Gender stereotypes still exist as to what is considered “women’s work.”  These stereotypes are ingrained in our society and are passed along from our parents and continue with our school teachers and guidance counselors, all of whom tend to steer females into “pink collar” classes and careers. With little guidance and exposure to all of their career options, it’s a wonder there are any women in non-traditional careers.

Title IX

In 1972, Title IX was passed by Congress in an effort to help women achieve a better economic future through education. Nearly 40 years later, we do have more female doctors, lawyers, and athletes. However, the pattern of enrollment in technical education remains very similar to that before the law was enacted. Women are still clustered in programs that prepare them for low-wage careers in the helping and service fields.

Impact of the Media

The media is notorious for portraying females in roles including caretaker, housekeeper, and in administrative support positions. In print and television advertisements for sports and alcoholic beverages, women are often dressed scantily and depicted as sexual objects.

Challenges in the Workplace

In the workplace, women face many challenges as a result of stereotyping, including wage discrimination, sexual harassment, and career advancement.

The American Civil Liberties Union reports that a woman still earns only 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. Women’s salaries are still often seen as a supplement to their husband, according to Catalyst, a nonprofit designed to build inclusive workplaces for women and business.

The stereotyping of women as sexual objects can also lead to sexual harassment. Sexual harassment occurs when employment decisions such as promotions, salary increases, hiring decisions, etc. are determined on an employee’s willingness to grant or deny sexual favors. It also includes verbal or non-verbal behavior in the workplace that is unwanted or unwelcome and is severe or pervasive enough to affect the person’s work environment.

Women’s rise to the top is also affected by gender stereotyping. According to Catalyst, women hold only 15.7% of C-level positions at Fortune 500 companies and make up 11% of Fortune 1000 Company board seats.

While stereotypes can present a big challenge to women in the workplace, in an upcoming post I’ll share some of the many benefits for women working in a non-traditional career.

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