Attitudes about gender equality are increasingly liberal today considering that women in the United States did not have the same rights as men, including the same rights to quality education, voting rights, and legal rights (Mooney, Know, & Schacht, 2014, p. 313). Although a lot of gender inequality issues in the United States have been resolved, women still have lower incomes than men, and they are also less likely to hold prestigious positions associated with high social statuses such as top management positions. Enhancing gender equality in the labor market is essential for improving the socioeconomic status of women, as well as the functionality of the family as an important social institution.
Women are more likely to live in poverty than men because of possible discriminations in the labor market, and the discrimination against them can also affect their well-being. The 1963 Equal Pay Act and the 1964 Civil Rights Act defined workplace discrimination as an illegal act, but discrimination still occurs at both institutional and individual levels of society (Mooney et al., 2014, p. 325). Some examples of gender inequality practices at the institutional level include job screening instruments designed for men or the use of different job titles to justify differences in pay. On the individual level, one of the most common types of discrimination against women is sexual harassment at the workplace.
Increasing gender equality in the workplace is also critical for improving the social institution of family. In the traditional family, structural-functionalist perspective proponents consider contemporary gender inequality as the consequence of labor division based on gender during the preindustrial society (Mooney et al., 2014, p. 314). Women used to stay at home because they were required to bear, nurse, and care for children, whereas men worked outside of the home so that they could provide for their families. However, the differences in labor division persisted after the industrialization, which eliminated the need for women to stay at home and for men to work at physically demanding jobs that were not suited for women. Therefore, the involvement of women in the workforce and equal treatment of women in workplaces requires changes in the family institution, which should make the transition from a hierarchical authority to a group with an egalitarian structure.
Gender inequality also reflects on the political institution of society because the lack of money is one of the main reasons why women, especially minority women, do not run for high office positions (Mooney et al., 2014, p. 324). Even when female candidates run for higher office positions, they are often discriminated against. For example, voters are more likely to vote for men with children than women within children, and they are also more likely to vote for women without children than for women with children (Mooney et al., 2014, p. 325). Based on these decisions, it is possible to notice that women are an underrepresented group in politics and will remain underrepresented in politics as long as they do not have the financial resources that are comparable to men’s resources.
Promoting gender equality in the workplace is not just a method for satisfying human rights and dignity, but it is also a necessity for improving the well-being of women, families, and society as a whole. Women are currently at a disadvantage in terms of equality on the labor market, so they are more likely to have financial problems, low socioeconomic status, and experience more physical or psychological distress in the workplace than men. However, the involvement of women in the labor market and should positively reflect on society as the prevalence of discrimination based on gender decreases. With equal pay and opportunities women will be able to participate in all social institutions and all levels of society, which is important for removing segregations and the future development of social institutions.
Mooney, L. A., Know, D., & Schacht, C. (2014). Understanding social problems (9th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.