Equality in the Workplace

By Alisa Patience

Have you ever walked out of a job interview thinking it went perfectly and that you’re completely qualified, only to end up not getting the job? Well if you’re not white, a female or a parent, then I may know why. Luckily, the University of Utah is a socially apt institute and contains classes that inform students on gender and other social studies.

There is too much racism and sexism in the work force of this country, especially in states such as Utah, which is the most sexist state in the nation according to a recent study done by Wallethub. I’ve said in previous stories that people shouldn’t be hired for anything other than their qualifications. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t change due to the words of a single college student’s opinion, but this is still a massive problem, especially for a country that boasts “liberty and justice for all.”

Oftentimes, single parents will be passed up for a job, even if they’re qualified and need the job more than a married parent. Managers and executives would rather hire women without children so that they don’t have to pay for maternity leave. They think a mother won’t take a job as seriously as she takes her children because everyone knows that work is more important than family (insert eye roll). Even if the mother is married, the employer will likely have a higher chance of hiring someone else. Employers also prefer men who are either married with a stay-at-home wife, not married or simply don’t have children. Single fathers are less likely to be hired for the same reason as mothers of any sort. If a man is married and has a stay-at-home wife, then they assume he doesn’t have to devote as much time to his family, thus will be more dedicated to working.

Women are often hired for the wrong reasons. I was hired as a hostess because I was pretty. My job was to look good for the restaurant and seat people. “Look pretty and wear pretty dresses, just don’t look like a slut,” were the exact words of my former boss.

When confronted with the wage gap, sexists will say that “women just happen to work in fields that don’t get paid as much.” If you look at history, however, whenever women would move into a job that pays fairly well, the average wages for those jobs would go down. This is best demonstrated in office work. Being a secretary, receptionist, typist and other such positions were once seen as respectable and required a lot of skill. When women began working in these positions, it began to be seen as easy, less valuable and thus wages went down. You can see that most secretary positions are held by women. Teachers have always been paid poorly because teaching has typically been a female held position. More men are becoming involved in teaching, which is why almost anyone will agree that teachers don’t get paid enough.

Racism is also a problem in the workforce. As explained in Aida Wingfield’s “Racializing the Glass Escalator,” a white man is more likely to be hired than a black man, especially in customer service positions because white men look less “threatening” according to these bosses. Black men are also specifically hired in positions that are considered “feminine,” such as nursing and teaching, because it makes them appear less threatening, but it still doesn’t put them above their white coworkers.

“But we had a black president!”

People will continue to argue that racism is no longer an issue in the workforce. Yes, we’ve had one black president, but the KKK and Nazis are still being heard and holding rallies.

At one of my other jobs, the people working there were predominantly Mexican. The manager would hire people who could speak Spanish and English, which is smart. However, I was the only white girl there. My coworkers were surprised to find out I wasn’t LDS. I asked them why they thought I was LDS, and they responded with, “Because you’re like a cute little white girl.” While I wasn’t particularly offended by this, I was surprised to find out I also was being stereotyped.

Most people still aren’t willing to see or fix the problem — even some women and people of color. These problems still exist. There is no excuse for racism and sexism in 2017, but as long as we continue to elect men like Donald Trump and Gary Herbert, the world will never change.

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