It is illegal, selfish and unlawful to discriminate people because of their gender or race when it comes to the institution of employment. This includes; recruitments, transfers, trainings, layoffs, incentive packages, promotion, job classifications, salaries/remunerations, terms of work and retirement benefits. This is what the federal law says in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Hagen, 2011). It was passed in 1964 and has not changed yet. Meaning, it is still the indispensable law on discriminatory procedures. This law is binding to all employers (state, private, employment agencies, NGOs), regardless of their setups. Besides the federal law, the California State Law, FEHA, is quite clear and specific about gender discrimination at work (Fair Employment Practices Guidelines, 2005). Like the state of California, many other states and nations strongly forbid sex and race discriminations when it comes to the work-place.
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Well, according to the latest statistics, the gender and race discrimination is still as alive and active in the U.S as it was before the passing of the law in 1964. The country continues to reflect unreasonable and illicit discrimination of women in the work force. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (USBLS) reveals that women working within the same environment, and doing the same job as men, earn much less compared to their colleagues (Gregory, 2003). Further to this, according to the World Economic Forum on Gender Disparity (WEFGD), there is no nation in the world that has managed to eliminate gender or race discrimination in the workplace.
The purpose of this paper, however, is to look at the gender discrimination of black women in the work force and how it differs from black men and white men and women in the workforce. In order to do this, this work begins by looking at the general discrimination of women, and how it becomes more specific when it comes to black women in the work force. It also looks at the gap between black women and black men in the work place. Thirdly, it looks at how the discrimination of black women differs from black men and white men and women in the work force. And lastly, the paper concludes with a summary of the contents discussed in the entire paper.
General discrimination of women
The gender gap between men and women is obviously huge, and deeply historical. The disparity is even scarier when one pictures the conception of boys and girls in the developing world. Boys are seen as insurance to the family, with much expectation that they will one day get a job and support their family. It is also seen as their birth-right to inherit their family’s property. The situation is not the same with girls. Girls are seen as expenses to the family. In some environments women even moan when they discover that they have conceived a girl. The world is perceived to be for men, while women belong at home. It’s no wonder in India when a baby-girl is born she is received as the ‘servant of the household’.
Clearly, the discrimination of women in the society is a disturbing reality. With the perception of men as ‘insurance’ and women as ‘household servants’, women can’t stop themselves from feeling inferior. Everything shows they are. Their identity has been forged by the discriminatory structures of the society. One thing that the male dominated society is slow to learn is that women have a place in the social and economic development of the society. The devastating effects of women discrimination in one way or the other comes round to men (William, 2012). While most developed countries, like the U.S, cunningly try to play everything right, they cannot help conceal the fact that gender discrimination is real and kicking in the workplace. When it comes to promotion, job classification, sexual harassment, working terms etc, the United States is evidently on the spot (Gregory, 2003).
According to the research by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), one in every five girls is uncomfortable with her gender. They feel girls are more restricted when it comes to freedom, education, employment opportunities, and security matters. They also believe that women are more likely to be harassed and victimized by their employers than are men. But despite all the international laws, including the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), prohibiting all forms of inequalities, gender discrimination remains a serious social setback (Blanchfield, 2010).
Besides, it is a reality that most women continue working in employments stereotyped as female occupations. It is also a damn veracity that women in the same job categories as men earn much less than their male colleagues (Drydakis, 2012). Apparently, women earn 23 cents less for every dollar a man earns. Even when it comes to promotion, few women make it up the ladder. Then there is the issue of harassment. Women are constantly harassed and intimidated in their workplaces (Ferriss, 1971). Most employers do not take into consideration issues such as pregnancy and family responsibility (William, 2012). If they do, the pay reflects it all. Well, somebody might argue that women do not negotiate sound enough with their employers for better salary as men do. That might be true, but evidences from women who have tried negotiating for their pay are found to have met bitter reactions. It is even true that most women who negotiate for their salaries during interviews are more likely to be dropped than men who employ the same tactics. And lastly, there is nothing more frustrating than to be discriminated first of all, because you are a woman, and secondly, because you are black (Feder & Brougher, 2012). This is what black women go through.
Discrimination of black women in the work force
African American women have greatly progressed when it comes to education and taking up tasks that were once reserved for men and possible white American women. In fact, in the black American community today, women are more professional and educated than black men. However, these women still have it rough when it comes to securing places in the work force. For those who happen to find jobs, they are constantly faced with challenges of either gender or racial discrimination, or even both (Gregory, 2003).
Black women blame their predicament on three reasons. One, they are discriminated because they are black. Two, they are discriminated because they are women. And three, they are discriminated on the grounds of the combination of the two (race and gender). In addition to the twin vulnerabilities, African American women live in neighborhoods that are miles away from the employment opportunities. They also earn much less compared to what the black men and white women and men earn (Perlman, 1994).
