Women still striv­ing to break ‘glass ceil­ing’ in the work­place

Glenside News - - OPINION -

)RU PiOOiRnV RI yHDUV VinFH WKH fiUVW Homo sapi­ens walked on Earth, men of our species de­cided that women would cook the veni­son and raise the chil­dren while men hunted. In mod­ern times, the men be­come the CEOs of ma­jor com­pa­nies while their wives heat the food in the mi­crowave and, of course, raise the chil­dren.

This division of la­bor be­gan to change in 1964 when the United States Civil Rights Act pre­vented dis­crim­i­na­tion in em­ploy­ment based on sex, race, re­li­gion or color of one’s skin. On March 24, 19U6, the Wall Street Jour­nal de­scribed a nHw WHUP: 7KH “JODVV FHiOinJ.” ,W GHscribed how women and mi­nori­ties were up against an in­vis­i­ble glass ceil­ing that had to be pen­e­trated.

Af­ter mil­lions of years, women were be­ing rec­og­nized and given the re­spect to which they were en­ti­tled. They could do more than just cook and raise the kids. Fi­nally, women were per­mit­ted to fur­ther their ed­u­ca­tion and par­take in the work­force. Women and mi­nori­ties make up two-thirds of the pop­u­la­tion and 57 per­cent of the work­force. But it’s a slow path for a woman to be­come a CEO or have a top man­age­ment po­si­tion.

Women make up only 26 per­cent of state judges and their in­come is only 74 per­cent of that of male lawyers. They have an earn­ing gap that is 23 per­cent less than men al­though nearly one-half of re­cent law school grad­u­ates are women. Ninety per­cent of fe­male lawyers have suf­fered sex­ual dis­crim­i­na­tion. In the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion, two-thirds are women. How­ever, fe­male doc­tors earn 1U per­cent less than male doc­tors. Ac- cord­ing to sta­tis­tics, male pro­fes­sors of medicine out­num­ber fe­male pro­fes­sors of medicine, 5-1.

The glass ceil­ing of 19U6 brought to the at­ten­tion of Amer­ica that TuDOi­fiHG wRPHn wHUH EHinJ GHniHG higher po­si­tions on the cor­po­rate lad­der and did not get equal pay for sim­i­lar types of work. Women with M.B.A. de­grees from busi­ness schools re­ceive salaries that are $4,600 less than that paid to men. Across the pond, in most Euro­pean coun­tries, women oc­cupy fewer than one-in-10 top po­si­tions in sci­ence fa­cil­i­ties.

A 2011 U.S. gov­ern­ment re­port did show that as the years go by, women re­ceive higher salaries. De­spite the gains, women still have a me­dian weekly in­come that is 70.5 per­cent that of men and earn 75 per­cent of what a man would earn at the same job. And women hold only 16 per­cent of the top ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tions in Amer­ica’s largest cor­po­ra­tions and en­ter­prises be­cause they usu­ally have to ac­cept lower pay­ing work. The gap be­tween women and men re­veals that women who are full-time em­ploy­ees make 17 per­cent less than men and that in­come gap be­comes larger at higher salaries. This oc­curs even though the per­cent­age of all adult women who are work­ing has in­creased from 33 per­cent in 1950 to 61 per­cent in 1999. Women lag be­hind men in de­grees in math, phys­i­cal sciences, engi­neer­ing and com­puter sci­ence.

The in­come dif­fer­ence be­tween women and men is not new. In the 1Uth cen­tury, women were ba­si­cally slaves in a home. They cleaned and cooked and were treated poorly by the man of the house even if he was a hus­band. This life­style was ac­cepted as nor­mal. It was quite ev­i­dent in the life of Wil­liam Her­schel who be­came a fa­mous as­tronomer. He dis­cov­ered the planet Uranus and cat­a­logued many stars of the heav­ens. Wil­liam lived with his sis­ter, Caro­line, who be­came a singer and an as­tronomer and wor­shiped her brother. Caro­line dis­cov­ered nine comets and did the book­keep­ing and many other chores for Wil­liam. Her ter­ri­ble life was expected and ac­cepted by Caro­line and other women in the 1700s.

The treat­ment of women over the cen­turies can be mea­sured by their lack of suc­cess un­til the late 19th cen­tury. From the 1700s on­ward, very few women were out­stand­ing in VFiHnFH DnG RWKHU fiHOGV. 0DUiH Curie re­ceived two No­bel Prizes, one in 1903 and one in 1911. The fiUVW RnH in 1903 in SKyViFV wDV JiYen on the in­sis­tence of her hus­band, Pierre. This seemed to show the world that women can make ma­jor con­tri­bu­tions as they do to­day.

In re­cent years, women have been crack­ing that glass ceil­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, it will still take many years un­til that ceil­ing is gone.

Dr. Mil­ton Fried­man can be reached at tcgn@mont­gomerynews.com.

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