How Women Are Affected by Gender and Race
Women have for the longest time possible fought for equality, and as a result of their effort, notable progress has been achieved in such areas as reproductive rights, the right to vote, and equal pay. Unfortunately, society still remains largely patriarchal, and women in different parts of the world still have to deal with inequality. Despite the notable changes that have improved the representation of women in a variety of areas, women of color still face gross inequality, which often threatens their financial security. It is an issue that requires attention because it is projected that by 2050, women of color may constitute more than half of the total population of the United States. Therefore, improved economic outcomes for women of color will be important and beneficial for the entire nation.
White female privilege is a reality. It is characterized by white women enjoying benefits that are denied to women of color on the grounds of their race and skin color. White women have generally been observed to have the upper hand over their counterparts of color in such areas as employment, healthcare, and even political leadership, and this explains the discrepancies in levels of achievement between white women and women of color.
Among the barriers that women of color face are economic insecurity. Some gender-related discrepancies in earnings can be traced; on average, for each dollar earned by a man, a woman earns only 77 cents. The gap is also different for different groups of women; in particular, white women are evidenced to earn more than women of color. Some data from 2010 showed that, when compared to each dollar earned by a white man, African American women earned only 64 cents, and Hispanic American women earned 55 cents; white women were shown to earn 78.1 cents by the same research. In Canada, black women were reduced to domestic work and looking after white women’s children. When coming into Canada, they were issued temporary work visas only, and this stood in the way of their getting employment insurance, overtime pay, vacation pay, and other privileges enjoyed by Canadian workers. This explains the higher levels of poverty among women of color.
Access to health care is also limited for women of color. While there are several factors that this may be attributed to, socio-economic status is the leading factor. Being low-income earners makes it impossible for women of color to be able to access health insurance and other health services, and this translates into poor health outcomes. In addition, people of color and especially women, are exposed to environmental factors that predispose them to diseases. By 2007, people of color constituted about 50% of the population that dwelled within three kilometers from a facility that produced hazardous waste. This is consistent with Reece’s description of Africville, the Black Settlement in Nova Scotia, whereby about 400 blacks were surrounded by prison, a hospital for infectious diseases, a city dump, disposal pits, and industrial factories. In addition, women of color have been observed to be often employed in sectors that expose them to toxins and harmful chemicals that put them at risk. About 59% of nail technicians in the US, a sector that exposes its workforce to dangerous ingredients in the products used, are women of color and especially Asian Americans. Exposure to these toxic substances has been linked to conditions such as cancer, infertility, and miscarriages.
Even with the strides that have been made in the fight for equality for women, there are still inequality issues with women of color being less privileged than their white counterparts. This is evident in such areas as health care and economic security. The result is the lower level of achievement that women of color tend to demonstrate when compared to white women.