sociology by hedongchenchen


									Emily Gasper
Intro to Sociology
Professor Stephen Sweet
Paper #4 – Nov. 5, 2009
Section 2

       At this point in my college career, a professional occupation that I plan to explore

and possibly adopt as my own is public relations specialist. I am interested in

communications, human interaction, and helping other people. Public relations specialists

encompass all of these characteristics. According to the Occupational Employment

Statistics compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, public relations specialists “engage in

promoting or creating good will for individuals, groups, or organizations by writing or

selecting favorable publicity material and releasing it through various communications

media.” This career will tie in my communications background with my desire to help

people in the workplace.

       According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a significantly higher percentage

of women PR specialists, as compared to men in this particular field. These proportions are

                                                        shown in the chart on the left. The

                                                        results were not particularly

                                                        surprising to me because almost 60%

                                                        of all Communications degrees go to

                                                        women. The percentage of women

                                                        who obtain degrees in

                                                        Communications is proportional to

                                                        the percentage of women who are

occupied in public relations – they are both around 60%, so the connection is comparative.

Another reason why there are more female PR specialists is because women tend to identify

with professions that allow them to nurture or help others, as PR specialists do.
Stereotypically, this is why many women in history have become teachers and nurses. Also,

PR is not socially portrayed as a particularly male-dominated career, as is auto-body repair

or carpentry, for example. These occupations, among others, exemplify traditional gender

roles that we are socialized and structured into thinking are the norm for males. I believe

that women tend to sway themselves away from these types of professions, and toward the

more passive roles, as as mentioned earlier. It is not because women are unable to perform

the “masculine” jobs (though this sometimes may be the case), but it is because of the way

society shapes our image of traditional gender roles. For example, many cultures

emphasize from the time we are young that men are traditionally bold, strong, and powerful

breadwinners, while women are gentle, passive and dependent. From the time that we are

children, these images of men and women are portrayed through books, toys, TV, and even

our religious beliefs. So generally, women tend to gravitate toward occupations where their

work can meet society’s standards and expectations of women’s roles.

       Because of the gender stereotypes that are embedded into our social system, it is

difficult for women to integrate the male-dominated workforce. On the other hand, men

face what is called the “glass escalator” effect, which allows them to quickly ascend the

organizational hierarchy in typical female occupations. Women face the “glass ceiling”,

which prevents them from doing just that. This illustrates that professionally, men and

women are not on level playing fields.

       The inequality between men and women in the workforce is apparent when you

examine the compensation between men and women in a given occupation. As is illustrated

in the graph on the next page, male PR specialists make significantly more money than

women with the same education and qualifications. In fact, men make an average of almost

$15,000 a year more than women performing the same exact job. If these women have the
                                                              same credentials as the men,

                                                              then why is there such a gap

                                                              between their levels of


                                                              At face value, it seems common

                                                              sense that men and women’s

                                                              salaries in this occupation

should be more equal, but society prevents this from happening.

        Women entering the workforce is a relatively new concept in the United States.

Before World War II, women were mostly housewives, mothers, and homemakers. As high

percentages of women enter the professional field today, 60 years later, they still face

inequality to men. On average, women make 75 cents for every dollar that men make. In

society, “women’s work” is culturally devalued, and women are generally compensated less.

Women are seen as second-class citizens as compared to men, because men have always

been the “providers” and laborers in the family.

        The belief that women have a lesser ability to carry out certain tasks is considered

du jure discrimination. This type of discrimination is intentional. It is reinforced by the

negative images of women that are prevalent all over society. Similarly, women face

statistical discrimination, which is characterized by making predictions about a particular

group’s productivity. A third type of institutionalized discriminated that women deal with

is de facto discrimination, which is not intentional, but just as important.

        Statistically, women around the world perform 2/3 of the work, and receive only

10% of the world’s income. It is true that historically, women’s roles typically involve

raising children and tending to the housework, but this does not mean they should not be

able to have a successful professional career as well.
        Because of the discrepancy in pay between men and women that exists in society

today, the cycle will continue the way it has been going. According to Ballantine and

Roberts, if women are paid less than men despite equal levels of education, “they are likely

to have less access to expensive health care or be able to afford a $20,000 down payment

for a house unless they are married.” This prolongs the cycle where women are dependent

on men, and will never get themselves equal or on top.

        All in all, the differences between gender representation and compensation in the

career of public relations are neither fair nor completely justified. We can observe the

extent to which these discrepancies exist based on facts and data. Personally, I was not

surprised to learn about the proportions of men and women in this field, nor was I

surprised to see that men were compensated a large amount more than women. After

researching and analyzing these differences, I am rethinking my aspiration to possibly

become a PR specialist after I graduate. Although I would have an advantage to getting a job

as a PR specialist because I am a female and in the majority, I feel as though I deserve a

higher salary. But based on my knowledge of occupational gender stratification, I can

conclude that a salary equal to that of a man in any particular field will be difficult or

impossible to find.

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