Looking into Women’s Rights in The Workplace

I’ve had a thought. Women tend to cry for equality without understanding their entitlements. There truly is a lot of stereotype and injustice that happens in many circumstances, I agree. However, unless women themselves understand their rights, there’s only going to be passive action, or worse – senseless noise. We girls need to stop and think for a bit and ask – Do I really understand my rights? Will I stand up and step forward if it was ever violated? 

Consider this. It is often very difficult to change widely held time-worn opinions, even in the face of a mountain of counter-factual evidence. Growing up under the influence of the widely held perception that women are weak and frail and must at all times be protected, even coddled, men—and some women too—find it very difficult to let go of this primitive stereotypical belief. This is especially the case in the more rough and tumble careers where injuries and death in the line of duty are more common. We are all guilty of this to some degree.

Stop for a moment and picture a rodeo. There’s a wild rodeo bull, complete with a full set of horns, ring through the nose and little jets of fire snorting from his nostrils. A figure in boots, jeans, cowboy hat and a leather belt with a big silver and turquoise buckle that glitters blindingly in the sun, calmly walks toward the platform at the side of the bull pen. Helpers carefully lower her on top of the bull.

The crowd holds their breath. They’re used to seeing men risk their lives every day. This is something else, something visceral and otherworldly. This idea of a woman risking her life riding a bull hits us in the gut. If she was hurt we’d be outraged and if she was killed there would be a riot and perhaps worse.

Even though these strongly held false assumptions about the frailty of women are ubiquitous, they must be challenged and re-challenged until the day hopefully comes when that bull-riding cowgirl will just be one of the guys. The common belief that women are too physically weak to be firefighters must be challenged both through proof in the field and, if necessary, in the courtroom.

You may have heard this argument: A woman can’t pick up a three-hundred pound man and carry him down five flights of stairs through flames and smoke and who knows what pandemonium she might encounter on such a hellish journey. Fair enough, but then again, most guys couldn’t either. It’s a straw man argument.

We have modern fire trucks and smart firefighters. Smart well-trained fire-fighters wouldn’t try to carry a 300 pound man down five flights of stairs. Instead, they’d break out a window and lower the victim on a stretcher using the proper equipment that does all the heavy lifting for them. People can’t run as fast as a cheetah, but we still go faster in a car. People aren’t as strong as elephants, but we can lift even heavier loads with a crane. When it comes to a dangerous job, with time being of the essence, it’s clear thinking that is paramount, not bulging muscles.


Sometimes it’s not sound logic and plain old common sense that wins the argument, but sometimes an employer just won’t listen. At that point you simply point out that the law is the law. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that employers may not discriminate against people on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Title VII makes it illegal for employers to exclude qualified women from any available position. Employers would often hire less qualified men for positions to which women had applied. This law empowers women to sue if they feel a potential employer has excluded them from a position based on gender.

President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963, which states that employers must pay women the same amount they would pay a man in the same position. In the past, companies paid women far less than their male counterparts for the same position. Women can sue their employers if they can prove that a male in the same position earns higher wages. Both of these laws significantly increase the status of women in the workforce.

If they won’t obey the law of their own volition, you may have to take them to court. Useful resources like Legal Vision will give you a leg up when your rights in the workplace have been violated.

There are many other laws that we have to be aware of, in order to truly feel secure of our jobs. Many women tend to forget, it is up to them to defend their selves, and with awareness they will be able to approach this rationally and in a fair manner.

Quite a reflection on a Tuesday morning, but there’s no perfect time for it. Encourage your girls to sit and talk about this, you wouldn’t know if any of them actually needs the discussion. Have you had this talk with your girls? Share your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us @mscareergirl now!

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.