While we’ve covered how traditional gender roles privileged women both in the past and today, there is more to the story. There do still remain certain social behaviors and beliefs that continue to affect women in today’s society.
While we often write in support of men’s rights on this site, there is also an issue where a few sexist MRAs, MGTOW, and even traditionalist women make the claim that women no longer face any forms of discrimination at all anymore.
This isn’t true either.
1. The Gender Pay Gap
Most of the claims throughout the media focus on tired old claims that have been told since the 1970’s and are, frankly, no longer true.
The gender wage gap is one of the most common claims made by feminist authors and bloggers, politicians, and countless others who claim to be fighting for equality for women. They cite studies that show overall earnings for the entire population of women as less than earnings for the entire population of men – and then make the leap to claim that “women earn 80 cents for every dollar men earn.”
The implication is that in similar roles, a man will always earn more than a woman. Many organizations, staffed by feminists, publish constant claims of this such as the Economic Policy Institute, the AAUW, and The Center for American Progress all repeat these false claims. Politicians repeat the claim every election year, and they even run Super Bowl ads repeating the myth.
They continue making this claim despite countless researchers completely debunking gender pay gap claims, such as Christina Hoff Sommer’s article in Time Magazine, Boston University’s Suffolk Journal, and Forbes magazine.
The Forbes article highlighted a case where Professor Jennifer Freyd of the University of Oregon sued the University claiming that her male psychology colleagues were paid more than her. The judge dismissed her case when, upon digging into the data, the court found that each of those professors had responsibilities beyond hers that justified their pay.
Another recent case was in 2019 when Google initiated a payroll study after female workers there protested against the gender wage gap there. Google’s investigation actually revealed that in the same exact roles, many of the men were getting paid less than the women. Google had to increase the men’s salaries to make them equal to their female counterparts.
So Why Do Women Earn Less?
The reality is that the overall difference when you add up how much all men make vs what all women make boils down to career choice and work hours. It would be illegal to pay anyone less in the same role based on their gender – and if companies could actually do this, they would clearly opt to hire far more women since it would save them a lot of money!
The reality – and where traditional gender roles come into play – is that girls and women feel driven toward roles that pay less. Why is this? Do we raise our daughters to pursue careers for something other than money — things like personal fulfillment, helping people, or working with children?
If we look at the top career fields dominated by women, this becomes even more apparent.
- Preschool and kindergarten teachers: 97.6% women, average pay $30K to $58K
- Dental hygienists: 97.1% women, average pay $75K
- Speech language pathologist: 96% women, average pay $77K
- Childcare workers: 94% women, average pay $23K
- Secretary/Admin: 94% women, average pay $39K
- Hairdresser: 92.1% women, average pay $25K
- Medical assistant: 90.6% women, average pay $34K
Careers that are dominated by men makes it clear why men in general earn more.
- Software developer: 80.9% men, average pay $106K
- Farmers: 75.6% men, average pay $71K
- Construction: 90.1% men, average pay (manager) $95K
- Pilot or flight engineer: 94.8% men, average pay $123K
- Electrical Engineers: 89% men, average pay $93K
How Do We Fix It?
There are already massive efforts underway in STEM fields to get more women into technical fields like software development. However, more massive gains could be made by encouraging girls to bravely enter fields that might bring along physical dangers or challenges like farming, construction, or flight engineering.
And while there are still traditional expectations put on men to be the financial providers for their wives and children, shifting that expectation more to women could have multiple benefits.
Sharing the burden of financially supporting families would remove the stigma for men who would like to spend less time at work and more time with their children. It would encourage couples to equally share both financial duties, and household duties (if that couple so chooses).
Most of all, it would actually serve to eradicate the real gender pay gap that’s based on choices around career and hours worked.
2. Valuing Women Based More on Appearance
One of the most surreal things to read in media stories about politics is the constant mention of what female politicians are wearing.
In 2017 when Theresa May, the Prime Minister of England and Nicola Sturgeon, the Prime Minister of Scotland, met to discuss Brexit – the Daily Mail’s headline focused on who had better legs.
In 2016, when Virginia Raggi became the major of Rome, headlines commented on how beautiful she was.
And now in 2020, when the United States has its first minority female as Vice President of the country, media outlets are already starting to comment more on her outfit than on her actions leading up to taking office.
We aren’t talking male commentators wagging their tongues talking about how “hot” some public figure is. Many of these are articles written by young, female journalists who reference what women in power are wearing in an attempt to portray these female leaders as empowered, like Amy De Kerk’s article for Bazaar about Kamala Harris’ white “victory” suit.
Yet, they feed the same, tired, traditional expectations toward women as beings to be physically adored, rather than humans whose contributions to society should be regarded equally to anyone else. As people working tirelessly in their pursuit to make the world a better place for everyone.
It is unfortunate that this is still a thing in the media — and that it’s perpetrated by everyone, not just men. Yet, here we are.
How Do We Fix It?
Whether you’re writing an article online or talking to friends, refer to everyone equally regardless of their gender. Judge professionals based on the work they accomplish, and the job they perform.