There is also the existing negative stereotype of African American single mothers (Bobbitt-Zeher, 2011). Way before the federal law on gender discrimination was passed in 1964, single black mothers were totally under-respected and disregarded in the society. In actual fact, they earned less salary and received minimal benefits compared to what the white single mothers earned and received. Apart from the few changes that were brought about by the legislation of 1996, which prohibited discrimination against single mothers, this mentality literally lingered on to today’s workplace. For instance, as of 2007, the poverty rate for African American children from single mother families was at 49.4 percent compared to 42 percent of white American children from single mother families.
Nothing much has polarized the discrimination of black women in the last few years than the ‘anti-poverty policy’ introduced by George W. Bush. This policy, also called the ‘marriage initiative’, assumed that single mothers were poor because they were not married. Well, this has worked well for white single mothers who moved into marriage with their husbands from wealthy backgrounds. But the same cannot apply to the black single mothers. They are not married primarily because of the poor economical prospects, and not vice versa. Getting married isn’t the solution, but getting good jobs. Unfortunately, this is where the problem is. Worse still, white employers would rather employ black men than hire black women in their work force. It is much worse for black single mothers.
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A combination of race and gender discrimination of black women in the work force is perhaps the worst social inequality, especially if it is coming from the society that is supposed to champion equal human rights for all. Like the white women, the black women find themselves between very odd situations, especially if they have to make decisions based on the available options. Here is a professional woman with all the academic qualifications looking for one of the best jobs on the land, but the society says no, your place is the stereotype female jobs. In fact, with all the qualifications you won’t earn as much as men do. Then there is the issue of harassment and unequal treatment at the workplace (Sanchez-Hucles, 1997). This is the situation most women find themselves in. Much to the wound, black women have also to bear the racial discrimination. Like black men, they face the negative stereotypes from the white race which limit their ability to be fairly employed in the work force. In many ways, they find themselves excluded from working in most of the enviable jobs and organizations. Besides, black women also have to deal with oppressive attitudes that deny them equal opportunities in the workplace. This double vulnerability (gender and race) is the reason behind the discrimination of black women in the work force (Ferriss, 1971).
The Impact of black women discrimination
The discrimination of black women in the work force is a significant social setback and its consequences directly impact on the society, especially on the black families. It is a reality that black families in the United States mainly generate their family income from their wages. Unlike the white American families, which largely generate their income from inherited and well established firms, the black community has to go and look for job opportunities to get their income. Little known is that black women are also the major income providers for their families. When there are limited economic prospects and labor market opportunities for black women in the work force, the entire black families suffer the consequences, so is the national economy (Roscigno, 2007).
How black women differ from black men
While both the African American women and men suffer from the racial discrimination, it is the women who are on the worst end, given the negative gender disparity in America and elsewhere in the world. Despite great progress that African American women have gained, especially in education and occupational status, they are still considered inferior to black men, and white men and women. Worse still, in the workplace, black women are paid much less than black men. A research conducted in 2005 showed that black women earned only eighty seven cents for a corresponding dollar earned by men. By 2006, over thirteen percent of African American women were poorer compared to only seven percent of black men (Alkadry & Tower, 2011)
There is also the aspect of job security. Most employers are so relaxed when it comes to employing black women. They would rather have the black men around than employee black women. There is no better way to explain this except on the line of gender discrimination and a little bit of racial prejudice. It is also astonishing to see black women, who are generally more educated and in high professional positions than black men, earn much less than they do (Sanchez-Hucles, 1997).
Black women and white men and women in the work place
Like with the research on black women compared to black men, statistics carried out in 2005 showed that white women earned 15 percent more than what black women earned for the same job. This was narrowed down to 85 cents for black women for every 1 dollar earned by white women. They also showed that black women earned 67 cents for a corresponding dollar earned by white men. When this data was reviewed in 2006, a high percentage of 13 of black women were found to be poor. Only 4 percent and 7 percent of white men and women respectively were found to be poor. This revealed the extent to which discrimination on black women had negatively impacted on their livelihood.
It is also shocking true that for every black woman employed in the work force; two white women are equally hired. The other difference between black and white women is explicit when it comes to finding their first jobs. Observably, young African American women get their first jobs after a long struggle. It is not so with the white women; they get their first jobs within a shorter period (Perlman, 1994).
Despite all the developments, especially on laws prohibiting inequalities of any nature, gender and racial discrimination are still significant social realities. The United States, particularly, continues to reflect unreasonable and illicit discrimination of women in the work force. But it is not just women. Black women are the most affected with this negative stereotype in the workplace. In reality, African American women face up to the same issues as white women, and so are the African American men and white men. However, factors such as gender, race and social stereotypes have made it so difficult for black women to feel equal with the rest of the categories. In addition to carrying the burden of searching for a job and putting up with the discriminatory issues at the workplace, black women also have an extra baggage of dealing with the economic insecurities among African American men. While white women rely on their white men for economic support, black women face the realities of dealing with their own economic situation. It is high time the states, and in deed the entire social setup, came up with policies that would help black women overcome the predicaments that have been unfairly and unlawfully imposed on them by the societal structures. The black women, just like the white women, black men and white men, have the right to freedom, equal job opportunities, education and security. They need to be respected and protected from harassment and victimization at the workplace.
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