Essay on Women and Discrimination

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Management ・APA ・10 Sources

Women have encountered several challenges in the past when trying to pursue careers. Many people believed that men should be in charge while women take care of things because they perceived women as being unfit for work and incapable. Due to social development and government participation, this viewpoint is less widespread now, although female workers still experience sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and a pay difference. Many men and even some women do not view sexual harassment of women or the salary gap that favors males as a major issue, and some do not even recognize that these issues exist. Gender discrimination is seen as an issue of the past, as students from college really underestimated the potential existence and adverse impact of gender discrimination which is in the corporate field (Sipe et al. 2009 p.322). Although gender discrimination in the workplace has lessened over time, which includes pregnancy and motherhood discrimination, sexual harassment, and the wage gap, these issues are still a prevalent concern for women in the modern day United States.

From World War II to modern times, women have made tremendous leaps in terms of involvement in the workforce and a more equal pay distribution among men and women. Yet, it has not solved all problems due to gender discrimination and other factors. During World War II, an influx of women took jobs in the war industries due to encouragement from society and the government. In J. Howard Miller’s poster, a somewhat gruff looking woman, is shown baring her biceps, saying “We Can Do It!” This poster intended to encourage women to involve themselves in the war effort and was what sparked the political movement for women to participate in the labor force and gain equal rights, as women involvement was essential. During this time, the National War Labor Board urged uncooperative employers to pay women a fair amount of money for the same work (Rowen, 2017 p.150). From the year 1950 to 1980, there were a good number of working married women, but the ratio of female to male earnings remained around 60 percent (Goldin, 2008 p.275). This is even after the Equal Pay Act 1963 being enacted, which stated that it was illegal to pay women solely on the basis of gender. Gender discrimination was not the only reason for the enormous wage gap, but the problem also lay in education, job experience, and the hours of work, which explains the past gap (Rowen, 2017 p.161).

Of course, back in the 1950s and 1980s, an excess amount of women had little to no job experience and worked fewer hours than men due to a disproportionate amount of housework and childcare responsibilities. Today, the gender gap is “deeply rooted in social and psychological gender schemas”, (Miki & Yuval, 2011 p.421). As stated by Malul Miki and Fany Yuval, both part of the Department of Public Policy and Administration at Ben Gurion University, which suggests they are well informed on the topic of gender discrimination. Women still are responsible for a vast amount of domestic tasks as well as their job, making it, so their potential work time is spent on childcare and housework. This can help explain the 80.9 percent of men’s wages that women earn (Rowen, 2017 p.201). The wage gap will not completely close until men and women divide equal amounts of time toward family duties (Miki & Yuval, 2011 p.432).

Some Americans argue that the wage gap is the fault of women, claiming that women usually take up jobs that are low-paying than men that is why it is understandable that they make less money (NOW, 2017 n.d). Even when factors such as age, college major, occupation, hours worked, a 7 percent wage gap was accounted for after one year of education, and within ten years a twelve percent difference was noted (NOW, 2017 n.d). This suggests that the wage gap is, in fact, partly due to discrimination. As women age, the wage gap widens significantly, and it’s reported that this gap is as much as 75.2 percent of what men make (Rowen, 2017 p.280). This is most likely possible due to the fact that a large number of women who desire leadership positions find it very difficult to get there, and those who make it there quit eventually (Sipe et al. 2009 p.340). As both men and women age, men typically are favored and are promoted much quicker. Women lag behind, causing them to suffer lower salaries.

Those who leave mainly leave because they may have found it challenging to balance work and family life as well as battling against the stereotype of men being leaders (Sipe et al. 2009 p.347). Although it’s quite clear women are the disadvantaged group, Salam Reihan believes that men are becoming the disadvantaged group and that they are “falling behind women in education and employment outcomes” (Reihan, 2014 p.22). Reihan’s claim is simply untrue; if this claim were valid, women would be favored in the workplace, and men’s wages would reflect this, but they do not. Pay transparency can be used to help close this gender-based gap, which is the ability to discuss salaries in the workplace freely. Discussing different wages can help bring problems of unequal pay into light. However, the belief that speaking of your earnings is wrong has been deeply ingrained into many, so it can still be a topic that many are hesitant to talk of. Women without children may have a difficult time in the workplace because of gender discrimination, but those with children fare far worse in terms of wages and treatment.

