With rapid growth of service industry, so called pink-collar jobs have been on the rise. This term denotes the work that has traditionally been carried out by women as either their traditional function of household maintenance and caring for others or as hired labor. Today, pink-collar jobs include service and caring jobs including nurses, waitresses, secretaries, cleaners, etc. Even with the movement for gender equality, these jobs are still performed mostly by women, and are associated with smaller wages, lack of social recognition, limited career growth options, and frequent sexual harassment experienced by women in pink-collar jobs.
While service jobs market is on the rise today, the work performed by pink-collar workers is undervalued in our society. As about a century ago, when feminism as social movement has just emerged, unskilled and/or low-skilled work performed by women generates less income than unskilled and/or low-skilled work performed by men. This is true even when the job performed by woman requires the same amount of effort and time invested that that performed by a man.
This tendency points to a number of issues. Firstly, the fact that these jobs pay less reflects that female work has traditionally been regarded as less valuable and less prestigious. Secondly, low wages and low social status associated with pink-collar jobs keeps men from entering this field of work even after being laid off their blue-collar jobs. This is especially worrisome as blue-collar job market has been shrinking in the recent years and men prefer to stay unemployed over taking a pink-collar job, thus, leaving this sphere a “female ghetto”.
“Female ghetto” is a term from feminist theory, coined to capture the segregation and deadlock of pink-collar jobs. They are compared to ghetto as they are performed mostly by women who turn out to be somewhat segregated from society. Also, these jobs do not just pay poorly, they offer little opportunity for growth and increasing income, thus, forcing the workers in this sphere to remain in the same place for years. Furthermore, pink-collar jobs usually associated with labor and little prestige which also contributes to their image as ghetto.
A rational question to ask would be why would women agree to work these jobs if they are so undervalued? After all, nobody forces them to. It is true, working a pink-collar job is usually a choice. However, it is important to bear in mind that this choice is usually forced by a number of circumstances. First of all, a woman may choose to pick up a pink-collar job due to the lack of education and training to be considered for a better position. Obtaining an education requires one to make large investments which cannot be afforded by every family. Thus, some girls see no available career options except for the sphere of service. Secondly, the decision to take these jobs may be dictated by the higher pressure to balance family and work experienced by women compared to men. From this perspective, obtaining a less challenging job to be able to dedicate oneself to taking care of children and the house may be regarded as an attractive option by certain women. However, whatever the reasons are, entering a pink-collar job market leaves women with low income and few chances for career growth.
The fact that pink-collar sphere employs mostly female employees gives grounds for mass culture to develop corresponding stereotypes about workers in these professions. These stereotypes often portray female employees in sexualized images, which in turn projects certain expectations on these women and normalizes certain inappropriate behaviors toward women working service jobs in certain social circles. The images of sexy nurse, light-headed secretary, and slightly undressed waitress are way too common in our culture. This state of affairs contributes to frequent instances of sexual harassment experienced by women working pink-collar jobs.
Women in service and hospitality sphere have to deal with inappropriate behavior from clients and/or colleagues daily. From accidentally touched intimate body parts, to inappropriate jokes, to revealing outfits sometimes worn as uniform. All these experiences reduce psychological comfort and security of women at the workplace. Women working in hospitality industry, however, are not the only ones to suffer from harassment. Namely, cleaning personnel, nurses, and secretaries go though similar instances almost every day. The fact that performing service work is often associated with submissiveness to the will of another, may push certain people to engage in inappropriate behavior and even sexual harassment with women working pink-collar jobs.
Obviously, sexual harassment is legally regulated against and within the majority of corporate codes of conduct. However, not all instances of sexual harassment get reported, especially if manager themselves is involved in the case. Women may fear to speak up when it is their word against the work of a man who stands higher in the hierarchy as it may lead to bad consequences for themselves. Further, many pink-collar jobs are performed by immigrant women who might struggle with language barrier, and thus, are unable to speak up. In any case, sexual harassment experienced by women working in the service sphere is a pressing issue, which might be improved by including the men into it and thus transforming certain stereotypes held by society.
Drawing conclusions, the fact that pink-collar sector employs mostly women raises significant social concerns. The fact that this work is regarded as female work contributes to it being undervalued and underpaid in our society. Additionally, working in service sphere means having no opportunities for career growth and income increase. Last but not least, women working pink-collar jobs face sexual harassment at the work place brought about by social stereotypes about these professions. Bringing more men to work in the service sphere might help to reduce the payment gap and lower the sexual