Term Paper: Gender Roles in the Workplace

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[. . .] Friedan and others convinced women that social fulfillment was to be found in returning to school and attempting to take on roles in the workplace traditionally dominated by men. During the Second World War, the National War Labor Board had recommended that male and female workers with the same job received equal pay. Although it was largely ignored at the time, this egalitarian idea gained weight in the early 60's.

In 1963, congress adopted the "Equal Pay Act," which forbid employers to pay men and women different wages for the same position. During the progressive era, women that had successfully lobbied for suffrage also had introduced minimum wage laws for women workers. The Supreme Court declared these laws unconstitutional, and John F. Kennedy created the Commission on the Status of Women, which passed the Act.

Although this was regarded as a vital step on the road towards wage parity, the new law was particularly difficult to pass. Into the 1960's, want ads characterized jobs as "male" and "female." At the time of its introduction, the National Retail Merchant Association claimed the new legislation to be unnecessary, expensive, and impossible to enforce. It was claimed that the high level of absenteeism due to pregnancy and other complications lead women to be more expensive to hire over the long-term.

IV. Methodologies.

In this study, we will establish a survey that determines how women are mistreated in the workforce. Although many people point to the pay scale as evidence of mistreatment, it should be remembered that these scales vary widely. Many such scales compare wages for "similar" jobs that are either dominated by women and men that are judged to be similar based on the level of expertise required to successfully undertake them. For instance, the job of truck driver is one that is traditionally dominated by men, whereas most school bus drivers are women. Whether such jobs are truly comparable is a matter of opinion. In other places of employment, such as JP Morgan Chase Bank and many federal offices, women leaving for maternity leave are offered excellent compensation packages. At the same institutions, men almost exclusively hold senior management roles.

If women are comfortable that they have not obtained management roles or it can be found that they didn't work as hard or with as much ingenuity as their male counterparts, the prospect of "leveling" such employees would not only be counter-productive, many would consider it downright coercive. Therefore it is important to determine not whether or not men and women occupy similar positions in an office setting, but whether or not the positions they do occupy are ones that reflect their needs and whether or not they are justly compensated for such positions.

However, it should also be taken into consideration that the mere conventions that allow women to find these positions comfortable may be a passive form of coercion. When a woman endures the reprobation of her peers, both male and female, for attempting to take on a role that isn't traditionally thought of as within her domain, she is the victim of work place discrimination. A woman may unwittingly refuse to climb the ladder for fear of alienating herself rather than due to the express recognition of a "glass ceiling." Since it has been recognized that women often prefer co-operation to the competitive edge that would allow them to request a higher salary, some managers will low-ball offers of employment in much the same way that used car dealers have been said to high-ball estimated used car prices to female car shoppers.

In light of these concerns, the questions that I have developed reflect a desire to gauge male/female relations at the workplace in light of the worker's overall happiness. Although many would argue that a rational worker would appraise sexism independently of his or her treatment as an individual, it is hard for most to determine whether or not poor treatment is the result of sexism or general adversity. This is especially true because sexism is genuinely disapproved of, and blatant sexism would result in censure, a poor reputation among other firms, or litigation. When and if policies are deliberately sexist, this takes the form of a "hidden agenda" and is probably rare because most corporate mission statements tend to reflect broad-based and uncontroversial goals. It is for this reason that I plan to ask questions that will allow us to grasp the social mechanisms of the workplace in order to determine the causes of discrimination against women. The first group of questions has to do with the worker as he or she relates to the workplace independent of sex. The second relates to how they deal with members of the opposite sex, and what role gender plays in the workplace.

My first interview was with Frank, a 25-year-old graduate of a small, parochial liberal arts school in Pennsylvania. Frank works at a consulting firm that specializes in international relations that numbers 50 people, who all work from a central office in midtown Manhattan. There he is in the marketing department, which consists of two other men and one woman. The majority of the people who work there have a master's degree or better, and are fluent in two or more languages.

1. Do you consider yourself successful?

Frank responded that he thought of himself as successful.

2. What kind of workplace environment makes you feel the most comfortable?

Frank enjoys working in extreme situations. His job has taken him to Moscow several times and Siberia once. He doesn't prefer a formal or informal environment.

3. To what extent has your work experience met these expectations or failed to meet them? Frank feels that he is comfortable with the work situation that has been presented to him, although he eventually would like to be self-employed.

4. How likely are you and have you been in the past to search for a better job or one that better meets your expectations?

Frank feels that he could drop a job that he is currently involved in to pursue other opportunities at the drop of a hat.

5. What is important to you when choosing a place of work?

Money is the chief motivator for Frank, although he also highly values independence.

6. To what extent is compensation as an incentive mitigated by other factors such as workplace environment and relationships with your peers?

He said that compensation was mitigated to a very high extent.

7. Do you see yourself as a member of a team with certain unspoken loyalties to your employer, or do you see yourself as a contractor exchanging a service for compensation?

Frank says, "I see myself as a contractor exchanging a service, and depending on the compensation, I will include certain unspoken loyalties in my offering."

8. To what extent do you see women/men in your workplace reflecting your views?

Frank claims "I typically work with secretive people. I honestly can't tell." Frank's place of employment is populated with people with political and personal interests that often diverge from those of the company.

9. Do you think that women and men have different social and lifestyle needs that are reflected in the jobs that they take and the manner in which they work?

Frank feels that women generally don't value money as much as he does, but that most of the women that he knows in Manhattan have families that more readily send them money when they are in need of it.

10. What do you think when the respective sexes take on job positions not thought of as characteristic, and do the women/men that you know that function in such a capacity possess what you would deem atypical personalities?

Frank finds this to be an interesting phenomenon, but he claims to not have given it much thought.

11. Have you witnessed sexual tension playing a role in office politics?

Frank claims that he's seen this happen. His office is predominantly male, and the attractive women attract attention.

12. Have you seen special consideration given to employees due to their sex, and if so, how has this affected your work and working relationships?

Frank says, "It hasn't affect my work or my working relationships, however, I always agreed the special consideration was justified." Frank believes that a woman's touch sometimes furthers corporate interests in front office deal-making situations.

13. Do you believe that men and women think differently or that gender identities are a social construct?

Frank doesn't see why these two are mutually exclusive. He claims, "Men and women think differently especially if there's a social construct."

14. If you do think that men and women think differently, how have you seen this reflected in their conduct in the workplace?

Frank responded, "They adapt to the workplace in different ways. A good manager recognizes this and constructs her team accordingly."

My second interview… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Gender Roles in the Workplace.  (2003, January 8).  Retrieved March 23, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/gender-roles-workplace/5316115

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"Gender Roles in the Workplace."  Essaytown.com.  January 8, 2003.  Accessed March 23, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/gender-roles-workplace/5316115.