One of the excuses used by many to ignore the problem of the wage gap between male and female workers was that the fields "preferred" by women simply paid less. If men chose to be doctors and women chose to be nurses, it was natural that men would be paid more. This was and is utter nonsense, of course. That viewpoint ignores the sexist double standards and barriers to entry that kept women out of these traditionally male occupations. It also obscures the simple reality that when men and women do the same work, in the same field, women still get paid less. New research is helping to accurately portray the ways in which women are discriminated against in employment.
Can you be fired for gaining a few pounds? According to the New Jersey Supreme Court, apparently the answer is yes. The issue arose based on the practice of an Atlantic City casino of firing cocktail waitresses if they gained more than 7 percent of their body weight. A group of "Borgata Babes" eventually tired of being embarrassed and harassed as part of regular weigh-ins and filed turned to the law to put a stop to the discrimination. Unfortunately, the practice was condoned by the court system based on the notion that the casino applies the rule to both male and female employees. That ignores the fact that there is no evidence that the men who work as bartenders are weighed as frequently, or even at all.
Women are put in a disadvantaged position in virtually every employment situation. Women are paid less for the same work. They are passed over for management positions they have earned. They are ignored. They are graded on a curve. They are subjected to verbal and physical harassment at much higher rates than men. Recent studies have shown that the bias is causing many women to remain quiet, even when they have ideas that could help move things forward.
The American workplace can be an unfair and hostile place. While the situation for women has improved in some ways, old prejudices and sexist behavior are still alive and well. Women in management have often encountered and overcome numerous challenges that their male counterparts have never faced. Gender discrimination is against New Jersey law and federal laws such as the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act. But discrimination is insidious and continues to express itself in a wide array of employment situations.