Equal Pay for Equal Work

Libby Gonzales
Mrs. Bruce
Woman Studies
7 May 1998

Sexism is a central fact of all women\'s lives, although it wears many different faces. A recent study by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau revealed some very distressing facts. Men and women with the same qualifications are not being paid or rewarded equally. Out of all the possible earnings for one person during 1995, white men averaged 100%, and white women 71.2%, black men brought in 75.9% while black women brought home 64.2% (Department of Labor Bureau 1995). Sadly, Hispanic men earned 63.3% and last place were the Hispanic women, who only earned 53.4% of all earnings for 1995. All of these people were equally qualified for the jobs performed. These statistics are oppressive since women and minorities have proven that they are just as capable, if not more, to perform the same work as white males. Moreover women have evolved to become the breadwinners in most families, thereby proving that it is possible to have a family and a career simultaneously. However, most women are not moving up the corporate ladder, and those that do are constantly had to prove themselves to their male counterparts. As if that was not enough, upon their climb to the top women are bumping into the "glass ceiling".
"The glass ceiling refers to invisible, artificial barriers that prevent qualified individuals from advancing within their organization and reaching their full potential" (Catherwood 1). The term originally described the point beyond which women managers and executives, particularly white women, were not promoted. Today, it is evident that intangible ceilings and walls exist throughout most workplaces for minorities and women. "These barriers result from institutional and psychological practices, and limit the advancement and mobility opportunities of men and women of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds" (Catherwood).
Women have been disqualified from construction and other relatively well paid heavy labor because they are said to be too weak for it. However, the most prestigious men\'s jobs and those that pay more, in general, do not require physical strength, while much of women\'s traditional, unpaid or underpaid work involves strenuous physical labor. Nurses must sometimes lift heavy, immobilized people, and housework frequently involves carrying and pushing heavy, awkward loads. In many cultures, women are responsible for providing the firewood and water, which usually means carrying the heavy loads for long distances, often with small children tied to their chests or backs. In the United States, men are expected to carry the heaviest loads, nonetheless most men have "bad backs", which is why occupational health advocates argue that loads that are too heavy for men should be too heavy for anyone.
Very few women have demonstrated that they are capable of achieving the same as the men, not because they are unqualified, but because of male domination in society, and the climb for these women was not easy. Hilary Sears made it to partner at her company, The Executive Search Firm. To get to where she is today, Hilary had to make sacrifices. She worked 12 hours a day, networked in the evenings, and made the firm\'s billing targets at night. Nevertheless she is disappointed with her view from the top. There are only 21 women among the 170 partners in her firm, and those women who do join in the inner circle do not necessarily wield the same influences as the men in equal positions (Bernier 1). In other words, all partners are not equal.
Equal opportunity in the workplace is a dilemma that women and minorities deal with every day of their lives. Today, many women have become the breadwinners in their families, many of these women are single mothers who have to support their children, without the help of the fathers, and they have demonstrated that they are capable of what life has to throw their way. The life of a mother trying to support her family on the meager wages she earns doing domestic work is very different from the life of a woman trying to compete and succeed in a world in which women are paid less than men on all levels. However, both these women live in a world of male domination in which a woman is raped every three seconds, and both face the possibility of