Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

Over the years, women have become more involved in law enforcement jobs previously only opened to males. All of these jobs are currently immensely male dominate. Due to this, women have faced problems from their male counterparts in the workplace in the past and still today. Females bring new characteristics and ideas to the workplace that are payed a little attention to. Women are often treated inferior to men and face gender discrimination in their jobs currently due to the highly male dominate positions they are in.

In 2015, the United States government allowed women to serve in combat positions in the military that were previously only opened to males. “Despite being overlooked, servicewomen are forging new career paths for themselves and the next generation as they enter jobs that were once closed to them” (Katzenberg). Women make up approximately only sixteen percent of active-duty personnel today, which has caused servicewomen to face challenges from servicemen in the military (Katzenberg).

Tech. Sgt. Holly Ward, who is currently in the Air Force, expresses her personal encounters with male dominance in her job. She states that on all three of her overseas deployments, she was the only female on her team and faced gender discrimination (Katzenberg). Ward points out that she was “left behind on major movements, forgotten about, and asked to form up over an hour before [her] male colleagues, simply because [she] was a woman” (Katzenberg). She goes on to discuss a specific time that her team “forgot” to notify her that they were leaving the country the next day and found out the information secondhand which could have jeopardized her job if she didn’t figure out the information (Katzenberg). In another instance, Anthony, a former Marine, states she was treated terribly in her unit. “Hazing and predation were prevalent. You will be mistreated, judged, harassed, or assaulted because you are a woman” (Katzenberg).

Specifically, the United States Marine Corps is the most male dominated military branch in the U.S. armed forces. The Marines were the only branch to request the Pentagon to remove the ruling to allow women into combat positions, which was denied (Snow). According to Manning, a former Marine, this communicated that “women are not welcomed in the corps” and “the policy does not allow women to show their potential” in combat positions (Snow). The way the Marine Corps are showing higher status towards males has caused men to act superior and treat women wrongfully. Women only make up eight percent of today’s Marines (Snow).

Manning provides insight on her time in the Marines and how she was treated as a female. During physical fitness testing, women have lower physical standards to achieve than males. Manning believes this shows “disrespect towards female Marines” and causes females to be treated as “second-class Marines” because they are not put through the same tests as male Marines which also causes males to feel superior (Manning). She believes this also sends signals that male training is more essential and beneficial towards combat positions. Manning provides a personal story in which she was deployed overseas, and she was the only female in her unit. She states that the male Marines of the same rank treated her as if she wasn’t equal to them. They made her do things that the officer told the male Marines to do and would threaten her job if she did not cooperate. The issue of male dominance has caused a “culture that devalues women in the ranks,” – a “hyper-masculine culture” (Manning).

This issue is not isolated to the Marines, however. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a federal law enforcement agency in the United States. The FBI provides intense security to the U.S. and requires the best agents to work there. To become a special agent with the FBI, you have to go through months of intense and rigorous training. Previously, only males were allowed to be special agents, and the FBI is currently still a male dominated profession. The male dominance at the FBI training facility has caused many women to accuse them of gender discrimination which affected their potential job as a special agent.

One woman that accused the FBI is Danielle Snider. She was top of her class throughout the training until the last phase with tactics training. She claims that she was written up four times in one day for mistakes, and in one case, “a man in training with her made a similar mistake and it was overlooked” (Goldman). She and other women were kicked out of the training academy for making too many mistakes.

Snider states that the majority of the instructors were male, “the females were scrutinized more closely,” and they didn’t strictly punish men when they had errors (Goldman). Snider presents another instance in which she was treated inferior to men when male trainees were given opportunities to retake exams, while female trainees were denied the same opportunity. She states female trainees are “singled out in group tactical exercises because they are perceived as being weak and prone to failure” (Goldman). Statistics show that the FBI has struggled to add more female agents to the bureau and women compose only a fifth of the 13,500 agents (Goldman).

This issue also affects women of Border Patrol. The United States Border Patrol is a law enforcement agency whose mission is to protect the U.S. from illegal activities entering the country such as weapons and contraband trafficking. Of the over 20,000 border patrol agents in the United States, only 5 percent of the agents are women- a statistic that is lower than other federal law enforcement agencies (Neuhauser). Almost a dozen female agents, who wanted to remain anonymous, have come out against the Border Patrol agency for the “pervasive macho culture on Border Patrol that consistently marginalizes and ostracizes women on the force” (Neuhauser).

Specifically, they state that many female agents experience sexual harassment and assault, which causes women on the job to warn female rookies of their male coworkers. Because of this, women of Border Patrol began to be described as “troublemakers” and they were “targeted for retaliation” (Neuhauser). This has caused them to be “regularly derided” by male coworkers, overlooked for assignments, and pushed to “women’s roles,” such as administrative work or public relations, which has made women feel inferior to men (Neuhauser).

According to public data released each year under the Notification and Federal Employee Anti-Discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002, complaints from female Border Patrol employees stating that “they’d been targeted in reprisals,” rose to a five-year high in 2016 (Neuhauser). Still, “you still have a population that doesn’t think women amount to anything” (Neuhauser).

Another agency in which women face gender discrimination is the National Security Agency (NSA). The job of the NSA is to gather foreign and domestic intelligence to protect the nation. The Agency is a predominately male field, being that when the NSA was first founded, women were not allowed to work for the agency. Eventually, women were allowed to work in “low-level positions” until years later when they were allowed in any position (Pittore). In the last 25 years, the NSA has recruited more women to join the agency, but still not near the amount of men that work there. Specifically, an important job in the NSA is logistics. Logistics has “traditionally been a male-dominated field” but some women have joined the job “breaking boundaries” (Pittore).

