Parity Between Men and Women in France

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Parity between Men and Women in France

Nowadays, French society observes various inequalities. They can sometimes appear legitimate, especially in the economic and social areas, because they would only result from the individuals’ aptitudes and efforts; that would start with the same equal opportunities. However, women are becoming more and more recognized by the French population, which in turn, gives them increasing respect and responsibilities. However, we can still wonder if women, since they are the main subject, play the same roles in French society as men. Are these inequalities the result of an intense research of efficiency, and thus necessary? In other words, is parity just an ideal that does not guarantee an optimal management of the French society, or just a demand that would restore social justice between male and female while benefit to the efficiency? In order to answer these questions, we will first address the issue of parity within the school system, then within the job market, and finally study parity within politics in France before we take a look at the French Government’s plan to create more equality. We will first look at a brief chronology of the women’s right in France will help us understand the evolution of this parity.

To begin, one should know that in most civilizations, women have played a minor role in politics and in the histories of these populations. Now concerning the French society, Marie de Gourmay was the first woman who really advocated parity between the two sexes in 1622. Women used to have to wait for her husband to die in order to receive an inheritance due to the laws of the Revolution in 1790, where the wife would then obtain the same rights as the male children (Vie Publique). It is only since the nineteenth century that events in favor of such parity increased: in 1850, a law (the Falloux law) forced towns under 800 inhabitants to open a special elementary school for girls. Jules Ferry made elementary school mandatory in 1882. Then, in 1863, a first law is passed to protect working women (they would not be able to work in mines, nor on Sundays anymore). At the beginning of the twentieth century, women finally obtained rights within their own families: in 1907, married woman who have a job are allowed to keep the money they earn, and in 1915, if the husband is missing, they can be in charge of the parental authority. Finally, since the mid-90s, women have rights that considerably set them equal to men: in 1944, they received the right to vote; in 1970, they became equal to the father when it comes to parental authority; and in 1971, a law forced employers to give an equal salary to both sexes for a same job (Wikipedia). Unfortunately, many disparities still subsist between men and women in France. Since it is the place where individuals form their personal and intellectual identities, the French educational system is what we should first take a look at.

First of all, we have to recognize that from an academic point of view, girls have surpassed the boys. Women have been receiving more and more diplomas from higher levels of education. Before the 80s, the changes made to improve parity were made in secondary education as well as the first years of college, but then after the 80’s these changes were more directed towards higher levels of education (women being more numerous there since 1981). In 2001, more than half of the students were women but the way they were divided was unequal. According to the Ministry of National Education, Youth, and Community Life, both boys and girls tend to concentrate their studies in areas that are commonly stereotyped with their gender. Indeed, two thirds of the pharmacy, medical students, and superior technicians with a services concentration are women, just like they represent three fourths of the art, literature and languages students (INSEE). These proportions are inversed for physical activities, sports, engineer schools,...
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