Gender Equality

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Discuss how gender affects the type of employment​ a person will have. Gender refers to cultural classifications of people as ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’. Societies set down expectations for males and females, and people are encouraged to think, feel and act in the manner ‘appropriate’ to their sex. (Hearn and Morgan, 1990). Gender refers to socially leaned behaviour and expectations that distinguish between masculinity and femininity. Gender is the basis for relations of inequality between men and women. Gender shapes not only how we identify ourselves and view the world but also how others identify and relate to us and how we are positioned within social structures. This essay using different literatures will discuss how a person’s gender affects the type of employment that person will have. (V.Spike Peterson 1999)

In Kumar’s account, the industrial Revolution is associated with ‘‘major and continuing changes in material technology, so that work is predominantly done by machines rather than by hand, and human labour power is replaced or supplemented by inanimate sources of energy, the marketing of men’s labour, the concentration of workers in single enterprises, the existence of a specific social type, the entrepreneur’’ (Kumar, 1978:65).In the pre-industrial era, there was no sharp distinction between the urban and rural spheres and between urban life and rural life. Then with the Industrial Revolution the two became increasingly polarised as rural communities’ left agricultural production behind and moved into the hovels and the factories of the city. Perhaps, instead of increasing opportunities for women, urbanisation and industrialisation simply enhanced the polarisation of gender roles along the axis of a public (work)/place (home) dichotomy which is itself a consequence of industrialisation. Grint highlights evidence which suggest that women ‘‘undertook a much greater variety of jobs before, rather than after the Industrial Revolution, though there were few areas where some degree of gender related inequality or segregation did not exist’’ (Grint, 2001:64) For the vast majority of the population in pre industrial societies, productive activities and the activities of the household were not separate. Production was carried on either in the home or nearby, and all member of the family participated in work on the land or in handicrafts. ‘‘Families owned, or at least had rights to, small amounts of land on which they worked as well running low-intensity cottage industries within the home, such as spinning and weaving. Families worked together as self-employed members of this economic unit.’’(Watson, 1987:123) With the industrial revolution, the family as the basic unit of economic production was replaced by the large, capital intensive factories. Work was done at the machine’s pace by individuals hired specifically for the tasks in question, so employers gradually began to contract workers as individual rather than families. The idea of separate spheres became entrenched in popular attitudes. Men, by merit of their employment became more involved in local affairs, politics and the market. Women came to be associated with ‘domestic’ values and were responsible for childcare, maintaining the home and preparing food for the family. Grint concluded from the sparse evidence available pre 18th century work that industrial capitalism ‘‘facilitated the decline of the family as a collective and polarized the work opportunities of men and women.’’ (Grint, 2001:66). Occupational sex segregation existed earlier than the Industrial Revolution and laid out a pattern that was reproduced and remoulded rather than shattered by the rise of industrial capitalism…’’ (Grint, 2001:67) Since then, women’s participation in the paid labour force has risen more or less continuously. One major influence was the labour shortage experienced during world War One. During the war years, women carried out many jobs previously regarded as the...
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