Recession Strengthens Glass Ceiling

The recent economic downturn has been designated the “man-cession” because more men lost their jobs than women. But, a recent study reports women were actually hit the hardest. This is not because they lost more jobs, but because women were already fighting an uphill battle in the workforce. Women’s struggle with workplace inequality, coupled with the dire job market, has affected them disproportionately during the recession and made it even harder to succeed professionally.

According to the verbiage of the “man-cession,” men were the biggest losers in the latest economic downturn because 5.4 million men lost their jobs, compared to the 2.1 million jobs women lost. These numbers have been touted as evidence that males fared worse due to the sheer number of losses. This belief makes men more apt to demand a higher return for their losses, and allows them to whine the loudest. Despite these numbers, women have had the most significant disadvantages in the current race for employment, and yet, they have also been the most dauntless.

Women were already fighting inequality; the recession has only worsened their situation. Women not only have to struggle to remain equivalent, but they also have the added struggle to keep their jobs throughout the recession. It is logical to see more men jobless because they make up a sizeable portion of the private sector, which has the most layoffs. As the private sector rehires, it engages men, not women. It is not surprising that with a winner and a loser, it was men and women, respectively. Historically, men are always the victors, especially in employment. Yes, the glass-ceiling still exists and has further hurt women due to the constraints in the workplace.

That pesky glass-ceiling, however, is not the sole reason women have fared worse in the economic crisis. More men have lost their jobs, but they seem to be obtaining and outpacing women in finding meaningful employment. Men are more willing to take jobs normally held by women, such as retail, health care, and education. According to a recent Pew Study, employment trends have actually favored men over women in all but one of the 16 major sectors of the economy; the sole exception is state government. Additionally, in sectors that normally favor men, such as construction, men have lost their jobs at a slower rate than women.

To drive home the point, women are being taken advantage of economically: not by the economy, but by men. This is not a huge surprise given the expansive history of women. Women are actually losing their jobs, not just being unable to find employment. Yet, the Pew researchers cannot even point out why women are being hit the hardest. It is not as if the job market is unequal or women make less money than men right? The workplace has not yet achieved impartiality, and until it does, every economic slip will hurt women more in the long run.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Elizabeth Elfman

Elizabeth is currently exploring health policy directly related to the expanding field of health technology. Through her work she is able to assess healthcare at both the national and federal level. Her political interests also include women's rights and international diplomacy. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where she obtained a degree in political science and communication public service. She has been published in Boston Magazine and the Philadelphia Daily News.

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