I chose to present on gender equality in the workplace, specifically reasons why certain occupations are highly concentrated in one gender, in part because of the idea of feminism. We’ve all spoken about how we define feminism in this course and I believe we each have a more clear understanding of what it means for all people. This led me to think about the outside world. What do others think about feminism? The first thing that comes to my mind is the work force and the pay gap. So many women work in low paying jobs and even those that earn high salaries do not receive the same pay as their male equals. Why is that? Are women simply more attracted to fields that serve others, nurture those in need and pay low? Are men naturally attracted to the high-power jobs that earn high salaries? What are the reasons behind these patterns?
I felt that the best way to find these answers is by simply asking. I formulated a ten question survey that addressed each of these questions. What are the challenges women face in pursuing their childhood dream? The dream that knew no gendered occupation, nothing about salaries and felt an unstoppable determination to be a success regardless of gender?
The online survey is made up of ten questions. The survey was relatively short, approximately ten minutes to complete, and the participants’ answers were kept completely anonymous. People of all ages were encouraged to participate. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much luck with middle-aged and older people. The large majority of participants were young men and women between the ages of 18 and 24. Despite not receiving much feedback from older generations, I felt encouraged by the fact that so many of my peers were willing to take part in the survey – it led me to believe that younger generations do care about equality across genders in the workplace.
I started my survey by asking participants what their childhood dream job was. We each have that one occupation that stood out more than the others we thought about. At this stage, we don’t realize that women and men are highly concentrated in certain fields and for that reason we want to become whatever is most appealing to our personal interests. Whether that be a female astronaut or a male hairdresser, children have this ability to dream beyond stereotypes because they are untainted by cultural norms. Above I listed some of the responses I got from survey participants. There were three that really stood out to me – teacher, baker and mother. Each of these have a female stereotype surrounding them. Many teachers are women, cooking and baking is something that women are often times expected to do and being a mother is something only a woman can do. I also found it interesting that many of these dream jobs are either difficult to enter, or heavily concentrated with men. I felt that this showed how many children do not view jobs according to gender.I then asked the participants if they actually pursued this dream job. As a result, 46.7% said that they are not pursuing their dream job, 33.3% said that they are and 20% said that they are still deciding on whether or not to pursue their childhood dream job. These results lead me to my next question… what are the challenges associated with pursing your dream job and what are reasons why people do not pursue their dream job?
The chart on the left shows the challenges faced in pursing childhood dream jobs. I wanted to see why people do not pursue careers that they were once most attracted to. Notice in the first pie chart, there is no light blue wedge. This is because none of the participants felt that women gain employment and promotion more easily than men in their experience. However, 22.2% stated that men do gain advancement more frequently and quicker than women which has proved to be a challenge. Likewise, the same percent stated that having a family has made pursuing a career challenging. Reasons such as low pay and difficulty entering are explanations that both men and women experience – occupations listed in the last slide such as doctor, astronaut, lawyer and FBI agent are all difficult fields to enter.I next asked participants why they did not pursue their dream job. In a sense, I was relieved that most said they lost interest in their childhood dream job and only a few said they were discouraged by others. Also, no one answered that they gave up their dream job for a family. One stereotype women have placed on them is that they often give up their dreams to get married and start a family. The survey results show that this was not a reason for any of the participants.
The next survey question asked participants if they knew the distribution of gender in their field. Results show that 35.7% felt there were more men in their field and the exact same percent felt that there were more women in their field, 21.4% said there is an equal distribution and 7.1% said they were unsure. I found it interesting that there were equal amounts of participants claiming to have higher concentrations of a men or women in their field. At the same time, almost a quarter of people said they think there is an equal distribution of men and women in their occupation.
Participants were asked whether they thought cultural stereotypes impacted the distribution of genders in their career of choice. Most felt that there is somewhat of an impact and less felt that there is either little or great impact. Overall, the vast majority of participants do recognize that stereotypes, prejudices and biases play a role in gender distribution though out occupations.
