Women are considered a minority group because they do not share the same power, privileges, rights, and opportunities as men.
Women are not a statistical minority, as, in most societies, they are roughly equal in number to men, but they do qualify as a minority group because they tend to have less power and fewer privileges than men. Underlying this unequal treatment of women is sexism, which is discrimination, based on sex, in the context of a patriarchal society, discrimination against women in particular. Discrimination against women is evident in a number of different spheres of society, whether political, legal, economic, or familial. It must, however, be noted that the issue is rarely as simple as that of men versus women. Societies today are home to a variety of different classes, ethnicities, races, and nationalities and some groups of women may enjoy a higher status and more power relative to select groups of men, depending on factors, such as what racial and ethnic groups they are associated with.
It should be noted that gender discrimination also ties in with race and class discrimination, a concept known as “intersectionality,” first named by feminist sociologist Kimberlé Crenshaw. For example, the intersectionality of race and gender has been shown to have a visible impact on the labor market. “Sociological research clearly shows that accounting for education, experience, and skill does not fully explain significant differences in labor market outcomes.” The three main domains on which we see the impact of intersectionality are wages, discrimination, and domestic labor. Most studies have shown that people who fall into the bottom of the social hierarchy in terms of race or gender are more likely to receive lower wages, to be subjected to stereotypes and discriminated against, or be hired for exploitive domestic positions.
Women’s rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies. In some places, these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behavior, whereas, in others, they may be ignored or suppressed. They differ from broader notions of human rights through claims of an inherent historical and traditional bias against the exercise of rights by women and girls in favor of men and boys.
Issues commonly associated with notions of women’s rights include, though are not limited to, the rights to bodily integrity and autonomy; vote (suffrage); hold public office; work; fair wages or equal pay; own property; be educated; serve in the military or be conscripted; enter into legal contracts; and to have marital, parental, and religious rights.
Women in the Workplace
While women are succeeding in a number of professions, they continue to face significant barriers to entry and participation.
Historically, the division of labor has been organized along gender lines. Gender roles – a set of social and behavioral norms about what is considered appropriate for either a man or woman in a social or interpersonal relationship – have affected the specialization of work in both agricultural and industrial societies.
Access to Education and Training
A number of occupations became “professionalized” through the 19th and 20th centuries, gaining regulatory bodies and requiring particular higher educational requirements. As women’s access to higher education was often limited, this effectively restricted women’s participation in these professionalizing occupations. For instance, women were completely forbidden access to Cambridge University until 1868 and were encumbered with a variety of restrictions until 1987 when the university adopted an equal opportunity policy. Numerous other institutions in the United States and Western Europe began opening their doors to women over the same period of time, but access to higher education remains a significant barrier to women’s full participation in the workforce. Even where access to higher education is formally available, women’s access to the full range of occupational choices can be limited.
Access to Capital
Women’s access to occupations requiring capital outlays is also hindered by their unequal access (statistically) to capital; this affects individuals who want to pursue careers as entrepreneurs, farm owners, and investors. Numerous micro-loan programs attempt to redress this imbalance, targeting women for loans or grants to establish start-up businesses or farms. For example, while research has shown that women cultivate more than half the world’s food, most of the work is family subsistence labor, with family property often legally owned by men in the family.
Other social and structural factors
Through a process known as “employee clustering,” employees tend to be grouped both spatially and socially with those of a similar status job. Women are no exception and tend to be grouped with other women making comparable amounts of money. They compare wages with women around them and believe their salaries are fair because they are average. Some women may be unaware of just how vast the inequality is.
Inequalities of Work
Women are frequently treated unequally at work, often through sexual harassment and/or wage discrimination.
Despite flooding the workplace since the 1970s and 1980s, women still face many institutional challenges to equality in the workplace. The most obvious and publicly condemned example of inequality in the workplace is the prevalence of occupational sexism, or any discriminatory practice, statement, or action based on a person’s sex that occurs in a place of employment. One typical manifestation of occupational sexism is sexual harassment–-the intimidation, bullying, teasing, or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors. Sexual harassment may be a particular offer extended to an individual (i.e., a promotion in return for sexual rewards) or the general atmosphere created within a workplace. If a workplace engenders an environment that is hostile to women, that workplace is in violation of employment law that bans sexual harassment. However, sexual harassment is not synonymous with workplace inequality. Legally, sexual harassment can be directed by one person of either gender towards another person of either gender. However, inequalities in the workplace typically refer to institutional barriers placed in the way of professional success for women.
Beyond sexual harassment, the most obvious instance of inequality in the workplace is wage discrimination. Frequently referred to as the gender pay gap, this phenomenon observes that women are consistently paid less for performing the same tasks as men. While the exact figure varies in response to a variety of factors, there is little debate that women earn less than men. Women are estimated to earn 76% of what men earn for the same work. In other words, women make 76 cents for every dollar men earn for performing the same task. Part of the pay gap can be attributed to the fact that, more often than men, women tend to engage in part-type work or work in lower-paid industries. This explanation of the pay gap invokes the notion of the pink-collar worker. A “pink-collar worker” is a term for designating the types of jobs in the service industry that are considered to be stereotypically female, such as working as a waitress, nurse, teacher, or secretary. The term attempts to distinguish this type of work from blue-collar and white-collar work. However, not even this acknowledgment explains the entirety of the wage gap, for even women working full time in higher-paid industries, earn less than their male colleagues.
Voting Rights for Women
Before 1920, women did not have a national right to vote in the United States. Women’s suffrage, the movement to achieve the female vote, was won gradually at state and local levels during the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, which provided.
Sexual Harassment is a intimidation, Bullying, teasing or coercion of a Sexual Nature, The person intimidating a victim about his or her sexuality could be male or female; men and women can both be perpetrators of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment does not have to be only of a sexual nature; indeed, sexual harassment includes unwelcome and offensive comments about a person’s gender. Regardless of whether the content of the sexual harassment is about sex or gender, both victim and harasser can be either male or female and the victim and the harasser can be the same gender.
Though broad, the legal definition of sexual harassment does not include every injurious statement pertaining to sex or gender. The law does not prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious. Sexual harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in adverse employment, such as the victim being fired or demoted. Rather than being a component of criminal law, sexual harassment is typically adjudicated as an issue of employment law. As one might guess, most of these cases turn on whether or not the offensive comment was “serious” or “offhand.” It is the law’s job to decide if a comment that the victim clearly found serious and offhand is considered so legally.
Edited by Ankita Jha