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Gender Equality Within the Workplace

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    The Capitalist world today is everchanging where individuals have become increasingly liberated, albeit, discrimination has become a routinised objective of day to day life. Gender in society is associated with an individual’s sex based on their roles, norms and actions which they are expected to fulfil within. In contemporary society, there is growing awareness of gender inequality within the workplace which is omnipresent. Although in most institutions it seems that inequalities have faded, “inequities are pervasive throughout organisational policies, practices and ideologies” (Kelly et. Al, 2015, p.415). The development of ‘new femininities’ in recent years has meant there has been a reboot of thought in social institutions such as the workplace (Dozier,2018). Using a news article written by Rachel Reeves looking at the effects of Capitalism on women allows us to take into account the reasons for why there are still signs of gender inequality within the workplace. It reviews how we see “hyper-masculinity” (Acker, 2006, p.29) currently and the outcomes of this on female lives, whilst using literature to support the ideas of individualism, hegemonic masculinity and symbolic violence involving this discrimination. It gives us the knowledge how women are affected by the characteristics of Capitalism but also how each and every individual experience inequality differently; what one woman may find unfair another may see as normal. By looking at this we are able to outline how Capitalism is seen to have failed to deliver greater gender equality within the workplace, but also, we must see how the case study fails to look at the multiple developments in gender equality.

    The case study in question is ‘Women vs Capitalism by Vicky Pryce review – insightful analysis” written by Rachel Reeves in November 2019 on the Guardian online. The principle statement is that Capitalist markets are proficient at producing and detecting benefits in some disciplines, nevertheless, when coming to women their resources contributed within society is not shown in the market. Thereby, indicating how women are held back in the workplace. Other features mentioned is how CEOs and high ranked positions within companies are adherently held by males, from Reeves own personal experience she notes how the Bank of England in her time there, still has minimal women in the workplace and failed to have a female governor. On the other hand, there are mentions of how other worldwide organisations such as the IMF (International Monetary Fund) have been headed or had senior ranked females within.

    What can be clearly seen is the descriptions of how women are discriminated. Whether it be by being labelled as the designated nurturer mother, men increasingly being promoted to higher ranked jobs, gender pay gap or even the fact maternity leave contributes to women missing out on advancements and pay progressions. What stands out within this case study is the general pattern of how “people tend to like people like themselves” (Reeves, 2019). Consequently meaning, those at the top of businesses/institutions find themselves choosing individuals similar to them. As we know most of those at the top are male therefore, they pick other likeminded individuals; men. What is interesting though is the notion that most women do not want the pressure of high ranked jobs, supporting the evidence seen above of men accumulating the more rewarding jobs.

    The case study goes onto criticise the book being reviewed for failing allude to experiences of women at the bottom and also to analyse some of her points made when looking at discrimination for example, 61% of low paid jobs are held by women compared to men, and also why some work is gendered e.g. caring, cleaning jobs (Reeves, 2019). The study however would have benefited if Reeves addressed the increasing relevance of sexual harassment seen within the workplace today. One can see from the above how the case study supports the statement that Capitalism has failed to deliver greater gender equality within the workplace.

    The work has revealed several factors for why women are discriminated within the workplace and how Capitalism has instrumentally helped. By drawing/reviewing on the book written by Pryce the study has used points made and with the benefit of hindsight justified these statements or introducing themes missed out. Throughout this thesis, it portrays different concepts within its work. What we know is that the overcoming gender inequality is a process in which “progress is fragile without a pipeline of talent being nurtured” (Reeves, 2019). This depicts at the developments seen that has contributed a small amount in overcoming gender inequality within the workplace. We know that there has is an increased individualisation over the years, however, the procedure towards females achieving equality is a slow process in which will not be effected whether one holds talent or not. It does spark reference though to “Disembedding’ (Beck and Beck-Gernsheim, 2002) where this category of gender is becoming less and less relevant. The broad use of ‘hegemonic masculinity’ is underlined within the whole of this piece, for example “women are penalised for having children, but men never are” (Reeves, 2019). The Capitalist system means men are not defined by reproduction and emotion, except it promotes the idea of ‘Davos Man’ (Huntington, 2004) where men are aggressive, unemotional, competitive and self-interested. It reflects this inequality “capitalism won’t fix the problem – and it’s a market failure that cost us all” (Reeves, 2019). Individuality is seen within capitalism however; women’s talents are lost within; they never get promoted meaning they rely on benefits provided by the state and may just leave the labour market or stick with being underpaid and discriminated.

