Women with the same education, knowledge and experience are paid far less than their male counterparts for the same position. Women have traditionally chosen careers such as school teachers, librarians, and secretaries. These are just some examples and are by no means an exhaustive list. As a result, we have seen the emergence of two labor markets. This is defined as “occupational sex segregation, one labor market for men and a completely different labor market for women. This has resulted in pay disparity between men and women. Women must be willing to obtain training in the “hard sciences” such mathematics, physics, and engineering in order to break this cycle of disparity.
Historically, women have not pursued advanced degrees due to the time constraints associated with raising a family and maintaining a household. Men were the breadwinners and women stayed home to take care of the children, cook, and clean. This Neanderthal practice is still prevalent in the United States. One of the reasons that this practice is still in place is the high cost of child daycare. This results in one of the parents (usually the mother) having to postpone pursuing a career until after the children are grown and out of the house. Another reason is that in order for women to secure a job with a high salary, they must have a college degree. Since the women had to stay home and take care of the children, they did not have the time or the opportunity to earn a degree.
As stated earlier in this paper, women have not been able to pursue their education do to family obligations. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. More and more women that have finished raising their children are going back to school. Most are entering college for the very first time; some are picking up where they left off before they were married. Sadly, some of the women who have worked so hard for their degrees are being offered much lower salaries than their male counterparts. Thus the cycle of occupational sex segregation remains unbroken. This should not discourage women from negotiating a higher salary because women are becoming more and more prevalent in the corporate world. With the old boys' network, the glass-ceiling barrier, and work-life balance issues to contend with, women are finding it difficult to succeed in well-established corporations.
As a result, there is rapid growth of women going into business for themselves by becoming entrepreneurs. [ CITATION Coh10 \l 1033 ] Most women feel that by starting their own businesses, it enables them to create their own rules, create opportunities for other women, have more flexibility, and gain the empowerment they deserve. This eliminates the pay disparity issue because business owners set their own salary.
Women are more likely than men to hire a woman and pay her a fair wage. Now women are overcoming obstacles and blossoming into successful entrepreneurs at increasing rates with a positive impact on the United States economy. This venture into entrepreneurship is not without its challenges. However, it is a partial solution to pay disparity and occupational sex segregation.
Perhaps it would clarify the concept of occupational segregation with an example from everyday life. In the past, most management positions were held by men and the majority of women held administrative and secretarial positions. This is an example of a dual labor force. [ CITATION McT09 \l 1033 ]. This is a direct result of the inability of women to obtain a college degree due to domestic and family obligations.
Another example would be a wife that stays at home while the husband attends medical or law school. Unless the wife already has her college degree when she enters the marriage, she may find that the years of effort required are discouraging. The consequences of this could be the inability of the woman to achieve her dreams of landing a great job or starting a new career. Unfortunately, this is often the case and the cycle of occupational sex segregation remains unbroken.
Fortunately, pertinent legislation has been enacted to address occupational sex segregation in the United States. The Lilly Ledbetter Act was passed by Congress in 2009. The Act guarantees women equal pay for the same work as their male counterparts. The Act increased the statute of limitations from 180 days to file an equal pay lawsuit up to the renewal of each paycheck. [ CITATION Lar10 \l 1033 ] The Act has had a significant impact on businesswomen. The Lilly Ledbetter Act followed on the heels of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
This pay equity act will have a significant impact on women in the corporate world. Women would be able to attain jobs with the same pay as men. This will allow women to move forward from the days when they could not even vote. The Act may enable women who would otherwise not be afforded the opportunity, to receive the pay that they deserve in order to advance in the corporate world. It could create opportunities for more women to enter male dominated professions such as law, medicine, and engineering.
The Lilly Ledbetter Act will not eliminate occupational sex discrimination. Instead, women must be willing to enter college degree programs that are traditionally pursued by their male counterparts. Women must spend more time studying mathematics, natural science, computer science, chemistry, physics and so forth. This is a tall order but it is the only way to begin to break the cycle of occupational sex discrimination.
In conclusion, occupational sex discrimination results in a pay inequity between women and men. The fact that men are more oriented toward the “hard sciences” provides them with the opportunity to earn a higher wage as compared to women who generally gravitate toward the social sciences such as �English, teaching, and liberal arts. Women who have had to be stay-at-home moms need to consider entering college to earn their degree, increasing their chance to earn an income comparable to their male counterparts. The Lilly Ledbetter Act addresses pay inequity and is a first step towards breaking the cycle of occupational sex discrimination. However, it is only the first step and women need to take it upon themselves to petition for their equality in the workplace.
Cohoon, J. (2010). Are successful women entrepreneurs different that men?
Larson, L. (2010). Preliminary Procedures. Employment Discrimination , 8.
McTague, T. (2009). An organizational approach to understanding sex and race segregation in US workplaces. Social Forces , 1499-1527.