Gender Inequality In The Labour Market Sociology Essay Essay

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Sexual activity is what distinguishes work forces and adult females biologically, viz. it describes the physical qualities which derive from fluctuations in chromosomes, endocrines and genital organs. Gender refers to a set of culturally defined features which determine society ‘s position of people as ‘masculine ‘ or ‘feminine ‘ . Sociologists have long debated over the causes of unjust sexual divisions of labor. Some have forwarded biological accounts, whereas others hold responsible the socialization of gender functions. In this essay I will look at how the 19th century socialization of gender functions is believed to hold affected adult females ‘s place in the labor market. I will so see the increasing feminization of the labor market and seek to explicate the relentless inequalities between work forces and adult females.

However, since the mid-twentieth century there has been an increasing feminization of the work force. Harmonizing to Ulrich Beck, adult females are ‘setting the gait for alteration ‘ ( Haralambos & A ; Holborn, 2008, 647 ) . In Beck ‘s position, we are traveling into ‘the 2nd modernness ‘ ( as against station modernness ) . He argues that in our society, characterised by hazard and uncertainness, adult females have realised the importance of autonomy and hold sought to widen their engagement in the labor market and as a consequence have changed the societal discourse. This has been made possible by a figure of factors. The increased possibilities of an instruction, the development of domestic contraptions, the turning inclination for smaller households, the Feminist Movement of the 1970s, the steady enlargement of the service industry, the addition in life costs and the consequent demand for two incomes are all factors which have generated a displacement in traditional household forms and significantly changed the gender division of labor. A UK Labour Force study conducted in 2005 suggests that the rates of employment for adult females of working age have risen to 70 % in 2004 compared to 56 % in 1971. In contrast, employment rates for work forces have declined from 92 % to 79 % ( Giddens, 2006, 755 ) .

Despite adult females ‘s increased engagement in the labor market, barriers to equality remain. Although 75 % of adult females of working age are in employment in the UK, it has been shown that in high-earning, high-status professions they are badly under-represented ( www.employment-studies.co.uk ) . 2005 demonstrated, in footings of perpendicular segregation, that 83 % of main executives, 71 % of gross revenues directors and 70 % of direction advisers were work forces, whilst 96 % of dinner ladies, 95 % of receptionists and 76 % of cleaners were adult females ( Haralambos & A ; Holborn, 2008, 124 ) . Different grounds are held responsible for such disproportion. One statement is that occupations are extremely gendered, with a inclination for high-status, high-paid occupations to be male-dominated because they have traditionally been perceived as ‘masculine ‘ . Extremist women’s rightist Sylvia Walby claims adult females are subjugated by patriarchal values that discriminate and confine them to specific countries of work ( Haralambos & A ; Holborn, 2008, 113 ) .

Not merely are adult females under-represented at the highest degrees of the occupational construction, they have similarly non achieved equality of wage, despite broad women’s rightist ‘s success in runing for equal wage statute law. The pay spread was one time thought to be contracting, nevertheless, new figures suggest that the wage divide is still a affair of concern today. Harmonizing to the Office for National Statistics, the wage spread between work forces and adult females in full-time work has increased to 17.1 % since 2007 ( The Guardian,15/11/08 ) . The average full-time gross hebdomadal net incomes per hebdomad for work forces in 2007 were ?498, whilst for adult females they stood at ?395. In 2008 they stand at ?521 for work forces and ?412 for adult females. It has been calculated that over a life-time, adult females working full-time will gain an norm of ?369.000 less than their male co-workers. This consequence, harmonizing to the one-year study conducted by the World Economic Forum, places Britain 81st in the universe ranking in footings of equal wage for work forces and adult females in similar occupations ( The Guardian,15/11/08 ) .

Part of the ground would look to be because of horizontal segregation. Much of the female work force is clustered into a scope of semi-skilled, low-status and ailing paid businesss. Across the occupational construction, work forces predominate in such lines of work as fabrication, building, IT and concern industries. Conversely, adult females are overpoweringly represented in wellness and societal work, instruction, catering and cleansing ( Haralambos & A ; Holborn, 2008, 123 ) . Feminists, hence, see this as a contemplation of the ‘two domains ‘ political orientation. 2005 demonstrated, in footings of horizontal segregation, that 79 % of societal workers and 73 % of instructors were adult females. In the same twelvemonth, 90 % of the building industry and 76 % of people working in conveyance were work forces ( Haralambos & A ; Holborn, 2008, 123 ) . In add-on, the fact that many adult females work in the parttime sector can be portion of the ground for the hapless degrees of wage they are capable to.

