Sexual harassment has been a problem since women joined the workforce and is still prevalent. Studies show that a majority of men think the fight for gender equality in the workplace is over or has even gone too far. I disagree with this view point, here is why: Sexual harassment has just recently become a main focus in the media. Thanks to things like the #metoo movement, women are finally being able to speak out about this harassment that plagues the workplace. According to a survey conducted by CNBC, ⅕ of American adults have reported being sexually harassed at work. Breaking it down by age, 16% of people aged 18-34 years old reported being victims while 25% of people aged 50-64 have reported the same. The problem has not been solved! People who are still in the infancy of their career lives at age 18 have already faced this problem! And the statistics about what is done about these reported harassment instances are horrendous. According to The Guardian, “More than half of the allegations of sexual harassment made to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2015 have resulted in no charge. The statistics, which span the past six years, show a consistent pattern in which claimants are unsuccessful.” The victims are reporting the harassment, and yet no justice has been served to the harassers. Harassers who are being pursued by the law, i.e. Bill Cosby, Matt Lauer, Roger Ailes, and most notoriously Harvey Weinstein, are being pursued only because innumerable amounts of women have come forward with accusations. Shouldn’t just one woman's claim be enough for at least an investigation? Why does it take 20, 30, even 50 women’s stories to evoke a response? It’s like screaming for help to a brick wall.
Next I pose a question to you: How are babies made? We don’t have to get into the details, but I hope it is safe to say we all know you need a woman AND a man to make a baby, so why do women take all the heat? According to an NBC news article, women can be affected by the “Motherhood Penalty” even if they don't have kids. Even the possibility that they could have kids gives them a disadvantage in the workplace. According to the article, women feel that announcing their pregnancy to the office could cause them to not be chosen for projects they’ve been working towards for months or years. Studies show that women already only make 79 cents for every dollar a man makes, but this statistic is even worse for women who are mothers, with mothers making only 71 cents for every dollar a father makes. Female graduates who are pregnant or have a young child are 132% more likely to be stuck in a temporary dead end job while men in the same position are 36% less likely to be stuck in the same problem. Furthermore, according to NBC News, “One such study, conducted by University of Massachusetts sociologist Michelle Budig, found that women lose about 4 percent in lifetime earnings per child.” To make sure the study was accurate, Budig made sure that the women studied didn’t work less hours after having kids or take more time off. So if the mother is working the same hours and doing the same work, what makes her earnings drop? What makes the promotions and raises come to a halt? “Workplace stereotypes”, claims Budig. Women are expected to become less willing to be at work after children, a stereotype that harms many women’s careers. Most women can do nothing to counter this discrimination because “Often, when you're the employee, you don't have a great window into what the employer bases decisions on. An employee does not have the data to challenge these sorts of decisions in many cases.” Not just mothers or mothers-to-be are affected by maternity bias. This problem affects all women in the workplace, whether it be not getting promotions, trouble getting jobs, or losing annual pay. And this leads me into my next point: the wage gap.
Would you like to be paid less for doing the same job as someone else because of your gender? One of the biggest gender gaps in the workplace has to do with income. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 25% of women report having earned less than a male co-worker in the same job while only 5% of men reported earning less than a female co-worker doing the same job. Although the gender gap in pay has narrowed since the 1980s, it has plateaued in recent years. In 2017, it would take a woman 47 extra days of work to make what a man makes in the same position as her. Furthermore, the census bureau found that “full-time, year-round working women earned 80% of what their male counterparts earned in 2016.” And it's not just men and women in the same job that show this gap. Women are severely lacking in leadership positions. For example, women hold 44% of S&P 500 labor force jobs, but only 6% of CEOs are women at that company. In the film industry, just 26% of off-screen workers were women. We’ve made progress through the years, considering in 1980 0% of women were in the top executive ranks of the Fortune 100, but by 2001 11% of those rolls were filled by women. Progress on this issue has plateaued at a steady rate of not-good-enough. That's why this issue is still relevant when talking about women in the workplace.
In conclusion, women’s fight for equality in the workplace is far from over. We have to keep trying even harder to bring to light these issues that have been looked over for far too long. With sexual harassment, maternity leave bias, and the wage gap, we have a lot of work to do. But it can be done. Consider this as encouragement: Only 98 years ago women didn’t even have to right to vote. In the most recent presidential election, we had a woman in the running. Hopefully, through this editorial, the problem has become impossible to deny.