Or, if you insist on being the kind of person who judges people based on their appearance, then do it regardless of gender. The idea here isn’t policing morality or good behavior, but applying your judgements of other people equally and fairly – not based on what gender they are.
3. Treating Women Like Children
We recently published an article titled This is How Society Treats Women Like Children. The summary of that article is that as a society, we often treat women as though they’re incapable of handling the sorts of responsibilities that men can.
Some examples include:
- Not having to register for Selective Service at 18 to get access to college financial aid, government jobs, or citizenship.
- Applying sentencing guidelines with the same level of severity as is applied to men who commit the same crimes.
- Grouping “women and children” in news stories when reporting the death toll after an accident or crisis.
- Men paying for a woman’s drinks or assuming he should pick up the tab on a first date.
- Belittling women’s achievements (like a Nobel prize) by focusing on the fact that she’s a woman rather than the fact that she’s a great scientist or an accomplished professional.
- Lingering “ladies first” social etiquette like letting women order first in restaurants or allowing them through doors first.
How Do We Fix It?
Removing these social norms would prevent people from viewing or treating women like they’re weak children who need lighter rules or who need someone to help them along as though they aren’t capable of taking care of themselves.
One of the most important things we can do as a country is pass the Equal Rights Amendment. This would make it unconstitutional for any organization – including sexist institutions like the Selective Service – from applying laws based on gender or by discriminating in any way based on gender.
Women have clearly proven themselves capable in combat roles; and because of that the military now allows any woman to serve in a combat role. Not applying the same Selective Service responsibilities to women is simply a slap in the face — an assumption that women need to be protected, like children.
It’s astonishing that this amendment has still never been passed. And we believe a significant reason for that is because for all of their pontification and speeches about women being capable of anything, politicians don’t truly believe this. Instead, they’d rather continue treating women like another class of citizen who’s far too weak to handle the same kind of responsibilities as men.
4. Assuming Women Don’t Know Certain Things
One social behavior I’ve witness myself is both men and women assuming things about other people based on their gender.
Men experience this regularly when it comes to raising children. There’s this ingrained social belief that women are somehow born with a natural ability to do things like change diapers, get a baby to stop crying, or anything else that has to do with caring for babies.
Because of this, when a man becomes a first-time father, people typically assume he knows far less than his wife about raising babies. This is true even if they’re both first time parents, have both read the same baby-raising books, and even if the husband had far more experience helping to raise his own siblings. This stereotype leads to many cases of discrimination like family court bias.
This is despite countless studies showing how important fathers are in the development of children, and particularly how healthy a masculine parent is in raising balanced and responsible young adults.
Likewise, there are similar areas of life where people assume women know less than man about certain things.
You name it; car repair and maintenance, sports, technology. There are plenty of topics where if four people are sitting around a table and there are two men and two women; most people will assume the men know more about those topics.
How does this translate into discrimination? If you’re a woman and you’ve gone to most car mechanics (or you’re a man and you’ve been to one with her), then you’ve seen what it feels like to be talked down to. Or, if you’re a man who’s gone with her, you’ve noticed the mechanic explaining things to you rather than her.
The same is true when a group of men and women are together and the men start talking sports. Eye contact is made with other men, and no one bothers talking about it to the women there unless she makes a point to edge into the conversation.
This behavior is becoming less common in areas like technology or programming since far more women are entering technology fields than ever before; helping to change this stereotype for the better.
How Do We Fix It?
This one is easy. Despite statistics showing what “most” men or women seem to be better at, it’s always best to assume that you’re potentially face-to-face with a statistical outlier. Someone who doesn’t fit the mold. Don’t assume they know or don’t know anything — just treat everyone the same, regardless of their gender.
This simple act alone would resolve most of the feelings of being talked down to, or being treated like you aren’t as good at something when people don’t even know anything about you.
Lingering Traditional Gender Expectations
While most feminist writers cover issues like these and rather than really digging into the social causes and history behind them, they resort to the knee-jerk excuse they call “the patriarchy”. Boiled down, this is a theory that traditional society was built in such a way to keep men in positions of power, and women subservient (aka “oppressed”) to them.
The reality is that traditional gender roles served their purpose for the continuation of society. The roles certainly provided men a subset of privileges, and also provided women a subset of privileges. These roles also socialized (or “forced”) boys and girls to make specific choices.
The roles also limited both men and women in specific ways. Women couldn’t enjoy a career or income, and men couldn’t spend as much precious time with their children.
As we talk about lingering traditional gender expectations in today’s society, it’s important not to poison the discussion with talks about “patriarchy”. Discussions about “systemic oppression” should be reserved to groups that were truly historically oppressed – like minority races or Native Americans. Not white women.
Looking at it from that perspective, focusing on different gender expectations that do hurt either men or women, it’s easier to look for ways to overcome them and destroy them. To do this, just remove automatic “expectations” or assumptions about people based solely on their gender. Treat everyone with the same respect, consideration, and assumptions regardless of their gender.
Starting there, the rest – a world that’s fair to everyone – will eventually all fall into place for everyone.