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Gender Inequalities in the Workplace

Does societies perception's on gender roles contribute to the inequality of pay for women in the
Melinda Morales
University of Texas at El Paso
Professor LaPrade
RWS 1301 12:30-1:20



It is amazing that in this day and age women are still partially treated as second class citizens
when it comes to pay in the work place. The womens movement known as feminism began in
1848, when the first womens rights convention was organized. Over the last 90 years women
have fought to become equal with men in all aspects of life and work. Women have made great
strides toward equality in education and career but equality in pay and promotions in the
workplace still elude them. Many factors come into play for women and their strive for equal
pay, discussed will be how societies own perceptions of gender roles contribute to the lack of
equality in pay for women. In all reality women cannot have it all and sacrifice so much more
than their male peers'. (Khanfar & Parcheta, 2013).



Women have been fighting traditions, attitudes and institutions for the same opportunities
that are given to men. Langley, Fox (1994) state, "Everything seems to have been arranged to
effect the oppression of women: religious doctrines as interpreted and practiced, the legal
tradition as revered and taught, the institutions of family and property as promoted and nurtured,
the republican ideology as understood and preached, and even popular sentiments as fostered and
used for governing" (p. 3). These perceptions in gender roles have made it increasingly difficult
for women to be seen as equal to men.
Society plays a big part in influencing women in their gender roles in society, women are
controlled by others, first their father's and then their husband's. Girls are protected and watched
over more than boys; girls are taught to do indoor activities such as cleaning and cooking while
boys do more outside activities. From an early age girls are taught to wait around for men when
it comes to dating and marriage, they are also discouraged to ask for anything. Women tend to
be less competitive than men in the workplace. These factors have hindered women in the
workplace because some are not willing to ask for pay raises; which explains some of the gender
pay gap (Khanfar, Parcheta, 2013). According to Babcock & Laschever (2003) "Men are thought
to be assertive, dominate, decisive, ambitious, and self oriented, whereas women are thought to
be warm, passive, nurturing, emotional, and friendly. These are gender stereotypes" (p. 62). The
differences in gender roles can also be viewed from biological factors, such as women's ability to
have children which means that they have to stay home and take care of the children, their
husbands and the home.
Society has always viewed the women's responsibility as that of care giver of the home;
her place is being at home as some might say "barefoot and pregnant". The feminist movement
was a political movement to make women and men more equal in all aspects of everyday life.



Women often receive lower pay for the same work, and they are often looked over for
promotions to top positions. There is also an imbalance in the amount of housework and child
care a woman does compared to that of her husbands, even when both work the same amount of
time outside the home. Men are often promoted quicker because they are willing to work longer
hours since the wife takes on the primary caretaking of the children and home; men are more
willing to relocate the family in order to get that big promotion. Women on the other hand take
more time off to have a child which leads to lapses in employment and leaves them at a
disadvantage upon returning to work. This causes women to lose continuity in the workforce,
which leads them to earn less than men (Lorber, 2015). According to Social Science Quarterly,
"women lose and men gain not so much from the way pay is allocated, but rather from the way
promotions are distributed (Jaffe, 1989). It seems that women have to put off marriage and
motherhood in order to be able to compete with their male peers' for the higher paying positions.
Another reason why women earn less than men in the workplace is because women work
more part time positions. This gives them more time to take care of the home and children. Men
are usually the main source of income and the woman is the secondary earner. Women are
constantly making choices and tradeoffs in order to advance their careers, it is a personal choice.
It all depends on what you want to sacrifice, your job or your family unit. More often than not
women choose the family unit, it is what society has ingrained in us. If a woman is ambitious
enough and prefers to concentrate on work alone and let someone else take care of the home,
even society looks down on them. Again our traditional views on gender roles play an important
part in deciding what is more important, the job or the domestic bliss.
It is well known that education is key to being able to earn more money in the workplace
but it is especially important for women to further their education. Gender roles and our culture



