Hi guys, it's Lauryn! So, today I have my first ever guest writer on JustALittleBitOfLauryn and that is Steph over at Stepheniekang.com! She is going to be discussing women in the workforce in America....

Women in the workforce are a relatively new phenomenon. If one doesn’t count World War I or II, in America, it's been a very long time since they have regularly helped financially without calling for desperate measures. Yet this used to be a common occurrence, before the prudish panic of the Victorian Era that trickled over to the States and the many steps backward we took as a result of that.

But because women are such a shock to businesses and corporations, it's taking an extremely long time to get it together. We haven’t even reached a general consensus on paid parental leave, for instance, and it seems that some girls are still waiting for the ball to drop on whether a financially stable guy is going to waltz up and propose at an indefinite point in the future. Yet as women in the workforce becomes a normal and even socially required thing, the corporate world will need to evolve to reduce this dilemma, fighting against unequal policies and contributing underlying social currents in place since thousands upon thousands of years ago. So in layman’s terms, I guess my view of support of American women in the workforce is . . . not great.

One of my favorite bloggers started a blog post by talking about a new apartment she had just moved in. The man that had leased the apartment to her remarked as she inspected the rooms that he didn’t usually see women consider apartments like these -- there weren’t that many women in corporate America. Although she ended the anecdote by spinning it into “just another Living, Breathing Example of Success, and here’s how you can achieve it, too!”, I felt like just this casual, throwaway sentence some random guy said in some other girl’s life was indicative of how badly imbalanced the workforce is.

Although in areas like the publishing industry a vast majority of workers are (white) women, in the higher echelons of capitalism it seems that women workers are few and far apart, at least enough to be commented on by outsiders. To use an extreme example, in Forbes’ 2016 Richest Self-Made Billionaires, 25 of some of the richest people in the world were listed. While the list boasted an ethnically diverse compilation, not a single one of the people reported was female. 

Some people see this information and immediately assume that it strengthens the sometimes brought-up argument that “women just don’t have what it takes.” Yet I feel like this is just another byproduct of what seems like an eternity of ¨men > women;¨ within just a few generations we have gone from even radical feminists stating that “women just can’t understand science” and dismissing Marie Curie as a freak phenomenon to my female chemistry teacher standing in front of countless higher-level chemistry classrooms, scowling at all of us for being so brainless. Of course we’re going to have some residual “women can’t do this, women can’t do that.”

This “women can’t do this” mindset is critical, because I feel like it can also affect whether women can get opportunity in the first place. For example, the New York Orchestra changed the way that they hired orchestra members in the 90’s, blinding judges to gender by turning them away from the person that was playing, and noticed an awkward, dramatic spike in the number of female players they hired. An investigation into the matter revealed that none of the judges had wanted to discriminate against women, but that still pervasive mindset is still, well, pervasive. Even if it minutely affects what seem like minor decisions, the small, independent decisions of a whole create that culture; often overlooked while it may be, it is still there.

I have even more concerns for American women in the workforce that affect my views, specifically their safety. It is a widespread truism that women are statistically more likely to be sexually harassed than men, and besides casual settings with alcohol and private moments alone with male friends and family, my concern is that the workplace, which should be a professional setting for businesses to operate in, is just another backdrop for more abuse. In meat factories, a dangerous and sometimes fatal place for workers, women are aggressively singled out and harassed, and although I don't think that the treatment of women in such places are necessarily typical, I think that it is emblematic of the deeper underlying social currents in the States that dictate how women are fundamentally handled.

Personally, I don’t have any family members near me that currently are working -- my mom’s unemployed, my dad kept mum about his job while he was still alive, and all the rest of my living relatives live across the States or across the seas. My perception of the American workforce is highly skewed by throwaway bits and stories about strongly emotional experiences on my Tumblr dash and my subscription to Time. In total, my cobbled-together knowledge of the average female American worker tells me of a woman who is lost to the independent, almost unconscious decisions of the patriarchy, at the mercy of overly-aggressive coworkers compensating for their lacklustre lives, and partially deaf to the forces at hand that govern her own life. Yet I acknowledge that my cobbled-together knowledge is what it is: cobbled, and although I have this pretty set view right now, once I begin working, I may have a totally different view of the female American worker tomorrow.

So that's the end of today's post! I hope you all enjoyed reading Steph's insight as much as I did and make sure to go and check out her website! See you next time,


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