In this essay the myth of equality between men and women will be discussed and progress made by women so far, for the fight of equality will be examined. Two areas will be mainly looked at; equality of men and women in the workplace and equality of men and women in the home. In the nineteenth century most women in Britain did not have many of the legal and political rights, which men had. Most women were dependant on men for money and support. They faced major discrimination at work and in education. A wide range of jobs and opportunities were not available to women.
The main role of a womani?? s life was expected to be that of a housewife and mother, having dinner ready on the table, looking after the children, cleaning the house and answering to her husband, while he went out to work to provide an income for his family. Women were seen as the weaker sex and men were seen as strong and the ruler. It was a strongly male dominated society. However women were not going to stand for this much longer and in the twentieth century began to fight for equal rights hence the uprising of the feministi??
s movement. This was to be the start of a long hard upward struggle. During the twentieth century, there has been a gradual improvement in the status of women in Britain. At the beginning of the century the suffragette movement won the right for women to vote in parliamentary elections. By nineteen nineteen, all women over thirty could vote, this was lowered to twenty-one in nineteen twenty-eight. For the first time this put women equal to men in relation to voting rights. The first step towards equality.
Women today have equal rights with men to education. It is now illegal to discriminate against either sex by denying them access to certain subjects and courses at school and in higher education because of their sex, for example women doing woodwork or men doing home economics. Today women make up forty-three percent of the workforce in Britain, which gives them more financial independence. More types of jobs are available to women today and more and more women are going out to work in paid employment instead of staying at home to be the house makers.
More women are seen nowadays to be in positions of power and management. Before women were seen as suitable for jobs such as a secretary, childminder, cleaner, hairdresser or shop assistant. A woman in a position of power such as manager if a large firm was totally unheard of. Men dominated professional positions in the medical, financial and law fields of employment. Today, however we are seeing more and more women in the mentioned sectors. Women have also won equal rights in property ownership. The married womeni??
s property acti?? s of eighteen eighty and eighteen eighty two gave married women the right to own their own property and the nineteen seventy matrimonial proceedings act established that all property was to be equally divided between husband wife in the event of a divorce. Equal opportunity laws have helped women to get a better deal and overcome prejudice and discrimination, for example the equal pay act of nineteen seventy made it illegal for employers to offer different rates of pay to men and women doing the same or similar job.
The sex discrimination act of nineteen seventy five made it illegal to distinguish between men and women in work, leisure and educational opportunities and the equal opportunities commission has been formed to help enforce the sex discrimination act and the equal pay act and to promote equality of opportunity between men and women. Despite the progress made by women in the twentieth century, which has undoubtedly brought around a substantial amount of changes and has put a stop to inequality and discrimination between sexes in many areas.
The question that needs to be addresses is, have women won the battle of equality between men and women? The answer is no which can be seen in work and in the home. When talking about women at work, it can be assumed that this refers to paid employment. However it is important to remember there is one job which is performed full time almost exclusively by women-in paid housework or domestic labour. The domestic work done by women is hardly ever recognised as real work. Many housewives themselves often devalue the status of their work and they simply sum it up, as 'Ii??
m only a housewife. i?? It is estimated that an average of seventy seven hours a week are spent on housework and related tasks which is far more than most people spend in paid employment. Being a housewife does not have any of the advantages of paid employment such as regular working hours, paid holiday, sick pay or chance of promotion. Housework and childcare are still seen as primarily the main responsibility of women even when both partners are working full time outside the home in paid employment.
In most cases it is still women who are expected to take the major responsibility for housework and children. In nineteen eighty seven, seventy per cent of married women or women of cohabiting couples where both partners were working full time had responsibility for general domestic duties. What this means is that many full time working women had two jobs in comparison to the meni?? s one job. In nineteen eighty seven a survey was carried out to see who performs jobs in the home.
This survey incorporated married and cohabiting couples with both parents working full time. It showed that seventy percent of women were responsible for general domestic duties, twenty two percent shared the responsibility equally and only eight percent of men took full responsibility for the work to be done in the homestead. Today women still have an unequal position with men at work much of this inequality arises because the central role of women is still seen by a male dominated society as that of housewife and mother. Many jobs are still seen as meni??
s jobs and womeni?? s jobs, with womeni?? s jobs often having lower pay and fewer promotional prospects and lower status than meni?? s. Fewer women than men are employed in managerial positions. Women are mainly employed in jobs which are concentrated at the lower end of the occupational scale, unskilled and semi skilled manual jobs and in routine low level clerical jobs such as typing and filing, which require little or no training. Women are mainly employed in low grade and low paid jobs, which are seen as 'female occupationsi??.
These are often extensions of the traditional domestic roles of housewives and mothers into which many women continue to be socialised. These involve serving and waiting on people, catering for them and cleaning and clearing up after others. These are jobs women have traditionally done in the home. Such jobs include nursing, primary school teaching, secretarial and routine clerical work, low grade catering work, such as that of waitresses and canteen assistants, working as shop assistants, supermarket 'shelf fillersi??
and checkout operators. For example secretaries and typists often serve their (usually male) bosses, organise the office to make things easier for them, making coffee and providing papers for them and clearing up after their meetings. Primary school teaching involves childminding, nursing is caring for the sick, catering involves cooking and the list goes on and on. Women have more limited career opportunities than males for a number of reasons. Because of gender stereotyping at school and the wider gender role socialisation process.
Women often lack the educational qualifications for the top jobs and the self- confidence and assertiveness required to apply for such jobs. There is widespread male prejudice to women in career jobs and senior positions. There is evidence that some men are reluctant to be supervised by female managers. It is often assumed single women will leave paid employment to marry and have children, and married women particularly are often seen as unreliable because of the assumption that they will be absent to look after sick children, although research has shown there is little difference in the number of days absent between men and women.
As a result of these factors, women are often overlooked for training and promotion to senior positions by male employers. Top jobs require a continuous career pattern in the twenty to thirty age period, yet these are the usual child bearing years for women. So while men continue to work and get promoted, women miss their opportunities. Finally, married women are more likely to move house and area for their husbands job promotion rather than their own.
This means women interrupt their career and have to start again, often at a lower level, in a new job, which means the men are getting promotion at the expense of lost opportunities of their wives As can be seen above and throughout this essay, yes it is true that women have made huge progress, but total equality in the home and in the workplace is still a myth. No doubt the fight will still go on, and maybe some day the battle of the sexes will end and meet in equilibrium.