In 1963, the Equal Pay Act was signed in the United States. The intent of this legislation was to create fair pay to all. Unfortunately, almost 50 years later, our nation is still experiencing a pay gap across genders and races. I asked survey participants whether there is equal pay in their career of choice. Half said they do not know, over 28.6% stated that the pay is equal, 21.4% said that men receive higher compensation and none said that women receive higher pay. Considering the fact that most of my participants were peers, I think these results are reflective of the population just setting out to begin careers. Across occupations, men are paid more than women and aside from entry level minimum wage jobs, equal compensation across genders within a position are rare.
In tying the responses from my survey to the facts, I had to do some research. I wanted to know how my experiment measured up to statistics. My goal was to find out how gender is distributed in the workforce and see if there were any similarities between the facts and the thoughts of my participants.
In doing my research, I found that secretaries and administrative assistants are the most prevalent position held among women in the United states. I was also able to find out that these women earned $29,050 in 2008. Registered Nurses on the other hand made an average of $63,750 in 2009. RNs are the second most prevalent position held by women with the overall field being composed of 92% women and the 19th top salaried position for women in 2009 according to the Department of Labor. I find it so hard to believe that the difference in salary between the number one and number two held position among women is more than double. Unfortunately, other professions to make this list are not as well compensated as RNs are.
This is the list of the top 20 most prevalent female-held occupations in 2009 put out by the department of labor. If you’ll notice, many of these occupations are not high paying jobs. Aside from Registered Nurses, Managers of various fields, and a couple of other positions, most of these occupations do not provide enough for a woman to solely care for a family. In the United States, 59.2% of women aged, 16 and older, were a part of the work force. These women made up 46.8% of the total workforce – just under half of the workforce, but on average paid only 77% compared to their male equals according to the 2010 Census results.
Many of the survey participants stated that one stereotypical male occupation is construction work. In fact, according to OSHA, women were only 2.3% of total construction workers in the United States in 1995 – not much of a gain from less than one percent in 1970.
A couple of participants stated that they felt the financial realm was one that was relatively fair for men and women to both gain employment in and achieve success. Indeed, women accounted for approximately 66.6% of financial specialists in the US in 2009. One example of a successful female financial expert is SuzeOrman. She hosts a television show to assist callers with financial problems and even writes her own books.
In doing research for this project, I was able to find a list of professions where women are paid most fairly and paid well. According to Forbes.com (and the United States Department of Labor), female pharmacists were the top fairly-compensated in 2009. These women earned 85 cents for each dollar their male equals earned. Other occupations to make the list included lawyers, engineers, computer programmers, medical scientists, psychologists and occupational therapists to list a few. Sadly, none of these professions are highly concentrated in women.
I asked participants if the think that stereotypes are changing. Many felt that today’s workplace is more inviting across genders than it once was. However, some of their thoughts have proven to be less than true through my studies. One person said that the nursing field has changed tremendously over the past decade – while there has been an increase, women still account for 92% of registered nurses. On the other hand, one participant said that the culinary arts are greatly expanding across genders and it can easily be seen by simply turning on one’s television. Unfortunately, one woman that loves being a stay-at-home mom said that her husband receives negativity because he chooses to work enough so that his wife does not have to. As Hilary Rose and many other authors in our text mentioned, often times this “labor of love” that women perform, domestic chores and housekeeping duties, are often overlooked and undervalued by our society.
