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Women And Flexibility In The Workplace Essay

American women are working hard to pay bills and take care of their families, yet many employers makes it impossible for them to work and take care of their family obligations. Women have not been given the importance of their male counterparts in any field in the workplace. History has shown that there is no major roles of women because they have not been given the chance to prove their leadership. Women have always played a secondary role in society. The role of the woman was to raise the children and to be subservient to the role of the man. Women decided that they wanted to stand on their own two feet especially after WWII. During the war, women had taken over the role of the men by working and taking care of the home. When the men returned home from war, the women had gotten use to their new role of being the breadwinner and did not want to relinquish their jobs. Because many women are working full-time, this leaves less time for a family, personal life or for social activities.

“About half of all workers on U.S. payrolls today are women. Moreover, the majority of mothers whether married or single, works outside of the home, meaning that in most American families, all of the adults work, and there is no full-time stay-at-home caregivers. (Glynn, 2012) In the video “Women as Change Agents in America (Pt1), Kathleen Christensen determined why there is flexibility of women in the workplace. She discusses flexibility as being a social and structural issue. The workplace was designed for men in order to suit their needs as the breadwinner. This meant that workers would be full-time employees, year in and year out without taking time out for care-giving. The workplace was designed for career minded individuals, who started their careers at twenty (20) years of age, and retired at sixty (60) years of age.

Because women were not able to work long hours, they would need jobs that were flexible. Women, who work are getting less sleep (losing at least eight(8) hours per week, their social lives are not organized, which is a major factor in alleviating stress in the husband and the couples lives. Women, who have flexibility such as part-time flexibility or tele-commuting flexibility where they can work at home and they stay with the same employer over seven (7) years and are most likely not to get pay raises. “Although the pay gap between men and women in the U.S. workforce has narrowed since the 1980s’ numerous studies have found that a disparity still exist.” (Sherrill, A., 2009) The reports states that as of 2003 women were earning an average of twenty cent ($.20) less for every man in the workforce. These are the key factors affecting women and the wage gap: 1- Women who work full-time year round earns about 80% of what men earn.

2- The gender wage gap widens with age and accumulates over time. The younger a person is, the more they may earn but as they get older the gap grows. 3- The gender age gap exists for all women, regardless of race, or ethnicity. 4- There is also a wage gap between mothers and childless women. The fair Labor Standards Act did not address equity between men and women. Most working women were employed in low paying jobs because men were responsible for supporting the family. Even with some of the factors accounted for, there is still a significant wage gap. The bottom line in our capitalist society is what we can obtain for the least cost which is a good business practice. What we see is a system that is designed to take advantage of women, and men who do not strategize or negotiate for the woman’s value. Traditionally women have failed to negotiate their values as effectively as men do.

Our cultural stereotype shows negotiations to be tough and aggressive, both characteristics that women may be penalized for as being unattractive and unfeminine. So basically, the wage gap boils down to a cultural dynamic in which a business can negotiate bargain prices for women, while some women think they are getting the bargain deal because they have less pressures to prioritize their work for the family life. Working women often faced discrimination on the mistaken beliefs that because they were married or could possibly get married, they would not be permanent or dependable workers. But married women continue to work for many years and were dependable in the work force. “From 1960 to the early 1970s, the influx of married women workers accounted for almost half of the increase in the total labor force, and working wives were staying on their jobs longer before starting a family.” (History of Women in the Workplace, 2012)

The wage gap between men and women appears unjust but it seems to work for a lot of people under the cultural realities that if businesses wanted women full talent, then they would pay for that talent. If women want equal pay, then they will learn how to negotiate for their worth. The nature of work is changing. Employment is becoming more fluid as employees work under a variety of employment agreements that did not exist before. Finding the right talent for the right job and keeping it, is becoming a competitive advantage for companies everywhere. “More and more women are leaving their jobs to pursue entrepreneurial ventures where they feel their talent, financial aspirations and work life needs can co-exist more comfortably.” (Theus, 2014) Here are ten (10) reasons from Pew Research that explores the views, values and economic realities of women and men in the workplace: 1- Today’s young women are starting their careers better educated than their male counterparts. 2- Young working women today are also making more money relative to men of the same age group than their mothers or grandmothers did.

This is due not only to the rising earnings of women, but also to the falling earnings of men. 3- Each new group of young women entering the workforce over the past thirty (30) years has started at a higher average hourly wage relative to men. However, the most recent groups of young women have also seen wages fall relative to men during their work lives. 4- The dramatic gains among young working women have not translated to an increase optimism about their career paths. Young women today are more likely than young men to say women are paid less for doing the same job and men have easier access to the top executive positions. 5- While a significant share of Americans (45%) still think society favors men over women, attitudes have changed considerably in the past twenty (20) years. 6- Women are much more likely than men to say more changes are needed to achieve gender equality in the workplace.

The gap is especially wide among millennial women and men. 7- Women of all ages, just like men, wants a secure job that they can enjoy. Women are less likely than men to ask for raises or aspire for top management positions. 8- Far more women than men say being a working parent has made it more difficult to advance in their careers. 9- Among parents, women are much more likely to experience family related career interruptions. 10- Among mothers and fathers who have taken a significant amount of time off from work to care for family members, women are more likely to say this has hurt their career. The model for a successful manager in business has traditionally been masculine. While stereotypes remains, it succeeds in maintaining the dominant place in management for men.

