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Sociology Essay Example: Marginalization of Women

7 pages
1839 words
Carnegie Mellon University
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Despite the tremendous progress that has been realized over the last hundred years in reducing gender inequality, women continue to experience discrimination in regards to equal participation in building society. In the many issues that require all members of the society to come together and find solutions, womens participation is often relegated to the periphery (Sardelis et al. 1). This is a result of the pervasive nature of the negative attitudes that a majority of people in society holds about the ability of women to equal men in contributing their talents, skills, and knowledge to the betterment of society a whole. Although the extent of marginalization varies from one region of the world to the next, women, face common limitations to opportunities which hinder their progress as individuals and as a social group.

Some view the problem of marginalization of women as a problem that is endemic in highly patriarchal societies and, therefore, it is not a matter that requires much attention in the United States. Others feel that there have been institutional reforms allowing women to access opportunities in society as men have (Smith350-51). What these factions of academics and commentators fail to recognize though is the invisible nature of the forces that work within the US society to deny women an equal chance to pursue whatever they chose in life as an avenue of realizing their aspirations. And this invisible force is one of the biggest challenge women face today as it creates a wrong notion that womens issues are no longer part of the social problems afflicting America. On the surface, one can conclude that all is well for women but a more in-depth enquiry reveals a scenario where American women have limited opportunities to active participation in spheres such as politics, education and employment.

Women often go through discriminative experiences in their quest to achieve their academic goals. For women to realize their academic aspiration fully, it is crucial that a favorable environment is provided for them to not only advance their careers in fields of choice but also get the opportunity to demonstrate to the world through research and other academic expressions that they are capable of achieving like their male counterparts. Unfortunately, the social settings in which women advance knowledge are not favorable to them regards to the pursuit of their academic endeavors. A study conducted by Sardelis et al. indicate that despite the efforts that have been made in the recent past to encourage more women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, only 30 percent of American women pursue these careers compared to almost 50 percent in the European Union(1). To a larger extent, the low enrolment is occasioned by stereotypical barriers that still exist in the United States which discourage women from advancing their careers in STEM fields. Although there are gender differences that influence choices for STEM subjects among men and women, the women who take this path still experience many hurdles along the way (Jackson 2). In effect, most women end up pursuing careers in disciplines which society considers as fit for them.

Even in cases where women have succeeded to pursue STEM careers successfully, societal barriers prevent them from actively participating in research conferences and forums to showcase their abilities and levels of knowledge. Conferences and other forums, organized by professional bodies, accord scientists the opportunities to disseminate their studies, network and collaborate with other scientist and professionals in areas of research. In context, these platforms offer women a chance to share their work and interact with leading researchers in STEM fields. However, opportunities on these platforms are not evenly distributed between men and women as many STEM forums struggle with issues of gender biases that are depicted in the form of reduced opportunities for women researchers. For instance, women scientists are not given the capacity to distribute their research as men due to biases in the selection of speaker panels and conference leaders. Also, inadequate funding increases barriers to participation (Sardelis et al.1-2). Such discriminative and biased treatment of women scientists makes them feel discouraged from engaging in more future conferences. The result of this is withdrawal from conferences hence womens pursuit of knowledge is curtailed.

For those women that make it to the top level on the academic ladder, a majority of them still face challenges of being pushed to the periphery in the exercise of peer-reviewing of academic articles before publication. Peer-reviewing of articles is an important process that allows articles to be reviewed by experts in different areas of knowledge. It is done by scientists and professionals who are selected through an elaborate process. This process ensures that research that has been done by academics conforms with the required standards of research Additionally, peer-reviewing ensures that information contained in these articles is accurate and also helps to ascertain whether contents of articles contribute new knowledge to the academic world. In spite of the prestige level of this exercise, evidence shows that women are often pushed to the margins in favor of men. This happens due to biases in the selection of the editors. The situation is compounded by the fact that the process of selecting editors of articles is usually done in total secrecy (Helmer et al.1-2). When women fail to get the chance to be editors, they end up being underrepresented in issues relating to publishing. This outcome further compounds the problem of marginalization of women in society.