According to the National Center for Education statistics, “less than a third of degrees in logistics, materials, and supply chain management are awarded to women” (Pittore). Stylc, an NSA logistics employee, states that women in the NSA have to be “twice as vocal and twice as tough” compared to their male coworkers. Another woman NSA employee states that some women “constantly feel threatened by being labeled negatively if they are assertive,” while men are often labeled as strong leaders (Pittore).

Gender discrimination also affects the police departments all around the United States. The police departments in the U.S. job is to “maintain public safety and enforce the law” (Wallace). According to the National Center for Women and Policing, women only make up thirteen percent of the police force in the United States. The number of women joining the police department hasn’t increased much each year (Wallace). Thus, the police field is a predominately male job, which presents challenges. For example, Darnell, a female police officer, states that there are many challenges of becoming a female police officer because the job is overwhelmingly male dominate.

She expresses that she experienced firsthand being shunned and treated differently than male officers. She claims the male officers would try to get her to quit her job by “taking [her] lunch and [her] gear” and “wouldn’t sit next to [her] or want [her] to be on their shift” (Wallace). Darnell, as well as many other women police officers, expressed that they were most concerned when male police officers “wouldn’t back them up on calls” when the women officers requested, which put them in many dangerous situations (Wallace). Darnell states that the male dominance was extremely high, and they would tell the women police officers the same rank as them what to do.

The situation is similar with other government agencies. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), an entity that collects foreign intelligence for the federal government of the U.S. to provide national security, waited until the mid-1980’s to change their recruiting policy and start accepting women into the agency. In 1991, females in the CIA argued their discrimination to high ranking officials, and the CIA developed the “glass ceiling study” in which they found that “artificial barriers against advancement of women” were present within the agency (Wilson).

The case presented that women were having “lack of promotions, harassment on the job, and dead-end assignments” which women felt discriminated against compared to their male agents (Wilson). An unidentified female CIA agent found the “glass ceiling study” at the CIA is still in place today. She states that as she is slowly moving up the ranks at the agency, she notices that “men, used to being on the top of the heap, in power and giving orders, identified most closely with men like themselves” (Wilson).

This evidently plays a role in how women are treated at the CIA, which leads to men getting the promotions and better assignments because they are treated superior. Also, she notices that numerous males comment about the stereotype that female CIA officers “must rely on their good looks and clever ways with a weapon to gather intelligence,” to try to offend females in vocalizing that’s why they got the job (Wilson). Gender discrimination within the CIA causes women to not get the same benefits as male CIA agents, as well as forces them to feel inferior.

Another government agency, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for security measures of travelers in the United States for protection against terrorism. A more diverse workforce for the TSA has become a necessity due to the major lack of female TSA workers (Davidson). Due to the lack of new female recruits, this has negatively affected women’s roles within the TSA due to “forcing all of its current employees to scramble for a solution” which puts women in job positions they do not want to be in (Davidson).

The vast, distinct gender ratio between males and females due to the lack of the inability to hire females, caused only females to be forced to change job positions. This is a problem because placing women in different positions causes “ramifications for seniority towards males, transfers become much more difficult for females, and promotions and pay become less obtainable” (Davidson). This results in males getting the benefits in their preferred positions. Though, the TSA hasn’t found a clear answer to the inability to hire females, their solution to place females in unwanted positions is declining even more female recruits (Davidson).

When TSA announced that the lead TSO positions for women in Nashville “will be available at the checkpoint only,” women demoted themselves from lead positions, taking a massive pay cut so they would not be placed in an unwanted position and risk being passed up for benefits such as raises and promotions that male employees would get (Davidson). According to one female TSA agent, “forcing women into one role complicates situations related to seniority and bidding for shifts” (Davidson). She states that all the women would have to bid for one specific shift, while men could bid for multiple shifts they wanted in different positions. This also increased “competition among women for a limited set of shifts” which also affects income matters (Davidson). Many of the female TSA employees were questioning the senior authorities stating, “How come I don’t get to choose just because I’m Female” (Davidson)?

If offered the same opportunities as males in these professions, women can contribute many new qualities and ideas to the job. Since all of these professions are male dominate, exploring new methods from a female’s perspective to contribute to the job is absent. According to Wallace, women have specific qualities that are overlooked that make them good at law enforcement jobs. She states that women are “strategic, good planners, and don’t always resort to physical force,” which leads to less complaints against women and contributes to the community feeling safe (Wallace). All articles stated that women are good mediators and have good judgement. This contributes to females being able to “use [their] emotional intelligence as one of [their] biggest sources of strength to avoid increasing the level of tension and violence” and viewed as less threatening, which contributes to public safety (Wallace). Also, according to Wilson, women are “generally more observant and read body language better,” which is a beneficial quality to have in a dangerous job. Overall, when given the opportunity, women can significantly contribute their qualities to their profession which will benefit themselves and the job.

Women only make up a small percent of previously male only jobs and still currently male dominate. Because of this, women face discrimination in the workplace today and have to feel inferior to men. Women get overlooked for their contributions and qualities because of their physical characteristics. Thus, not receiving the recognition they deserve from their male coworkers or superiors. Women deserve to feel equal to men and not have to feel inferior to men just because they are female.

Works Cited

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