There are misconceptions of women leaders by speculating about how they are different from men. These misconceptions are accepted as they go hand in hand with popular beliefs about men and women. The perception that maintains the gender gap in leadership is wrong. These stereotypes about women’s abilities, interest and behavior may lead women into behaving in ways that will limit their abilities in the workplace. They may show less confidence and lower self-esteem even when their performance is very similar to that of their male counterpart. Apart from the gender stereotype, there are discriminatory practices in hiring, performance appraisals, training, promotions and pay. Gender based wage inequality is painfully real and leads to substantial differences in opportunities compared to the equally educated man. Women have more difficulties in attaining top executive positions because they are often not given the same opportunities as the men. Job segregation, which provides the basis and justification for lower wages for women along with the problem of sexual harassment, have been the norm in the work environment.

In general, gender discrimination includes behaviors which occur in the workplace and “limits a person’s ability to enter, remain and progress in a job and that are mainly the result of the person’s gender” (Cleveland, Stockdale, and Murphy 157-58). Men and women are treated differently in the workplace, which most of the time results in discrimination. Although gender discrimination in employment has been illegal since 1964 when the Civil Rights Act was issued. Discrimination against women, such as occupational segregation and lower wages for employees in female dominated occupations, remains a serious social problem that resists legislative solutions. The work environment highlights gender differences in ways that lead people to think of each other in terms of their gender roles rather than their roles as workers. The more that worker’s gender is brought into the environment, it is more likely that men and women will be treated differently.

Examples of differential treatment within the workplace is one of the main reasons why women fail to advance to levels of authority and visibility within the workforce. These differences decreases the earning potential of women as well as their career mobility and access to leadership and decision-making positions within the workplace. Women are perceived as less competent and are less likely to be promoted in comparison to men with equal qualifications. Even when women receive a higher performance rating, men receive more promotions. There is continued evidence that in business and professional occupations, the proportion of women present decreases as the rank of the occupation increases. Poor treatment by male co-workers serves as a barrier to women success in their chosen professions. The extent of male efforts to keep women co-workers from succeeding is difficult to measure. There are numerous women who have faced sexual harassment from men they did not welcome or invite.

Examples of sexual harassment ranges from sexual jokes to teasing. These things are aimed at degrading women workers to inappropriate sexual advances which threatens their job security. Sexual harassment can take two forms. The “quid pro quo” harassment occurs when the harasser offers some benefits in exchange for sexual favors. These benefits may include promotions, pay raises, good performance appraisal or the avoidance of less desirable outcomes such as a demotion or being fired. The term “hostile environment” harassment stands for situations that occur from unwanted conduct, resulting in an uncomfortable and hostile working environment. Such behavior might be of physical, verbal or non-verbal kind. It could include touching, hugging or sexual remarks about a person’s dress apparel or body, sexual stories or explicit pictures displayed in the workplace. (Sexual Harassment)

Many victims of sexual harassment say they had to leave their jobs or transfer to another site in order to avoid the person who had harassed them. By doing this the harasser has succeeded in getting the women to leave their position. By using sexual harassment, the target is considered to be a weak, sexual object that is open for exploitation. One of the most persistent concern of genders and workers is the long standing wage gap between men and women. Should women reach positions of structural equality with men? This still does not mean that they enjoy the same extent of financial rewards for these positions. Women are considerably underpaid when compared to men in the same occupation and with the same educational qualifications. Pay is an important indicator of the value placed on work and the work of women continue to be less valued than men in almost all major sectors of the economy. Although women’s pay compared to men has increased over time, still the wage gap that exist has many concerned about the equity or fairness of the wage setting process.

One of the solutions proposed to eliminate or reduce pay differences between jobs within a company that are related to an occupation’s gender composition is known as comparable worth or pay equity. This is defined as “having comparable salaries for jobs requiring comparable efforts, skills, responsibilities, and working conditions” (McGlen et al. 220). The comparable worth approach to wage determination has been mostly implemented in state and local governments. Public sector unions often have played a large role in organizations making comparable worth pay adjustments Women still face some hindrances on their paths to equality in the workplace.

Even today whether on a conscious or unconscious level, people often take their own and other people gender into account in their work environment in some way. Stereotypes about gender that looks at women as having attributes and abilities that are different from men. These differences affects the earning gap, provided the employer rely on them in hiring, placement and promotional decisions. The stereotype that women are more effective at certain jobs leads the employer to hire women for customarily female positions. The full utilization of women in the workplace should not be only for moral or social reasons, but should be a strategy for competing economically and gaining a competitive advantage in the future.


Cleveland, J.N., Stockdale, M., Murphy, K.R.(2000) Women and Men in Organizations, Sex and Gender Issues at Work. Retrieved from: routledge-ny.com/books/details/9780805812688 Glynn, Sarah J. (8/16/2012) The Wage Gap for Women. Retrieved from: www.americanprogress.org./…/fact-sheet-the-wage-gap-for-women/ A History of Women in the Workplace (04/28/2012) Retrieved from: www.payscale.com/career-news/2012/04/working-girl Pews Research (12/2013) 10 Findings about Women in the Workplace. Retrieved from: www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/12/11/10-findings-about-women-in-the-workplace/
Theus, Dana (2014) Why does Equal Pay Really Matters. Retrieved from: www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-theus/is-equal-pay-possible-b_5105193.html

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