On political matters, there is the significant marginalization of women. In comparison with men, the ratio in terms of representation to political offices is very low. Countries such as Finland, Iceland, and Rwanda are the leading lights regarding according women political opportunities. Inadequate representation of women denies them a chance to contribute to making legislation, which is an important exercise for politicians. When a section of society is misrepresented in political offices, it goes without saying that the interest of such society may be compromised (Spirou 13-14). As such, denying more women from entering into politics implies that the interests of women as a social group may not be adequately addressed.

Marginalization of women in politics also takes place in legislation. A reasonable number of women may be elected to Congress or House of Representatives or any other state-level assembly. It is expected that these women would contribute to legislative processes. However, research has shown that power norms in political formations are pegged on the extent to which legislative institutions are gendered. For instance, women are allocated to less prestigious committees which deal with specific issues affecting women. Also, women sponsor fewer bills compared to their male counterparts. Moreover, a majority of women legislators sponsor bills pertaining to the issues affecting women (Spirou 13-17). Even in circumstances where quotas have been imposed to ensure that a certain number of women are appointed or elected into political offices, the conditions of women in the political settings remain unchanged. This is because womens behavior in matters of legislation in the Congress to do not change even after quotas have been implemented, suggesting an internal gender problem in the chambers(Kerevel and Atkeson 983) In effect, they may end up misrepresenting the electorate.

Employment marginalization of women occurs when they do jobs that are similar to men but obtain different earnings and earnings growth over a period of times. Available evidence suggests there are several instances where women receive a much less salary compared to the men even though both of these individuals perform the same amount work which requires similar skills. As of 2014, for very women who worked on a full-time basis earned about 79 percent of what men earned annually in the period under review. Also, the difference widens as men acquire education. Notably, over a period of 20 years, the earnings of college-educated men grows highest compared to other groups. One of the major factors that contribute to earnings expansion for the college education is staying long with the organization (Barth et al.5-8;25-26).As such, the biased increase of salaries shows that circumstances within the organizations men have worked for a long time have a crucial part to play in expanding their earnings over time. This trend continues despite efforts by stakeholders attempt to ensure women remuneration equity is achieved in designing employee packages. Worse still, women are overburdened by motherhood. Given this, some chose to stay away from work. The low input leads to a lesser amount of pay hence the gender pay gap.


Treating everyone with respect and consideration for their diverse characteristics as fellow human beings can play an instrumental role in fighting against the effects of marginalization of women in society. Acknowledging that women can make a huge contribution to research gives women incentives to participate in conferences to showcase their ideas. This may be done by offering registration discounts and financial assistance to women who show the interest in participating in STEM conferences (Sardelis et al. 4). Such move would bring more men on board. An increase in the inclusion of men in diversity programs would help in modifying attitudes towards women academicians.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that quotas have had little effect on the reduction of marginalization of women, they can still play a vital role in modifying attitudes of the electorate, especially those of men regarding the capability of women in political leadership. As indicated earlier, the behaviors of women in the Congress regarding legislative responsibilities to do change even after the imposition of quotas in political representation. However, encouraging more women to participate in legislative activities can promote positive perception among male colleagues and the electorate at large (Kerevel and Atkeson 983-4; Sardelis et al. 4). Positive attitudes (however small they may be) if nurtured over an extended period can have a long-lasting positive effect on peoples perceptions about women in leadership

Implementation of mentorship programs for women has a potential to mitigate the problems of marginalization against women in academics. According to Sardelis et al., mentorship helps early-career women to identify individuals who can act as their role models as they prepare for both short-term and long-term academic goals. Besides, mentorship programs can increase the visibility of senior women scientists and successful women professionals to young and up-coming career women (4-5). This has the potential to offer young women the motivation necessary to pursue their goals in spite of the challenges inherent in society. In the same vein, mentorship can be helpful in nurturing young women for senior corporate jobs. As the situation is today, most senior corporate positions (such as chief executive and chairpersons) are occupied by men. As such, mentorship programs would enable young women professionals to scale up the corporate ladder because such programs instill belief and confidence in ones abilities.

It is undeniable that women still face marginalization in many spheres of life in the society. For one, women face discrimination in enrollment for STEM careers due to stereotypes that disassociate STEM fields from women. In the circumstances where a few have managed to achieve academically, the system is designed in s...

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