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Blog 14

The nature of business encourages sexual discrimination and it can understandably be hard to judge whether something is discriminatory. The burden of proof in Price Waterhouse v Hopkins from Waterhouse can be evidence of this, that while maybe not all employers are being sexual discriminatory, people in the workplace or customers are. This reflects the employer's decision in hiring practices.

I used to work at Shinder's, a local book store chain that had a not too well known porn section in the back. My managers took it upon them to make me the new porn guy because they liked the idea of giving someone who could barely look at some of the content without blushing precious life lessons in adulthood. I was in a position where customers were comfortable with talking about porn with me. One of my managers was an attractive buxom girl in her mid-twenties. More timid customers have shared that they wouldn't go into the porn room if she was working. Conversely, the main porn guy there would have (almost disturbingly) in-depth conversations with customers, sharing his favorite pornstars and the like. He made the porn buying experience much better for most people. Since outside of the occasional bachelorette party or joke, most porn customers were male, I wonder about the discrimination going on in hiring a male over a female for porn "guy" position. Sure, a female can do the basic mundane qualifications of the job quite well, stacking DVDs and cassettes and updating labels, but it made sense that a male could do the job much better in a small friendly store like Shinder's where employee expertise was respected.

I have also experienced discrimination from customers having been the team lead for Apple iPhone and computers, which means that I get to listen in on customer service reps taking phone calls from other people. IT is a field where the discrepancy between females and males are huge. I would give advice and tips after and during the call for reps that wanted the help. There have been numerous times where a customer would hear a female operator and instantly question the expertise of her, requesting a different rep. Female agents were usually asked to just deal with it on a case by case basis. Though, I did recognize a case of reverse discrimination where customers gave similarly skilled female agents higher customer satisfaction marks because they were female, sometimes even noting that they did so on the survey.

I think the issue of discrimination is a burden that I wouldn't want to deal with as an employer. I agree that creating a floor in laws is useful for ending discrimination like Marshall says in California Federal v Guerra (280). I realize that businesses wouldn't profit in the short term, but it would have good long term effects in ending discrimination. A post-modern approach of treating the hiring process seems pertinent and useful.

Week 14: Gender Issues in Employment

I have been working since I turned 16, so five years, and during that time I have held a number of positions. My first job was as a clerk (read secretary) at the Public Works office of my hometown. While there were both men and women in higher positions in the department, the other office assistants were all women. That is to say, the individuals making the least amount of money in that establishment were women, as is generally true in society at large.

My longest tracks of employment have since all been in the education field. I have worked as an AVID tutor, a counselor and instructor at a language-immersion summer camp, and an ESL tutor at a high school for immigrants and refugees. In all of these jobs, with the exception of the summer camp (which needed greater parity so that there were counselors to sleep in both male and female cabins for supervision), the majority of my coworkers were female. According to the United States census factfinder, the field of education is comprised of 25% men and 75% women, and this is consistent with my own experience. My team working as an AVID tutor consisted of two other women and one man. The male tutor was the highest paid out of our group, but this seemed fair as he also had greater education and training (he had graduated from college with a teaching degree, while the rest of us were still undergraduates in various fields). In my current tutor position, I have yet to meet a fellow male tutor, although there are male student teachers and regular teachers who are male.

The qualifications for both of my tutor positions were the same, both sought current college students or recent graduates. Neither specified that tutors must be concentrated in education or any other particular field. If this qualification was responsible for the gendered nature of the job however, one would expect the field to be roughly 60% women and 40% men, following the gender division in most colleges. Tutoring positions tend to be significantly more female than that however, despite the fact that they offer better pay than most food or retail positions generally filled by college students.

I suspect that the predominance of women in the field of tutoring is due instead to the characteristics generally associated with tutoring work (and also in most cases to education jobs in general). The qualities that come first to mind include patience, enthusiasm, responsibility, perseverance, and empathy. Tutoring is definitely among the jobs associated with caring work, since tutoring tends to be very personalized, and requires a close rapport between the student and the tutor. I think these personal characteristics are more often associated with women than with men. Both of my work experiences have been with high school tutoring, but I imagine the gender division becomes even more apparent in tutoring with younger students, who are viewed as needing even more care and responsiveness to personal issues.

I think that the view that tutoring and education are the domain of women is deeply culturally situated, and tied to the patriarchal idea that women are naturally responsible for childcare. As a result, equal theory and liberal feminism would probably do little to change the gender ratios within this field. The opportunities are already available to both men and women and there is no apparent legal barrier in the way of men obtaining work as a tutor.

