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In the world today, great divides exist based on race, wealth, gender, religion, education and class (Epstein, 2006 p. 1). According to Epstein, gender is the most basic and dominant category in human social life. Epstein further believes that gender divide is the most pronounced in the 21st century.
The gender issue gets complex when one is trying to look at it in an individual basis. Some women’s statuses are determined by their backgrounds and in a number of cases may do better educationally and financially than most women. This more often than not is determined by race nationality or class (Epstein, 2006 p.3). However, when women are looked at as a bloc, they fare badly compared to their male counterparts.
Historically, many societies in the world have relegated women to the periphery. Women are not given a say in any decisions in the society even those that affect them directly. This marginalization has created conflicts and inequalities that promote human suffering (Epstein, 2006 p. 1).
Gender inequality has manifested itself in the different levels of society that many scholars worry its entrenchment has almost become permanent. Chauvinistic tendencies exhibited by residents of these particular territories have promoted gender inequalities and the most saddening trend is the apparent acceptance of women of gender inequality as a reality.
The United States is one such country that though endowed with huge resources and having some of the world’s strongest and most effective justice systems, continues to exhibit gender inequality to the highest echelons. Of more importance in the enhancement of gender inequality is the role of the media. According to Brasted, gender stereotyping is entrenched inn the media that it has also found its way to children’s programs and advertisements (2010, p. 1).
The root cause of all the gender inequalities can be attributed to the control of resources or the end result of owning and controlling such resources-money (Sosteric, 2010, p. 1). He adds that money is at the root of all the gender disparities that exits in the world today. Therefore in a country like the US where money means survival, lack of it means one is technically inferior in every sense. Women who cannot earn enough income hence lack enough money to carry out their activities find themselves at the bottom of the gender divide.
Social dimension of gender inequality
The fact that people of all generations and backgrounds have convinced themselves that, boys are better than girls (Socteric, 2010, par 4). For instance, in china there is a high abortion rate of girls compared to boys. In an effort to conform to the one child policy, couples abort female children in favor of the males.
There happens to be stereotyping for instance in the US society where boys are brought up to think they are the ones to play with trains while girls play with dolls. Boys too are socialized to behave as the stronger sex, while girls should behave as the weaker sex, boys are taught to behave like breadwinners while girls internalize themselves as nurturers (Sosteric, 2010 par 4). Such kind thinking reinforces stereotype thinking and makes the justification for gender inequality, exclusion and oppression.
The inequalities continue to adulthood where women who are naturally disadvantaged because of giving birth are expected to make sacrifices that derail their development through out their life and hinder their full participation in development.
Women take more than five years off their work to raise children and after it is done they suffer broken marriages leaving them vulnerable and almost with footing in life (Sosteric, 2010 par. 5). Women too suffer from violence and abuse more often than men. Sosteric concludes that all women therefore are born with a social as well as an economic handicap which becomes more pronounced as they grow.
Situation in the US
Despite it being the strongest in economic terms, the United States is still fairs poorly in gender terms. In the gender gap, the World Economic Forum ranks the country as 31, far below its peers who posses the same economic might that it has.
Though it’s very different from the way it was in 1964 when the civil rights act that outlawed all forms of discrimination including that based on sex, a close examination of inequality in the United States reveals stark reminders that the country is not as equitable as it should be (Gaddis, 2007 p. 1).
Gender inequality has manifested itself in employment, education and political empowerment. According to Gaddis, females have made considerable progress in the 21st century especially in education but in other areas such as income and political representation, they still lag behind.
The gender gap in the US education systems seems to have narrowed greatly. But, that is not to say that there still needs to be more to be done. Actually, up to high school study level the difference has only reduced significantly. Still in college, women joining to pursue their bachelors and those that are graduating are less than men though slightly.
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For instance in the 2000 census, statistics showed that women and men graduated from highs school at the same rate. However, disparity began showing in the rates of graduation where the rate of graduating girls was 23.7% while that of boys was 27.5% (Gaddis, 2007). It’s a marked improvement considering what the situation was in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Then, slightly over 8% of girls attained bachelor’s degrees compared to 14.2% of boys. The situation is replicated in neighboring Canada where after a long struggles with low numbers of women in education, the tide beginning to turn in their favor (Dermerling, 2010, par 1). Dermerling further says that the number of women now comprising teaching staff in many Canadian colleges has risen thanks to a higher rate in the achievement of bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees by women.