Evelyn Fox Keller wrote, “If I was demolished by my graduate school experiences, it was primarily because I failed to define myself as a rebel against norms in which society has heavily invested…. I hope that the political awareness generated by the women’s movement can and will support young women who today attempt to challenge the dogma, still very much alive, that certain kinds of thought are the prerogative of men,” (30).I really feel that her statement is at the core of gender inequality. Each of us are educated about the obstacles women, and at times men, face within the workforce. The survey that I conduced really helped me to get a better perspective of how others view gender and occupation. It was a relief to see that the main reason why women did not pursue their childhood dreams was simply because of a change in interest. At the same time, there were women that said they were discouraged and there were also those that said they found it difficult to pursue their dreams.InEngendering Environmental Thinking, Ruth Perry wrote that “women’s special knowledge about the environment is often ignored or passed over as old wives’ tales or superstition…. Women’s traditional knowledge about sustainable resource use, accrued slowly over generations, is often overlooked by those who make policy about economic development projects. Just as the labor that women do is not valued, so women’s non-commodified knowledge about the reproductive processes of the natural world is insufficiently valued,” (318-319).Ways to create change within our society are all around us. For starters, take part in my survey. I would love to continue to get feedback from people regarding gender and occupation. You can also visit my website and send the link to others. Another way to really create change is to learn about legislation and laws to enforce more equal pay and working environments for women and men. And perhaps the easiest way to show your support for gender equality in the workforce is to wear red on Equal Pay day – though it has already passed this year, there is still next year. Lastly, there are organizations you can get involved with. Perhaps one of the most well-known is the National Organization for Women. It’s easy to join and even make a donation. I really hope you each have enjoyed hearing about my project and found the presentation to be informative. Thank you!
GENDER EQUALITY<br />Factors Affecting Women’s Occupational Endeavors<br />STS 210 Final ProjectAdrianna C. Gray<br />
WHY?<br />Over the course of the semester, we have often spoken the word feminism. I think that each of us have come to form an opinion of how feminism is defined. <br />For me, feminism is the idea of creating equal opportunities, rights and freedoms across genders, ethnicities and ages. It is more than “girl power”, it is a mission to make all aspects of life fair regardless of one’s appearance and circumstances. <br />
WHY?<br />…It is for this reason that I chose to do my project on gender equality in the workplace. More specifically, reasons why women chose certain occupations more frequently caught my interest. <br />I decided to start out by gathering the opinions of people. How do people feel about gender with regards to occupation? Do they see stereotypes on a regular basis? Have they experienced prejudice in the workplace because of their gender? <br />I wanted to know. <br />
Gender & Occupation Survey<br />http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DJDY5DX<br />Though the project is complete, the survey is still open. This is a study that will not be complete until all understand how gender and occupation affect one another, and fuel this understanding to create change.<br />Feel free to participate.<br />GATHERINGEXPERIMENTAL DATA<br />
How much does it matter?<br />Cultural norms define the roles we each take in society.<br />This includes, but is not limited to, our career choices and the reasons for making these decisions.<br />Stereotypes, prejudices and biases all swarm around the workplace. Most participants felt that stereotypes somewhat impact the gender distribution in their field.<br />
Who brings home the bacon?<br />The greatest, yet most simple challenge our nation faces is the pay gap.<br />According to the 2010 Census, women only earned 77 cents per dollar their male equals earned.<br />It saddens me that the majority of survey participants really don’t know whether their career of choice offers equal pay across genders.<br />US Department of Labor<br />
How did my experiment measure up to the facts?<br />Were the stereotypes mentioned by my participants a reflection of Reality?<br />How did their views on gender & occupation compare to the statistics?<br />BACK TO REALITY<br />
