Many signs suggest that the economy is on the mend—jobless rates are diminishing, new home construction is increasing, and Americans feel more optimistic than they have in recent years that brighter times are on the horizon. However, in the midst of this positivity, some disturbing trends remain.
Author Archives: Adia Harvey Wingfield
Even in Female Dominated Jobs, Some Men Still Maintain Advantages
Julie and Rebecca have cited important sociological analysis that documents the fact that net of hours worked, the gender wage gap remains such that men still outearn their female peers in the same occupations. One other piece of commonsense wisdom often cited to explain the wage gap is the argument that women select occupations that tend to be lower paying—teaching, nursing, and other positions that we tend to associate with women. According to this line of reasoning, women are more likely to self-select into the “feminized” positions within certain fields, which then contributes to gender inequality in the labor market.
Ann Romney, Fake “Mommy Wars,” and the Real Problems Facing Working Class Moms
A few days ago, the top story on Huffington Post was an article titled “Women’s Jobs Axed by State Austerity Politics.” The piece argued that as public sector jobs are decreasing, women are disproportionately the ones losing work as many of the jobs that are affected by budget cuts—teaching, providing child care—are those that are typically filled by women. Inasmuch as jobs tend to be sex segregated, the female dominated jobs in the private sector that women tend to occupy (administrative services, secretarial work) are not in high demand, leaving women in a position where the sort of jobs in which they tend to be concentrated are declining or even disappearing.
“The Help” Does Not Help
Rachael’s post insightfully delves into the ways that The Help has served to motivate domestic workers to organize and push for better treatment, as well as the ways that the film reinforces racialized narratives and stereotypes. While the film and book are fictional stories based on historical material, sociological research on race, gender, and work provide more nuanced, accurate portrayals of the challenges, issues, and obstacles domestic workers encounter.
In a 2003 article published in the Annual Review of Sociology, sociologists Irene Browne and Joya Misra consider whether the literature on work and occupations provides support for the arguments made by intersectionality theorists. Specifically, inasmuch as an intersectional approach contends that issues of race, gender, class, and other categories are overlapping rather than singular and mutually exclusive, Browne and Misra examine whether key areas studied by researchers in the sociology of work show evidence of this overlap. As part of their analysis, Browne and Misra look at the literature on domestic workers to consider whether this indicates interactions of race, gender, and class. These authors note that the overwhelming preponderance of women of color–particularly immigrant women of color–in this profession signifies employers’ preference for certain workers to do this type of labor. Additionally, the low pay afforded to most domestic workers further signifies the ways that race, gender, class—and in this case, nationality—are intertwined.
Not Working It: Race and Gender Stereotypes in Entertainment Media
Shrinking Numbers of Black Workers in Science, Technology Jobs
The Huffington Post recently reported a story about the declining numbers of blacks working in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Overall, the numbers of workers in STEM fields is declining, but black Americans’ numbers are shrinking to very low percentages. The article cites a number of factors that may explain this, including but not limited to a lack of role confidence (a factor that sociologist Erin Cech and her colleagues also note affects women in STEM fields as well), economic and financial considerations, and a lack of role models and social support in the field.