It’s the assumptions we naturally create, regarding things such as family situations, race, gender, sexuality, or religion, that can hurt people most. Even though many families don’t fit the typical “family mold” (Devora), people continue to forget that anything exists other than the norm, and as a result make assumptions that can sting. As Acker points out, “heterosexuality is simply assumed, not questioned” (Acker 452). Comments that some may not think twice about, and that are not intended to be cruel, can be offensive to those in alternative families. This could include families with donor insemination, single mothers, parents who adopt or use surrogates, LGBTQ+ families with parents of the same gender, and many more (Devora). There are innumerable different ways to raise a family. Our society needs to steer away from our traditional views and open our eyes to the many nontraditional families around us today.
Assumptions even stay with us and carry over to the workforce, as seen by the inequality among men and women workers. The idea that men are better workers, and maybe even are smarter than women, leads our country into the problem we face with a wage gap and unequal opportunity in the workplace. It has been proven time and time again that there is not a “smarter sex” (Buchmann 323), and it’s been found that young women are even steadily outperforming young men at the high school age (Buchmann 325). However, men continue to be trained for managerial jobs while women are working as tellers or secretaries in lower level positions (Acker 447). According to the Census Bureau, the Department of Education, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Hallman 5), women working full time in the U.S. generally were compensated with 79% of what men were paid in 2014 (Hallman 3). This gap lays out a serious case of discrimination in our country. How is it fair for two people to be salaried and rewarded differently, after completing the same work with the same credentials? It’s not.
So what can we do? Moving forward we can focus more on our language and reactions, and find out more about an individual before making assumptions based on stereotypes or gender (Devora). We can assume that gender has absolutely no effect on the abilities or intelligence of a human being, and learn to give every person a fair chance. While providing the simple elements of a more successful equal pay law is crucial, we need to create laws that strive to accentuate discrimination, or even stop it before begins (Hallman 24). It’s time for us all to be treated as equals. If not now, then when?
Acker, J. (2006, August). Inequality Regimes: Gender, Class, and Race in Organizations. Gender and Society, 20(4), 441-464. doi:10.1177/0891243206289499
Buchmann, C., Diprete, T. A., & McDaniel, A. (2008). Gender Inequalities in Education [Abstract]. Annual Review of Sociology, 34(1), 319-337. doi:10.1146/annurev.soc.34.040507.134719
Devora, S. (2014, May 13). 3 Ways to Talk About Nontraditional Family Structures Appropriately. Retrieved June 19, 2016, from http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/05/talk-about-nontraditional-family/
Hallman, L. D. (n.d.). The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap. Retrieved June 20, 2016.