Lesson 10 - In the last century, the number of women in the...

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In the last century, the number of women in the workforce increased from 5.3 million women to 65 million women—and today, about three-fourths of all women who work outside of the home work in full time positions. So what work are women doing? What are the barriers that they face and the challenges they are up against? How do they navigated these obstacles and succeed at their jobs? First of all - what do we mean by "work"? As a capitalistic society, we tend to think of "work" as paid work - but of course women do lots of unpaid work, especially mothers. Many feminists suggest that we distinguish between women who work and are paid and women who are work and are unpaid to raise our awareness about the unpaid labor that women do to sustain our society. In this way, we can talk about women who "work outside the home for wages" and "women who work inside the home". We know that there isn't much work that women haven't signed up to do. They are working in all segments of the labor force, even those dominated by men. Interestingly, however, they are much more likely to be found in some sectors than other and are—for the most part—crowded into a small number of fields . I'm sure that you can guess these off the top of your head—more women work as teachers, secretaries and cashiers than any other line of work. Most jobs that involve care-giving and cleaning are thought of as “women's work,” while jobs that involve working with machines and technical work are imagined as being “men's work.” The fact that women and men often work at different jobs is termed "horizontal segregation", meaning that the vast majority of us follow this social distinction between men's and women's work. This segregation isn't problematic in and of itself, but becomes troubling when we realize that what gets called “men's work” is usually compensated much higher than, well, what society sees as “women's work.” Is it fair that a childcare worker earns about $300 less than a truck driver or $475 less than a mail carrier, when they all have about the same skill level? And as you well know by now, gender isn't the only thing that keeps the workforce segregated—race has come to be seen as a tougher barrier than gender in the workplace. Today, only 8% of African Americans and only 5% of Hispanic workers (men and women) hold jobs that could be classified as professional or managerial . We can all agree that women and men are encouraged to do different jobs, and this lifetime of gender socialization leads to a pattern of horizontal segregation. But in addition to the horizontal stuff, there is also vertical segregation going on. This means that within the same job classification you see a vertical hierarchy with more men on top and more women down low. Think about doctors. In what specialty do you find the most women doctors? Pediatrics. In what specialty do you find the fewest women doctors? Surgical specialties. In and of itself, this is no biggie. But things change when we realize
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This note was uploaded on 02/03/2010 for the course WMNST 001 taught by Professor Jenniferbeindorf during the Spring '07 term at Pennsylvania State University, University Park.

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Lesson 10 - In the last century, the number of women in the...

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