The Reality Of Gender Equality In America: 10 Facts

By Victoria Simpson on June 15 2020 in Society

Image credit: StunningArt/Shutterstock.com
Image credit: StunningArt/Shutterstock.com
  • About 35% of Americans surveyed answered that the trait they value most in a woman is her physical appearance, whereas for men, the top trait is honesty.
  • Somewhere between 20-35% of all working women say they have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, compared with 7% of working men.
  • Women hold just 25% of the technical jobs in major American tech companies.

Gender inequality can be something that is not immediately evident to those who do not suffer from it. It is present in many societies, however. Gender inequality is defined by Oxford Reference as a: “social process by which people are treated differently and disadvantageously, under similar circumstances, on the basis of gender.”

Boys who wish to wear pink and dress in flowery blouses would say that societal expectations stipulating these styles are for girls only, present gender inequality. Girls who wear pink and flowery blouses present an appearance that is more readily accepted in public than is for boys. 

When it comes to being a female in today’s society in the US, many more opportunities for advancement exist than did in the past. More women are in the workplace than was the case fifty years ago, and men are helping out at home with chores in greater numbers. There still exist gender inequalities however, for both men and women in the country. Here are ten to consider. 

There Is A Pay Gap Between Men and Women

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Women have routinely earned less money for their work compared with men. According to the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, during a majority of the 20th century, women earned just 60% of what men earned, on average. The pay gap has grown smaller, and now women in the US earn almost 80% of what men do. This change happened largely in the 1970s, but it has yet to continue. The rise has plateaued in recent years. Generally speaking, the median salary for women, regardless of the job she has or type of work, is about 80% of a man’s median salary in the country. 

Men And Women Are In Different Occupations 

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Overall, jobs we tend to equate as those “for men” tend to pay more than do those you may categorize as “women’s jobs”. According to the Stanford Center on Poverty, women in the US are much more likely to be employed as cleaners, servants, textile machine operators, child care workers, receptionists, preschool teachers, secretaries, and nurses. Men, comparatively, have a much greater chance of being employed as an auto mechanic, a truck driver, a firefighter, an airline pilot, a mechanical engineer, a computer software engineer, and a chief executive. 

According to Merrill Lynch, by the time they retire, a woman may have earned a cumulative $1,055,000 less than her male counterparts for her work. 

There Is No Government Supported Maternity Pay

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One of the great inequalities of living as a woman in the US is the fact that it is one of the only developed countries with no form of government supported maternity pay. In fact, the US is only one of eight countries in the entire world that does not provide any kind of maternity support. Some people do get this from their employers and insurance companies, but not from the state as a general rule. This puts women at a disadvantage, and in turn affects their families.

Women are also still the prime childcare providers in American homes. According to an article on Forbes.com, women are eight times more likely to take care of their sick children and to manage their children’s schedules than are men.

Women Complete More Hours of Unpaid Work Than Do Men

It is a fact that women do more chores than men at home. According to Marketwatch.com, women in the US spend about 4 hours each day doing unpaid work, and men in the country complete about  half of that. Unpaid work can consist of things like caring for children and elderly family members, cooking meals, running errands, attending children’s extra-curricular activities, shopping, and cleaning. 

Image credit: Fizkes/Shutterstock.com

Men Feel More Pressure to Earn A Lot Of Money 

Not all men feel the pressure to earn a good amount of money. American society does tend to expect men to be a financial success, generally speaking, however. A study done by Pew Research Center showed that participants ranked professional or financial success as number two on a list of traits they most valued most in men in the US. Honesty and morality came first. Only 8% of participants in the study said that one of the most valued traits in women was professional or financial success. 

More Women Experience Sexual Harassment At Work

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Men work jobs that earn more, and women get to experience more sexual harassment in the workplace. Unfortunately, another study done by Pew Research Center found that around one in every five women working in the US reported that they have been sexually harassed at work. How many men report undergoing the same abuse? About 7% of employed men in America say they have been victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. A poll done by NPR/PBS NewsHour found the number of women who experience sexual harassment in the workplace to be even higher, sitting at 35%. 

Women Experience More Gender Discrimination At Work

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Women also report experiencing more gender discrimination at work. According to the Pew Research Center, 42% of women in the US say they have experienced some type of gender discrimination on the job which included being treated as incompetent; experiencing repeated, small slights; and receiving less support from senior leaders than men doing the same job. In comparison, only about 22% of men reported experiencing this same type of gender discrimination at work. 

Women Have Fewer Opportunities In The Tech Industry

If computer science and the digital world is where your strengths truly shine, you might experience more doors open to career success if you are a man. According to Statistica.com, women still form a minority of the workforce in tech-based companies. The numbers have climbed, but equality in tech has not yet been reached. 

Women make up somewhere between 28% and 42% of the total workforce in America’s biggest tech companies. In these companies, women are employed in less than 25% of the technical jobs and are largely working in other capacities.  

Women Are More Likely To Experience Sexual Harassment Online

Sexual harassment does not just happen in person. It also takes place online. Pew Research Center reports that women aged 18-24 are three times more likely to say they have been a victim of sexual harassment online compared with men in the same age group. Women in this age group are also more likely than men to say they have received explicit digital images they did not request. 

Women Feel A Greater Need To Be Physically Attractive

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Finally, compared with men, women are much more likely to feel they need to be physically attractive. There is a good reason for this. A Pew Research Center study found that 35% of Americans say the trait they value most in a woman is her physical appearance. She is also most valued for having empathy for others and for being nurturing and kind. Only 7% of participants in the study said they most valued a woman who was competent, and 9% valued a woman who showed ambition. 

Future Hopes

Gender inequalities persist in most cultures and are present in the US. Educating the public on these differences is a step towards opening people’s minds to different ways of approaching men’s and women’s roles in society. Large advancements have come in modern times, in terms of equalizing the opportunities available to all men and women. If progress continues, the world could be everyone’s oyster. 

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