Despite over two decades of awareness of gender inequalities, gender issues remain prevalent throughout the world. Even in the developed countries such as the United States, the share of the women in the labor force is lower, and the rates of their unemployment are higher than for the males. Moreover, on average, women earn less than their male counterparts. In the emphasis, occupational sex segregation places women in jobs in which their pay may be less than that of men’s jobs. However, these jobs require the women to have similar education, skills, training, and responsibility with the males. In addition, the contributions of the women in non-labor markets tend to be undervalued. On the other hand, it seems that concerns of gender equality are not on the development agenda of political leaders. On this note, it is evident that, although the United States has significantly overcome the obstacles to economic development, eliminated widespread poverty, and mass illiteracy, gender issues still prevail in many areas.
The pay gap between the males and females is a major indication that gender issues is widespread in the American society. The article, “Pay gap growing between men and women working for LA County”, in Los Angeles Times by Abby Sewell provides a deeper insight into this issue. According to a state audit, the number of women working in the Los Angeles County makes up a 76 percent on average of their male counterparts. However, it is the disparities in wages noted in Orange, Fresno, and Santa Clara that is more intriguing. In the emphasis, on the national level, the median annual earnings for the females were 78.6 percent of men’s in 2014. In addition, a close observation showed that the pay gap between men and women was the trend in Los Angeles County. This disparity is possibly caused the high concentration of women in positions where the wages are low. Interestingly, although the females made up the majority of county workers working on a full-time basis, the men outnumbered them in positions where the average pay was more than $160,000. For example, in Los Angeles County, out of the 622 fire captains, only four of them are women. Secondly, women in the position of deputy sheriff in the Orange County are less than 10 percent. This shows that the number of women in well-paying positions is less than that of males.
In relation to compensation, the fire captains in Los Angeles made average annual earnings of $245,000 while the sheriff’s deputy earned more than $210,000 per year. This shows that the men are making more money than the women because they outnumber them in occupying prestigious positions. Notably, it is only in Santa Clara where hiring managers document the rationale they used for hiring process. It is also in this County where the female physicians outnumbered the males. It therefore means that the pay disparities will remain even if these women will receive pay increases based on the percentage of their original salary. There is no equality in compensation that will be realized as long as women continue to be hired at the lowest paying occupations than the men,
Gender roles are also a significant issue. Zinn (1978), traces the history of the women’s roles in the United States, and notes that the women were oppressed, especially from the colonial period to the Civil War. However, the African-Americans suffered than the ordinary Whites. For instance, the women from the Black communities were employed as domestic servants and their masters expected absolute obedience. This is a way to show that there are clear class divisions in the American societies. There are the elites, middle class, and lower classes. As a result, there are conflicts as the elites and the middle class fight to maintain their status, and the lower classes struggling to gain equality. For example, to maintain their power over the lower classes, the elites imposed oppressive laws particularly over the Blacks and Indians at the frontier. Therefore, the oppressed ones were forced to put up with the power and dominance of the elites.
During the colonial times, the Native American women were respected and some pursued professional careers. On the contrary, the European girls worked as servants and were treated badly. However, the women from the Black communities suffered severely. They were subjected to hard labor, some were sexually abused, and other was punished for speaking publicly against the racism as in the case of Anne Hutchinson. Moreover, despite the revolution that was marked by the efforts of women to gain equality, the legal system still treated women with inferiority. As a result, the desire for women to fight for equality spearheaded the emergence of feminist movements.
Feminism is the effort that advocate for the rights of the women in a way that will provide for equality. The feminist movements are significant in highlighting the plight of women under male domination. On the other hand, Hooks (1984), notes that issues of racism and social classes are closely related with western ideologies rather than biological differences. For instance, the western contexts have created institutions and social structures that support a top down type of domination. She notes that the rise of feminism is significant to end this kind of oppression. However, Hooks cautions that feminists should also realize that in the western society, not all men are equal. Therefore, although there is the need for equality for both sexes, the feminists should consider gender relations in terms of race, class, and sex. This means that the males should be involved in feminism movement, in order for their efforts to gain equality to be fruitful. In this way, the objectives of feminism will not be seen as being controlled by bourgeois women in the American society.
Feminism should be multidimensional to involve both genders to fight for equality. Therefore, rather than focusing on the victimization of women, it should create the understanding between the males and women that is significant in eliminating the patriarchal and capitalist ideologies. In this way, it will become easier to eliminate stereotypes in both public and private areas. For instance, the mainstream Americans will learn to listen to the ideas from the intellectuals who came from poor neighborhoods. Secondly, the feminism efforts will be important in bridging the literacy gaps between the elites and the populations in the lower end of the economic sphere.
Gender equality can only be achieved through a new understanding of race, gender, class, and nationality. On the one hand, has noted that male domination is harmful to the well-being of the women. It violates their right to be treated with respect and dignity. For instance, as long as the males are taught to believe that they are superior to the females, the women will be forced to put up with their oppressive acts. Consequently, although the women will become vulnerable, they demonstrate some acts of tenderness despite the oppression and dominance. In other words, the women will lack the courage to challenge and fight against masculinity; the males will continue being the oppressor.
There is the need to change the current cultural masculinity to achieve gender equality. It is the reality that people come from different races and classes. However, these facts should not be used as factors to determine the positions that the males and women will occupy in the society. For instance, the belief in white supremacy is creating an ignorance that makes people from other races such as the Blacks and Latinos to realize their full potential. Therefore, there is the need to understand and integrate different cultures to restore the dignity and respect that has been lost due to prejudices against the people of color.
Gender inequalities in the United States should be eliminated particularly in the compensation systems. The film, “Bread and Roses, shows how racism is rampant in most of the industrial sectors in the United States. For instance, there are a significant number of immigrant workers who are not insured: these are workers who do not even earn the minimum wage as required by the law. Furthermore, in addition to the poor wages, these workers are not entitled to any benefits, and fired without justifiable reasons. As a consequence of oppressive working conditions and unequal pay, the workers stage protests against their employers. On this note, it is clear that the issues of compensations are a major factor that depicts the widespread of inequalities in the American society.
In conclusion, there are gender issues that are significant in this era. These are issues such as male dominance, unequal pay, and disparities in the number of the men and women in the labor markets. In the emphasis, although the number of the females working on full-time basis is higher the males, their average earnings are much lower. Most of the women are not occupying prestigious positions like their males counterparts. Secondly, inequalities in the wages systems are also seen in the manner that the Whites and the people of color are compensated. While most of the Whites are entitled to various benefits, the immigrants are not insured, are paid poor wages, and are subjected to poor working conditions. As a consequence, feminism movements and industrial actions are increasing to fight for equality in political, economic, and social spheres.