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Black People Essay

1801 words - 7 pages

Familiar to almost every individual in this country is the passage in the Declaration of Independence that states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” (Jefferson par. 2). This statement would seem imply that all people, regardless of creed, gender, race or ethnicity, have equal access to advancement in all facets of life. However, despite this concepts’ status as a foundational American ideal, complete equality among all groups of people has never been a reality in this country. Instead, different categories of people are ranked into a hierarchy and maintain various degrees of wealth, power, and prestige, often as a result of prejudice and discrimination. An area where this stratification is extremely pronounced is the difference in opportunities for women relative to those of men. Since the conception of this nation, women have been the subordinates of men. For many years, women were denied basic freedoms, such as the right to vote and own property, and they are still currently denied the right to make some decisions regarding their own bodies. In today’s society, it is widely recognized that men control more wealth, have greater opportunity for advancement, hold more powerful positions, and are more respected than women. In this paper, I will explore several aspects of inequality that contribute to gender stratification.
In the past century, the number of women in the labor force has increased dramatically. In 2009, “[w]omen comprised 46.8 percent of the total U.S. labor force (Quick). This stands in stark contrast to the number of women in the labor force in previous years. However, women are still disproportionately represented in many occupations, such as secretaries, administrative assistants, and elementary and middle-school teachers. These jobs tend to have modest salaries and are not held in high regard. Men, on the other hand, control high-paying and highly respected occupations, such as doctors, lawyers, and heads of major corporations. According to Baunach, “[t]he differences between ‘female’ and ‘male’ occupations have great potential in explaining labor force gender inequality (93). He argues that “[f]emale jobs pay less; in addition, their promotion opportunities, benefits, [and] job tenure… are depressed” (93). The fact that women are so disadvantaged in the labor force may discourage women from joining it in the future, a result that may negatively impact the future productivity and competitiveness of the United States. It is likely, however, that cultural stereotypes and how American women are socialized accounts for a significant portion of this disparity; nonetheless, sex segregation is wasting human potential by not allowing half of the U.S. population to have an equal opportunity to contribute in many occupational fields.
Also concerning women in the workforce is the theoretical glass ceiling, a subtle barrier based on gender that suppresses the advancement of women in corporate...

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