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George Rosales

ENG 11000 Freshman Composition


Prof. Lisa Diomande
Research Paper
04/29/2015

Gender and Socioeconomics


In our modern society, there is an imbalance between gender and socioeconomics.
Women earn less money than men no matter what job they share. Additionally, men have more
job opportunities than women. In the past, women were not allowed to work; instead, they served
as homemakers and cared for their children while men worked to put food on the table for their
families. Women have risen up and have earned more job and economic opportunities. However,
men are fighting to keep the advantages they have over women with respect to jobs and
economic status. The causes and effects of wage discrimination against women in the US are
complex, systemic and varied. I will be investigating the forces that create and support wage
discrimination, from a variety of angles: sociologically, psychologically, and politically. Each of
these social factors contributes to a situation that has been going on since World War I
Prior to World War II, women were largely excluded from the steel industry,
accounting for less than 1% of the steel and iron industry during the early 20th century. This was
mainly because the working conditions were extremely hot and dangerous that they were
considered intolerable for women. Men dominated this industry, as well as the battlefronts during
wartime. Instead, women worked as matrons, nurses, and attendants. However, this trend
changed when the United States entered World War II following the Pearl Harbor attacks. The
demand for iron and steel sharply rose between 1939 and 1941, and thus, caused the iron and
steel industry to rise. Although women still represented less than 1% in the industry, thousands of

men were deployed to war and only 5% of the men deployed returned to work in the industry.
Faced with the shortage of laborers, the laborers turned to women for production.(Rose, pg.1-5)
It is important to understand a few key concepts. Socioeconomics is a branch of
social science that studies how economic activity affects our society. More specifically, it
examines how the standards of living in our society improve or regress based on the local or
global economy. In this case, we are examining how socioeconomics affects genders, especially
women. The gender pay gap refers to the difference in income between men and women, which,
according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (O.E.C.D.), is
expressed as a percentage compared to male income. (About the OECD) In modern society,
women are earning less than men regardless whatever job they hold, and are underrepresented in
various kinds of jobs, which is to be explained.
Occupations in which women are highly represented in modern society include
teachers, doctors, and nurses. One major field of occupations that is well known and increasingly
aimed for is in the S.T.E.M. field Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Sarah Kaplan, a
reporter and contributor to The Washington Post, published an article that explains a study
carried out by the Cornell Institute for Women in Science to explore possible sexism in the
S.T.E.M. field. The study was conducted on 900 faculty members from over 371 schools across
the country. In the study, people were presented with profiles of fictional job candidates and they
were asked to rank them according to who they thought was most qualified for an assistant
professorship in biology, engineering, economics and psychology.
One of the findings of this study was that in almost every case, the female
candidates were more likely to be ranked higher, regardless of their lifestyle, area of expertise or
the evaluators research field. Another finding of the study was that women were preferred over
men in a 2:1 ratio. Additionally, female participants in the study preferred divorced women over
married women, and both male and female participants preferred a single female candidate over

a married woman with children. However, as Kaplan notes, there is a scarcity of female faculty
in the science department in schools; females make up only 20% faculty in most science fields.
She then notes that the study attributes the lack of female faculty in the science department to
early educational choices, such as not taking AP calculus and physics in high school. On the
other hand, she also notes that there is a common belief that a womans life choices can put them
at a disadvantage, such as maternity leaves. (Kaplan, par. 1-5)
Gender wage discrimination goes through high school and beyond into adulthood.
Hillary Lips, a member of the Department of Psychology and the Center for Gender Studies at
Radford University, wrote an article that explains the psychology regarding the gender wage gap
and how women are dealing with it. According to Hillary, from the ages of 22-30, men earn more
money than women despite having the same jobs. Additionally, 47% of women, compared to
39% of men, find themselves with a high student debt burden; 8% of womens earnings go
towards paying their debts. Furthermore, she says: Mothers worked 92% as many hours as
fathers, but earned only 53% as much money. On the other hand, fathers worked 90% as many
hours as childless men, and received 122% as much money (Lips, par. 1-6)
Hillary then uses concepts of social psychology to explain how there are people
who deny that discrimination exists and why women are at a disadvantage regarding jobs and
economic progress. She says that people want to see that the world is fair and just, and business
and political leaders are only encouraging this idea instead of speaking the truth about the reality
of gender discrimination. For example, when leaders are presenting information regarding wages
of people in a country, they do it in ways in which women are not accounted for. Many people
may even go into denial that gender discrimination exists when they are trying to earn job
opportunities. Furthermore, much like Kaplan, she explains why women are at a disadvantage
here. She points out that women are physically different from men. For example, women can get

pregnant but men cannot. Also, men and women make different life choices with respect to
education, work, and family. Because women are viewed as potential mothers, their commitment
their jobs is put into question; they might be forced to take maternity leaves and work part time
as opposed to full time. (Lips, par. 8-11)
Gender wage discrimination does not only affect the United States, but also the
world. In Europe, there are places in which traditional gender roles still exist, where women stay
home and serve as homemakers while men work to support their families. Within a book entitled
Feminist Economics, the fourth chapter entitled "Gender Wage Discrimination and Poverty in the
EU" examines why gender wage discrimination is occurring and how it is affecting the economy
in Europe. According to the text, the existing evidence of womens over-representation in parttime and temporary jobs and indicates the existence of labor discrimination against women,
particularly in southern Europe[a]ccording to the Structure of Earnings Survey for 2002,
provided by EUROSTAT, in the EU the average hourly earnings of women in the private sector
are about 75 percent that of men. Similar to what is happening in the United States, women are
earning less than men in Europe.
The text then says: an increasing number of international papers study whether
women or female-headed households face a comparatively larger poverty risk than men or maleheaded householdsmost of the EU countries where women are currently facing labor market
discrimination are paying a cost in terms of higher poverty levels, a relevant result for other
developed countries with a gender gap in the labor market. The authors then speculate as to why
this is occurring. One reason is because women are not earning enough given their level of
education, skills, and experience with their jobs. Another reason is because women are forced
into working in low-paying jobs or they are simply not enough women in the work force.
(Feminist Economics 73-77)

Women have come a long way to gaining power and respect in society, but remain
unequal in power and status. They went from being homemakers and having no power over men
in the past, to having great opportunities. However, men in modern society still have an
advantage over women with respect to jobs and economic success, and thus, gender inequality
still exists today. In fact, it was recently reported that in 2013, for every dollar a man made, a
woman made 78 cents. On average, they earn less than men in almost every single job, and
women make up half of the workforce. (IWPR, par. 1) Women are also fighting to have their
voices heard, while men are trying to put them down. Women should use the information
discussed as motivation to continue fighting for equality no matter how much men oppose them.

Works Cited
1. "About the OECD." Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. N.p., n.d.
Web. 29 Apr. 2015
2. "Gender Wage Discrimination and Poverty in the EU." Feminist Economics 16.2 (2010): 7377. Business Source Complete. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.
3. Kaplan, Sarah. "Study Finds, Surprisingly, That Women Are Favored for Jobs in
STEM." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 14 Apr. 2015. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.

4. Lips, Hilary. "Acknowledging Discrimination as a Key to the Gender Pay Gap." Sex
Roles 68.3 (2013): 223-30. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.
5. "Pay Equity & Discrimination." Institute for Women's Policy Research. N.p., n.d. Web. 28
Mar. 2015.
6. Rose, Jim. The Problem Every Supervisor Dreads: Women Workers At The U.S. Steel
Duquesne Works During World War II." Labor History 36.1 (1995): 24-51.Business Source
Complete. Web. 11 May 2015.