With Hillary Clinton now the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, it will be the first time a woman will represent a major party in a US presidential election. Her accomplishment is being heralded as a milestone for women everywhere. This time around, Clinton has embraced her influence as a women, stating early on in her campaign that if she were to be elected, “finally fathers will be able to say to their daughters, You, too, can grow up to be president." The US presidency has long proved the ultimate glass ceiling for women. And though the general election is still months away, many can’t help but wonder how a Hillary Clinton presidency would impact women’s rights, particularly in the workplace. Could a female Commander in Chief level the playing field once and for all, at least culturally?
Irrespective of the outcome of the elections, as part of our mission Jurbid will address many of the inequalities and injustices women face through our blog posts. We will touch upon a range of relevant issues like the biases women face in the work place in respect to their intellectual abilities, gender discrimination in the classification of jobs, sexual harassment, and pay inequity.
While the situation for women in labor force today is much better than it was just a generation ago, up to a third of women have reported experiencing workplace discrimination.
By in large, the evolution of women in the labor force has accompanied wider political, economic, and social transitions. While there has never been a time when women have not “worked,” the visibility of their efforts have become more pronounced over successive generations. As paid employment opportunities outside the home have increased and cultural attitudes towards working mothers have progressed, women have made their mark in the workplace.
At turn of the 20th century, women made up 19% of the labor force, and were employed mostly in the industrial and agrarian sector. By the 1960s, women represented 38% of the workforce, but were still largely confined to low-paid jobs, in part due to World War II.
Women’s prospects improved significantly with the Equal Pay Act (1963), prohibiting wage discrimination on the basis of sex, and the Civil Rights Act (1964). Though women were generally still expected to be homemakers, and those who worked were regarded as doing so out of economic need rather than personal ambition, developments were made to legitimize the value women bring to the workplace.
Since the 1960s, the overall rate of women in the labor force has steadily increased, thanks in large part to the women’s liberation movement and changing societal attitudes, as well as an increasing rate of higher education. These factors alone led to the creation of many white-collar jobs and the appointment of women to positions of responsibility. It also ignited a workplace power struggle between men and women, as they competed for the same jobs for the first time.
By 1970, women in the labor force had reached 43%, by 1990, 58%, and by 2000, 60% (the rate declined to 47% by 2010 in the wake of the Great Recession). With time has come a narrowing of the gender gap. Women’s college attendance, in particular, has succeeded in acclimating men to having female classmates, and thereby female colleagues in the workplace. However, while women may be making strides in some social settings, these advancements aren’t necessarily reflected in the workplace, as the persistent wage gap between the sexes demonstrates.