Modern Sexism

Jan 2, 2007

Learning how to write essays is a vital part of education. This is a fundamental piece of writing that has many applications in both personal and professional dimensions of life. Defined as coursework that discusses a specific topic, an essay is composed of an introduction, a thesis statement, a body, and a conclusion . This sample essay discusses some of the modern forms of racism that prevails to this day.

Society has certainly come a long way in creating a more equitable world for of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. Homosexuality, for instance, has since been decriminalized in much of the western world while many countries have formally  legalized same-sex marriage . Women are now free to pursue education, employment, and political engagement. But while it is true that many things have changed for the better, the overall situation is still far from ideal. Sexism remains a prevalent issue affecting millions across the globe. It also manifests in various ways. Indeed, unlike more severe forms of sexism that endanger health, welfare, and lives, some are more subtle and less readily apparent, which in turn causes them to be overlooked by many and left unaddressed. These forms of sexism occur in many settings of varying sizes including the home, the workplace, the government, and even social institutions. Some of the less perceivable but insidious forms of sexism that exist today are domestic labor inequality, the glass ceiling, and the denial of maternity leave.

Sexism Defined

Sexism can be defined as discrimination on the basis of sex. It is a form of prejudice that negatively affects those subjected to it (Bates, 2016). While sexism has been in practice since ancient times, the concept itself only emerged during the movement known as second-wave feminism that took place in the 1960s and 1970s, the first wave being the late 19th century to the early 20th century when women asserted their right to education and political participation. During the second wave, women came to question issues relating to their predominant roles as wives and mothers, reproductive health, and their own desires over social dictates (Maxwell & Shields, 2017). While this movement took place over half a century ago, it is evident that there lingers a number of unresolved issues. As will be discussed in the succeeding sections, sexism remains a real problem impacting women in the 21 st century.

Domestic Labor Inequality

One of the subtler forms of modern sexism is the persistence of inequality in the performance of domestic labor. Domestic labor refers to the roles and responsibilities performed within the household. This type of labor includes childrearing and housework like cleaning, cooking, and washing. Domestic labor was perceived as women’s duty for centuries, though this assumption has since been sharply questioned in the past decades in a bid to make the division of domestic labor more equitable. But to this day, women perform the brunt of the burden. Studies show that women perform most of the house chores. A report by the European Institute for Gender Equality [EIGE], for instance, states that 91% of women with children spend at least one hour on domestic labor compared to just 30% of men with children. Furthermore, women render more hours, as employed women spend on average 2.3 hours doing housework compared to employed men who spend on average just 1.6 hours (EIGE, 2021). Critics of domestic labor inequality point out that this problem persists due to the perpetuation of the belief that women are primarily responsible for the domestic sphere. Indeed, as Cerrato and Cifre note (2018), women see household chores as an obligation as compared to men who perceive it as more a choice. Social dictates regarding who performs domestic labor disproportionately affects women, hence qualifying it as a pervasive form of modern sexism.

Glass Ceiling

Another modern form of sexism is the glass ceiling , which pertains to the barriers that prevent women from gaining leadership positions in the corporate world. Statistical data shows that women are underrepresented in leadership positions. For instance, only 41 or 8.2% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women. Furthermore, only 35% of senior managers in the United States are women (Martin, 2022). Many factors account for this discrepancy, and one of these is prejudice against women. The notion that women are less capable is simply alive and well, thus resulting in many women getting passed over for promotion despite being capable. Furthermore, many believe family life and childrearing will prevent women from performing their duties, a notion that stems from the persistence of rigid gender roles that relegate women to the domestic sphere (Pew Research Center, 2015). The glass ceiling, of course, is also related to the issue of the  gender pay gap , which refers to the discrepancy in the compensation men and women receive despite having the same competencies and performing the same jobs. Like domestic labor inequality, the glass ceiling and differences in wages are not that obvious because of how deeply entrenched they are in society. Many people have come to take these as facts of life, thus hampering attempts to address them.

Maternity Leave

Another form of sexism is the lack of support for mothers in the United States including the denial of paid maternity leave. Data shows that compared to other developed countries, only the United States offers no paid leaves to new parents. For instance, the Pew Research Center states that whereas some countries such as Estonia, Hungary, Sweden, Germany, Norway, and Japan offer as many as 40 to 60 weeks of paid leave, and countries such as France, Italy, and Denmark offer as many as 20 to 40 weeks of paid leave, the United States does not mandate the same benefit (Livingston & Thomas, 2019). But this issue goes beyond simply denying paid parental leave. Many women also face discrimination in that many companies are reluctant to hire women due to the notion that pregnancies could result in higher costs and lowered employee productivity. Moreover, many women are afraid of getting pregnant despite wanting to due to the possibility of losing their job (Gordon & Rauhaus, 2019). Pregnancy and childbirth are normal parts of life and essential to building a family. However, the lack of support for mothers clearly qualifies as sexism because it puts women at a disadvantage for something that is entirely natural.


Sexism is one of the many forms of discrimination that persists to this day. While there are many forms of sexism, three of the most common are an inequitable distribution of domestic labor, the glass ceiling, and a lack of parental leave for women. Indeed, this can be considered as just the tip of the iceberg. These problems are so old and deeply entrenched that they have become the norm. Hence, it is no wonder that women are silenced in various settings including the home, the workplace, and even public places. Only by dismantling these age-old notions and looking past established prejudices can society begin to make a positive change.

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Bates, L. (2016). Everyday sexism: The project that inspired a worldwide movement. Macmillan.

Cerrato, J. & Cifre, E. (2018) Gender inequality in household chores and work-family conflict. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 1330. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01330

European Institute for Gender Inequality. (2021). EIGE-2021 Gender equality index 2021 report: Health .

Gordon, V. & Rauhaus, B. M. (2019). Maternity leave: Policy and practice . Routledge. 

Livingston, G. & Thomas, D. (2019, December 16). Among 41 countries, only U.S. lacks paid parental leave . Pew Research Center.

Martin, M. (2021, August 6). Key steps women can take to be strong leaders . Business News Daily.

Maxwell, A. & Shields, T. (2017). The legacy of the second-wave feminism in American politics. Springer.

Pew Research Center. (2015, January 14). Women and leadership .

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