Over the past 100 years there has been a great deal of change in the world of work due to the industrial revolution. However there is considerable research to support the idea that although the industry has had all this change and development, the labour market is still very much gendered. The purpose of this essay is to investigate whether egalitarianism exists between men and women in terms of type of work and pay. It also looks historically at the development of working opportunities in relation to gender aspects and discrimination within the workplace.

Much research suggests that there is still a major gender inequality in the workplace. Rees (1991) carried out research and showed that “women comprised of between 60-70% of all teachers” This shows how women have gained acknowledgement and empowerment in certain professional sectors, however it goes on to find “only 16% of secondary school heads in 1983 were women”. (Taylor, P et al. , (1995) P135). This can also be closely linked to Griffins research on office workers who further supports these findings stating that the majority of secretaries/office workers are women however “only 14% of office managers are women” (Taylor, P et al. (1995) P135). P137).

This research shows that the women to men ratio in the office environment is increasing however “women workers are overwhelmingly to be found in work settings of a routinised kind, and at the bottom of the hierarchy of authority in office and with few of the career opportunities open to men. ” (Giddens, A. (1986) P122) Therefore this cannot be interpreted as involving a significant move towards greater sexual equality within the productive system. There is a similar pattern with office managers to that of secondary school heads.

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Presenting us with assumptions that although men and women may begin in a similar employment pool, female promotion aspects are lower and the higher powered jobs are mainly taken by men, and consequently the women remain ‘under’ the men. This indicates that it is easier for men to be promoted and to move up the employment ladder due to their gender. Stewart et al (1980) cited clerical workers and addressed the question ‘do occupations have the same meaning for men and women? He found that “male clerks often see their present position as a stepping stone to management, whereas female clerks are much less likely to entertain ambitions of promotion. ” (Taylor, P et al. , (1995) P142)

This demonstrates how although men and women are located in similar sorts of industries and occupations the labour market is still very much gendered. Not only are women discriminated within what type of jobs they have but in some cases they are also manipulated, discriminated and taken advantage of once in their line of work. US students revealed that 17% of women at work were victims of rape or attempted rape. ” This is a very disturbing figure and clearly leads us to believe that many men take advantage of their positions and believe that they are above the women in their workplace, consequently imvbalancing the gender equality. Many male managers have female secretaries as “status symbols and decorative sex objects”. Therefore it is not their work which is being recognised but their physical appeal which leads to employment which is also unfair.

However some progress is visible within the system “since the 1980’s British women have been awarded damages by industrial tribunals when sexual harassment has forced women to resign” (Hall, D. et al. , (1993) P222) This demonstrates how sexual harassment is slowly being recognised, nevertheless is far form being resolved. According to EOC (1991) “women are under-represented in the primary sector and in the construction industry, transport and manufacturing (with certain exceptions such as clothing, textiles and food processing).

They are over represented in distribution, hotels and catering, in banking, finance and insurance and in other services (education, health and the public sector. )” Barron and Norris, (1976) suggested a dual labour market which supports the above findings where “men are concentrated in the primary sector (skilled labour, high job security, good pay and promotion prospects) while women are mainly confined to the secondary sector (opposite characteristics).

Barron and Norris claim that the primary sector emerges because employees need to provide superior conditions to attract and retain skilled workers. ” (Taylor, P et al. , (1995) P135). This evokes immense discrimination almost an ‘all boys club’ network however the model is rather weak in explaining why it is women who come to fill the positions in the secondary sector. Not only are men and women imbalanced in categories of work but also in pay. Average gross weekly earnings in the UK portray that in all lines of work represented on the survey men are paid more than women. Men in management earn more than i??200 per week more than women and i??100 per week more in sales and secretarial work” (source: New earnings survey, 1995 cited in Grint, K. (2001) P206).

Here it is clear that in most cases “women are paid less, have less chance of promotion, are usually found in unskilled or semi-skilled service jobs, and tend to combine paid work with domestic work. ” (Grint, K. (2001) P224) History may also play a major role in why today women and men are unequal in terms of work and pay. In Britain in 1911 “the majority of working women were employed in domestic or other personal service occupations.

More than 33% of gainfully employed women were servants; 16% were engaged in garment making, many of whom worked at home; some 20% worked in the textile industry. ” (Giddens, A. (1986) P122) These statistics demonstrate rather clearly that the employment opportunities for women during the period of expansion of industrial capitalism were concentrated in sectors close to traditional tasks which women had carried out. This could also be a reason why women today still do these jobs due to the making of gender identities during the period of industrialisation.

These jobs may also be mainly being dominated by women because “men (and the state) still expect women to shoulder the main burden of child care and domestic responsibility and therefore they may not have enough time and energy for a more demanding job. ” (Taylor, P et al. , (1995) P136) These domestic responsibilities may have forced women to take a job at a lower level than they would have otherwise achieved. Therefore these expectations have also reduced women’s opportunities to obtain satisfactory employment compared to men and is another aspect in why women succumb to such roles.

