Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action in the Work Place Essay

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The discrimination at work place starts with sexual discrimination followed by sexual harassment. Discrimination at work place could be of different forms, such as bullying at work, sexual discrimination and sexual harassment. There are two types of sexual harassments, hostile and benevolent. Psychologists distinguish between “hostile” and “benevolent” sexism (Glick & Fiske, 109-118; Glick, Fiske, Mladinic 763-775).

The technical definition of hostile sexism is a set of beliefs about women – especially feminists: they see sexism where it does not exist, whine about discrimination when they lose fair and square, want to control men, and are sexual teases. The technical definition of benevolent sexism is the other side of the same coin. It is a complementary set of beliefs: women are purer, more refined, and more moral than men, and should be cherished, protected, and financially provided for. Men and women who endorse hostile sexist attitudes also tend to endorse benevolent sexist attitudes.

Further, cross-nationally, men’s and women’s attitudes are correlated: nations with more sexist men are also nations with more sexist women. And, finally, nations with less legal gender equality show higher sexism scores. Affirmative action is designed to compensate for the cumulative effects of the history of inequality and systemic discrimination. The term systemic describes discrimination that results as an unintended by-product; in legal parlance it results when an action has a “disparate impact” even if there was not “disparate treatment.

For example, it can occur when have job requirements that effectively exclude certain groups or that unintentionally place people into positions based upon stereotypes. Affirmative action programs generally involve the following procedures. First, a data base is established comparing the sex composition of the organization with that of the surrounding relevant labor market. Second, targets are set to achieve a representation of the internal female work force that is similar to its representation in the surrounding labor market.

Third a plan and timetable are established for achieving the targets. History of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action in the Work Place Feminist circles in the 1970’s and 1980’s, as women in ever greater numbers successfully entered the work force. In this period, men and women entered into some of the most complex contracts imaginable as they tried to negotiate equality at home and a fulfilling life out side of home. They would share pain and pleasure equally; they would carry Bentham’s calculation into the household itself.

Men learned more about child rearing and cooking and sharing duties, while women were expected to make the work place a kinder place and it was predicted that they would be less likely to lose their identity in their work. It was even argued idealistically by proponents of the women’s movement that as men became more sensitized to their wives and daughters; they would become equally sensitive to the poor, the downtrodden, nature, and even themselves. Their revolution, they contended, would help humanity. The world, it was openly prophesied, would thank the movement for the world result from the women’s revolution.

The public at large had become sensitized to the suffering of women as it never has been before. Women’s suffering became a major industry: in print, on screen, in the lecture hall, and in discussion groups everywhere women’s problems, pain, and suffering were set forth, along with charges of discrimination and demands for retribution and compensation. Feminist advocates made women the second official victim of the nation. They established orthodoxy of innocence and suffering. Affirmative Action and Official Suffering The convergence of the women’s movement and the black movement occurred during the heart of the 1960’s.

Blacks and women established themselves at the center of the American political discourse as its premier official victims. More than other groups, including Native Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans, blacks and women provided the dominant images of injustice and the primary moral language for seizing power. They demanded from the government reparations like victims of war. Affirmative action, whose roots in the United States are in effort to end discrimination and to achieve equality of opportunity in the 1960’s, came into existence in the early 1970’s.

In 1972 Congress gave additional powers to the aggressive Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, Which began immediately “to put pressures on states and cities to follow patterns proportional representation employment. ” Latinos, Asians, Vietnam-era vets, Native Americans, and others, shared with black and women the category of suffering and of having been discriminated against.

Achieving equality of opportunity Given the variety and stubbornness of the barriers women face, feminist’s activists and theorists are among those who see the value of and need for “affirmative action. Some have argued that affirmative action programs are necessary to insure that women have equal opportunity with men for jobs and promotions (Fried 1976, Harris and Narayan 1994). Their argument is essentially that because social forces at present work to give men, on average, an advantage over women in the competition for desirable jobs, the establishment of goals that, at a minimum, aim at hiring women in proportion to the percentage of qualified female applicants is necessary to insure that women have an equal chance.

Stated somewhat differently because gender often affects an employer’s perception of different candidates, in many hiring decisions a women’s qualifications will be underrated or overlooked, and thus affirmative action is necessary to insure that those with the best qualifications, without regard to gender, are hired. While we must ultimately work to alter the social forces that place women at a disadvantage for jobs and other benefits, until we do, affirmative action offers a temporary measure to insure that women get more equal treatment.

A more simple argument for affirmative action based on the idea of equal opportunity is this. If opportunity for men and women in our society were genuinely equal, then women’s and men’s rates of success in employment (measured in terms of representation in high-status, high-income jobs) would not differ significantly. Women’s and men’s rates of success in employment differ significantly. Therefore, opportunities for men and women in our society are not genuinely equal. And consequently, until opportunities are equal, affirmative action is necessary to insure that women achieve parity with men.