http://careers.cwis-llc.com/careers2/images1/administrative.jpg<br />In 2009, there were 3,074,000 Administrative Assistants and Secretaries.This is the most prevalent occupation among women and the average annual pay was $29,050 in 2008.<br />The second most held female occupation is Registered Nurse which also happens to be the 19th top salaried occupation women hold. RNs, on average, made $63,750 in 2009.<br />
Top 20 Female Concentrated Occupations<br />Secretaries & Administrative Assistants <br />Registered Nurses<br />Elementary/Middle School Teachers <br />Cashiers <br />Nursing, Psychiatric & Home Health Aides<br />Retail Salesperson <br />First-line Supervisors/Managers of Retail Sales Workers<br />Waitresses<br />Maids & Housekeeping Cleaners<br />Customer Service Representatives<br />Child Care Workers<br />Bookkeeping, Accounting & Auditing Clerks<br />Receptionists & Information Clerks<br />First-line Supervisors/Managers of Office & Administrative Support Workers<br />Managers (all others)<br />Accountants & Auditors<br />Teaching Assistants<br />Cooks<br />Office Clerks (general)<br />Personal & Home Care AidesDepartment of Labor- 2009<br />
http://www.visualphotos.com/photo/2x3924639/close-up_of_a_female_construction_worker_talking_dki-0073-063.jpg<br />In 1970, less than one percent of construction workers were women.<br />In 1995, 25 years later, women are only 2.3% of all US Construction workers.<br />Participants in my survey stated that construction work is a predominantly male field – indeed, the presence of women in this field is almost nonexistent.OSHA<br />
http://www.howdoesshe.com/wp-content/uploads/SUZE_ORMAN-MY_JOB_CHART.jpg<br />Females accounted for 66.6% of financial specialists in the US in 2009.<br />This includes accountants, financial advisorsand analysts to list a few.<br />One example of an extremely successful female financial specialist is SuzeOrman. <br />In my survey, participants listed financial specialists as a stereotypically male field.<br />US Department of Labor<br />
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_AR3FNcs6p30/SctqcW9NnKI/AAAAAAAACtk/_lOpuAaZE90/s400/black_pharmacist.jpg<br />In 2009, the top paid position women held was as pharmacists.These women earned 85% of the wages their male equals earned.<br />Unbelievably, this “most fair” paying position is comprised of less than 50% women.There are 36 times more female administrative assistants than female pharmacists.<br />Female physicians only make 59% of their male equals and go to school longer than pharmacists.<br />Forbes.com<br />
ARE STEREOTYPES CHANGING?<br />“Nursing used to be a female occupation. That has changed tremendously in the past decade.”<br />“In the past very few women were allowed to attend prestigious culinary schools, however those times are gone and now females as well as males dominate this field. One occupation that I would think is stereotypical for males is construction work; there doesn't seem to be that many women in that field.”<br />“Not completely, I am a stay at home mom and I feel that people still look down on some men that choose to let their wives work and they stay home with the children.”<br />“I definitely feel they will be less impacted. However I still believe that those gender based tendencies will still make many positions remain lopsided by a gender. Women and Men have natural differences in interest that plays into certain professions.”“Yes, I do expect future generations to be less impacted by occupational stereotypes. In order to create equality in all work forces, I think it is necessary to emphasize the sameness and ability in all people regardless of gender instead of emphasizing differences.”<br />
TO TIE IT ALL TOGETHER…<br /> How to get involved?<br />Take the survey.<br />Visit my website and send the link to others.<br />Learn about legislation and laws to create a more equal work force across genders.<br />Wear red on Equal Pay Day, April 12.<br />Join the National Organization for Women (NOW) or make a donation.<br />
RESOURCES<br />National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE)http://www.pay-equity.org/<br />Forbes.com – Top Paying Jobs for Womenhttp://www.forbes.com/2009/06/25/top-paying-jobs-forbes-woman-careers-salary-employment.html<br />US Dept of Labor – Quick Stats on Women Workers, 2009http://www.dol.gov/wb/stats/main.htm<br />National Organization for Women (NOW)http://www.now.org/issues/economic/factsheet.html<br />Women, Science, and Technology(Wyer, M., et. al, 2nd Edition, 2009)<br />
RESOURCES<br />Bureau of Labor Statistics – Secretaries & Administrative Assistantshttp://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos151.htm#earnings<br />Bureau of Labor Statistics – Registered Nurses http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291111.htm#nat<br />US Department of Labor – OSHA: Women in the Construction Workplacehttp://www.osha.gov/doc/accsh/haswicformal.html<br />US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – Equal Pay Act of 1963http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/epa.cfm<br />