In the past 25 years the number of working women in America has nearly doubled. Today 55 percent of women aged 18-64 are part of the labor force. Still, despite the efforts of the women’s movement—and much general lip service—women do not get the same wages as men for the same work, nor are significant numbers of women to be found in positions of power and prestige compared to the number of men. As long as women get paid less than men for the same work and are denied positions of power and prestige, they find themselves in the situation of an underprivileged class. And to the extent that women are steered into “female occupations” and “female shops,” they have hardly any opportunity to interact with men in the workplace—a condition that is similar to caste segregation.
On the average, women employed full-time are paid less than 59 cents for every dollar earned by men in comparable jobs—a decline from 20 years ago when that ratio stood at 64 cents. Women’s occupational segregation also has gotten worse. In 1976, 60 percent of most working women—up from 52 percent in 1962—were segregated into just four occupations: clerks, saleswomen, waitresses, and hairdressers (according to “Women in the Economy: Preferential Mistreatment,” Report to the 1977 Working Women’s Conference; prepared by Women Employed, 37 South Wabash, Chicago)....
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