The natural constrains described above and the multiplier effects from the historical insubordination of women still play to men’s favor in the attainment of education in the US.
Employment and income generation
Education, employment, and political participation comprise the most important aspects of gender equality (AK, 2007, par 6). Some scholars argue that employment and political participation of whatever gender are dependent of education. The basic assumption that those that are educated find work easily compared to the uneducated. Women, who historically have not had equal access to education as men, therefore find themselves on the receiving end in the employment field.
According to Eitzen and Baca-Zinn (as quoted in Sosteric, 2010), women do 60% of the work in workplace but ironically earn ten percent of the income. Sosteric adds that they own only ten percent of land, a resource crucial in wealth creation and enhancement or gender equality. As result they are relegated to pink collar jobs, wallow in less pay and experience less financial stability (Sosteric, 2010 par 8).
Despite the improvement in the education of American women, their still is a big gap in the workforce (AK, 2007, par 8). AK sums the situation in the employment of women in the US as follow. In the US most men are chief providers of their families. And, in most cases there are more families with men working while women stay at home to take care of the children. In cases where both the man and woman are working, women are likely to be working in part-time jobs and the man, a full time employee.
Considering that there are fewer openings for part-time employees and little professional jobs offering part-time work, women are therefore likely to be doing low level part-time jobs compared to men. More disparity can be seen in the cases where both the man and the woman are working fulltime in a professional field. Because the man is likely to be more educated compared to the woman, he is likely to be well paid than the woman.
Gaddis concurs with AK on the employment and income earnings picture of women in the United States. According to the US 2000 census, women who had earned a high school diploma earned less than their male counterparts. The figure stood at $21,963 to 30868 respectively.
Women who had bachelor’s degrees did not do better either compared to their male counterparts with the same level of education (Gaddis, 2007 par 15). According to different reports, women who had Bachelor degree were remunerated in 2000 $ 35,000, compared to men who had the same educational level were paid in 2000 $49,982. For whatever reason, the above figures paint a different picture from what the education field suggests. Disparity is apparent in the earnings despite women having the same qualifications as men.
The way families fair, is evidence on the earnings success of their sponsor. Single families led by males have record a higher income compared to those that are led by females. According to Gaddis, the US census report of 2000 found out that 29% of single families led by females live below the poverty line while only 14% of single families led by men live below the poverty line.
Representation in government is one of the clearest indicators in the advancement of women in any society. Women active in government through heading various departments, representatives in the legislature and those that work in government offices represent their participation in government.
The United States fair badly in terms of legislature representation of women compared to other countries with the same economic status. Women make up of only 14% of the elective legislative positions in the country while the representation stands at 18% for the UK, 23% for Mexico and 45% for Sweden. It is interesting to note that in the US’s over 200 year history, there has never been a woman president.
The highest position that women have held in the US government in history is Secretary of State. Hillary Clinton ran a potentially successful bid in 2008 but could not make it to end. It probably a pointer that women are still far from achieving the reality of dominating the political landscape of the US. The irony here however stems from the fact that women comprise of more than fifty percent of the entire world population and especially in the nations described above (Gaddis, 2007, par 20).
Gender inequality is a diverse topic that can be approached from different perspectives. Many scholars have come up with various explanations to try and explain why it happens even in the face of such advancement and civilization. The Nobel Laureate Gary Becker contends that women’s exclusion from work is a rational choice that women themselves make in order to work at home and free their husbands for paid labor.
Many woken advocated however dispute that observation and contend that women’s participation is lacking in different spheres of live due to the deliberate move by men to exclude them. But questions are raised why women even with the enormous powers that constitutional systems like that of the United States cannot elect fellow women to positions of leadership.
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Demerling, R. (2010). Where Are All the Women? How Traditional Structures of Academia Hinder Female University Professors. The Socjournal: A new Media Journal of Sociology and Society. Web.
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Dr. Sosteric, M. (2010). Gendered Activities, gender difference, gender exclusion. The Socjournal: A new Media Journal of Sociology and Society. Web.
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Epstein, F. C. (2006). Great Divides: The Cultural, Cognitive, and Social Bases of the Global Subordination of Women. American Sociological Review. Web.