Monday, June 15, 2015

Oppression vs. Discrimination: How the Law Failed Ellen Pao

By: Professor Sean M. Scott

This is an excerpt from a post by Dean Sean Scott on the Ms. Magazine blog.  
The issue in Pao’s case is not whether she was legally discriminated against, although cases such as this one highlight the inadequacy of the law in redressing the harm that goes unnamed but characterizes the experience of many women in the work force, particularly those in male-dominated fields. The law can do a better job of providing those who want to challenge their place in the social scheme with more effective tools to do so. Perhaps the question the law should be asking is not whether there was discrimination, but rather whether the actions undertaken, regardless of motive, result in the subordination of another based on her gender, race, ethnicity or some combination of all of these characteristics.
 The larger societal issue is how to begin to see the patterns of oppression that need no individual animus to replicate themselves. Until we can see, recognize and acknowledge that the harm suffered is oppression, not discrimination, the lives of women in the workplace will continue to be filled with Faustian choices.

Read the full post on the Ms. blog

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