Jun 25, 2019
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THE PINK GHETTO

Post graduation, she will earn five percent less than he. Regardless of credentials, grade point average or experience, she will still make 95 cents to each of his dollars, according to Associate Women’s Studies Professor Dr. Kathryn Forbes.

This is what we feminist labor advocates call the gender wage gap.

It does not take a sociologist to tell you that most majors are dominated by one gender. However, it just might take one to explain how the choice of one’s major can have long-term effects on nationwide wages.

According to Beyond the Gap, a study published by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation, men tend to go into more lucrative, higher-paying fields, such as engineering, mathematics and physical sciences, whereas women tend to go into lower-paying fields, such as education, health and psychology.

Many occupations lack workplace flexibility and penalize women for being mothers. Thus the extended leave women must take from their careers to bear children ultimately impacts her hours, her income and further broadens the wage gap. According to Forbes, this is known as the mommy penalty.

Although there are a number of factors that contribute to the gender wage gap, occupational segregation is the leading cause.

Occupational segregation is when one gender or race dominates one position. For example, there are a total of 178 administrative assistants employed by Fresno State — 173 of them, are women.

This type of discrimination is what pulls woman into these dead-end service-sector jobs like waitressing, childcare and secretarial work. These pink-collared jobs where duties are endless and promotions are limited.

This is the pink ghetto — where the wages of a woman go to die.

And if you don’t know the women who run it by name, you’ve likely seen their handiwork.

They keep the mail coming and blackboard running. They make financial aid and university travel expenses possible. They are the underpaid and overworked women who do more than just sit behind the desks in each one of our departments.

Then, on April 22, 2010, as if they were not stretched thin enough, 75 staff members were issued lay off notices.

As any of the administrative assistants would tell you, it was the biggest employment downturn in recent Fresno State history. More than a dozen of them had to take on multiple roles amid a 10 percent pay cut and bi-monthly furloughs.

And still, despite a decrease in staff and an increase in workload, as well as wages going down and the cost index going up, administrative assistants continue to be under appreciated.

For some, it is indisputable gender discrimination. But for others, it is business as usual. So I ask you to take a minute and imagine what the campus would look like without these pink collared workers.

And never underestimate the power of the woman — a lesson Fresno State has had to learn time and time again.

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