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How the Gender Gap Works

Sample paper 3 Student - Spring 2011

They say that the United States is the land of opportunity. I have a hard time just really getting this to sink in. It seems like becoming a citizen of the United States just locks you into this prison of social class, debt you will be paying off forever, and a constant worry of making money to live. We are born into or move into a country where social stratification effects everyone's lives.

With opportunity comes stress. Almost all Americans live outside of their means. So many want to climb that social ladder and be part of a higher class. It is far out of reach for so many that they end up living outside their means. Today the gap between social class is becoming larger and larger. If you are born into poverty it is almost impossible to jump the border and become a part of the elite class.

I think this is also why so many entertainment movies and stories are about a main character making that fantastical leap into a higher social class. It is so far out of reach that we go through live imagining what it would be like if we were rich, how things would be different. We go through life planning and waiting for when we "will" be rich, fantasizing about how our lives will be so much better if we were part of the higher class.
Being stuck in these different social layers dictates what we can and cannot have access to in our lives. What types of things we can buy or the places that we can live. We are limited if we are born into poverty by where we work, what material things we end up having around us and where we may end up going to school.

There are so many things that determine our social class in life but I think that the biggest area of social stratification lies within what class we are born into and our gender. People experience their social class often but what is experienced in almost every situation is their gender.

Although we'd love to say that we don't do this people are treated differently because of their gender. Just like with racism and how people are treated because of their skin color, gender stratification is there under the carpet. It's strange how this is one of the hugest areas that also determine status and money earned yet people seem to not really acknowledge it often. Everyone does it. In the way that they address people throughout the day to the way they look at people and talk to them.

In today's workplace women make much less than males do, and seem to have much more of a struggled they must go through in order to make it successfully to the top. In my own personal experience I have definitely experienced gender stratification and how I am treated differently because of my sex on a day to day basis.

For the last three years I have been in an engineering program which typically consisted mainly of men. There were a few women in my program but after the years it ended with just me and one other female. Right off the bat when given lab groups I was placed in a group with two of the other women in the class. This left just one girl who had to be in a group of all men. Wouldn't this have been better if the women were spaced up equally among the men so we could all experience working together?

I think this affected a lot of the women's grades in the long run. All of the women were new to this type of profession and most of the men were new or retired from the military doing the same profession. The women had a much harder struggle when learning the material where as the other men that were new to the material got lots of help from their knowledgeable lab partners that could help based on their previous experience.
All except two of the females left the program due to increasing amount of work and struggle trying to learn the material, while also trying to keep things good on the home front, while still taking care of their children and getting their household duties done.
After schooling most of the people applied for an internship, I was lucky enough to be picked along with three guys. I think mostly it had to do with my grades. Once in the position I was treated differently because of my sex and it was obvious.

The atmosphere at the company was hard to blend into because it was all men. You hear the way that they joke to each other was in a different way than the way that they would joke with me. When they joked with me it always had something to do with the fact that I was female or was a joke about some sexual comment. It was either these kinds of things or guys staying out of the way and only addressing me when necessary or with pleasantries expected in the workplace.

When an intern was picked for tasks or jobs where a lot of hands on training would have been given I was almost always overlooked. Instead I was given jobs and tasks mainly focused on the computer and documentation. Instead of getting to perform a lot of the procedures on a machine I instead had to read procedures and edit them for grammar, spelling or accuracy. This was hard because even though yes I am a female I really enjoyed working with my hands and getting down and dirty with the machines just as much as the guys did.

After the internship was over and job placement was given the other male interns were given positions in the company with development and engineering in Hillsboro which is what they wanted. I was given a position that I had to relocate to another state for, away from the main branch of the company and out in an area where only a few people work on site with tools. Right here I can see how my training is going to be limited further. Instead of being with several engineers and getting the maximum training I will be with just two other younger engineers with little to none experience. I was also able to find out that my starting salary is about ten thousand lower than that of a male intern last year who finished the program and became a level one field service engineer.

I can't say for sure that these things all happened due to my gender but it seems that most of the signs point in that direction. How can I really address these things in my company? Honestly...I don't think that I really can, without making a scene or accusations that would ultimately result in my possibly being fired or being treated even more differently because of how I feel about being treated because I am a female. How do we start to curb gender stratification? How do we reduce the way people are treated because of their sex and gender? The first and biggest step I think in stopping this is to just help to make people more aware that it is happening and that they are doing it. Once society can admit this, then perhaps it can start to heal.