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Extent of Job Discrimination

Extent of Job Discrimination

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Published by: simply_coool on Jul 23, 2009
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Today we will discuss about the extent of job discrimination in society.
Points to be covered in this lesson:

Distribution of Income Among Working Men and Women, 1994 Income ($) 1 to 2,499 2,500 to 4,999 5,000 to 9,999 10,000 to 14,999 15,000 to 24,999 25,000 to 49,999 50,000 to 74,999 75,000 and over Percent of men with that income 7 4 12 13 20 29 10 6 Percent of women with that income 14 10 21 15 19 17 3 1

Job discrimination based on race and gender How do we estimate whether an institution or a set of institutions is practic-ing discrimination against a certain group? By looking at statistical indicators of how the members of that group are distributed within the institution. A prima facie indication of discrimination exists when a disproportionate num-ber of the members of a certain group hold the less desirable positions within the institutions in spite of their preferences and abilities. Three kinds of com-parisons can provide evidence for such a distribution: 1. Comparisons of the average benefits the institutions bestow on the discriminated group with the average benefits the institutions bestow on other groups; 2. Comparisons of the proportion of the discriminated group found in the lowest levels of the in-stitutions with the proportions of other groups found at those levels; 3. Com-parisons of the proportions of that group that hold the more advantageous positions with the proportions of other groups that hold those same positions. If we look at American society in terms of these three kinds of comparisons, it becomes clear that some form of racial and sexual discrimination is present in American society as a whole. It is also clear that for some segments of the minority popula- tion (such as young college-educated black males) discrimina-tion is not as intense as it once was.

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports. The evidence of racial and sexual discrimination provided by the quan-titative measures cited can be filled out qualitatively by examining the occu-pational distribution of racial and sexual minorities. As the figures suggests, larger percentages of white males move into the higher paying occu-pations, while minorities and women end up in those that are less desirable. Consequently, although many white women have moved into middle-manage-ment positions in recent years, neither they nor minorities have yet been al-lowed into the top-paying senior management and top executive positions. Just as the most desirable occupations are held by whites, while the less desirable are held by blacks, so also the most wellpaying occupations tend to be reserved for men, and the remainder for women. The following table illustrates the disparities. Studies indicate that despite two decades of women entering the workforce in record numbers, women managers still are not being promoted from middle-management positions into senior or top-management posts be-cause they encounter an impenetrable “glass ceiling” through which they may look but not enter. It is some-times suggested that women choose to work in those jobs that have relatively low pay and low prestige. It is suggested sometimes, for example, that women believe that only certain jobs (such as secretary or kindergarten teacher) are “appropriate” for women; that many women choose courses of study that suit them only for such jobs; that many women choose those jobs because they plan to raise children and these jobs are relatively easy to leave and re-enter; that many women choose these jobs because they have limited demands and allow them time to raise children; that many women defer to the demands of their husbands’ careers and choose to forgo developing their own careers. Al-though choice plays some role in pay differentials, however, researchers who have studied the differences in earnings between men and women have all concluded that wage differentials cannot be accounted for simply on the basis of such factors.

Average Income Comparisons
Income comparisons provide the most suggestive indicators of discrim-ination. If we compare the average incomes of nonwhite American families, for example, with the average incomes of white American families, we see that white family incomes are substantially above those of nonwhites. Contrary to a commonly held belief, the income gap between whites and minorities has been increasing rather than decreasing. Since 1970, in fact, even during periods when the real incomes of whites have gone up, real minority incomes have not kept up. In 1970 the average income for a black family was 65 percent of a white family’s average income; in 1994 the black family’s in- come was 63 percent of the white family’s income. Income comparisons also reveal large inequalities based on sex. A com-parison of average incomes for men and women shows that women receive only a portion of what men receive. A recent study found, in fact, that firms employing mostly men paid their workers on average 40% more than those employing mostly women.

Median Weekly Earnings of Selected Occupations and Percent of Men and Women in those Occupations, 1993

minorities. A major study of eco-nomic and population trends during the nineties concluded that the 1990s would be characterized by the following:


Weekly earnings ($)

Percent of total workforce in the occupation who are: Men Women (%) (%) 1 2 3 6 7 9 10 11 14 26 33 39 44 49 53 60 69 70 72 84 91 92 97 99 98 97 94 93 91 90 89 86 74 67 61 56 51 47 40 31 30 28 16 9 8 3 positions.

Secretaries Receptionists Kindergarten teachers Typists Teacher's aides Bank tellers Bookkeepers House cleaners and servants Sewing machine operators Waiters and waitresses Social Workers Computer operators School administrators Accountants Management analysts Operations analysts Computer systems analysts Marketing managers Doctors Industrial engineers Chemical engineers Aerospace engineers Airplane pilots

386 316 353 366 270 292 375 205 226 230 511 437 778 612 775 793 821 851 1,019 861 996 1,008 1,086

First, most new workers entering the labor force during the 1990s will not be white males, but women and minorities. Although a generation ago white males held the largest share of the job market, between 1985 and the year 2000 white males will comprise only 15 percent of all new workers en-tering the labor force. Women and minorities will take their place. Three fifths of all new entrants coming into business between 1985 and 2000 will be women, a trend created by sheer economic necessity as well as cultural redefinitions of the role of women. By the year 2000, about 47 percent of the workforce will be women, and 61 percent of all American women will be em-ployed. Native minorities and immigrants will make up 42 percent of all new workers during this decade.

