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Women's role in society

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Introduction

In the last 40 years, women's role in the society has changed dramatically. Women comprise a large proportion of workforce and their status also rises as well. Although the situation has improved, women are considered as different from men, more precisely, gender inequalities still exist in both workplace and family. In this essay, I will explain the causes of this inequality and critically assess the extent of the barriers to and the restrictions within employment experienced by women. Women's subordination was historically determined by their physical weakness and coercion. Women's lesser capacity for violence as well as for work has been an essential factor for determination. Women's biological capacity is much more limited than men. They have not only been less able to perform certain tasks, but also have less ability to protect themselves. 'Women were thought to be no use either for war or in the construction of cities,' (Mitchell, 1973l, pp103) because these are "men's work" which requires strength and skill which women did not have. In contrast, women were forced to do "women's work". They were, under men's oppression, only responsible for semi-skilled or unskilled works such as domestic works. The division of labour was started through the development of fordism to post-fordism and flexible specialisation. In fordism which is named after Henry Ford's style of management, all the workers in the factory, both men and women, did the same simple and dedicated work on one assembly line, in other words, there is no horizontal and vertical segregation1. ...read more.

Middle

Feminists have given publicity to women's interests and issues that need to be raised but have previously been ignored e.g. domestic violence. Inequalities of power have been highlighted. They also noticed that most great famous people in the history of the world have been men; history groups have attempted to reclaim women's history. As well, it is possible that due to the attitudes feminism has brought about, the New Man was created. Barron and Norris argued that there are 2 not 1 labour market. (Haralambos and Holborn2000) Dual labour market system consists of the primary and secondary labour markets. The primary is made of jobs offering training and promotion, the secondary is made up of insecure and lowly paid unskilled jobs. In the British labour market, women form the secondary-sector and men form the primary. 'Barron and Norris(1976) explained that this situation is because: 1. Sex was an obvious way of segregating the work-force which would raise little opposition from male employees; 2. Women would work for less money than men, being not so committed to employment on account of their domestic role; 3. Women frequently left work of their own accord and would be easier to lay off at short notice; 4. Women were less likely to join trade union.' (Abbot and Wallace, 1990, pp.146) Employers used these methods to keep the type of labour they require, so incentives are offered to keep highly skilled, normally male, in the workplace. ...read more.

Conclusion

Men were also capable to use sexual harassment to control women, but women cannot enforce it on men. In some heavy industries like coal mining, women were not capable to do such work. Therefore, women's physical and psychological factors had already formed barriers to and restriction within their employment, let along in a male-dominated society. It is the social development that improved women's status. The second table also suggests that women do work as managers, but in different sectors. Women's rights of pursuing high education, the development of technology and decline of sex-discrimination are the main reasons. Generally, women are more civilised, they are able to choose their subjects without previous limitation, they are also able to forward to high-education, learn relative skills, and get employment in "men's job". But prejudices are inevitable. Patriarchy still exists and it is influential in nowadays society. While majority or all of the office staff are women, the supervisor or manager will normally be a man. Women are not suitable for leading jobs. They are unlikely, in most cases, to work as managing directors in multi-nation companies. They could be vice-managers or secretary, which are a lot lower. I believe that women's status will continuously rise, though not physically developed, through development in intellectual and psychological aspects. Women's potentiality of work and ability to adapt the competitive market are immeasurable. Male-dominance and patriarchy will gradually become less effective. Women's future will be bright ever after. ...read more.

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