How the inequality in social hierarchies influences women’s positions in the workplace?
Gender inequalities and social hierarchies are said to stem from the different values attached to the intersection of social categories such as gender, class, and race of the individuals. For example, the perception of white middle-class women who are seen to be respectable about sexual harassment is seen to be more worthy than those of black or working-class white women who are seen as being sexual (Lawler, 2013).
The persistent patterns of hierarchies can be explained using Bourdieu’s concept of habitus. The idea of habitus, according to Bourdieu (1990, p. 56) is the ‘embodied history, internalized as a second nature.’ The concept is said to be restricted into the contexts of specific ‘fields’ which refer to a series of rules that produce specific discourses and objective hierarchy (McLeod, 2005). Habitus is learned during a young age and is deeply embedded in the person’s unconscious mind, making it difficult to challenge. The gendered norm that associates masculinity with violence is internalized in individuals’ biographies and become a part of their habitus. This concept can be used to explain why students accept sexual harassment to be common in university campus despite the negative connotations attached to the practices (Phipps and Young, 2014). The case study can also be linked to Bourdieu’s ‘symbolic violence’ where masculine domination is accepted by socialized agents to be normal (Mcnay, 1999). The persistent inequality in the employment field between men and women can also be explained through the application of habitus and field concepts.
The structural norms of men as ‘breadwinners’ and women as the main carers have put constrained on women in the employment field. Despite an improvement in equal job opportunities, the work for women is limited because of the ingrained habitus of them as carers. Because of constraints in the employment field, individuals’ agency is limited, and women are likely to choose a job that will allow them to perform their domestic duties (Apter and Garnsey, 1994).