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Women and Work, Essay Example

Pages: 7

Words: 2003

Essay

In Rosalind Barnett’s, “Women and Work: Where Are We, Where Did We Come From, and Where Are We Going?” McSally’s “Defending America in mixed company: Gender in the US armed forces.” and Mary Wollstonecraft’s “Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” all provide sound assessment of gender inequality in society, specifically in regard to how it plays out in the workplace. Wollstonecraft examines in-depth the ideological and psychological factors that promote gender prejudice in a male driven society. Barnett further supports this view with specific data that reveals disparaging data regarding prejudice towards women in the workforce. The main concept Barnett reveals is that many of the limitations holding women back from advancing originates from aspects of reason and ideologically driven prejudice mentioned by Wollstonecraft. Wollstonecraft argues there numerous simple questions, if asked, that can provide insight into the reality of how gender roles are structured, but these revelations are often contradicted by the conduct of people. She states that misguided reason spawns the bias that creates gender role prejudice. McSally further enforces the views of both of these authors in showing how these gender roles utilized within the military to prevent women from succeeding and progressing up the ladder. The following research will show how Michailidisa, Morphitoub, and Theophylatou’s study “Women at workequality versus inequality: barriers for advancing in the workplace” ties into the arguments of these authors to further research in gender role prejudices in society proving how women are subjugated to a second tier status while at the same time the authors provide recommendations for solutions. Through these comparisons the author attempts to provide future support for progress and social change.

Michailidisa, Morphitoub, and Theophylatou’s study “Women at workequality versus inequality: barriers for advancing in the workplace” attempts to identify factors that influence women working in Cyprus, specifically in respect to the barriers to equality that result in discrimination and impact their chances for advancement in the workplace. The research designed in their study seeks to identify many of the factors mentioned by Barnett, Wollstonecraft, and McSally while providing recommendation for potential solutions to these problems. The authors identify their recommendations based on the analysis of data they retrieve. As the authors note, “the data were collected by the distribution of a questionnaire, which was on a voluntary, anonymous and confidential basis and targeted women of four different occupational levels” (Michailidisa, Morphitoub, and Theophylatou, 4231). The authors identify multiple barriers that prevent women from advancing in the workplace, specifically the conflict that exists between the work environment and the home, stereotypes, low self confidence levels and a lack of female role models. Their study does an effective job of enhancing awareness about gender discrimination in the workplace. The study concludes by identifying the work-life balance as the main objective that needs improvement for women to gain equality in the workplace and control over the barriers that prevent equality. They recommend the use of day care programs, mentoring systems, and other company programs that can allow all employees, but especially women to acquire advancement. Some specific recommendations they makes can be seen with the use of refresher courses designed to better prepare women for succession or equip them to perform more effectively in the field. One key argument Barnett makes regarding gender roles in the workplace that supports the argument made by Morphitoub and authors can be seen when Barnett points out how the special talents of man were specifically shaped by society to satisfy workplace and capitalist drives. Barnet argues that, “Men’s special talents matched the requirements of the workplace, where they were expected to devote their full energies. To fulfill the provider role, married men often worked inordinately long hours, forgoing any real relationship with their children and relegating their wives to full-time parenting” (Barnett, 667). Here Barnett demonstrates that there is a critical flaw in the gender roles initially mapped out by Wollstonecraft. The authors show that the gender roles create an unsustainable family environment that can’t thrive. This is why Barnett argues the gender roles have a negative impact on all parties involved. Morphitoub and authors do an excellent job of identifying the barriers created by these gender roles and providing legitimate solutions.

In their study, Morphitoub and authors survey women in the workplace who provide concrete suggestions for programs which they believe would better equip them to advance. The authors note that, many women identified organizational programs that could best serve at counteracting gender prejudice in the workplace. They specifically identified, “‘mentoring programs’, ‘managerial programs which identify and develop women’s potential’, ‘programs that would help women balance their work and family lives’, ‘on-site childcare facilities’, ‘refresher courses when re-entering the workforce’, ‘offering flexible working hours’, ‘women role models in the highest levels of the organization’” (Michailidisa, Morphitoub, and Theophylatou, 4243).  All of these programs are recognized within the study as key parameters that if implemented will give women much needed support within the workplace to help them broaden their professional experiences garner high ratings towards advancement and empower them to counteract the bias that has held them back to date. Some of the same tenants promoted within their study can also be applied to institutional structures like the military.