In fact, I know that most schools would greatly welcome more male staff. Since tutors often serve as mentors also, male students may tend to be more comfortable with male tutors. And I don't think there is anything wrong with this in a world where we all deal with different sexist aspects of a patriarchal system. For example, if I had a tutor in high school who had wondered about why my grades in pottery class were uncharacteristically low, I would have been far more likely to divulge the true answer to a female tutor (the teacher for that class had a habit of leering at the girls, and could not seem to find a way to help you fix your work without lots of physical contact, which made me uncomfortable).

As a result, I think dominance theory is most helpful in critiquing the sort of societal understanding of gender that prevents men from seeking tutoring work while encouraging women to gain employment in that same field.

week 14 // employment

I worked at a promotions/customer service center for 3 years; it was a family, woman-owned and operated business. Throughout that time I worked in almost every department at lower-lever positions. The vast majority of the employees were women while I worked there. In some departments there would be 1 man and 40 women, in others there were possibly 4 men, but that was the height of it. Women were the only data entry employees, which is definitely a trend in that sort of position across the country. Anyway, the requirements for this business, regardless of what department, were fairly open. Almost everything was hinged on knowing someone. Bias in hiring was commonly controversial because connections secured a job, not requirements. Regardless, this issue in itself wasn't usually gendered.

One very specific way that gender operated in the business was in the plant. The company has a factory, with manufacturing lines and warehouses. The only people in positions to use the machinery were the few men employed. While they weren't necessarily in "superior" positions or anything, they were the ones to do the heavy work. While it was not a sort of company policy or blatant understanding that there was a particular risk to women (such as that explored in UAW v. Johnson Controls), it was blatant in the way it worked. And as far as how it played out in daily situations... it wasn't some sort of secret or conflict or anything - if you needed something heavy done, don't fret, the boys would do it.

From an equal treatment theory perspective, perhaps the fact that women are at least equally paid or employed (and even in the majority of higher-paying positions) would suffice. But, for example, from a cultural feminist perspective - that isn't enough. In fact, that sort of situation is probably a great example of why a cultural feminist approach is necessary. While technically women were not inferior in this business, clearly the issues were deeper than numbers. Dominance theory would demonstrate that patriarchy permeates even into places that seemingly refute sexism. While women were in higher positions, they were still treated as if they were incapable of taking care of "masculine" tasks.


Blog 14

I work at a pharmacy and majority of the phamacist are men. they are the ones who are in control and run the work order. The pharmacy techs. are all women but one guy who is a senior tech. He came from another store where he was just a phamacy tech, but his phamacy went out of business, so he came to our store and without any training he went straight to the position of senior tech. This bothered me because i have been there for six to eight months before he got there, and they told me that I had to go through training in order to become a senior tech. Because he is a man and he is white he has the position haded to him but because I am a women I have to waiting until I get further training inorder to receive the job.

This shows how the work industry works. He did not get the job because he is white, its because he is a man, because they would have gave that position to a balck man before they gave it to a women. We all do the same work but because he is a man he has first pick and is handed rank over me, when I have been there longer. I know more that him, and I know that I am well competant in doing the work better than he can. He askes me for help to do his job, and he gets paid way more than I do.

Week 14

Most of my working years, which is close to 15 years and counting, have been in various areas of the medical field. I have held positions in direct areas of patient care such as nursing assistant, radiology aide to more clerical and office based non-patient direct areas such as insurance rep, admitting rep, various areas of scheduling etc. I have witnessed a change from these occupations being mostly all female to having more males working in these positions.

In the direct patient care settings, we all had to wear scrubs to work and some places had color coded/print uniform guidelines which identified where you worked in the facility. Working on locked units, I have often seen job postings for applicants to be preferably male as we would have enough females there and having someone who was strong enough to help with violent patients was needed quite often on these units. Security guards have all for the most part been male and we relied on them when we did not have a male on the nursing staff.

In regards to clinical/office settings, I have noticed the change in how the job titles reflect a gender neutral tone to the position. There are not too many positions that are still referred to as being a "medical secretary". In fact, "secretary" is not anywhere in the job position. It would to some in a job listing refer to be more of a position that would hire a female vs a male. The titles for these positions, which do vary in job responsibilities in the clinic have been called MOA(Medical Office Assistant) I, II, III. The I, II & III would indicate the job level or classification of the position. I being the lowest, with less experience & less pay, III being the highest with more experience and more pay. Other titles are "scheduler" scheduling representative, front desk rep etc. I have seen an increase in males occupying these positions. In fact, the clinic I currently work in has 2 males who work full time at the front desk.
Management positions within any clinics I have worked in have been held by females, many of them have been in the same positions of their staff nurses before becoming clinic managers.


