Women Are Breaking Into Nontraditional Occupations, But Still, Face Discrimination Based Off Gender.

 

There’s no doubt that women do not face the same injustices they did 20-30 years ago and reform in gender equality is being fought for every day, especially in the workplace. Women account for nearly half of the U.S. workforce. And as we continue to see this growth in women’s labor force participation we are also seeing women breaking into “nontraditional” occupations. But while gender equality in the workplace continues to become a much-discussed topic, women continue to face discrimination based on gender, making the path to achieve parity much longer.

Pew Research reports that roughly four-in-ten working women in the United States have said they faced discrimination on the job. That’s roughly under half of the women in the workforce. This discrimination based off gender ranges in different forms from personal experiences to other obvious gaps such as, doing the same job as a male counterpart but earning less or being passed on an important opportunity despite having the same experience.

 

A big demographic difference in discrimination women face is with their level of education. Women with higher education clearly stand out. Among employed women, Pew Research reports those with a bachelor degree or higher report experiencing discrimination at higher rates than women with less education. An obvious reason for this is that work industries such as law or medicine, have traditionally been male-dominated for years. A woman with a leadership role now has to challenge the norms and differences that come with that role.

 

 

“There is this preconceived notion that I am the legal assistant; I’ve even had a prosecutor stop as we were walking to court, and ask me where my client’s attorney was because we needed a licensed attorney to speak to the judge”

Aroosa Nizami practices Criminal Defense at Matthew Pillado, PLLC. She earned her Juris Doctorate degree from American University Washington College of Law and has been practicing law since November of 2017. Despite being a well-educated and accomplished woman, Nizami faces discrimination based on her gender in her work quite often.

She has been called cute, pretty, honey, sweetie and lady by bailiffs, prosecutors, and even other defense attorneys while in a courtroom. Although she states not all courts are like this, it can still be very daunting for a new, young, female attorney. There have even been situations in which other male counterparts assume she is not a licensed attorney at all.

“There is this preconceived notion that I am the legal assistant; I’ve even had a prosecutor stop as we were walking to court, and ask me where my client’s attorney was because we needed a licensed attorney to speak to the judge,” said Nizami. “I was shocked because I have been corresponding with that ADA through email and previously spoke to him in court and this whole time he thought I was either the assistant or an unlicensed intern.”

How can this glass ceiling be broken for women like Nizami. Merriam-Webster defines glass ceiling as “an intangible barrier within a hierarchy that prevents women or minorities from obtaining upper-level positions.” Closing the gender gap is the most important issue of equal rights but a solution to this problem isn’t something simple like hiring more women. This problem runs deeper. To get down to the root of the problem companies, industries, and society in general need to focus on addressing prejudice that presents itself in places of employment and take action.

The Houston Chronicle reported, industries can provide training in gender equality by teaching how to identify discrimination when it takes place, how to deal with the situation and how to prevent it from happening in the future. Another idea The Chron reports is establishing policies to promote gender equality. For example, a policy that ensures men and women are compensated equally for performing the same work and ensure that both genders are treated equally in recruitment, training, hiring, and promotion.

These are just a few ways we can address discrimination but it will take the effort from everyone, men and women to create change in order to close the gender gap completely. But for now, to any young women with a dream of one day becoming an attorney, a doctor, a teacher, wanting to become virtually  anything, Nizami wants to remind you,

“that the simple act of waking up every morning and going to work is changing the way people view women in this world, it’s not easy nor is it supposed to be but that is what makes the job worthwhile”.

 

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