Image: Wikimedia Commons.
by Patti Giuffre
The customer is always right. I found out about this idea soon after I started working as a hostess, and then moved up to be a cocktail waitress, bartender, and food server. I did this work because the managers offered me the job on the spot, and, I took home quite a bit of tip money as a teenager and during my twenties. During most of the shifts that I worked, men customers engaged in sexist or sexual comments or innuendos. Not once in over 8 years in three different restaurants and bars did I say, “You’re making me uncomfortable.” I wanted a big tip! I also didn’t know what to say, and I certainly didn’t want to tell my managers because I thought it would make them uncomfortable and make me (the employee) look bad. I once mentioned a customer who was touching me too much and my manager said, while rolling his eyes, “What do you want me to do about it?” We received the message that the customer is always right in many ways when management sided with customers, no matter how obnoxious their behaviors.
by Allyson Stokes
The Sony hacking scandal of 2014 has Americans talking about gender inequality. One of the notorious leaked emails revealed that the two female stars of the film American Hustle, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence, earned less back-end compensation for the film than their male co-stars, Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper (7% versus 9%). This despite the fact that all four actors are comparable in terms of star power, critical acclaim, and award nominations for their performances.
Information also came to light about a pay gap between top executives. Among the 17 Sony employees whose salaries topped 1 million dollars, there is only one woman – Hannah Minghella, Co-president of Production at Columbia Pictures. Even more striking is the fact that Minghella earns much less than her co-president, Michael Deluca, a man with the exact same job title. While Deluca’s salary is 2.4 million, Minghella earns 1.5 million annually.
That women are paid less than men at work is not news. In the U.S., a gender pay gap is nearly ubiquitous. Even in Hollywood. We’ve figured out the gender pay gap is largely an artifact of women and men working in different jobs (and the jobs men work in simply pay more than the ones women work in). Yet when women and men work in similar jobs, men still tend to earn more than their female counterparts. What accounts for this difference?
Credit: Lindsey G (Flickr, CC-BY-2.0)
Corporations today proclaim a strong commitment to gender diversity. They publicize this commitment in their mission statements, job advertisements, recruitment materials, public relations, and personnel policies. Since the 1990s, a cottage industry of diversity consultants has developed to help companies become more diverse, advertising their services as a means to improve the corporate bottom-line and reduce potential legal liabilities. In response, most major corporations have instituted a variety of diversity management initiatives; some of the most popular of these include affinity groups, formal mentoring programs, diversity training, and targeted recruitment and promotion programs.
On the surface, corporate efforts to promote gender diversity seem promising. However, despite two decades of the corporate “diversity craze,” executive suites are still overwhelmingly male-dominated. For example, even though women now account for more than 50 percent of college graduates and roughly half the paid labor force, they comprise fewer than 17 percent of board directors and 15 percent of executive officers. In addition, most contemporary workplaces remain characterized by high levels of horizontal gender segregation, with women overrepresented in “feminized occupations” characterized by lower pay, prestige, and little room for advancement.
by Kristen Schilt
Recently the New Republic featured a story about how the workplace experiences of transgender men and women can shed light on occupational gender equality more broadly. Jessica Nordell interviewed me for the article, and we talked extensively about the research I did for my first book, Just One of the Guys, that focuses on the work lives of transgender men in Texas and California. I argue in the book that trans men can develop what Patricia Hill Collins calls an “outsider-within” perspective from the unique experience of having worked on both sides of the gender binary. This experience can put into high relief the often-invisible social processes that produce and maintain a workplace gender gap. As many of the men I interviewed noted, bringing their appearances in line with their feeling of maleness could bring a noticeable change in their workplace treatment – a change that one man described as going from “bossy” to “take charge.” However, white and heterosexual trans men reported more positive changes in their treatment from co-workers and employers than trans men of color and gay trans men.
A recent New York Times article by
The article discusses sociologist Michelle Budig‘s research showing that bias affecting fathers and mothers varies by income level: Men with high incomes see the largest pay increase for having children; mothers with low incomes experience the lowest relative earnings. The article also discusses sociologist Shelly J. Correll‘s finding that “employers rate fathers as the most desirable employees, followed by childless women, childless men and finally mothers.” In Correll’s words, “A lot of these effects really are very much due to a cultural bias against mothers.”
A recent New York Times article by Motoko Rich discusses the extensive and increasing feminization of the teaching profession in the United States, where “more than three-quarters of all teachers in kindergarten through high school are women.”
The article quotes WIP regular contributor Christine Williams, who notes that men get promoted more quickly into senior positions than women in teaching. It also quotes WIP favorite Phillip Cohen, of the Family Inequality blog, who notes that part of the reason why the teaching profession is devalued in American society is because it is seen as a women’s job.
Bad jobs are usually defined as those with low pay, little autonomy, and few benefits. Add to the list irregular hours. As Steven Greenhouse describes in his New York Times article on the part-time labor force, workers today are suffering from erratic scheduling. In the service industry, employers routinely cut their hours or send them home early when customer traffic slows. On the flipside, workers are required to be on call or stay late during especially busy times. Erratic hours not only mean income insecurity, but also result in the inability to do anything else, like search for a second job or take a class.
by Chenoa Flippen
Immigration from Latin America to the United States has surged in recent decades, and along with it the entry of immigrant women into the U.S. labor market. Understanding how immigrant Latinas are faring in the U.S. economy requires more than just adding women to models that were designed to explain the experiences of immigrant men. Instead, this understanding requires us to move beyond treating gender, legal status, and family structure as mere variables to be controlled for and to think more deeply about how the various constraints on women’s work interact with one another.
Drawing on original data on immigrant women residing in Durham, NC, one of the “new” destinations that has sprung up around the country in recent decades, I explore the determinants of whether or not immigrant Latinas work, and if so, how well they are able to maintain steady, full time employment. Results show that immigrant Latinas are highly concentrated in a handful of immigrant-dominated occupations, and there is little evidence that women with greater education or work experience are able to get better jobs.
by Christy Glass
In a recent article published in Forbes (here), business writer Tim Worstall wonders why family-friendly policy advocates support paid maternity leave policies. In his view, such policies are not just ineffective but harmful to women because they damage women’s professional standing—and ultimately reduce their wages. Quoting a woman CEO who shares his views, Worstall argues that mothers should limit their time on paid leave or risk losing the confidence of their employer. So why on earth would anyone argue for more or better paid leave policies?