Term Paper: Inequality of Women in Our Society

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Equality

Women and Equality

Women enjoy an unprecedented equality that includes equal pay rights, anti-sex discrimination legislation, benefits, and more. At first glance, it seems that women are finally treated as equal citizens. However, this is not necessarily the case. Sex discrimination is still predominant in today's society, as girls and women struggle in their homes, jobs and personal growth due to inequalities in education, work and domestic violence.

Sex discrimination is best defined as any behavior that is directed at an individual because of gender, or the behavior of one's spouse that subjects the individual to different treatment that interferes with one's well-being and personal growth. One of the most obvious forms of sex discrimination is seen in the workplace, although discriminations also exist in multiple other areas, including education and domestic violence.

Job discrimination by sex is a serious issue in the United States and is prevalent in all industries and environments. It is one of the most important and enduring aspects of the U.S. labor market. There are many reasons to be concerned with job discrimination. Perhaps most importantly, job discrimination by sex is detrimental to women. It has an important negative effect on how men view women and on the self-image of women. As a result, women's status and income is negatively impacted and they are limited to "female occupations."

For many traditionally male occupations, such as executive or manager, stereotypically masculine characteristics - like being competitive and aggressive - are often requirements, while feminine characteristics - like being kind and friendly - are sought in traditionally female occupations, such as nurse or teacher (Glick et al., 1988). As a result, many employers will unconsciously choose the man for male occupations and females for female occupations, because they believe the personality will be a better fit. Unfortunately, in many cases, these employers pass over equally qualified women for a "male" occupation and vice versa. For this reason, it is clear that the U.S. workplace in general has yet to fully accept women as equal citizens.

The school system is another area in which we can see the inequalities when it comes to the treatment of women. When it comes to equal educational opportunities at school, women do not always enjoy the same treatment as males (Earle and Roach, 1989). Title IX of The Education Amendments of 1972 states that schools cannot deny any student participation in any educational program or activity on the basis of gender. However, even today, while many schools follow the legal requirements of Title IX, they do not necessarily give girls equal educational opportunities.

On one hand, schools have come a long way in eliminating sex discrimination from educational policies, programs, and practices. However, remnants of sex discrimination, bias, and sex stereotyping are still seen in schools today, negatively impacting both male and female students.

1989 study listed several key gender equity issues facing schools (Earle and Roach, 1989). These issues were identified by numerous gender equity experts in the United States as the issues that schools struggle with. They demonstrate the inequities that exist even though schools say they are in full compliance with Title IX. These issues include the following:

Female dropout rates

Gender bias in student/teacher and peer interactions

Female participation and encouragement in the areas of mathematics and science

Gender bias in standardized tests and learning styles

Sexual harassment

2002 study used classroom observations to show that boys, in general, are given more attention than girls (Einarsson and Granstrom, 2002). However, male teachers increase the attention paid to girls when the students get older, while female teachers always give more attention to boys. The results suggest that teachers could be involved in unconscious gender-related processes of an aggressive and sexual nature.

A review of literature shows that boys and girls are treated differently in the classroom (Kreig, 2000). Research shows that this treatment is largely dependent upon the gender of the teacher. Using a large data set that monitors a matched teacher/student sample over several years, a recent study examined the impact of teacher and student gender differences on standardized test scores. The study's results revealed three important findings:

In a study of fourth-grade students, test scores revealed that boys perform worse and gain less on math, reading, and writing.

Both male and female students of male teachers perform worse than students of female teachers and;

There is no significant differential impact of male teachers on boys vs. girls -- both do equally poorly relative to students of female teachers.

Some research suggests male teachers discipline boys differently than girls, provide a more positive setting for boys, and have different perceptions of boys' ability relative to girls. If this were true, it would be likely that boys would perform differently on standardized exams when in a male teacher's classroom than in a female teacher's class. However, a recent study sing a large matched sample found no statistically significant impact of the interaction between student and teacher gender.

These findings shed doubt on the argument that teachers instruct students differentially based upon student gender. Therefore, it is difficult to show that men are responsible for prolonging the unequal treatment of female students.

The continuous unequal treatment of women appears to have a negative effect on the personal growth and self-esteem of females in general. For women, self-esteem is developed at an early age and feelings of self-worth remain important factors throughout the entire life span (Earle and Roach, 1989). Developing positive identity is important for girls to better overcome the challenges they will face. Self-esteem is self-image, and is how a woman feels about herself. A woman's thoughts and feelings are deeply impacted by self-esteem, as it affects how she thinks, acts, and feels.

Recent research indicates that men and women's self-estimates of their general intelligence are significantly different, with male self-estimations exceeding those of females (Gillet and Morda, 2000). Differences also appear to exist in the social skills of men and women with numerous studies indicating that women's interpersonal skills are better developed than those of men. This indicates that women are more perceptive and empathetic. However, despite this positive trend, research shows that when males and females are asked to estimate their level of emotional intelligence, males indicate that they have higher levels of emotional intelligence than do females, although their results indicate the opposite. This self-enhancing bias of men and self-derogatory bias of women have important consequences for men and women in all aspects of life.

Having high self-esteem gives a woman the power to accept challenges, maintain confidence, and remain flexible throughout life. Without this feeling of self-esteem, women are more likely to have less power over their lives and may end up in compromising situations. Domestic violence is at an all-time high in the U.S., perhaps due to inequalities between men and women.

There is some argument as to whether male and female domestic violence are similar or equal. In many cases, when it comes to domestic violence, men argue that they are the ones punished when the woman is actually the violent one or there is mutual violence (James, 2002). The controversy comes not only from men who claim to be victims of women's violence, but from the conflicting outcomes of research studies, some of which suggest equal rates of physical abuse by men and women, and others showing greater violence by men. In addition, comparison of studies is complex due to various definitions of violence, methodologies and samples (Malloy, et. al.2003).

Some studies demonstrate that women are equally violent in heterosexual relationships (James, 2002). A literature of 82 studies comparing male and female violence revealed that women appear as "likely or slightly more likely than men to use physical aggression during conflicts with an intimate partner."(Henning and Feder, p.70).

A recent study of college students found that (James, 2002):

males and females committed physical aggression at equal rates, that women were more psychologically abusive, that women who physically aggress are not always acting out of self-defense and that women do sexually coerce men, but, unlike men who sexually coerce, do not use physical abuse or intimation to engage in unwanted sex.

While there are many cases of women's violence towards men and it is a valid concern, the majority of studies prove that men's violence remains the more serious violation. According to James (2002): "men inflict greater injury; are motivated by domination, control and punishment; and are more able to instill fear and terror in women partners who, when compared with men, are less able to escape. They are more likely to sexually assault their partners, and to kill them. Women can inflict severe injury on their male partners when they use a weapon, and are as likely as men to engage in minor forms of violence. They may initiate violence in a minor way, but are likely to end up more seriously injured."

Therefore, while there are situations in which men are afraid, injured and unable to escape when he himself… [END OF PREVIEW]

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