Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

10 October 2016

Gender discrimination is not necessarily a new issue, but it remains to be a major struggle despite the attempts that have been made to stop it through legal manners. In a report by The Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s Ariane Hegewisch, Cynthia Deitch, and Evelyn Murphy, the results of these attempts are summarized on both simple and complex levels. “The 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating in their employment practices on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

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Although Title VII banned employment discrimination, it did not require specific actions to achieve this objective. ” Because the Act lacks such a critical detail, employers are able to avoid obeying it very easily. Laws besides the Civil Rights Act have been put into place in order to reduce unjust treatment in the workplace. For example, in 1963 the Equal Pay Act was passed. This act was supposed to end “the practice of paying men more than women when performing the same jobs and duties. Despite these protections, many women still feel gender biased discrimination is a problem” (Gluck).

The effects of both the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act have obviously been minimal, seeing as women are still very much looked down upon in the workplace. One of the most direct effects of sex discrimination in the workplace is the stereotyping that occurs. The mass overrepresentation of men in “senior management positions” is a sub-result of discrimination (“Sex Discrimination and Sexual Harassment”). The favoring of the selection of men over women for promotions has had a dramatic effect in the workplace over time. “Stereotypical views regarding gender can cause supervisors to engage in the llegal practice of passing a person over for promotion due to gender. Supervisors most often pass over women due to preconceived notions about their roles and abilities” (Gluck). Stereotypes about women come not only from their under representation in the workplace, but from preconceived notions about their family roles. Even If a woman is hired without being asked about her family responsibilities, once she takes the position, her boss can “view her employee file to see that she has young children” and then will be able to “give her less responsibility or assign menial tasks to her that do not fit her job description.

Although illegal, this practice still exists in offices today” (Gluck). Once again, employers ignore the laws put in place to stop discrimination because of stereotyping. The only way gender bias will disappear is if stereotypes disappear as well. One of the reasons sexual discrimination is so prevalent today is that sexual harassment has become so accepted in society and in places of employment. “Women have long been exposed to workplace harassment which involves conduct of a sexual nature or is premised on the sex of the victim” (McCann).

Because of the wide range of behaviors that are considered sexual harassment, it is difficult to identify some action as harassment, which means rules against it are easy to ignore. Sexual harassment has terrible effects on the morale of victims. A loss of motivation “necessary to perform their jobs effectively” is one of the most notable results of bias (Gluck). “Offensive jokes of a suggestive or sexual nature and jokes implying that an employee’s work is sub-par due to her gender” are one of the major causes for the loss of motivation that victims experience.

Sexual discrimination is obviously an extremely negative practice, but one of the most devastating effects of the prejudice is the payment gap between men and women. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), “in 2011, female full-time workers made only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 23 percent” (“Pay Equity & Discrimination”). IWPR predicts that “if change continues at the same slow pace as it has done for the past fifty years, it will take almost another fifty–or until 2056–for women to finally reach pay parity. Such inequality in payment is absurd, especially since “women compromise 47% of the total U. S. labor force” (“Women’s Bureau”). Throughout history, women have battled gender discrimination inside and outside of the office. The difference in payment of men and women is a significant problem that needs to be paid more attention to. Once stereotypes are dissolved, problems with gender bias will dissolve as well and the payment gap will become easier to close. Until then, the laws that have been imposed need to become enforced more strictly and individuals need to pay more attention to sexual harassment norms.

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