There are distinct divisions within the military that prevent women from progressing. In the business world this is often referred to as the glass ceiling, an unseen barrier that prevents women from excelling beyond a certain point. One would assume that as the military is an extension of the U.S. government, there would be equal opportunity for succession in the military. McSally points out this is not the case. In McSally’s article, the author breaks down the chronological history of the female contribution to the U.S. military, noting that, “U.S. national security is not being pursued in mixed company consisting of all qualified American citizens; instead, existing restrictions have limited women’s full participation in the military” (McSally, 149). This concept coincides with many of the arguments made by Wollstonecraft and Barnett who argue the place of the female in society and work culture has been despairingly second class.  Wollstonecraft attributes the difference between men and women in society to the prejudices harbored through corrupt reason when she states that “perfection of our nature and capability of happiness, must be estimated by the degree of reason, virtue, and knowledge, that distinguish the individual, and direct the laws which bind society…”(Wollstonecraft, 11). The author’s main argument is that by leaving the interpretation of prejudice subject to reason, it allows for inequality between men and women. Michailidisa, Morphitoub, and Theophylatou’s results provide a response to these concerns in the form of recommendations that come straight from women in the field encountering the challenges mentioned by McSally, Barnet and Wollstonecraft.

Gender roles play a significant role in how men and women function in society. This is largely due to the pressure they impose on people to live up to certain set expectations. In the opening of the author’s study, McSally provides an example of the gender roles established by the military noting that, “men protect and women are protected. Men are strong and courageous and women are weak and emotional. Men are responsible to the state and women to their family. Men are motivated to function in the horror of war by the thought of returning to the normalcy of home as symbolized by mother, wife, sweetheart, and the nurses who care for them in battle” (McSally, 149). The point the author makes is that these are characteristics that are broadly applied to society with no regard for the individuality of people. These gender roles create expectation and obligations that their respective adopters feel they must satisfy. This can lead to guilt and resentment as Barnett notes, “women may feel guilty about working long hours or traveling for work because to do so violates the expectation that their families must come first” (Barnett, 667). Here Barnett points out that even when women are given the opportunity to excel at their careers, gender roles create mental and social limitations on this progress by creating a stigma that women who choose career over family aren’t just bad mothers but inadequate as women. Likewise, the same applies to men who stay at home with their families; they are often passed over for promotions and single men are favored for employment. The main point the authors make here is that work-family balance is the biggest issue for women which prevents them from advancement.

Michailidisa and authors make this same connection, in regards to family work balance, in their study but provide solutions for the issue noting that “women have some difficulty in balancing work and family obligations. In addition, lack of company programs that help women balance work and family obligations 93.5% of the respondents stated that organizational programs would greatly help women balance work and family obligations” (Michailidisa, Morphitoub, and Theophylatou, 4243). They are not overly optimistic about combatting the issue. They acknowledge there are significant challenges that must be overcome. They further note that, “the roots of this inequality have been proven to be deep and appear to be very difficult to prove and even harder to remedy. Achieving equal rights for equal positions is huge, enormous step efforts and a global concern” (Michailidisa, Morphitoub, and Theophylatou, 4244). Here the authors identify the primary goal of this struggle as the pursuit of equal rights, but the authors recognize this is no easy path towards accomplishing this goal. They do not belittle the arguments made by the authors that have come before them in that they reaffirm the challenges and complications but they also identify avenues to overcome barriers.

In sum, The research showed how Michailidisa, Morphitoub, and Theophylatou’s study “Women at workequality versus inequality: barriers for advancing in the workplace” provided additional support to reinforce the views of these authors on gender inequality in society. The authors found that character roles imposed on women and men has established barriers that limit women from progressing within the military. The reason why their research is so critical in the field of gender studies, specifically civil rights and the confronting the conflict of inequality is that the military represents an extension of the federal government making it essentially an institution of the U.S. Constitution. The authors reveal a deep irony that is not only contradictory in the behavior of individuals like Wollstonecraft mentions but that is contradictory to the very policies mapped out by the U.S. government, the same government which many women enlist to serve. Their study provides an answer to many of the conflicts presented by gender roles within past articles. For example, in Rosalind Barnett’s, “Women and Work: Where Are We, Where Did We Come From, and Where Are We Going?” McSally’s “Defending America in mixed company: Gender in the US armed forces.” and Mary Wollstonecraft’s “Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” all provide a clear interpretation of gender roles and their impact on society. These authors reveal how gender roles create an unsustainable interaction between men and women that carries over into the workplace. The main thing these authors demonstrate through critical analysis is that the family structure suffers tremendously from prejudices and these prejudices are harbored by bias reason that translates to contradictory behavior. The takeaway from this research is that work-family balance is a primary focus for providing women with an opportune chance to achieve equality, and this work-family balance can be achieved through providing women with key resources to supplement their pursuit of a successful family life and progressive employment in the workforce.

Work Cited

Barnett, Rosalind Chait. “Preface: Women and work: Where are we, where did we come from, and where are we going?.” Journal of Social Issues 60.4 (2004): 667-674.

McSally, Martha E. “Defending America in mixed company: Gender in the US armed forces.” Daedalus 140.3 (2011): 148-164.

Michailidis, M. P., R. N. Morphitou, and I. Theophylatou. “Women at workequality versus inequality: barriers for advancing in the workplace.” The International Journal of Human Resource Management 23.20 (2012): 4231-4245.

Wollstonecraft, Mary. Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Broadview Press, 1975.

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