Sex Discrimination in employment is prohibited under Title VII (The Civil Rights Act of 1964) and the FEHA (Fair Employment and Housing Act). Unfortunately, the practice of sex discrimination in employment continues despite the laws and regulations we have set forth in this country. Many employers base their hiring decisions on personal views, and while they are all entitled to their beliefs, they cannot legally (and perhaps ethically) base their hiring decisions upon them.
The pervasive and systematic nature of social gender roles has brought an unwelcome stigma to females in the workplace. Women are often expected (even if on a subconscious level) to be the primary caretakers of a household, and thus experience sex discrimination in employment in the form of an employer rejecting a qualified female candidate because of the fact that she has children.
In one case an employer rejected qualified female candidates with children but accepted male candidates with children because he did not believe women should work outside the home. This is a prime example of sex discrimination in employment rearing its ugly head and dictating the potential livelihood of female workers.
A study conducted by Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes was featured in an article in the Washington Post, which implied that women who don’t just ‘say no’ or accept an offer without haggling are penalized on a socio-economic scale. They received negative feedback for the same business-savvy that get men promotions, and often did not receive promotions or job offers simply because they had the “balls” to ask for more.
Sex discrimination in employment is not often an outright or intentional problem, as the study points out. But it seems the real problem lies in the fact that our social paradigms are stuck in an age where women had less rights and opportunities. It is unfortunate but perhaps inevitable that a change for progressive views and diminishing of gender expectations takes quite a while to truly take effect.
Other contentions of sex discrimination in employment highlight the wage gap between genders. Although factors besides gender may play a part in women earning 77 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts, it is clear that gender stereotyping only serves to elongate the timeline of shifting paradigms and thus continues (even if waning) to propagate this wage discrepancy.
These other choices, such as career paths (women often dominate notoriously low-paying educational careers, for example) might create a wider wage gap than is realized in white collar occupations, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in 2005 female surgeons earned just 60.9% of what male surgeons made, and women in sales earned a mere 63.4% compared to men.
We have a long way to go to change the social expectations and sex discrimination in employment. But we have made some progress, and the fact that this dialogue continues to promote diversity and equality in employment is an encouraging sign for a change toward a more equitable and profitable country.