Separate labour markets for men and women: Is this real?
Pallavi Jain, London 13/11/18
Women in Business and Finance Society, King's College London
Equality in the workplace refers to zero disparities between the rewards (wages, job security, employee benefits etc.) and the efforts (hours worked, etc.) required to do the job. Recent developments in the form of legislative actions in Europe have played a significant role in supporting gender equality at workplace, such as prohibition of all kinds of discrimination on grounds of gender (Chapter III, Art. 21) in The Charter of Fundamental Rights (European Union 2000 as cited by Gerhards et al. 2009, p 518). After the critics pointed the uneven burden of household chores on women as a major loophole in these legislative reforms, the EU made efforts towards improving childcare and calling for equal participation in the household labour from male population (Gerhards, Schafer & Kampfer, 2009).
The unjustified and inherited responsibility of the unpaid household work laid upon women, favors the employer’s preference for valuing the male workers as more productive (Acker, 2006). This can be explained by taking the model of an ideal employee, a man who can alienate himself from the family responsibilities to be fully productive and give undivided attention to work (Acker, 2006). Flexibility, the most desirable quality that women workers seek in employment, fuels the never-ending process of job segregation.
Another important factor concerning gender equality is pay differences. The U.S. real wages research (Bernstein & Mishel, 1997 as cited by Morris & Western, 1999, p 627) places the earnings of a median woman as an equivalent to those of a thirty-fifth percentile man in 1996. Twenty-first century globalisation fuels wage differences because employers do not want to reduce labour costs to outperform competitors with the help of outsourcing and other alternatives (Acker, 2006). Prospective automation of most occupations adds to the problem of low bargaining power, which eventually pushes the disadvantaged workers, more specifically the victims of inequality, further down the ladder.
It is right to say that equal atmosphere at workplace can be fully achieved once all kinds of segregation and its causes cease to exist. Gender equality at the workplace requires an imperative change in society’s perspective of women’s capabilities and strengths at the workplace. One way in which this could obtained is by encouraging men to equally participate in household labour and ultimately make it possible to accept women into the picture of an unburdened ideal employee, just as much as men.
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