectively do the work of men, which requires intellect, leadership, hard labor, and other skills traditionally associated with men.
Rather, women are kept in low paying jobs that often do not lead to promotions and involve skills that they have traditionally been known for, such as cooking, cleaning, taking care of children, obeying men’s orders, and things of that nature. Because women and men are kept in jobs that relate to their traditional gender based skills, it creates a segregation of the labor force instead of creating a heterogeneous labor force were men and women are equally interested in and are hired in certain occupations.
Women’s work is also often undervalued in society, especially in comparison to the work of men. Because of this undervaluing of women’s work women are additionally rewarded far less than men are. A wage gap is the difference between the earnings of men and women in the workforce. Today “women earn only 77 percent of what men earn, at least on average” (DeNavas-Walt qtd. in Andersen and Hysock Witham 137). The wage gap between women and men can be attributed to occupational segregation and wage discrimination.
Occupational segregation places women in lower skilled jobs that underutilize and devalues women’s skills and potential to work and be successful in the labor force (Karamessini and Ioakimoglou 34). Employers usually pay their employee’s wages that they see fit in relation to, how much they deem an employee and his or her skills are worth in the company, and how they contribute to the company. Because women’s work and skills are undervalued by a majority of society they are in turn paid less compared to men.
Additionally, women usually seek out or are put into jobs that are women dominated. Again since women’s work is undervalued, once an occupation becomes a woman dominated occupation, the job itself becomes less valuable and people in that job eventually are paid less in that occupation compared to if it had been a male dominated occupation. The wage gap is also impacted by wage discrimination. The unequal pay of women based on gender rather than qualifications and skills is wage discrimination. In Joel T. Nadler and Margaret S.
Stockdale’s article, Workplace Gender Bias: Not Just Between Strangers they quote Kolesnikova & liu , “Although the gender wage gap has been decreasing over the last thirty years there is still a difference in salary between men and women in similar careers with similar experience” (282). Women are still being paid less than men despite having equal or better fit skills and or qualifications than men. Women are making progress in making the wage gap between men and women non-existent, however, progress has been slowing.
Women are slowly but surely making significant progress in leveling the playing field in the labor market for both men and women. Progress can be seen in closing the wage gap between genders and in the desegregating of gender based jobs. “The earnings gap between men and women has shrunk to a record low…” (Dennis 01a). Dennis attributes it to the prosperity of women in the 21century economy and the fact that the recession has negatively affected men’s pay. He additionally continues to discuss how not only has white women’s wages increased, black women’s wages have also seen an increase in the past nine years.
Women’s wages have been slowly increasing and becoming even with that of men. This increase can be attributed to women breaking down barriers of gender segregation in the work force. “Women have been moving into high-paying professional jobs such as accountants, lawyers and physician” (Dennis 01a). These occupations are typically male dominated. However, it seems in recent years the occupations’ genders have been less homogenous and more of an even or close to even mixture of both genders.
As women are taking over more male dominated jobs, such as perhaps managerial jobs, it seems that there are sacrifices that women have to make where as men usually do not. “Studies indicate career oriented women are more likely to delay relationships or children in order to advance their careers” (Hoffnung qtd. Nadler and Stockdale 282). Because women are taking on traditionally male dominated occupations they are under extra scrutiny and watch, therefore, women feel the pressure to perform well and make sacrifices in the name of their job.
Women can feel that in order to be successful they are required to choose work over family life. The pressures over performing well in a women’s career life and also balancing their social or family life can create anxiety and unhealthy stress for women. Although, women have been successful in further closing the wage gap and breaking down gender segregation within the workforce, their progress it seems has also come at the price of choosing a career or a family.
Although women have come a long way since the early 1900’s it seems that they are still subjected to unequal treatment compared to men. Women face gender segregation in the workforce which makes it difficult to attain prestigious and high paying jobs. Women are also subjected to being paid less than men regardless of having equal or superior skills. Nevertheless, women are facing these obstacles head on. Women are now more than CEO’s, they are leveling the playing field between genders in the labor force and re demanding, and showing that they deserve equal pay.