If you think gender discrimination is an issue of the past, think again. True, in the ‘20s, ‘50s and even ‘80s women faced heavier forms of discrimination, but why do we still brush off the idea that gender stereotypes and barriers no longer exist?
Discrimination in the workplace is a result of gender stereotypes. In the report “Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being” released by the White House last month, the inequality of women in the United States was evident. The assessment reveals that, compared to men, women have a greater risk of becoming a victim of violence and sexual assault by an intimate partner, and also still earn less and are more likely to experience poverty.
This inequality between genders and unequal pay still persists despite President Barack Obama’s first piece of approved legislation, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which approved equal-pay back in 2009. The law was named after a woman who discovered she had been paid less than men after ending a career that lasted 19 years as a supervisor in a tire factory. Obama said this legislation would “send a clear message that making our economy work means making sure it works for everybody.” But despite attempts by the current administration to equalize the job market between genders, inequality still persists.
Clearly, adhering to female stereotypes in the workplace can be extremely harmful. An example of this is the massive class action discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart, a case that made its way to the Supreme Court. According to The New York Times, the employment discrimination lawsuit is the largest in American history. Although a decision has still not been reached, The New York Times pointed out that if the court decides against this suit, it would mean that some companies are too big to be held accountable for their injustices. This suit, which began in 1999 when Stephanie Odle was fired for complaining of sex discrimination in the work place, claims that Wal-Mart has a history of discriminating against women by refusing or delaying them promotions in favor of less qualified men. Around 1.5 million current and former Wal-Mart female employees claim that they, too, met discrimination in matters of pay and promotion. If Wal-Mart loses, it may have to withdraw over $1 billion from its hearty pocket to cover expenses and back pay.
As much as we would like to believe that our society has reached equality, it is necessary that we examine the problem realistically and realize that the only way to resolve it is by raising awareness within our community. Discrimination also exists among other groups, and can be based on sexual orientation, religion or ethnicity.
The ideal opportunity for us to make our voice heard about this issue starts Monday with Tunnel of Oppression in the UC Ballrooms. This experience is designed to educate people about acts of oppression taking place in our world today such as sexual assault and the result. By participating in programs such as this, we can work together to figure out a way to overcome the inequalities that still exist.
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.