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Inequalities in the Work Force

Excellent example of paper 1 by Marcella Zavala.

I'm on my way to school and as I'm walking out my building I take notice of the group of janitors that regularly clean my apartment complex. There are four total standing outside the building smoking a cigarette. One person is a black male; another is a black female, one that would seem to be at first glance, a lesbian, and lastly an older white female. It's just a short walk to where the PCC shuttle meets, but on my way there I pass a main bus stop, where it is brought to my attention again that the majority of the people waiting for the bus are the minorities. When I finally get to the shuttle stop I board the next arriving shuttle to find my bus driver is a Native American male. Eventually, I get to school, sit down and listen to my white female professor lecture the class. At 3:50 pm class gets out and by this time I'm starved, so the cafeteria is my next stop and here I observe the different cafeteria workers and once again Hispanics and Asian Americans are taking the lead role. It would be easy to tell ourselves that everyone picks the job they want or maybe even going as far to think, " at least that person has a job,".

It is my belief that to have a functionalist take on the working economy is to be ignorant. Of course the American minorities don't choose to have low wages, no benefits, only several unpaid sick days, and no hope in ever advancing. Most people would also think that sweat shops are a foreign thing. Well unfortunately this in not the case. There are several around the United States, including New York City. This is not the case with the conflict theory. This theory takes a look at the class and race, and how they equally affecting each other. Conflict theory also takes note that the higher paying jobs are dominated by middles-class, older, white men (Anderson and Taylor, 2008:486) and without failing to mention that it might just be the fact that this particular group makes the job worth more. With all these situations at hand I would like to strengthen my focus on the inequalities in the work force for women, beings how I am a woman in the work force.

The most obvious of the inequalities women face are the lower wages due to gender, and sexual harassment. From my first hand experience I can attest to both of these issues. Most surveys reveal that of all the employed women as many as one half experience sexual harassment (Anderson and Taylor, 2008; 503). Sexual harassment is divided into two different groups, one called Quid Pro Quo which means the exchange of sexual favors in order to get a high grade or better position. The second being a hostile working environment this meant any unwanted sexual attention that persisted into a routine at work. Most of the time women are hesitant to report incidences because they feel they won't be taken seriously, especially women of color. Often time there is also a language barrier that makes it more difficult for women to stake their problem. Typically you find more sexual harassment cases in work environments where there is a high male to female ratio. Sexual harassment can be interpreted several different ways. One, is males once more trying to stake their dominance in a place they once dominated, men may or may not be aware of this. Secondly, men might try to make women feel comfortable in the work environment by showing them affection or attention. This gets misinterpreted as unwanted sexual attention. Thirdly, it is a subconscious response to unfair treatment in the work place. Whatever the reason is, women of all color should not be subject to these situations.

All around the world, in countries such as India and China, women are put in far worse conditions. For example, women in India are often forced to have children by their dominating husband and then left with no resources to care for them. A usual employee at a sweat shop is a woman of color. In some parts of Africa women's unemployment rates are as high as 26% , even worse a majority of Africa's countries can not provide statistics about women's employment, because frequently the work women to do isn't recognized by official statistics (Anderson and Taylor, 2008; 492). In these third world countries unemployment is high and there are few jobs women can take. Most of these jobs are provided by corporations who know they can get away with giving ridiculous wages.

What are the causes behind women having lower wages than men? It isn't uncommon for women to have a more difficult time in being taken seriously. Between each sex there are stereotypes. An example being, men are leaders, hunters, and providers; women are nurturing, emotional, and housekeepers. With this being the grounds for first assumptions made about someone based on their sex you can see why women might have a harder time advancing or even getting the opportunity to prove their individual strengths.

In closing I would like to propose a thought about increasing minimum wage for all women. For America this would put most families closer to earning the national cost of living, but would that help our economy. We are the consumerism nation. Would earning more money just send Americans on a shopping spree only to further our nation's consumption rate? What abut raising wages for women in countries where they are subject to pennies a day? Higher wages might mean for them an education for their kids, food on the table every day, or medicine. So, whose wages should we be fighting for? Just a thought.

1. Anderson and Taylor. 2008. General Sociology: Social Change and the Social Institutions. Thomson Wadsworth, Inc.:Ohio