However it must be remembered that on the whole women “carry much more domestic and childcare responsibilities” compared to men. This may be why “women are more likely than men to be employed in temporary or casual work. In the early 1990’s women made up 63% of the temporary workforce (Oppenheim, 1993 cited in Taylor, P et al. , (1995) P135). ” Taking into account most women’s childcare and domestic responsibilities outside of work it is understandable why women represent a larger proportion of temporary and casual work. Unfortunately, temporary and casual work tends to be lower paid and have less a status attached to it.

However Pollerts (1981) work reveals how women find security within their poorly paid jobs in part because their income level does not threaten their male partners’ egos and therefore in many cases do not mind their wages to be seen as auxiliary rather than primary in order to keep the male content. However it is not fair to say that what type of job you obtain is determined just by your gender and history. Experience, achievements and qualifications of an individual are all major aspects of determining ones type of employment. Research has shown that girls are more likely to specialise in arts subjects rather than more technical, mathematical and scientific subjects compared to boys.

These aspects must be taken into account as this can be a handicap for females wanting high paid and prestigious jobs. ” (Taylor, P et al. , (1995) P136) Therefore even if in some types of work it may seem gendered, if women are not aptly qualified then this is the reason for dominance of men in particular types of jobs, not because of discrimination, and vice versa with women.

Weber’s ideas of the existence of patriarchal domination as ‘normal’ in the light of the normal superiority of the physical and intellectual energies of the male can also be linked to this. He, like many others believed males were ‘above’ females. However, it is now coming to light that women are taking more ‘manly subjects’ and numerous believe women have higher educational attainment, which goes against the above idea and that women have a greater ability to work in teams and are more supportive towards colleagues.

Crompton and Sanderson believe “recent trends in education are helping breakdown occupational segregation for a growing number of women” (Taylor, P et al. , (1995) P135) and therefore discrimination may become less apparent in years to come. As a general consensus it should be up to the individual what line of work they want to take and as long as they are aptly qualified and willing then there should be no problems.

It has become evident that horizontal segregation (refers to the way men and women are located in different sorts of industries and occupations) has been declining this century, however this often takes the form of the men entering women’s traditional fields (e. g. nursing) rather than vice versa. ” (Taylor, P et al. , (1995) P135) Therefore in most cases men and women can both do the same jobs however there are a few exceptions for example reasons such as physical strength. Another example would be that many view women soldiers are viewed as problematic.

This is because mans instinct is to protect women and children. If women were on the front line then they may try and help the woman if in trouble instead of fighting against the enemy. Another example would be midwives because of the nature of the job. However “there is some evidence that “Crompton and Sanderson (1990) predict that the occupational profiles of males and females will increasingly converge” (Taylor, P et al. , (1995) P135) and consequently gender barriers will be broken. Women are a certain group of individuals in society and in work that are arguably discriminated against.

Many believe women should not work because their place is in the home or with children and that women don’t want to take too much responsibility at work because of home commitments. Radical feminist Firestone (1974) believes that women’s subordinate position is directly related to the biological differences between men and women, and, more specifically, to the debilitating consequences for women of sexual reproduction in its various facets: childbirth, pregnancy, breastfeeding, child care and menstruation.

This is why women have taken on a more submissive role in work and participate in domestic and ‘woman like’ employment. Adopting Marx’s base superstructure schema she asserts that reproduction is the base from which everything else follows: hence, again like Marx, she denies the value of tinkering with the superstructure while the reproductive system remains untouched. Radical feminists such as Firestone believe that only by constructing a reproductive system that does not depend on women can patriarchal power be broken. It is then, to artificial reproduction that women must look for liberation. (Grint, K. 2001) P196) Firestone believes that until the artificial reproduction system can be broken down nothing will change and we will remain to be unequal.

It must be broken down for women’s liberation and gender equality. Future trends will see a growth in women’s employment opportunities. More women are gaining qualifications and are taking advantage of changes in work practise and demographic trends. “Marx was wrong in assuming that history was on the side of the proletariat, history is far more contingently constructed than this; but historically rare opportunities for the advancement of women at work are beginning to appear. (Grint, K. (2001) P224) Supporting the idea that women’s employment prospects are increasing. This essay has looked upon how gender effects ones’ type of employment and how far you can climb. It has taken into account theorists in order to fully comprehend the labour market division between men and women. From all of the research in this essay it is shown that the labour market is gendered in terms of what type of employment and the pay one receives.

It also highlights that there is still discrimination towards women in the workplace and the fact that we may have learned our roles from when women began to work during the industrialisation. It is unfair to say that the labour market is completely gendered although research still suggests that in some places this is still the case. However, times are changing. Paternity rights are being introduced, domestic husbands are becoming more apparent and females are becoming much more well qualified. With all of these aspects taken into account we should in theory, become a lot less gendered labour market.


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