The condition of women has always been one of the most common areas of discussion in scholarly articles, journals, music, plays, movies, and even books. Through these different media of expression, there have been many attempts to expose the condition of women hoping that the society will not only realize that women have for many centuries been treated as second-class citizens but also for the purpose of making the society better appreciate the role of women.
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The efforts of women leaders and advocacy groups promoting equality in treatment have led to the enactment of more laws in favor of women. Presently, there are a number of federal laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex or gender. These are the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Fair Housing Act, Equal Pay Act of 1963, Family and Medical Leave Act, and Pregnancy Discrimination Act. These laws, in essence, protect the women against unequal treatment on the basis of sex is against the law. They also impose heavy financial liability against any company which may be proven to have violated these laws. In fact, these laws also punish those who fail to create a discrimination-free working environment. Moreover, there are government agencies where women employees who feel that they have been discriminated may go to and seek for assistance. One of these agencies is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Despite these changes, however, it is still a common observation that discrimination still exists. Discrimination still abounds and it is no secret to everybody. One particular example is in the area of social work organizations. It is a glaring reality that men have held most of the top administrative posts in social work organizations. It is a fact that men have been engaged primarily in policy making while women have been relegated to doing casework. It is also a reality that women social workers receive far fewer salaries than their male counterparts despite having the same qualifications and despite performing the same kind of work. Women also have lesser opportunity to be promoted compared to their male counterparts. Thus, the only conclusion that can be derived is that gender-based biases continue to exist in mainstream American society.
I share the same sentiment with the author. In fact, the problem of gender-based discrimination exists not only in social work organizations but even in corporations and business organizations. It would appear that practices geared towards inequality and discrimination have been going on since decades ago and will continue to go on despite the presence of these laws against discrimination.
Gender-based discrimination is wide in scope. It may consist in the unequal treatment given to male and female employees resulting to differences in terms and conditions of employment. It may also consist in sexual harassments against female employees which may create a hostile working environment for these women. The study shows that 80% of women surveyed in a wide variety of industries had been sexually harassed. The EEOC now handles some 5,000 new sexual harassment cases annually, which is the double of the caseload compared to the past years. The statistics of gender-based discrimination cases is glaring.
One particular example is the suit recently filed by employees of Wal-Mart against the Wal-Mart. Last February 2007, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a certification of a class action involving gender discrimination against Wal-Mart. It can be recalled that this case is the result of an appeal made by Wal-Mart from a ruling in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Wal-Mart may be involved in what is now considered as the largest employment discrimination in the history of United States.
In this suit, plaintiffs, who are the past and present employees of Wal-Mart, filed a class action suit against the latter claiming that it is guilty of gender discrimination against its women employees. These employees argued that Wal-Mart violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because it: a) gave lesser compensation to its women employees even if these women are more productive than their male counterparts; b) awarded lesser opportunity for promotion to women than their male colleagues.
There are several important reasons why gender-based discrimination should be avoided, especially in workplaces. First, is the avoidance of the inconvenience of litigation and the potential liability for damages. Second, when a policy of discrimination exists in the work environment or even if the women employees feel that there is discriminatory treatment against female employees, it is bound to cause jealousy among employees. With jealousy comes intrigues, quarrels, bickering, and even lack of cooperation. Ultimately, it is the corporation which suffers from the loss of productivity and efficiency that result from the intrigues in the workplace. It goes to show that adopting a policy of discrimination or tolerating the existence of discrimination is disadvantageous both for the corporation and the employees.
The battle for equality waged by the women’s right movement has come a long way. Despite the changes that have been made, there is still more to be done. For these women who feel that they have been discriminated against, they must continue to be vigilant. They must join together and organize themselves so that their voices may be heard. There is strength in number and the women must take advantage of this otherwise the fight for the acceptance and recognition of the role of women for that past decades will be gone to waste.
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