Discrimination as a general term is informed by different aspects. Often, the definition depends on what the user of the term intends to convey to the audience. In this context, discrimination can be defined as the differential treatment of a person or group of persons merely on the ground of their feature, sex, colour, creed, origin, nationality, among other factors. Discrimination, however, manifests in a negative way. In this regard, the person treated differently is essentially disfavoured over the other persons even though naturally he or she is entitled to the same treatment or in some cases even better treatment.
Nobel winner, Kenneth Arrow, a respected economist defines discrimination as the valuation in the market place of personal characteristics of the worker that are unrelated to the worker productivity. The operative words in the definition by Arrow are valuation and personal characteristics. It is conceivable from the definition that discrimination can occur in the labour industry and that this kind of discrimination seems to overlook the worker’s productivity and instead values the worker’s personal characteristics. These personal characteristics as envisioned by Arrow are sex, appearance, national origin, height, race, sexual preference, among other characteristics.
Discrimination occurs almost everywhere. It occurs at the market place, in schools, in churches and at the workplace. This paper approaches the discourse on discrimination with a concentration on women. In particular this paper sets out to address women discrimination at the workplace. A question is thus put forth; will discrimination towards women at the workplace be eliminated? The answer is in the affirmative. However, this paper will go through a gruelling process of evaluating the discrimination through a historical context and relate the same to the current situation giving a contemporary exposition of the same. It is, however, incumbent upon the society to see to it that the attendant discrimination of women at the workplace is put to rest. The next section will cover labour market discrimination as proposed and posited in the model of Gary Becker and its application in the labour markets in the world.
Historical context using Becker Model
According to Gary Becker in her taste model; the determinant in discrimination among employees and within the workplace resonated around the taste one has for another and in the breadth, the distaste one has for another. Becker observes that discrimination would be a direct consequence of distaste between persons. In that regard, some people in the workplace would be distasteful of certain groups merely because of their ethnic origins while others would be distasteful for the racial differences. This distaste often is strong and in many cases the persons are often ready to pay an extra price so as to avoid interaction with others they distaste.
In the same vein, Becker explained discrimination through the presence of employer ignorance. He asserted that the lack of knowledge or the limited information on the workers with the employer would justify proxies such as gender and race to be used in running into conclusions. Becker asserts that this practise is regrettable and ought to be fought off. Becker goes on to posit that over time, with the employer ignorance, women and minorities in the workplace are crowded out through the effects of occupational crowding. This trend is more common in lower paying jobs than is in higher paying jobs.
It is, however, essential to obtain a clear difference between what constitutes discrimination and what falls on the surface as discrimination but are mere correlatives to discrimination. Discrimination must be negative and directed to the disadvantage of the women who is the victim in this case. It is noteworthy that discrimination from a historical context derives from a predominantly male society that saw no feminine role in the economy. Even in the world oldest democracy, the United States of America, history is rich with discriminative practices of the women. Up to as late as the 1900s in the United States shortly during the Reformation Period, discrimination of women in the nation was prevalent. In fact, that discrimination was not limited to the labour industry. The political system was equally discriminative denying the women of their suffrage rights. However, history is rich with women labourers also suffering in the hands of a discriminative system. The Colorado Miners’ Strike perhaps is the indelible historic record that illustrates a discriminative society that was America. Indeed, the liberation fought for by the likes of Jane Adams cannot be overlooked. Therefore, women have come from a long, painful and gruelling history when matters discrimination is mentioned. In addition, that women were disallowed even suffrage rights serves to betray the deep societal divide that the women of the olden days had to tackle.
In details to the Becker model, the deduction this paper makes is that with time, discriminative firms will exit the market as a consequence of the actions of the non-discriminative firms which easily come in to offer the same services in the market but receive a better reception given their positive approach to the employment of women. It was Becker’s analysis and observation that the modern pressures as to equality and equity continue to exert influence on organizations to apply just and fair mechanisms in employment. As a consequence it should be appreciated that women discrimination at the workplace continues to find resistance and that only posits good times ahead for women in the workplace.
The Blind Auditions case by Goldin
In addition to the Becker models discussed above, the paper would like to consider the now celebrated Impact of the Blind Auditions on Female Musicians that was carried around January 1997. This case illustrates the place of discrimination on women even in the informal sectors of employment such as the music industry. In this light, to test the level of effect the sex of the musicians had on their ability to be chosen during auditions, it was considered by the committee concerned and agreed that auditions be carried blind. A revision of the audition mechanism especially in light of the jury was instituted. In that vein, screens were introduced in the audition that prevented the identity of sex of the candidate from getting revealed to the jury. The jury were then tasked to carry on with the audition without the knowledge of the actual sex of the musician on the stage. The results of these experiments were exonerating to the women rights activists. It revealed a number of factors in respect of the female discrimination in the workplace. First, it was deduced that the before the changes, women constituted only five percent of the top five symphony orchestras, however, after the change, the position improved and the composition shot upwards to twenty five percent. This indicated an upward growth of twenty percent that can be attributed to the eliminated female discrimination in the audition thanks to the blind approach that was employed.
In addition, it was discovered from the data derived from the audition that the screen increased the probability of a woman advancing from the preliminary round by fifty percentage points, it also facilitated by several times the likelihood of the female contestant making it to the final round of the auditions. It was clear from the results of the auditions that indeed women were undergoing discrimination in the workplace and that this discrimination had its attendant consequences. What came clear is that the discrimination could be resolved through an application of processes that hide their identities. It should be noted that these findings embarrassed not only the music profession but the entire labour industry. The message sent was clear that women too deserved their own opportunities and it was not prudent neither was it fair to deny them these opportunities on the basis of their sex. On the other hand, this experiment also gave women hope and determination. It reminded them that they had what it takes to make success of their situations. It enumerated the fact that in many cases they failed not because they did not qualify but because of the attendant consequences of discriminative workforce. It should be appreciated that since then a lot has changed in the music industry. Goldin’s experiment had laid the ground for the liberation of the womenfolk from contemporary discrimination.
Gender gap elimination exposition by Goldin
Finally, let us consider a case study on the gender gap elimination employing the works of Claudia Goldin. Goldin begins her article by defining the economist’s perception of the gender gap. She brings out the definition of the gender gap from the economist’s perspective arguing that it refers to the systematic differences in the outcomes at the workplace that are distinctly attributed to men and women by the simple reason of being male or female in nature. The gender gap, hence, is the overall effect of one’s gender in the workplace. The differences as Golding asserts arise from a number of factors. These include the percentages of men and women at the workplace. Ordinarily and in many cases, the numbers of men at the workplace outdo the number of women. This could be attributed to the diversity in the occupations that men and women elect to participate in. It has been obtained empirically and subjected to analysis and the conclusion justified that some men or women tend to prefer other professions or occupations to the exclusion of other genders. For instance, it has been noted that women tend to prefer the nursing profession while most men would rather pursue medicine that do nursing courses.
Another factor contributing to the gender gap is the screaming average incomes of men and women that differ substantially. However, as it would be shown, the difference in income for men and women in the same profession has been on the continual decrease with the workforce adopting equality in pay attitude. It should be appreciated as Goldin notes that the gender gap that reflects the societal inequality has dominated the world discourse. In America, for instance, it has been subjected to several debates and legalities. In fact, feminine activism has for the major part of the century concentrated along these economic issues. In this breadth, it is also noteworthy that America has since taken in its strides measures to address the gender gap. The signing into law of the Equal Pay Act that effectively brought the women at par with their male counterparts inform some of the progress the American nation has made towards bridging the economic gap and in the overall overturning the frustrating women discrimination in the nation.
In addition, the progressive system led by the incumbency that has come out strongly to advocate for women rights including rights to fair pay has enabled the repositioning of the woman in the economic circles. In the entire world, the same can be said of most nations who have adopted a progressive path towards bridging the economic gap. However, some nations notably in the Middle East are still stuck in the old ways of doing things. These countries have failed to undertake measures aimed at liberating the womenfolk and ensuring a reduced gender gap. In this wake, Saudi Arabia stands out as one of the non-progressive systems where womenfolk still face major obstacles in the workforce.
