Oppression of Women in School and Workplace

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Women within modern society are not granted equal opportunity in their endeavors to advance their educational and professional lives. Although a look back at history shows that women have made great strides in some areas, equal opportunity in the workplace and education remains a significant problem as compared to their male counterparts while women still face exclusion from many athletic opportunities including athletic scholarships, endure prevalent sexual harassment, gender-based stereotypes, wage disparity and institutional barriers to equal participation in society. While this country has taken great strides towards equity, there is still work to be done before we can say that males and females are treated equitably in education and vocation.

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One of the main instruments to help women so that they can obtain financial security and economic independence is through higher education. Historically, women in America were denied access to all but a select few educational opportunities. To combat this problem, the United States enacted a series of educational reforms known as the Education Amendments Act of 1972, or more commonly referred to as Title IX. This legislation promised equal opportunities to men and women in all areas of the public education system. Since enactment, Title IX has most commonly been identified with granting access to athletics for women however, women still have fewer opportunities to participate in sports than men, female athletes receive fewer scholarships than males, female sports teams receive less funding and, athletic departments spend fewer dollars on recruiting female athletes than males. Title IX was not only meant to eliminate discrimination in athletics, but also require that federally funded educational institutions investigate and address sexual harassment and violence complaints. But have these rules done enough to protect women and to encourage them to speak out against any sexual misconduct that they may have experienced on university campuses? According to a 2015 survey done by the U.S. Department of Justice, (https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/rsavcaf9513.pdf) college students are less likely to report a sexual assault than those not in college and in fact, the survey found almost “80 percent of college students said they did not report an assault that occurred”. Title IX has opened up many opportunities for women in higher education however, not enough has been done to equalize the campus climate for men and women. Future progress for women will likely depend on the continued enforcement of anti-discrimination laws such as Title IX.

In the book, Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education: with a View of the Principles and Conduct Prevalent among Women of Rank and Fortune, author Hannah More offers insight into the inner workings of our country’s early system of education, especially the differences between those of women and men. The main argument of this book is to question the social norms of the time where women’s abilities and talents were overlooked or undervalued in favor of the “cultivation of the arts among women, polite education and the teaching of obedience and character.” More encourages her female readers to stand “bold and noble” against these notions pushed upon women especially in regard to professions and education. Sadly, More’s book, which was originally published in 1799, points to a long standing tendency toward gender-bias in education. Even today, women are overwhelmingly directed into traditional female occupations like education, nursing, and office administration while being underrepresented in fields such as computer science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Whether conscious or unconscious, gender biases present a significant barrier to women’s’ involvement in STEM related fields and the messages they receive during their elementary schooling play an important role in the educational choices they make during high school. (https://www.nber.org/papers/w20909.pdf) As a result, in 2016 the College Board found that only 23 percent of the 58,000 total students nationwide who took the AP computer science exam were female. (https://trends.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/education-pays-2016-full-report.pdf) And gender bias in the classroom doesn’t stop with academic achievement. Girls have fewer opportunities than boys to engage in discussions, girls’ opinions are viewed as inferior by their male classmates and girls are often assigned administrative tasks such as note taking instead of being in leadership roles. (http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/pdfdocs/genderbias.pdf) Still today, these gender biases limit the resources and opportunities available to women as evidenced by the inequitable disparity between the sexes in certain degree fields, leadership positions held within organizations on campus and the diminished value associated with a woman’s comments and concerns when brought to attention of advisors or administration.

Non-traditional female college students are not exempt from discrimination in higher education and, as their enrollment rates continue to rise faster than those of women of typical college age, (https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_csb.asp) inadequate resources for pregnant and parenting women present a serious impediment to obtaining a college education. In the United States today, 3.4 million undergraduate students are mothers and nearly half work full-time while enrolled. Combine fulltime work with shouldering the majority of caregiving responsibilities and the lack of on-campus child care, and it becomes easy to understand why lack of support services to help balance the demands of family, work, and education negatively impact women. Women are often faced with the options of either dropping out of schooling or enduring a massive amount of emotional stress to stay in school. And for women who are raising the next generation, these options are especially frustrating.

Women deeply value their professional lives as well as greatly valuing their family life and domestic roles but once women enter the workplace, they continue to face prejudice while attempting to pursue their professional dreams of advancement. These obstacles include discrimination in the workplace, unequal pay for equal work as well sexual harassment. Ann Baker is a lawyer who has struggled with social constructs that have made her feel inadequate both as a mother and an employee. The idea that women can equally balance these two elements of their lives is seen as taboo to many. Baker writes from her personal experiences about the stigmas that women in the field of law face. This articles lays out her problems as she tries to balance her family and her work life. She goes on to say that, “I wanted to stay in Paris [with my family], but I knew that this was not how best to value my skills or ensure advancement within the traditional law firm setting.” This quote sums up how she felt she had to leave the people she most deeply loved just so she could be valued and have the opportunity to be successful in her field. It is common practice for women to feel as if they are looked down upon for not wanting to give up their jobs to stay at home and take care of the family. For women to feel this way is very saddening as we are forcing strong individuals to choose between vocational passion and family; in Baker’s case she felt that she must leave her home and family to be able to prosper and grow in her profession. Her story is a true first hand representation of the social norms in society and how women face negative consequences for their choices that men do not. Even when women choose to focus on career over family, the U.S. Census labor data shows that women’s earnings drop after they have children. This is referred to as the “motherhood penalty.” However, men don’t experience a similar drop in pay when they become fathers and in fact, are often are rewarded with pay increases. Discrimination such as this creates an environment of hostility and often forces women to leave the workplace resulting in a loss income and benefits, which ultimately contributes to a gender wealth gap between men and women. Many women have begun to speak out against these forms of inequality in the workplace as well as document the causes and effects associated with these obstacles.

