The Difference Your Gender Can Make

“Gender often operates through the unquestioned acceptance of power.” (Keeber, year, p.14) Do we recognize the inequality that exists around us? As a woman, with plans to be successful in my future career, I intend to work just as hard as anyone else to become good at what I do, and be at the top of my field. However, because I am a women, I do not want to have to fight for that aspiration even harder to end up losing a higher position to a man on the basis of gender, and not because he put in as much effort as I did. Many companies and organizations create a glass ceiling effect, where perfectly capable women are unable to advance into “higher” positions because of the sexist bias towards their gender (Aulette and Wittner, 2009, p.187). This issue has been addressed, and despite all the efforts towards creating gender equity– it is estimated by the World Economic Forum, that it will be at least 80 years before the gender gap closes (2014).

A Young Democrats Society, from a high school in Utah, put on a bake sale exposing the reality of gender inequality. By selling baked goods at the rate of one dollar for the boys, and seventy-seven cents for the girls, the coordinators caused controversy due to the explicit inequality in prices. Kari Schott, one of the students who contributed to the “operation” of the bake sale reports:
“On social media, on Facebook, people got really mad, like they came up and
talked to me. They were really mad about it. They didn’t think it was fair and
I said yeah, it’s not fair. That’s why we’re doing it.” (Good4Utah, 2015 )

Personally, I think this is fantastic. I believe that generating feelings and responses to the issue of gender inequality to a younger generation, who have yet to encounter the career world, can develop an understanding of the inequalities before this generation experiences it first hand, and may make a difference in their future careers.

How did we get to this point? History shows that throughout time, changes in what constitutes appropriate behavior for both genders in society have happened: “Sociologists believe that gender segregation of jobs is the most important reason wages are so different for men and women.” (Aulette and Wittner, 2009 p.193). So, the idea that we have tasks specifically delegated to people based on gender (ie. “men’s work” and “women’s work”) supports the segregation between genders, and doesn’t consider the capabilities of the individual regardless of their sex. We’ve studied the politics behind the gender gap, and the issue of men not wanting to “demote” their power to a woman. Is this a psychological change, as their work would then be considered “women’s work”?

Throughout time we have seen different societal rules and norms established. For example, women “belonging” in the home, has transformed into a scenario that allows them to work, but at a fraction of the success of their male counterparts, as discussed previously. The writing of these societal “rules” is an important aspect of understanding the gender gap in the workplace. At one point it is thought that through capitalism, white men created our government system, they wrote our regulations, and were held as superiors in our country (Aulette and Wittner, 2009 p. 192 &196). They began writing our rules. When women began working, men struggled with political issues, because they were no longer the breadwinners. Men seemed to be losing their power. The rule was implanted that men would make a family wage (Aulette and Wittner, 2009, p.196). Personally I believe this is where the issue of gender inequity began; men’s work was / still is more valued than women’s work because of the history that its “importance” (or understanding thereof) is steeped and woven deeply into.

So what how do we as women go about fixing it? We just keep presenting the issue to people, like the students at Jordan High School in Utah. That is why I commend their action; it is an example of people creating the basis of new ideas for future change. History is important for the creation of rules, yes, and so it is time that we start weaving new emphasis on gender equality into the fabric of our future.

Literature Cited:

Aulette, Judy Root, and Judith G. Winter. “Gender and the Global Economy.” Gendered Worlds. Third ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2009. 178-198. Print.

“Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School.” Good4Utah. 2015

Keeber, Naila. “Gender Equality, and Women’s Empowerment: a critical analysis of the third millennium development goal 1.” Gender & Development. 2005. vol.5.iss.1

“Part 1: The Global Gender Gap and Its Implications.” The Global Gender Gap Report 2014. Cologny: World Economic Forum, 2014. Print.

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3 Comments

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  1. I thought the glass ceiling effect was an interesting concept because there are so many rules and regulations to prevent this from happening now, but it is still a very real issue. It was good that the bake sale sparked some controversy; however, it was odd to see that some of the people in the school said the girls were disinterested in getting into a debate on the topic. I think if they want to create awareness, they should be open for discussion with everyone.

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  2. I think this bake sale demonstrated many peoples hatred and confusion around feminists. Many men believe that all feminists are radical feminists who believe that they are more important than men. Feminism fights for the equality of genders, not one over the other as this social experiment showed. I understand the argument these coordinators made, and this happens behind closed doors all the time, but I simply don’t agree the way it was carried out. My mother is the CFO of a large government corporation, and this means that her salary is printed in the newspaper. She has gotten many letters with death threats and dehumanizing remarks about her looks over how high her salary is. Though she has crashed through this “class ceiling”, she is still harassed which disturbs me to no end. A very good analysis was made here.

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  3. I’d have to agree with Baby Spice aswell. I also covered this story, and looked into similar bake sales conducted at schools across the country. The awareness they are trying to raise is commendable, however many of these bake sales were shut down for the simple reason that outright discrimination towards any gender for any reason is illegal. Unfortunately it is enforced far more in schools than it is in the work place.

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