One reason for the wage gap and one hardship women face in the workplace may lie in motherhood or pregnancy discrimination. Jane Waldfogel is a professor and social work and public affairs, which suggests she understands women’s economic issues since she may have worked with them. She claims that the U.S. policies are more focused on equalizing opportunities for women and men, yet they have not addressed the issue that results in having children (Waldfogel, 1998 p.125). The United States has focused on making men and women have equal opportunities and pay, but have they even considered the vast difference in treatment towards mothers and women without children in the labor force? Lawmakers turning a blind eye toward this issue has caused the U.S to lag behind other industrialized countries, as the U.S is the only one without paid maternity leave (Waldfogel, 1998 p.139).

People must understand that women cannot be treated the same as men, but instead must realize that women are different and do not have the same needs and accept this. Because of this, some women are denied maternity leave, but if they are granted it, many return to their jobs to find that they have been filled. This also jeopardizes their positions if they happened to be higher up in management positions (Abrams, 1989). All of these facts can demonstrate why researchers have found that mothers face a 10-15 percent family penalty compared to women without children (Waldfogel, 1998 p.152). If a woman’s spot is filled because she left for maternity leave or if she lost a managerial position in her job and cannot advance, she may feel as though she has no role to fill or goal to pursue. This can put a strain on many families economically, as women are the “sole or primary breadwinners in 40 percent of households with children” (Reihan, 2014 p.35).

In The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus, Sisyphus finds joy in his work and even views the rock he’s pushing up the mountain as “his thing”. If mothers are not allowed to fully enjoy their jobs as well as family life without fear of losing what they have worked for, there may be no passion for what they are doing. The women will not find purpose in it. Many may feel unwanted in their workplace once they get pregnant, due to the fact that those who are pregnant are perceived to be less committed to the job, less dependable, and more emotional (NOW, 2017 n.d). Also, studies have shown that discrimination is the most significant reason for the wage gap among mothers - part-time work, lower experience, and interrupted work contributes only one-third to the motherhood penalty (NOW, 2017 n.d). Many men and even some women believe that women must either choose between a career and raising a family. In recent times, vast amounts of women are choosing to focus on a job rather than have children. If the belief that women must choose were to be enforced, lots of females would refrain from having children since they would have no chance of competing with men in the workplace. Women’s differences must be highlighted and embraced, and paid maternity leave must be implemented. Enacting such policies may raise women’s pay since they are allowed to remain with the same employer (Waldfogel, 1998 p.169). However, some mothers may take advantage of this and take off longer than needed, which would end up harming them due to the loss of job experience.

However, even if these policies were set in place, women would still have the issue of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment in the workplace has been a significant issue ever since women started working. In the past, women were treated in a demeaning or sexual way, and some were even required to wear sexually provocative clothing. But this is not the case anymore, yet society is still ignoring the issue of sexual harassment at the workplace. Kathryn Abrams, a professor who teaches feminist jurisprudence, voting rights and constitutional law, suggesting she’s well informed on the topic, states that “Fifty-three percent of working women report having experienced behavior that they describe as sexual harassment” (Abrams, 1989 p.99). Women are most subjected to sexual comments or touching, but they also must endure “sexual epithets, sexual demands, and the circulation of pornography” (Abrams, 1989 p.105). The fact that women put up with this behavior is astounding; it must not be acceptable.