Another example of prejudice against women is detailed in Judith Hennessy’s “Choosing Work and Family: Poor and Low-Income Mothers’ Work-Family Commitment.” This study, published in the Journal of Poverty, was conducted by interviewing poor and working class women, both on and off federal welfare, and examined the social constraints they face. The article’s author noticed how common literature has not adequately explored the modern relationship between poor women who have to work versus their middle-class counterparts who choose to. Hennessy found that when low-income women elect to stay home with children over taking jobs that do not allow them to adequately support their family thus requiring them to survive on merger assistance from the government, they are deemed to be unfit and are vulnerable to charges of laziness and diminished identities as good mothers. However, in cases where women rely solely on paid work to support their family, low-income mothers are seen as uninvolved and negligent for placing employment considerations above those of their children. Although middle-class women experience prejudice from the opposing view when choosing between paid work and family, poor women have no real choice because they cannot escape criticism regardless of their selection.

Women in the workplace are constantly being judged for their mannerisms, the clothes they wear and how they behave. This is demonstrated in the short story No Unmarked Woman as Deborah Tannen discusses how women are placed into the positions where their external appearances are judged before they are able to show their strengths within the workplace. When compared to men, women face this form of first impression discrimination to a much higher degree. This form of prejudice affects their opportunities long after the first contact as they could easily be dismissed if they are not perceived to be powerful enough, feminine enough, smart enough and many other characteristics desired by men for women in their line of work. This evaluation could lead to a plateau in advancement, money and professional development as they will more than likely than not to be considered for many of the opportunities that are easily awarded to men. Furthermore, women believe that they are commonly looked at as sexual object in the eyes of their male employers and coworkers due to the prevalence of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other physical or verbal conduct in the workplace. In the United States, many of the harassment claims go unreported by women for fear of retaliation and retribution for coming forward. Women who have been victimized identify not wanting to be branded as a troublemaker or wanting to put their paychecks and careers at risk as reason for not coming forward. In fact, some may wait until they leave the career field or company entirely to avoid repercussion. Women have consistently been fighting forms of sexual prejudice but, the government has also taken actions against this by forming laws and passing amendments.

Other examples from feminist literature revolving around the professional development of women is The Feminine Mystique. This book is a display of the dissatisfaction of women in the domestic callings pushed upon them by society. It displays many of the ideals promoted by second wave feminism and has adopted them as evidence to prove her points against women’s calling for domestic life. The Suffrage movement and the Equal Pay Act are examples of the positive movements towards sexual equality. Both of these movements and political projects are results of second wave feminism that have now branched into the creation of third wave feminism. Second wave feminism attempts to encourage women I their chosen area of development whether that be in the classroom, as an artist, in a cubicle, as a mother or as an independent. These movements have been supported for so long due to women’s discomfort with our social climate and normalities that they have started to speak out against them to institute a change and, that is exactly what they have done for so long.

Throughout this paper many evidential topics surrounding the lives and choices of women have been addressed as they face prejudice in their educational and professional lives. Topics such as judgement around their appearance, involvement on campuses and obstacles surround opportunities and scholarships are all examples of forms of prejudice that women face in their search for higher education. In order to increase women’s betterment these obstacles must be made known and understood to the general public. His paper is written for this intention in mind.

As education is a natural right, women are owed an equal opportunity for this attainment. Although advancements have been made towards this goal there is still room to improve in the world of women’s education. An increase in the rolls women have on campuses around the nation will not only directly affect the betterment of their own lives but it will also have a great impact on others on those campuses. This is due to women’s strengths that may commonly come easier than to males; these strengths are what set women apart in their leadership roles and our extra-curricular activities they hold positions in. As societies aim to better the lives of women through way of education the society as a whole will benefit. Women’s roles in their professional endeavors have also been hindered in similar ways as their educational lives. Their roles within the workforce have been affected by the “marks” placed upon women by way of judgements of those in these same environments have of them. Some of these judgements are: on the way women dress and present themselves, sexual assault within the working environment, their consideration for specific jobs and opportunities as they may go against gender-norms. Many of these obstacles for women have been addressed similarly to their education but, their professional lives have been less affected by those efforts. This leaves much more room for improvement and education on these topics. Once two examples of prejudice against women and the way they are displayed in this paper with many evidential articles and and artifacts will give relief to women in their life goals.

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Oppression of Women in School and Workplace. (2020, Oct 23). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/oppression-of-women-in-school-and-workplace/