Social Inequality in Canada Prejudice Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

Those individuals that are at the low end of the spectrum when it comes to earning wages would be happy to see more money in their paychecks as well, and many of the women that were in the workforce during that time were able to perform the jobs just as well as the men could but they were generally not allowed the opportunity (Frager & Patrias, 2006). Even for the women that were allowed to 'compete' with the men, they were still paid significantly less than the men were paid for the same kind of work (Frager & Patrias, 2006).

Paying women more money and paying them equally with men helps out the entire economy for a while because the individuals that have more money are more likely to spend it rather than save it for a time when they may need it most (Frager & Patrias, 2006). A raise in pay is a comforting thing to many individuals and they will often plan what they are going to do with this money in such a way that is often spent before they ever receive it. It is not necessarily true that all women in Canada at that time would have done this, but it is likely that the economy overall would have been improved if there had been more equality.

Minimum wage issues and how much women were paid were not the only concerns, however. Another concern was the fact that there was no gender equality in the Canadian workforce at that time, and there was also not that much gender equality in Canada overall during those years (Frager & Patrias, 2006). The traditional gender roles that many people were used to were changing rapidly, though, as women demanded reform and were willing to fight for it. The concepts of 'women's work' and 'men's work' were no longer as strong as they used to be, especially toward the end of that time period. There are still some things that women cannot do as well as men and vice versa, however (Frager & Patrias, 2006). Women tend to be better on average at careers that are more nurturing and supportive of others, and men tend to be better at jobs that require strength and analytical thinking. This may be why more men are involved with careers that are math or science oriented, and more women are in professions such as nursing that have traditionally been viewed as being more caring.

Despite this, however, there is much more equality in the workplace than there was years ago (Frager & Patrias, 2006). Women have more rights and they are more accepted, and men that do not have traditionally male careers are not as often viewed as being homosexual or having issues with their masculinity. The equality that is seen is still not complete, however, as there are professions that try to keep one particular gender out as much as possible. This happens more often with women than it does with men, and even though women are accepted into jobs that they previously could not have held they often find that there is a 'glass ceiling' that they cannot get past (Frager & Patrias, 2006).

As for women in certain professions, there are still disproportionate numbers in many cases. Professions that are heavily geared to math and science still have a much larger number of men, and nurturing professions still have a much larger number of women (Frager & Patrias, 2006). However, evidence suggests that this might not have anything to do with gender equality, but with genetics instead. Men and women are very different in ways that have nothing to do with their physical characteristics. Research suggests that they may also be 'wired' differently, and that different issues are important to them (Frager & Patrias, 2006). Some of this comes from how they are raised by their parents and what they see in their culture and society, but some of it also comes from genetic differences that are just being realized by scientists.

It is suggested that men are geared toward financial and corporate success as being evidence of their masculinity, and women are more interested in the home and the family as evidence of their femininity (Frager & Patrias, 2006). While this is, of course, a generalization, it does seem to hold true for the majority of the population. What makes some men stay at home with their children while their wives work a construction job or climb the corporate ladder is not really known, since these kinds of things go against tradition and genetics, but it does appear that women are becoming more interested in this type of work. The only field that does not seem to be gaining more women is research and development where math and science are concerned. Women are generally not as good at these things as men, just as men are generally not as good at listening and being empathetic. These gender differences may have much to be with why women and men have overall remained in gender-specific jobs and careers, although society and tradition has undoubtedly played a part as well (Frager & Patrias, 2006).

Methodology

The data for this study came from articles written about discrimination and inequality, and also from the information contained in a book written about the specific subject of gender inequality in Canada. This means that the sample size was very small, but not that it does not provide enough information to adequately answer the question. There is clear evidence in the literature review that social inequality is still very prevalent in Canada and throughout the world. Information for this study also came from Websites which offer data regarding Canada, so that the information seen in the review of the articles and book could be either confirmed or shown to be suspect. For example, the following tables represent the income information for males and for females in 2000 and in 2005.

Male

Total - Population 15 years and over with employment income 8,664,545 9,480,555

Median employment income $34,097 32,874

Average employment income $43,010 43,869

Standard error of average employment income $44 60

Female

Total - Population 15 years and over with employment income 7,751,240 8,720,710

Median employment income $22,447 21,543

Average employment income $27,356 28,073

Standard error of average employment income $20 24

Source: http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census06/data/topics/Index.cfm

Clearly, the money that women make in Canada is significantly lower than the money that men make. Some of this is likely related to the types of jobs that men and women traditionally hold, but there are enough men applying for 'women's jobs' and enough women applying for 'men's jobs' that this is less of a determining factor than it once was. Until a more thorough study is done on what these numbers mean and where they come from as they relate to what jobs these individuals hold, no official answers can be given.

Results

The traditional understanding of gender identity and what is acceptable for each gender has been undermined by popular culture. While many traditions are still around when it comes to gender, there are more changes being made in many areas, such as gay marriage and other issues, that were not seen during the time period that the book discusses. However, the equality that women fought for (and won) during that time laid the groundwork for much of the equality and other issues that are being addressed today. Many of the individuals that would traditionally be expected to live their lives a certain way are bucking that tradition and living their lives in the way that they feel most comfortable with, just as the authors show many women trying to do in the past.

Most people say that they want change and excitement in their lives, to keep from getting stuck in a rut, but then they resist when change comes along, for fear of the unknown. This happens with careers, as well. Those that work in a traditionally male occupation may feel uncomfortable if there is a woman present, and sexual harassment has become such a serious offense that men (and women) must be careful what they say and do in order to avoid this problem. The equality that the women fought for in the workplace has nuances and subtleties that they likely were not aware of at the time.

In jobs like construction work, where the stereotype involves men whistling at women as they walk by, a woman on the job site may cause a lot of discomfort for men that feel they must now constantly watch what they say and do. Often, men and women can work together without any problems, but it seems to depend on the type of job that the individuals are performing. Tradition is very strong in many cases, and it appears as though there will always be 'traditional' roles and jobs for each gender, even if everyone in that gender category does not always follow them. Those that do…

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