Moreover, according to Goldin’s paper, the gender gap in the United States of America has been consistently on the decrease for the last on hundred years. Below is a sample graph that illustrates the participation rates of the men and women from 1890 to 1990.
As can be noted the participation of the men in the labour has been constant over time only registering slight fluctuations. On the other hand, the participation of white married women was almost nil as at 1890. This position has since changed with the graph showing a consistent rise in the participation of women in the labour rates. As at 1990, it was only 20 percentage points away from the male participation. This means that in only one hundred years, women have narrowed the gap to register a 20 percent gap from a previous near one hundred percent gap. This only boils down to one thing, that is, the women are continuously joining the workforce. It is illustrative to note that the graph only captures the white women workers and does not include the black woman whose situation was worse even in the 1900s given the absolute discrimination visited on the black race in the United States of America up until the later 1960 when the Great Nations deal was signed by Lyndon Johnson. It should be appreciated in that vein, that the gap has been narrowed even to smaller margins.
Goldin explained a number of factors responsible for the changes. In addition, she explains the challenges that faced the initial entrants into the workforce. Issues to do with inadequate skills, experience and a poor attitude from the workers and management conspired to rob the women of the opportunities of faster progress at the workforce. This has effectively occasioned a slowed approach in adapting to the economic systems by the womenfolk. In addition, the national legal infrastructure, Goldin asserts, has contributed immensely in the realisation of the gender gap elimination. It should be appreciated that the women efforts needs a lot of support that could be manifested in legal, political and social phenomena. Golding mentioned Title VII and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as the main legal infrastructure that occasioned the bridging of the gap and fastened the progress of the womenfolk at the workplace. As the end of the day, it should be taken in humility that America pursued a progress system and has earned its place in conferring womenfolk with their rights.
Finally Goldin appreciates the role of education towards bridging the economic gap. She observes that the education system in America was compelled to adopt changes tremendously from around the 1970s. This saw the system accepts the female students pursuing education into colleges and technical institutions. The industry of America and indeed largely the system replicated in most nations that have adopted the capitalist economics tends to favour the educated over the uneducated. In this context, the educated are paid higher figures, do les jobs and are able to execute multiple jobs at the same time. For a long time, this had worked in favour of the men. Most women lacked education and only performed unskilled and semiskilled jobs. However, with the education system adopting changes that would facilitate the pursuit of education by the females, the situation has since changed.
Analysis of the contemporary position
Therefore, in analysis of the cases mentioned in this paper and taking into consideration the contemporary developments in the globe, the question will discrimination of women in the labour industry be eliminated can now be answered. It is the paper’s contention that the discrimination attendant on the women will indeed be eliminated and that it would need the collective goodwill of the society to do so. It should be appreciated that the progress made thus far has been slow, enduring, gruelling, painful as well as evolutionary. However, the hope lies in the systems of democracy adopted by nations in the globe. Any democratic society appreciates the role of freedom and rights and the attendant consequences of disregarding the same. In the same breadth, I should be appreciated that the general trajectory in the world is driving towards equity and cohesion in the spirit of promoting progress.
In overall it is essential to note the major tools that have been used and that will continue to be used in the elimination of discrimination visited on women at the workplace. First the body of law and the entire legal infrastructure remains essential and valuable. In the United States of America, it was Title VII, the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act 1964 that led to the liberation of the womenfolk.
In addition, the constitution in conferring rights recognises the equality of man and woman and so confers upon both the same rights and freedoms. Other than the legal infrastructure, the body politic of a nation also plays an important role in the realisation of this objective. In the body politic systems are evaluated as per their progress. It has been noted that constitutional republics that entertain democracy are in the forefront of achieving success for the womenfolk. This contrasts sharply with dictatorial systems where the rule of law and constitutional foundations has been given a slap in the face. It would be essential for the people to first realise a rule of law and not a rule by man in such nations before looking forth to achieving an end to the women discrimination. It is, therefore, this paper’s contention that yes the discrimination on women shall end but with the collective participation of the entire citizenry.
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