This argument places the burden on opponents to explain how different patterns and rates of success in employment can be consistent with the achievement of equal opportunity for women and men. Some economists believe that women characteristically have different preferences than men for jobs, and that these preferences express themselves in choices women make, which then lead to different patterns of employment for women. Women presumably prefer jobs and careers that interfere less with their familial roles and roles and these often tend to be lower-status and lower paying jobs.

Of course, this response dose not question why women allegedly prefer such jobs and careers or why men do not, or it assumes that the reasons for this are unproblematic- e. g. nature or nonpernicious sex-role conditioning. Gender Perceptions and attitudes Experimental data demonstrate that we do not see other people simply as people; we see them as males or females. Once gender perceptions are invoked they work to disadvantage women by directing and skewing our perception, even in the case of objective characteristics like height. In one example (Biernat, Manis & Nelson, 1991, pp. 95-502), the experimenters exploited the fact that our schemas include the correct information that men are on average taller than women.

In this experiment, college students saw photographs of other students and estimated their height in feet and inches. The photos always contained a reference item, such as a desk or a doorway, so that height could be accurately estimated. The experimenters had matched the photographs so that for every photograph of a male student of a given height was a female student of the same height. But the students were affected by their knowledge that men are on average taller than women.

They judged the women as shorter than they really were, and the men as taller. In this experiment, as is typically the case, there were no differences in how male and female observers perceived the others; we all have non-conscious hypotheses about males and females and we all use those hypotheses in perceiving and evaluating others. The important point about this study is that a genuinely objective characteristic, height, is not immune from the effects of gender perceptions. The results shown by the ambivalent sexism can be improved only by changing the gender perceptions. Individuals should be seen as individuals and not as male or female.

A number of studies have shown that men tend to emerge in leadership positions in U. S. culture because they are more likely than women to exhibit traits that are believed to “go hand-in-hand” with positions of authority. These traits include (1) more aggressive be¬haviors and tendencies; (2) initiation of more verbal interactions; (3) focusing of remarks on “output” (as opposed to “process”) issues; (4) less willingness to reveal information and expose vulnerability; (5) a greater task (as opposed to social) orientation; and (6) less sen¬sitivity, which presumably enables them to make tough choices quickly (Baird & Bradley,101-110).

Thus, cultural expectations may create a self-fulfilling prophecy, with individuals exhibiting the “female traits” of focusing on process, social orientation, and so on more likely to be relegated to operational and subordinate roles. Women have to confront sexual harassment to a much greater extent than men do. Women have had to forfeit promising careers because they would not accept the sexual advances of men in positions of power and did not feel they had any recourse but to quit their jobs.

Anita Hill’s testimony at the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings in October 1991 was a national turning point on this issue. Since the hearing, many more women have come forward with complaints about sexual harassment in the workplace (Carlson, 1999, pp. 94-95). Role of Human Resource Management As women, both natural born and foreign citizens become the dominant employees in the work force, Human Resource Management will have to change its practices.

This means that organizations will have to make concerted efforts to attract and maintain a diversified work force (Joinson, 1995, pp. 82-85). This includes HRM offerings fall under the heading of the family-friendly organization (Moskowitz, 1997, pp. 18-96). A family friendly organization is one that has flexible work schedules and provides such employee benefits as child care. Organizations that have made the greatest strides in successfully managing diversity tend to share a number of characteristics.

These factors are a commitment from top manage¬ment to valuing diversity, diversity training programs, employee support groups, accom¬modation of family needs, senior mentoring and apprenticeship programs, communica¬tion standards, organized special activities, diversity audits, and a policy of holding management responsible for the effectiveness of diversity efforts. The original Sex Discrimination Act did not contain a definition of sexual harassment or what would constitute harassment and this has been developed through case law.

Amendments to the Act in 2005 introduced two definitions of sexual harassment: unwanted conduct on the grounds of someone’s sex; and unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature. The European Parliament has defined ‘harassment related to sex’ as follows: “Where an unwanted conduct related to the sex of a person occurs with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

Where any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature occurs with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. ” Although there is general agreement about which behaviors may constitute sexual harassment, the individual experience of sexual harassment is subjective, but a key characteristic is that it is unwanted by the recipient. Sexual harassment often reflects an abuse of power within an organization, where members of one group of people yield greater power than others, generally women.

It is linked with women’s disadvantaged status at work and, more generally, in society. Sexual harassment can take many forms: from sexually explicit remarks and banter to harassment over the telephone and via email, to sexual assault. Studies have found that individuals have different perceptions of sexual harassment. For example, women are more likely than men to label certain behaviors as sexual harassment, similarly non-manual staff compared with manual staff. Behavior is more likely to be seen as harassment when there is a large power difference between the person being harassed and the person doing the harassing.

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