    By using relative literature, it has allowed us to contribute to our understanding on the concepts and statements portrayed in the case study. As seen the main principle within the case study is looking at the discrimination of women due to the characteristics created by Capitalism. This is supported by Acker’s work who distinguished five ways that contributed to inequality within organisations and saw them continually reproduced. These were the division of labour, cultural symbols, workplace interactions, individual identities and organisational logic (Kelly et al. 2015, p.415). This highlights how Capitalism has these underlining problems meaning inequality is still there. Another principle stated throughout the case study is how males are always chosen over females. The research taken by Kelly et al uses the examples of apprentices in the highway trade and demonstrates how some hiring practices lead to discriminations. Women within their research identified how their hard work did not always pay off and those who got the job was based on networking and knowing people. The case study by Reeves comments on how due to females mothering duties the miss out “to work on big projects” (Reeves, 2019). This is also backed by the work of Acker who demonstrates how with computer science and technology men are taught how to use it a lot more than women putting them behind males (Acker, 2006, p.31). Bourdieu concept of ‘symbolic violence’ allows us to demonstrate this dominance of white men and the continuation of this trait. Gracia in 2009 mentions that this idea is a useful element in understanding gender inequality. Bourdieu’s statement was symbolic violence was a method where the reproduction of gender inequality could perform (Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992), this violence could be played out in emotion, social situations or even psychological (Powell and Sang, 2015, p.921). This concept puts the case studies theories of male domination in the workplace in the light, showing us how Capitalism allows inequality to be executed. The case study conveys a stance on how Capitalism has failed to execute equality within the workplace and by employing relative literature we have been able to draw sociological concepts and ideas to justify the statements made.

    The case study, however, has some major flaws when looking at the question at hand. It is very much set on reviewing and describing how women are discriminating. It makes brief statements on the developments whilst also continuing to criticise them. Although we know there is still unfairness seen between men and women, the ideas of ‘everyday sexism’ in recent years which refers to “non-violent sexism” (Powell and Sang, 2015, p922) allows us to apprehend that it is seen in everyday interactions, thus meaning this inequality may no longer seem as severe as it once was. The case study does slightly touch the subject of how developments have been made, such as some women rising to the top in international institutions. This allows us to develop on the stance of increased individualism. Today’s individuals are very much based on ‘do it yourself’, this is because Capitalism has meant the free market has provided ongoing opportunities in which people can decide whether they want to take advantage of, or not. We see in the case study how some women “leave the labour market altogether” (Reeves, 2019) showing how some females do not try and fight through the struggles to redeem success. It fabricates a system of meritocracy that “produced disapproval of social failures who are lacking in entrepreneurial instinct and personal responsibility” (Phipps, 2014, p.34) creating an atmosphere that can leave women feeling isolated. This notion is failed to be mentioned within in which is significant in understand how some women prospect more than others, if they do not stand up to the system. It reiterates an idea put through by Davies that a revolution from women may be the only way for things to change. As far as the case study is concerned there is no mention of sexual harassment that has become an increasingly conscious topic. This is a significant area in which women have felt discriminated within the workforce and been seen under Capitalism. We have seen multiple cases of were powerful men have used their position to put down claims of sexual harassments, “the idea that the male elite should be able to act with impunity” (Phipps, 2014, p.27). Shown in the research by Kelly et al how some women in the workplace are at the receiving end of unwanted male attention, albeit, it is something in the culture of male dominated companies and overlooked. These are actions seen on an everyday basis that are never directed but offensive to females. Reeves overlooks this significant area of dominance that is seen under Capitalism.

    Overall, as outlines above, the case study provides us with copious amounts of reasons that provide us with evidence to why Capitalism has failed to convey equality within the workplace. Using both the case study and relative literature they allow us to take into the question at hand. We see how today women are rarely seen at the top of organisations, they are sexually harassed and how their identity being based on the ‘mother’ has allowed men to dominate the jobs and control within the workforce. In spite of this though we have also been able to identify areas in which the Capitalism has emancipated female lives more than ever compared to what has been seen before. Capitalism has been the most liberating system that anyone has seen so far although there is not complete equality it is far greater than ever before or what has been seen under other socialist systems. In short, capitalism has failed to complete full gender equality today as it is still a very present theme, however, there have been developments in the process which will be slow.

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    Gender Equality Within the Workplace. (2022, Jan 05). Retrieved from

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