In gender discrimination, social class plays a big role. There is an important observation that gender discrimination against women is higher for those with less income and less education.
We’ll be looking at how women’s experiences at work and at home are shaped by social class. For example, in the case of underprivileged women, there is a significant barrier to make use of even the rather limited rights. Because of their class-based differences, these women are deprived of the opportunities to fight against that inequality.
In this article, we’ll cover the following questions:
- What is gender discrimination?
- What is social discrimination?
- How does social class affect gender-based disparities?
- What are the real-life examples?
- What could be the solution?
Gender, Social Class, and Women’s Employment
Both gender and social class generate meanings and expectations. In other words, being affiliated with either affects how people view themselves and how they are judged by society.
Unfortunately, this creates the phenomenon of multiple or intersectional forms of discrimination. The combined effects of gender and social class discrimination are only starting to gain recognition. Before we look at the links between them, let’s clarify what they mean separately.
What Is Gender Discrimination?
Gender discrimination is unequal, disadvantageous treatment of an individual or a group based on gender. It is highly rooted in gender bias, which is the tendency to prefer one gender over another.
If we analyze further where this bias comes from, we can pinpoint certain attitudes. For instance, people with gender bias tend to attribute certain behaviors and stereotypes to a particular gender. Because of that, they engage with men and women differently. Most often, it’s shown in the preferential treatment for men, especially in professional settings.
Most women encounter gender discrimination at some point in their lives. It might be from leadership that has a mindset determined by past experiences and prejudices. Or it can be from co-workers who think women can’t perform as well or better than their male counterparts.
What Are the Types of Gender Discrimination?
There is no official classification of gender discrimination, but there are certain defining factors. Based on how severely it’s manifested, we can pinpoint:
- Direct discrimination – Being explicitly treated worse than someone of the opposite sex in a similar situation.
- Indirect discrimination – When a policy applies in the same way to both sexes, but creates disadvantages for one of them.
- Harassment – Actions that make a person feel humiliated, offended, or degraded.
- Victimization – Treating a person unfairly after they’ve made a complaint about gender-related discrimination.
What are the other types of gender discrimination? Based on the areas where women experience gender discrimination in daily lives, there are the following types:
- Discrimination in education (admission, financial aid, grading, assignments, counseling, guidance);
- Discrimination in employment (dismissal, employment terms, and conditions, promotion and transfer, training, recruitment, redundancy);
- Pay discrimination (pay, compensation, benefits);
- Maternity and pregnancy discrimination at work (breaks, benefits, leave, flexible working).
What Is Social Discrimination?
Social discrimination is a much broader term. It is sustained inequality based on illness, disability, sexual orientation, religion, or other measures of diversity. It implies the distribution of resources and opportunities for education, learning, earning, and living.
Forms of social discrimination social class discrimination can be measured in several spheres, from personal to political ones. But in any case, all forms are in some way is damaging, derogatory, and demeaning. High-income countries come out better in this regard, but they are still far from being perfect.
Combatting social injustices means working with all institutions. Equal opportunities can only be in societies where all structures and processes accessible and available to everybody, regardless of their characteristics.
Education Matters When It Comes to Gender Discrimination at Work
Let’s look at the link between gender discrimination at work and how it’s foreshadowed by differences in education. Even seemingly progressive, modern societies exhibit stereotypical beliefs about gender. And, considering education is a subsystem of the societies they serve, these stereotypes continue to exist.
One significant issue is access to education. Around the world, 132 million girls can’t receive a formal education (34.3 million in primary education, 30 million in lower-secondary education, and 67.4 million in upper-secondary education). The accessibility issue isn’t as pervasive in the US. However, here class matters as well, so inequalities are more significant for lower-income families.
Another point of discussion is the curricula. Male issues are always present in the curricula, while female issues are not. For example, the experiences and contributions of women to historical events are largely under-represented. Also, in many education systems encourage men to gain knowledge in the public and economic life, while women are educated to care for others.
Here is some relevant research:
- A study revealed that teachers rated the boy as more mathematically able. The data was the same as more than 10 years ago.
- Fields that were perceived to discriminate against women prevent them from applying, such as STEM.
- Female students score higher on the written portions of tests. But most tests contain constructed-response items where male students perform better.
Therefore, we need to ask questions as to how we can include women in all spheres of education and life. Also, we need to challenge long-held beliefs that prevent women from reaching their full potential. It starts with education and continues to have an effect later on in professional settings.
Combating Gender Stereotypes in Education
Based on data about social injustice in articles and studies, we see that these issues are complex. But as long as little improvements are made, it’s beneficial for women as well as the wider society.
Here is what can be done to eliminate barriers to education that girls face because of their social class (poverty, cultural norms and practices, poor infrastructure, and fragility):
- Conditional cash transfers, stipends or scholarships;
- Reduced distance to school;
- Gender-conscious curriculum development and pedagogy;
- Recruitment of female teachers;
- Safe, respectful and inclusive learning environment;
- Eradication of child/early marriage;
- Elimination of violence against women.
These initiatives take time. But we can also address gender discrimination today. As representatives of policy-makers, academics, managerial bodies, teacher trainers, educators, parents, and students, we can:
- Raise awareness on persisting inequalities in education and how it affects girls;
- Analyze specific factors contributing to this persistence;
- Examine relationships that perpetuate stereotypical thinking;
- Set good examples and exchange them with others;
- Establish partnerships and networks that are morally sound;
- Choose and research your political affiliation.
The Findings and Real-Life Examples
To illustrate how inequality plays out in real-life settings, let’s look at some examples of gender discrimination in the workplace. It doesn’t mean all women encounter them all the time, but they are very common.
- Unequal pay – On average, women in the United States earn 82 cents for every male dollar. Figures are even worse as you analyze members from different social classes.
- Interview questions – Answers to “Do you have children?” or “Do you plan on having children?” have a big effect on the interview outcome.
- Diminished responsibilities – Comments like “We got this, sweetie”.
- Restrooms – Inadequate conditions of the company’s facilities.
- Conversations – Women are often spoken to differently than men.
- Glass ceilings – It means not being able to climb the career ladder with no justifiable reason.
- Positional bias – Not hiring the best-suited applicant for the job, which is why women aren’t placed in positions typically held by men.
- Outdated views – Not seeing women as professionals without dresses, high heels, and make-up.
- Sexual harassment – Use of explicit or implicit sexual overtones.
Gender Discrimination Today and What Can Be Done
Hopefully, we’ve answered the questions “What is social discrimination in the context of gender inequality” and vice versa – “What gender does discrimination mean for different social classes?”
Women and men make markedly different employment choices in practice. Similarly, people from different social classes tend to take different career paths. And the dynamic interplay between gender and class is something that needs to be addressed more. What is unequivocal is that both have a big effect on women’s employment beliefs and practices.
If you want to challenge the gendered ideals of women, we’ve presented some of the ways to do so. But remember that the intersection of gender and class complicated. Also, to help underprivileged members of society, we also need to look at additional identity dimensions such as race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation.