Discrimination, in a general sense, simply means making a decision based on some distinctive factor. It involves making decisions on treating people differently based on prohibited discrimination factors such as race, age, sex, color, disability or national origin. Throughout history, the most common discrimination we hear about is the race of people. Thus, no one really takes into consideration of how woman are discriminated because of their sex, and how they are treated lower because of what their roles were traditionally. Therefore, by what one knows about discrimination, one would ask why is discrimination directed towards women?
Throughout most of history women generally have had fewer legal rights and career opportunities than men. Wifehood and motherhood were considered as women's most significant professions. Women were long considered naturally weaker than men, fastidious, and unable to perform work requiring muscular or intellectual development. "In most pre-industrial societies, for example, domestic chores were relegated to women, leaving "heavier" labor such as hunting and plowing to men. This ignored the fact that caring for children and doing such tasks as milking cows and washing clothes also required heavy, sustained labor" (Ryan 81-82).
Wifehood, the natural biological role, has been regarded as the major social role of women, as mentioned before. The resulting discrimination that "a woman's place is in the home" has largely determined the ways in which women have expressed themselves. Yang 2
Traditionally, children (girls) tend to learn from their mother's that cooking, cleaning, and caring for members of the household was the behavior expected of them when they grow up. "Tests made in the 1960s showed that the academic achievement of girls was higher in the early grades than in high school. The major reason given was that the girls' own anticipation decreased because neither their families nor their teachers expected them to prepare for a future other than that of marriage and motherhood" (Ryan 10-11). Women, they say, are encouraged to be good mothers.
They need, therefore, to first attract a man to depend on; they are expected (by our culture) to be giving, emotional, unstable, weak, and talkative about their problems; they are valued for their looks or charm or smallness but not their strength or brains; they are considered unfeminine ("bad") if they are ambitious, demanding, and tough or rough; they are expected to follow "their man" and give their lives to "their children," and on and on (Pogrebin 44).
So basically, women are expected to serve others, to sacrifice their desires and personal needs in order to please and care for others.
These myths and facts of how women were naturally inferior have greatly influenced their views of how they see themselves. That is why, in the 19th century, women began working outside their homes in large numbers, mostly in textile mills and garment shops. Since they "supposedly" didn't have any skills or experience, these were the only jobs they can start out with. "They worked in poorly ventilated, crowded rooms and worked for as long as 12 hours a day. It was not until the 1910s that the states began to pass legislation limiting working hours and improving working conditions of women" (Ryan 82-83).
It was in the 1960s when the federal law started passing laws to improve the economic status of women. One of these was The Equal Pay Act of 1963. This required equal wages for men and women doing equal work. The second one was The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which restricted discrimination against women by any company with 25 or more employees. Even in 1967, a Presidential Executive Order prohibited discrimination against women in hiring by federal government contractors (Appleby, Brinkley & McPherson 567-568).
These laws that were passed to help women...