continue to influence women and the different jobs and degrees women seek and pursue.
Researcher Tulshyan and Basch state, "Research has shown that women tend to gravitate towards
fields of studies and career paths where they can have a positive social impact and work with
others, often collaboratively. This is why you see so many women in the fields of health care
and education. When women do gravitate toward the sciences, it is usually the life sciences,
engineering and computer science remain overwhelmingly male while women continue to
dominate "soft" majors such as education, psychology and English" (2010). These traditional
women roles do have a tendency to pay less than the traditional male roles such as engineering,
managers and construction workers. Women need to expand and enter the higher paying fields in
order to be able to earn as much as their male peers', and even if they do, they still face the
dilemma of being able to obtain top management positions without sacrificing their domestic
Women have made great advancement in the last 93 years for equality but equality in pay
is still an on- going struggle. In 2013 women who worked full time made .78 for every dollar
that their male peers' made. In 1967 women earned 58% of what the men did; so progress is
there but it is in small amounts and a big time span. Even women with the same level of
education, and degree make less than that of the opposite sex. Pay gaps are found in all states
(Kaifi, 2013). The Equal Pay Act of 1963 requires employers to pay employees similar wages
for the same amount of work regardless of gender, even though some employees would still be
earning more than others because of seniority, performance, and depending on work conditions
(Khanfar, Parcheta, 2013). Unfortunately there is still some lapses in equal pay for women in the
work place in this day and age. Women have always had to fight for their basic human rights to
be treated as equal to men, and the struggle continues with that of equal pay.



The struggles that women have gone thru have well been documented for hundreds of
years; they have had to fight for the right to marry who they wanted, the right to vote, the right
for an education and for the right to work. Many of these struggles happened because of how
society has perceived the roles of men and women. A factor that keeps coming into play on the
inequality of pay is that of competitiveness. Women are not as competitive as men in the
workforce and shy away from risk and are less confident than men. In the workplace men are
more aggressive in being able to negotiate key factors that are needed for the company, using the
masculine style of management whereas women lack the aggressiveness that is needed. Women
use the feminine style of management where emotion, sympathy and sensitivity are factors used
in making key decisions (Beckman, Menkhoff, 2008). Although men and women have different
styles of management both have the capability to be effective leaders.
Society has had a very strong opinion as to what is expected out of men and women but
more and more women are joining the work force. The Bureau of Labor Statistics of 2010 shows
58.6 percent of all women were in the labor force and that women comprised 47 percent of the
total U.S. labor force. A total of 66 million women were employed with 73 percent working
full-time jobs and 27 percent working only part-time. The three highest paying occupations
among the women were registered nurses, elementary and middle school teachers, and medical
and health services managers. Women are projected to account for 51 percent of the total labor
force by 2018. The higher a person's educational achievement, the more likely they will be an
active participant in the labor force but will not seek management positions; thus allowing them
more time to spend at home. Another interesting point is that according to the Bureau, women in
their forties who are not in the labor force are mostly taking care of the family unit (United States
Department of Labor, 2010).



Women have been fighting for a better quality of life for themselves for years now; they
wanted to be treated better than second class citizens. Their struggles have been well
documented and have had success in creating reform for them in society. Women created
opportunities for themselves and opened the door for a better future for their children. There is
still an area for improvement and that is the issue of equality in pay in the work place. Women
need to become more assertive and competitive in order to be able to compete with their male
It can be concluded that society's perceptions on gender roles does affect the inequality of
pay in the workplace and has even dictated what career's women have pursued. Women still
obtain more nurturing careers while men obtain more masculine careers. The female's role in
society is still seen as having to take care of the children, home and husband, which makes it
extremely difficult to be able to dedicate more time needed in the workplace.




Bacock, L., & Laschever, S. (2003). Women dont ask Negotiation and the gender divide.
Princeton: Princeton University.

Beckman, D. & Menkhoff, L. (2008). Will women be women? Analyzing the gender difference
among financial experts. Kyklos, 61 (3), 364-384.

Jaffee, D. (1989). Gender inequalities in workplace autonomy and authority. Social Science
Quarterly (University of Texas Press), 70 (2), 375-390.

Jalilvand, M. (2000, August). Married women, work, and values. Monthly Labor Review, 123
(8), 26-31. Retrieved November 21, 2015, from

Kaifi, B.A. (2013). Organizational Behavior: Managing and Leading Organizations. Tamarac,
FL: Llumina Press.

Langley, W. & Fox, V. (1994). A DOCUMENTARY HISTORY: Women's Rights in the United
States. Westport CT. Greenwood Publishing.

Lorber, J. (2005). GENDER INEQUALITY: Feminist Theories and Politics. (3rd edition). Los
Angeles: Roxbury Publishing.

Parcheta, N. & Khanfar, N. (2013). Gender Inequality in the Workforce: A Human Resource
Management Quandary. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly (Nova Southeastern
University). (4).



Tulshyan, R. & Basch, L. (2010,March 2). Top 10 College Majors for Women. Forbes,

United States Department of Labor. (2010). Employment Status of Women and Men in 2010
(Women's Bureau). Washington D.C. Retrieved November 22, 2015, from