Just 20 years ago, in most states a woman could not sign an apartmentlease, get a credit rating, or apply for a loan unless her husband or a malerelative agreed to share the responsibility. Similarly, a 1965 study found thatfifty one percent of men though women were “temperamentally unfit formanagement. ” There can be no doubt that we have progressed a long way fromthese ideas in the last three decades.
However, it is also unquestionable thatwomen in the work force are still discriminated against, sexually harassed, paidless than men, and suffer from occupational sex segregation and fears of failureas well as fears of success. We will address all of these concerns in thispaper, and look at some well-known court cases as illustrations. Anyone who thinks sex discrimination is a thing of the past only has toask Muriel Kraszewski or Ann Hopkings to learn differently. Muriel Kraszewskiworked for State Farm Insurance Company for twelve years and was the leadingcandidate for an important promotion. She was denied the promotion because, heremployers said, she had no college degree and was too much under the control ofher husband.Order now
Kraszewski sued the company and won her case, after a nine yearbattle, in late January 1988. She was given what may be the largest sex-biasaward in history: up to two hundreds of millions for 1,113 other female StateFarm employees with similar complaints, and $433,000 for Kraszewski her-self. Ann Hopkings was one of Price Waterhouse’s top young executives. Shehad the best record for getting and maintaining big accounts, but when she cameup for a partnership in 1982, she was denied because several male partners hadevaluated her as “too macho. ” They advised her to walk, talk, and dress morefemininely.
In response, Hopkings quit the firm and filed suit under Title VIIof the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which forbids employers to discriminate on thebasis of a person’s sex. In May 1989, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that Price Waterhouse hadbased its decision on unlawful sex stereotyping. The decision shifted the legalburden of proof to the employer, which should make it easier for employees towin future Title VII cases.
Experts say that the decision’s main affect may beto force companies to eliminate bias in the people making important personneldecisions for them. The decision was a landmark for anti-discrimination, but weshould not overemphasize its power. Even now, after a long and expensive courtbattle, only twenty eight of Price Waterhouse’s nine hundred partners are women. One avenue of reform which the U. S. Supreme Court has long supported isthe use of affirmative action plans.
On March 25, 1987 the court ruled that thepublic transportation agency of Santa Clara County, California was justified ingiven a road dispatcher’s job to Diana Joyce rather than a man. Joyce scoredtwo points lower on a test than the man did, but a panel of supervisors foundher to be otherwise just as qualified. The decision was based on the fact that the agency’s affirmative actionplan met the court’s three criteria for fairness. The plan was flexible,temporary, and designed to gradually correct the imbalance in the overwhelminglywhite male work force.
The Reagan administration had taken the position thataffirmative action plans were only permissible if they addressed individualvictims of actual discrimination. The Supreme Court clearly disagreed, but itwas careful to point out that employers did not have to have an affirmativeaction plan, nor were they precluded from hiring the most qualified candidatefor a given position. Closely linked to sex discrimination in the job market, are sexsegregation of occupations and wage inequalities. A recent article in the”Monthly Labor Review” noted that, “sex segregation continues to characterizethe american workplace, despite the changes that have occurred in someoccupations. Millions of women continue to work in a small number of almosttotally female clerical and service occupations, and men continue to make up themajority of workers in the majority of occupations. “The National Academy of Science published a study in 1986 on the cause,extent, and future direction of sex segregation.
The study found that women’soccupational options have increase significantly during the last decade, andthat the overall index of occupational segregation had decreased by almost tenpercent between 1972 and 1981, which is more than in any other decade in thecentury. The sharpest gains in the number of women employed were in thefollowing jobs: lawyer, .