A Woman’s View: gender equality in the workplace

The last column I wrote on marriage, which sparked interest on both sides, stemmed from the equal rights conversations with many women from the NEast.  While the last column was geared toward equal rights in home life, this week’s column is presented to discuss equal rights in the work place.  Ever since the women’s movement, females have been fighting for equal rights – not just in the work place, but also in society as, is evident by the previous column.

There is some debate over which country first allowed women the right to vote, but of the currently existing independent countries, some say New Zealand, in 1893, could be marked as the first county to grant women the right to vote.  Many countries followed after that date, but not all allow this practice and some still demote a woman’s point of view.

When the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, voting rights for women were introduced. During the 20th century in the United States, women’s suffrage gained popularity and had even taken to violence.  Protesters could be arrested and jailed for forming a crowd with picket lines.  President Woodrow Wilson urged congress in 1920 to pass the19th amendment, which prohibited both federal and state agencies from placing gender restrictions on voting.  In 1934, the Supreme Court ruled that separate hours/rates for men and women was unconstitutional.  Since that date, women have still been fighting for equality in the work place, as not all employers adhere to this testament.

“I work at a factory right outside the Northeast and have been there for over 11 years.  I do my job better than the men but still I do not make as much money as men I have trained,” said an anonymous NEast resident.

Some skeptics may argue that it is the type of job or position in which a person holds that may determine the amount of fair rate/hours he or she receives. However, inequality has been found in both white-collar positions as well as blue-collar positions.

“I work at a law firm in Center City, and I am fairly new, but have witnessed the treatment differences in men and women.  Men are granted far more leniency when it comes to disciplinary actions, whereas the women are ostracized simply because they are not the bosses ‘boy,’”  said an anonymous NEast shopper.

This is not to say that all employers and business owners are unjust toward their employees based on gender, nor does it state that some women do not exploit the circumstances.

“I can’t believe some women in my office and how they play up to the bosses for a raise.  It is sad but it works –  brushing imaginary lint off their coats or telling them they look nice and handsome.  In this case I blame the women at this office,” said LeAnn from the NEast.  “I mean it just isn’t fair from the men’s view or the other women who get a bad rap because of this.”

In 2004, a census report was issued recognizing pay rate gaps between men and women.  Women had been earning 75.5 cents for every dollar made by men.  With the failing economy, the pay gap is hard to fix but many companies are working to bridge the gap.

“I lost a position I should have had because the company didn’t have enough women working there.  It wasn’t fair because I was better qualified,”  said Jerome from the NEast.  “I have nothing against women – I have 4 sisters – but I would just like it to be fair.”

Some companies, as exampled above, are working so hard to meet with equal standards and are afraid of criticism that they go to far to try to be equal.  Unfortunately, this type of behavior only adds fuel to the fire for women in this society trying to obtain an equal standing.

“I don’t want to be better or given a better position just because I am a woman. I just want it fair based on my qualifications.” LeAnn said.  “Any companies that play up the delicate treatments of women just add to making us look bad.”

Is it acceptable for women in today’s society to do the same positions as men if capable?  Sadly the answer is no.  There are many positions that women are still looked down upon for holding or belittled for trying to enter into.  While the amount has lessened over the years and a more understanding exists today, there are still circumstances in which women are vilified for their career choices.

“Just because I work as a mechanic and like cars I am considered a d—, and that’s not fair. I have a boyfriend who understands, thankfully, but there are many men that just think it’s wrong,” said Jennyfer, who is from the NEast.  This is not say that it works only one way, there are jobs that women are do, which are perceived as female-oriented.

A persons qualifications and abilities should be measured and valued accordingly regardless of gender, race or culture.  With the constant changing world, we can only hope that as time marches on we will be able to achieve this goal.

A Woman’s View is a column about women’s issues written by Donna Ward. The column appears every other Thursday on NEastPhilly.com. See others here. Read other NEastPhilly columns here.

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