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Business Ethics Reflection

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An Ethical Dilemma

Dear Journal,

I thought this country was past the stages of sexism and prejudice in the work place, but I was so wrong in believing that! As a relative of a member of the Coast Guard, I see just how sexist and prejudice the military can still be against women in the work place. My cousin has come home many days and called me with some sort of argument about how unfair things are at her workplace and how the people she works with have no morals or values. I'm going to tell you about a specific situation that my cousin faced at work a few years ago while training with her Coast Guard unit. The morals and values of the unit created daily ethical dilemmas for her and the social pressure of "fitting in" only seemed to amplify the situations.

My cousin has been in the Coast Guard since June of 2000 and her first duty station out of boot camp was at Barnegat Light, New Jersey. It is what the Coast Guard considers a "small boat station" and there are only about 40 to 50 members total stationed there. Because of the nature of the station, there are not many women stationed there. The women that are there are all a bit on the young and attractive side. I figured that since my cousin was married, she would not have any problems with sexism at the station. I was completely wrong in thinking that.

Dana would call and I could hear the frustration in her voice on a number of occasions. She would generally talk about how her bosses (anyone with higher rank) treated her unfair. My cousin had a slight disadvantage working for this station because she was a married female. Every month the third and second class petty officers would evaluate the non rates (anyone who had not been to "A" school for a specific job in the Coast Guard) on their performances for the month. These evaluations are part of the military member's permanent file and follow the member through their entire military career. Although, in my eyes, Dana is a beautiful woman, in the eyes of her bosses writing the evaluations, she was just another married Coasty that was off limits to flirtation.

Dana would show up to work every day with a pressed uniform, shined boots, and neat appearance. She was one of the hardest workers at the station and she never complained about having to do any of the work. She is what some would consider the poster girl of what a woman in the Coast Guard should be. Even though she was so particular about her appearance and her work ethics, she continued to receive either average or lower on her monthly marks.

At the same time, the other women at work were receiving well above average marks. What were they doing differently than Dana? Dana would come home and be disgusted at how some of these other girls were acting at work towards the men they were working with. She talked about flirtation, whispering of secrets, and even some fondling



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