• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent do feminist theories remain relevant for interpreting gendered patterns of work.

Extracts from this document...


Since the late nineteenth-century feminists have sought equality amongst members of society, in response specifically to women's oppression by men. By noticing this, feminists over the world have united to induce a change to this. Only by spreading their word and through the force of these theories, has women's consciousness about their fate changed. They have been partly responsible for the passing of new laws - for example -to eliminate gender oppression and fundamentally allow women the same rights as men. Although this does not mean that now man and woman are entirely the same or equal, it does however demonstrate that feminism has encouraged some degree of change in societal structure. This has particularly shown in the workplace, with - for example - more women in the labour market and less gendered divisions in jobs. Throughout the course of this essay, I will aim to demonstrate some of the gendered patterns of work - in both the U.S and Britain - in relation to feminist theory. I will also present some of the problems with interpreting employment with this theory, and to do this, I will make some notes on changing masculinities. Mainly in response to industrialisation of the late eighteenth-century - particularly in employment, where men were considered mostly applicable for much of this new work in, for example, manual labour - has liberal feminism emerged. It has also sought to justify that just because of women's natural obligations to childbirth, their opportunities in employment should not be hindered. It emphasised the role of individual freedom and rights, equality of opportunity and freedom and it encouraged alternative living patterns for women. ...read more.


Mary Daly and other radical feminists also discuss the negative effects of patriarchy in constructing and maintaining models for strict 'masculine' and 'feminine' roles. Patriarchy is seen by these feminists as part of society's structure which is a major contributor to women's oppression, due to engrained ideology. Through their combined efforts to uproot patriarchy in society, they have radically pursued the notion of androgyny (Tong, 2008:59). They propose this apparent solution in order that the gender role constraints - which have been engrained into our society - be banished. It is through these proposals and efforts of feminism to uproot the traditional division of labour and patriarchal structures, that much of society's structure has been adapted. By questioning traditional 'masculinities' and 'femininities' in this way and by rethinking patriarchy, the role of the man - in the house, for example - has adapted dramatically in recent years. In general his masculinities have been redirected and he no longer permanently holds the superior position of leader and rule-maker. Thus there is a much more evenly distributed force of power within the household, where women are not solely expected to take responsibility of the household and the children. What now becomes a more likely scenario is a sharing of duties between the man and woman, in both the public and private sphere. Thus, the changing 'masculinities' in the home can be seen as a major contributor in the liberation of women, and subsequently in their ability to work. The accommodation of women into the workforce via part-time work - for example - is a noticeable result of this. ...read more.


This gap suggests that there is still - to this day - many aspects of 'femininity' which are less regarded than 'masculinity'. It demonstrates that male power still dominates largely over women, and that existing structures of patriarchy are still prevalent in our society. Through feminism, many changes in gendered patterns of work can be highlighted. From the late eighteenth-century, it has encouraged women to challenge their place within society, and has encouraged many alternative living patterns, all in search of women's liberation. Many changes that have thus resulted in changing gendered work patterns since the eighteenth-century have been encouraged by feminist theory and its proposals. Notably, these include the increasing number of women in the work force, brought on - for example - through new labour laws, the rise of women in previously male dominated jobs and the trend of women in part-time employment. Betty Friedan to an extent seems correct in saying that the feminist "spark" had been "ignited", "and it spread like a nuclear chain reaction" (Cited in Banner, 1984:247). Although these changes in gendered employment can be seen with relevance to feminist theory, not all gendered patterns of work can be seen in this light, with - for example - the prolonged pattern of more men in the workforce and the reality of the gender pay gap. This represents to some extent an upholding of male patriarchy throughout society as a whole, which due to long engrained ideology, seems difficult to completely uproot. Thus, although feminist theory can be said to be partly responsible for many changes in women's opportunities and changes experienced in the workforce, it seems that there are some areas which will require more than awareness and a questioning of gendered values to be altered completely. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Work & Leisure section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Work & Leisure essays

  1. Free essay

    Access sociological explanations of the patterns of women's physical illness and access to healthcare.

    All because on the surface it appears as if women are ill more because they are registered as ill more (visiting the doctors) doesn't mean that they are ill more than men. The statistics show that women access more healthcare than men.

  2. a) With reference to the Items and elsewhere, assess the view that the introduction ...

    social structures by the role they perform for society as a whole. It is a structural theory, analysing the level of society rather than the individual. Each institution and individual has its own function to perform, if it doesn't then it will affect the whole of society not just the individual.

  1. What were the lives of people like in the 19th century cities?

    He would get bored of life since he has all, does nothing, needs nothing, is nothing! His power did after all come to him for his father. He should feel completely lost at the age of 60-70. Daniel Scott is a middle class office worker.


    Rather, they are based on commonsensical belief about what constitutes an 'ideal pupil'. This ideal may be constructed around stereotypes; teachers may subscribe to mistaken ideas about working-class families, council estates, or broken homes. Becker's (1971) research suggests that teachers see middle-class pupils as closest to the 'ideal pupil' in

  1. Critically examine the view that society is becoming Mcdonalized using relevant examples to illustrate ...

    Debenhams is efficient because it does not restrict itself to one market eg. Clothing . It also control consumers as it increases the likelihood of them solely paying a visit to Debenhams, because it has everything there rather than them shopping up and down the high street, Secondly we can

  2. Religion can both be a conservative force and an initiator of social change. To ...

    factor in society; it is often one of the main (and sometimes the only) available channel to bring about a social revolution." Maduro claims that up until recently, Catholicism in Latin America tended to support the bourgeoisie and right wing military dictatorships, which have represented its interests.

  1. Examining equality in Education.

    However, as we saw earlier, with this system boys and girls were not only taught separately but were taught a different curriculum. Boys' education was geared towards professional careers and paid employment whilst girls' education included what was known as the 3 R's (reading, writing and arithmetic), and needlework, and was geared towards them becoming nothing more than good homemakers.

  2. Describe and Discuss Gender Inequality in Contemporary Society with reference to the Labour Market

    two incomes are all factors which have generated a shift in traditional family patterns and significantly changed the gender division of labour. A UK Labour Force survey conducted in 2005 suggests that the rates of employment for women of working age have risen to 70% in 2004 compared to 56% in 1971.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work