Second, this large influx of women and minorities will encounter major difficulties if current trends do not change. First, as we saw, a sizable proportion of women are still concentrated in traditionally female jobs that pay less than traditionally male jobs. Second, at the present time women encounter bar-riers (the so-called “glass ceiling”) when attempting to advance into top -paying top management

Sour ce: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Earnings, June 1994, Table 56 One study found that only half of the earnings gap might be ac-counted for by women’s choices while other studies have found it could ac-count for a bit more or a bit less. All studies, however, have demonstrated that only a portion of the gap can be accounted for on the basis of male and female differences in education, work experience, work continuity, selfimposed work restrictions, and absenteeism. These studies show that even after taking such differences into account, a gap between the earnings of men and women remains that can only be accounted for by discrimination in the labor market. A report of the National Academy of Sciences concluded, “about 35 to 40 percent of the disparity in average earnings is due to sex seg-regation because women are essentially steered into lower-paying ‘women’s jobs.’ Some studies have shown that perhaps only one tenth of the wage differences between men and women can be accounted for by differences in their “personalities and tastes.” Similar studies have shown that half of the earnings differences between white and minority workers cannot be accounted for by differences of work history, of onthe-job training, of absenteeism, nor of self-imposed restrictions on work hours and 10cation. To make matters worse, several unexpected trends that emerged in the early nineties and that will be with us until the end of the century promise to increase the difficulties facing women and

The large numbers of minorities entering the workforce will also en-counter significant disadvantages if current trends do not change. As these large waves of minorities hit the labor market, they will find that most of the new good jobs awaiting them require extremely high levels of skill and ed-ucation that they do not have. Of all the new jobs that will be created between now and the year 2000, more than half will require some education beyond high school and almost a third will require a college degree. Among the fastest-growing fields will be professions with extremely high education requirements, such as technicians, engineers, social scientists, lawyers, math-ematicians, scientists, and health professionals; while those fields that will actually see declines in numbers consist of jobs that require relatively low levels of education and skills, such as machine tenders and operators, blue collar supervisors, assemblers, hand workers, miners, and farmers. Even those new jobs that require relatively less skills will have tough require-ments: Secretaries, clerks, and cashiers will need the ability to read and write clearly, to understand directions, and to use computers; assembly-line work-ers are already being required to learn statistical process control methods employing basic algebra and statistics. The new jobs waiting for minorities will thus demand more education and higher levels of language, math, and reasoning skills.


Unfortunately, although a significant proportion of whites are education-ally disadvantaged, minorities are currently the least advantaged in terms of skill levels and education. Studies have shown that only about three fifths of whites, two fifths of Hispanics, and one quarter of blacks could find informa-tion in a news article or almanac; only 25 percent of whites, 7 percent of Hispanics, and 3 percent of blacks could interpret a bus schedule; and only 44 percent of whites, 20 percent of Hispanics, and 8 percent of blacks could fig-ure out the change they were owed from buying two items. In recent years, moreover, an especially troublesome obstacle that work-ing women face has been brought to light: sexual harassment. Forty-two per-cent of all women working for the federal government reported that they had experienced some form of uninvited and unwanted sexual attention, ranging from sexual remarks to attempted rape or assault. Women working as execu-tives, prison guards, and even as rabbis, have reported being sexually ha-rassed. Victims of such verbal or physical forms of sexual harassment were most likely to be single or divorced, between the ages of 20 and 44, have some college education, and work in a predominantly male environ- ment or for a male supervisor. In 1992 about 5000 complaints of sexual harassment were filed with the federal government’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and thou-sands of other complaints were lodged with state civil rights commissions. It is clear, then, that unless a number of current trends change, women and minorities, who will comprise the bulk of new workers between now and the end of the century, will find themselves in highly disadvantaged positions as they enter the workforce. The various statistical comparisons that we have examined, together with the extensive research showing that these differences are not because of any simple way to differences in preferences or abilities, indicate that American business institutions incorporate some degree of systematic discrimination, much of it, perhaps, an unconscious relic of the past. Whether we compare av-erage incomes, proportional representation in the highest economic positions, or proportional representation in the lowest economic positions, it turns out that women and minorities are not equal to white males, and the last twenty years have seen but small narrowing of the racial and sexual gaps. Moreover, a number of ominous trends indicate that unless we embark on some major changes, the situation for minorities and women will not improve. Of course, finding that our economic institutions as a whole still embody a great deal of discrimination does not show that any particular business is dis-criminatory. To find out whether a particular firm is discriminatory, we would have to make the same sorts of comparisons among the various employment levels of the firm that we made above among the various economic and occu-pation all levels of American society as a whole. To facilitate such comparisons within firms, employers today are required to report to the government the numbers of minorities and women their firm employs in each of nine cate- gories: officials and managers, professionals, technicians, sales workers, office and clerical workers, skilled craft workers, semiskilled operatives, unskilled la-borers, and service workers.


Studies indicate that even after taking into account male and female differences in education, work experience, work continuity, self-imposed work restrictions, and absenteeism, a gap between the earnings of men and women remains, that can only be accounted for by discrimination in the labor market.

Discuss the types of job discrimination. How can we determine job discrimination?



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