Week 14

I have worked in retail for the past six years and I most recently have worked at J. Crew (and continue to do so) as a sales associate. The qualifications for this job include product knowledge and must be 18 years of age or older. The first qualification I listed is negotiable, but from what I have witnessed with their hiring strategies, I would say it is a qualification. The characteristics an employee must embody are being an outgoing individual, be extremely patient, and be personable. I would say, once again just based on observance, that this is traditionally a female oriented job. As a sales associate, we are told to constantly "wardrobe" the customer and "embellish" the outfits they choose to wear. It is not uncommon to hear queer slurs being thrown at male associates or personal shoppers. Male associates a lot of the time deal with much more socially based judgments than female associates. Most of these characteristics are typically associated with success aimed at women. It is a social fact that in our society, women are raised to want to please and appease people, which is what sales is a lot of the time based on.

Coming from an equal rights feminist standpoint, this job is riddled with issues. According to section VII, "It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer . . . 2 to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin". According to equal rights feminist, men and women can become equal through implementing laws and rules that make it so they are equal on the books. Although this may sound like proper reasoning, and from witnessing several discriminatory acts at J. Crew, there are certainly issues of gender here. Most of the individuals hired at the store fit the prototype created by the company. Both the men and women fit within their rigid gender roles and are told that any overlap of men and women's clothes are prohibited. An equal opportunity feminist would argue that J. Crew is violating the "sex" part of section VII, forcing all employees to act and be a certain way. Yes, it does not say "gender" specifically in the law, but this can be interpreted in the word "sex" since some individuals might classify themselves as a difference sex.

Week 14

I worked at Starbucks for almost four years both as a barista and a shift manager at several different locations. The qualifications that Starbucks requires of employees include being very friendly, talkative with customers, while agreeing with customers on everything. Lots of work and a lot of busy work make up most of a shift, and shift supervisors deal with money management as well. For the most part, these characteristics are associated as being feminine in nature. Cleaning and cooking while being polite and agreeable are central to the stereotyped image of a woman. What's interesting, however, is that neither gender tends to dominate the workplace. While the ratio between genders is always fluctuating, there generally is not a dominant group.

I would attribute this to the nature of many Starbucks policies. Starbucks runs on a completely equal playing field. Pay is earned based on time with the company and position. Benefits, vacation, tips, and every other aspect to the job is completely even among workers. Of course, the problem that comes along with complete equal rights is running the risk of superficial rights. While gender was not a specifically targeted group (in most instances anyways), race and ethnicity were. In Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, it was decided that an employer could be guilty of violating Title VII if a decision was made partially based on discrimination; it did not have to be solely based on discriminatory views. In this particular case, that interpretation of bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQ) worked out for the benefit of the plaintiff. However, in the case of Starbucks, and I would speculate many other corporations as well, it can be easy to manipulate. BFOQ's can still be construed in such a way that it becomes entirely possible to exclude a specific group while making it near impossible to prove any discrimination.

In Starbucks, it is ethnic minorities that receive the short end of that stick. Morning shifts, the busiest shifts, and especially management positions, are particularly void of minorities. The BFOQ's that are critiqued in these situations often include non-fluent English (aka an accent) as well as education (aka lack of trust with specific monetary duties). Starbucks employs many good and helpful programs and policies. Unfortunately, what is not taken into account is the vulnerability of Title VII, especially the definition of BFOQ, when equal rights theories are applied. And for my own shameless propaganda efforts, this is a link to the story of my friend Aizze which vividly depicts my point. http://www.starbucksunion.org/node/2152

Week 14 Assignment

This week we are reading several cases on employment discrimination. As we briefly addressed in class on Thursday, these cases often turn on whether sex is determined to be a bona fide occupational qualification. Such a determination is not always clear to the courts, nor do feminists always agree on these questions.
In this week's blog post, I would like you to once again revisit the strains of feminist theory to which we continually return: equal rights, cultural, and dominance feminisms. Think about a job that you or someone who know has had. What are that job's qualifications? What characteristics must a person possess to succeed at that job? Is this job male or female-dominated (for information on the gender breakdown of a vast range of jobs, see the US Census Bureau's website). Are the characteristics associated with success at this job typically associated with men or women? Is there a particular feminist approach that is helpful in analyzing the gendered nature (or lack thereof) of this job?
As always, be specific in your references to course readings that you used to complete this assignment.