Occupational segregation has been used to explicate such high concentration of adult females in parttime work. Despite the disadvantages it involves, parttime work seems to stay a popular pick for adult females. In 2004, 5.2 million adult females in the UK were in parttime employment, compared to 1.2 million work forces ( Giddens, 2006, 757 ) . Social forces such as limited child care aid and gender favoritism have besides been held responsible for such big Numberss of adult females in parttime work. Many adult females seeking full-time employment frequently face unfair hurdlings which work forces do non meet: a Fawcett Society survey ( the taking broad feminist administration ) reveals that 52 % of employers consider the opportunities of a new member of staff going pregnant before using them ( www.fawcettsociety.org.uk ) . However, whilst it is possible that this may deter many adult females who intend to hold kids from looking for full-time work, this is non on its ain sufficient ground to explicate such a heavy inflow in the parttime sector.

Catherine Hakim ‘s ‘preference theory ‘ suggests that adult females ‘s place in the labor market depends wholly on the rational picks they make ( Haralambos & A ; Holborn, 2008, 125 ) . Hakim identifies two types of adult females: those who commit themselves to full-time callings or those who prioritise their domestic duties. Harmonizing to Hakim, many adult females have different work orientations than work forces, taking them to take parttime businesss which enable them to equilibrate their domestic and professional lives. Rosemary Crompton and Fiona Harris agree that adult females ‘s place in the labor market is influenced by their determinations. They argue, nevertheless, that the picks adult females make are non ever rational, but are the consequences of the practical challenges and cultural norms they may confront. Crompton and Harris believe that adult females frequently start a calling committed to the thought of full-time employment and the household sphere in equal step, but in ulterior life might hold to compromise one or the other for a assortment of grounds. There is, hence, an of import argument between women’s rightists.

Extra theories have been advocated by sociologists to explicate adult females ‘s continued restrictions in the job-market. Talcott Parsons ‘ functionalist ‘human capital theory ‘ suggests that adult females ‘s natural function is that of child care. The theory implies that adult females are likely non to perpetrate to a calling or gaining makings, preferring to give themselves to their kids ( Haralambos & A ; Holborn, 2008, 125 ) . Harmonizing to Parsons, this deficiency of committedness or accomplishments renders adult females less valuable to the employer, and is finally the ground for adult females ‘s disadvantaged place in the labor market. However, critics of the theory point out that it does non account for the big figure of adult females who dedicate themselves to a calling and still stop up in lower-paid, lower-status occupations ( Haralambos & A ; Holborn, 2008, 125 ) .

Barron and Norris ‘s ‘dual labor market theory ‘ promotes the thought of two labour markets: a primary sector in which professionals and skilled workers belong, characterised by extremely paid and unafraid occupations, and a secondary sector, dwelling in lowly paid, less unafraid occupations chiefly occupied by unskilled laborers. Harmonizing to Barron and Norris, adult females are more likely than work forces to work in this sector because they are less interested in rewards or position, a position which echoes that of Hakim. Passage from the secondary to the primary sector is rare, stoping in parturiency within a scope of low-paid occupations for one ‘s full on the job life. The theory is criticised by women’s rightists for non being able to explicate why skilled adult females frequently earn less than work forces in similar work, or why they get promoted less frequently than work forces in the same occupation ( Haralambos & A ; Holborn, 2008, 126 ) .

In the past century, adult females have made a radical acclivity in the labor market even if many work in the parttime sector. However, the rate of betterment seems to hold stalled instead than grown. Despite statute law such as the Equal Pay Act ( 1970 ) and the Sex Discrimination Act ( 1975 ) , huge inequalities remain in Britain, particularly in footings of wage and position. It might good be that more extremist reforms need to be made. In Norway, for illustration, 100s of adult females have benefitted from a new act, passed in 2003, which stipulates that companies must increase the figure of adult females on their boards to 44. % . This now means that Norway heads the conference tabular array for gender equality, 12 topographic points above the UK ( The Guardian, 17/11/08 ) . This suggests that post-feminists are mistaken in believing there is no more for women’s rightists to make. A 3rd moving ridge of feminism, as suggested by Katherine Rake, or ‘new feminism ‘ , to utilize Natasha Walter ‘s term, may be exactly what is needed.

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