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African American Women In The Workplace: The Interwoven Effects Of Gender & Race Discrimination

3175 words - 13 pages


In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was enacted to do away with much of the conspicuous discrimination that was going on in the American workplace. Despite this, discrimination in the workplace continues albeit in a more covert manner, making it very hard to diagnose and prescribe a solution. The 1964 Civil Rights Act was enacted to remove any form of discrimination against any persons because of their race, religion, sex, or national origin. In 1967, it was made illegal for employers to discriminate because of age and in 1990, Congress said employers could not discriminate because of ones disability. African Americans have suffered from workplace discrimination far more than any other demographic in the workforce; this can be attributed to negative socially constructed stereotypes that are deeply rooted in American ideology.

Women have experienced much progress as a result of these government-enacted regulations; however, the majority of women are continually forced into professions that are typically recognized as female dominated professions. Furthermore, women across the board, no matter what sector of the job market they are in, are paid less than their male counterparts. More often than not, women are passed over for promotions and are not even considered for positions of prestige and power. Pregnant women time and time again are disregarded in the hiring process because of false preconceived notions about their skills and ability to perform in the workplace. Employers are for the most part intolerant and contemptuous of women with responsibilities to their family, ignoring any past or current achievements of the intelligent hard working female they are quick to dismiss. Women in America have come a long way from the days of Susan B. Anthony fighting for women’s suffrage, but still they struggle to be looked at as equals by not only their male counterparts but also their government that repeatedly proves itself to be ignorant of the gender biased society that we live in (Kalev, Kelly & Dobbin).

It has been established and generally recognized that African Americans face racial bias in the workplace and that women face occupational disadvantages when compared to men. So, when talking about the plight of the African American female in the workplace it is important to recognize the duality of the discrimination they face in the workplace. African American women face occupational disadvantage based on their gender and on top of that, occupational disadvantage based on their race. When juxtaposed with their Caucasian counterparts, the unemployment rate for African American women is 14.1% and a mere 7.5% for white women. One study done by McGuire and Reskin in 1993 revealed that African American women were not treated the same for their skill sets when it came to the amount of power they held in their positions and wages they earned when compared to African American men, White women, or White men.
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