Eric Trump, son of Donald Trump, implied that women who put up with sexual harassment in the workplace are weak. This is not the case; many women remain silent so that they do not lose the careers that they worked so hard to achieve. If it were so easy just to pack your bags and leave, many would, but a lot of time and energy has been spent to get their jobs, so why should they go because of one wicked man? The belief that these women are weak is why many remain silent and why society believes sexual harassment in the workplace no longer exists. Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox employee, sued her boss for sexual harassment - one among millions to not remain silent about her treatment. At first, her co-workers did not believe her allegations toward her boss, as common with many people when someone claims they have been treated this way (Pollitt, 2016). Courts are also reticent to believe that sexual derision without sexual demands is enough to make an environment hostile. They reject the idea that claims against pornography accompanied by verbal affronts are enough to create a hostile environment (Abrams, 1989 p.154). These behaviors are enough to create a hostile environment, the vast majority of women experiencing sexual derision and pornography will harm a woman’s incentive to work and the quality of her work. Sexually-oriented behavior can make women see themselves as unequal, as many are already struggling to establish themselves somewhere they may not feel welcome. The fact that her work setting can be transformed into an unwanted sexual encounter where they do not have control is enough to strike anxiety and fear in an individual.

Many men do not see sexual harassment as a threat, but rather a flattery, which can explain why they lack empathy towards the women’s issues. The United States is a country where rape and sex-related violence occur in high numbers, so it’s quite easy to understand why women are so threatened by sexual harassment. Men may not comprehend how it feels to be on the receiving end of this treatment since they are typically the perpetrators. The majority of judges also happen to be male, explaining their insensitivity to cases claiming sexual harassment; they do not perceive these issues the same as women do (Abrams, 1989 p.202). If people would only put themselves in the shoes of women experiencing sexual harassment and have the slightest bit of empathy, women would feel like essential puzzle pieces in their work setting rather than unwanted.


Sexual harassment, pregnancy and motherhood discrimination, as well as the issue of unequal pay, are still pressing concerns for women. The United States has made leaps and bounds in order to achieve higher equality, but we still have a long way to go in order to make every individual feel as though they indeed have a role to fulfill in society. If women are to become economically and socially equal to men, women must continue their political efforts and movements. Women are ridiculed and harassed, lose their jobs for starting a family, and are not paid the same for the same work, even after decades of effort. This is just unacceptable and must be fixed by society through changing their views on sexual harassment, allowing pay transparency, and enacting paid maternity leave policies. These fixes may sound easy, but it may take a few decades to achieve complete equality, just as it has taken centuries to get where we are now.

Works Cited

Abrams, Kathryn. ""Gender discrimination and the transformation of workplace norms."" Vand. L. Rev., vol. 42:1183, 1 January 1989, pp. 1184-1248. ​Google Scholar,

Camus, Albert. ​The Myth of Sisyphus, and Other Essays. London: H. Hamilton, 1965. Print. Goldin, Claudia. ""Gender Gap."" ​The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, Library of Economics and Liberty, 2008. Web. 24 October 2017, 254-299

Miki, Malul, and Yuval, Fany. “Using education to reduce the wage gap between men and women.” ​The Journal of Socio-Economics, vol. 40, no. 4, Aug. 2011, pp. 412-436.  ​EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.socec.2011.04.006. Accessed 24 October 2017.

Miller, J. Howard. ​We Can Do It!. 1942. The National Museum of American History, Washington, DC. ​The National Museum of American History,​.

National Organization for Women. “The Gender Pay Gap – Myth vs. Fact” National Organization for Women, n.d. Web. 24 October 2017

Pollitt, Katha. ""Not Just Fox."" ​Nation, vol. 303, no. 9/10, 29 Aug. 2016, p. 6. ​EBSCOhost,

Rowen, Beth. “The Wage Gap: A History of Pay Inequity and the Equal Pay Act.” ​infoplease, 2017. 147-299

SALAM, REIHAN. ""Which Gender Gap?"" ​National Review, vol. 66, no. 1, 27 Jan. 2014, pp.  19-40. ​ EBSCOhost, Accessed 24 October 2017.

Sipe, Stephanie, et al. ""University Students' Perceptions of Gender Discrimination in the Workplace: Reality versus Fiction."" ​Journal of Education for Business, vol. 84, no. 6, Jul/Aug2009, pp. 319-359. ​EBSCOhost, Accessed 24 October 2017

Waldfogel, Jane. ""Understanding the"" family gap"" in pay for women with children."" ​The Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 12, no. 1, 1998, pp. 117-156.GoogleScholar,​.  Accessed 24 October 2017.

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