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What is Sex Discrimination?

What is Sex Discrimination?

Sex Discrimination… Explained

Sex discrimination is the act of discriminating based on the gender or sex of the person. Often this is seen when someone is applying for a job. However, sex discrimination can remain hidden until a person is hired. This was common in the 1970’s and 1980’s in law enforcement. Agencies that had been forced to change hiring practices so that African Americans and women could work in law enforcement, hired them with the same title, but did not give them equivalent jobs to work. A male patrol officer would be in a patrol car, patrolling. A female patrol officer would be working as a dispatcher in the office.

Equal Pay and Discrimination

sex discriminationThe plight of women seeking equal pay for equal work got a lot of attention in America in the 1980’s. While it is not as advertised as it once was, it is still a critical issue today. One large corporation hired a corporate investigator in 1997 who was the only female in their corporate security department. She was paid about 25% less for the same job that the male investigators were paid. She was never assigned an investigation that involved anything outside of an office unlike her male counterparts even though her investigative experience was more than some of her male co-workers.

When the company needed to reduce employees and began laying off workers in the middle 1990’s, she was the only investigator laid off from her job. The director of corporate security told her that she still had a husband to support her, the men did not. This attitude was noted even though most of the wives of the other investigators also held down jobs. She had been with the company many years longer than some of her male counterparts who were retained. There are plenty examples of this happening to women everyday across America.

One law enforcement agency in Georgia requires that all potential officers can jump over a four-foot fence only touching the top with the palms of their hands and the bottoms of their shoes. This is a test of upper body strength. Most men can accomplish this task easily. They have upper body strength, height, and a center of gravity that is in their shoulders. Women on the other hand, usually have their strength in their legs, they are shorter (which makes the fence higher on their body and more difficult to get over) and their center of gravity is located in their hips. This makes it very difficult for a female, especially a shorter female to swing her legs while supporting her weight on her hands. Many law enforcement agencies in the western section of the United States require that police officers perform a vertical jump test. A person who has a lower center of gravity has a much more difficult time performing a vertical jump than a person who carries their center of gravity in their shoulders. Both of these examples are still in practice today.

Discrimination Against Men

Sex discrimination still exists in many occupations. Occupations that were historically female occupations like nursing, and childcare, are often hostile to males who seek to work in that profession.  Men who want to work in childcare are often treated as if they are pedophiles just waiting to assault a child. A woman applying for a childcare job is more acceptable in most cultures. Men who are nurses are often considered less manly. Women who are nurses are respectable.

Sex discrimination abounds in cultures that establish “acceptable” and “unacceptable” jobs for men and women alike. Men who want to work in child care jobs find the atmosphere just as stifling as women who want to work in law enforcement. This problem will remain in society until employers begin to evaluate a person’s worth based on their own abilities to perform the job at hand.


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