Article Summaries: The Economist. January 2, 2010.
We did it! The rich world’s quiet revolution: women are gradually taking over the workplace (pg7). Briefing: Women in the workforce. Female power. (pg 49-51)
Women in Today’s Workforce
From running for president, making up over half of the workforce, managing some of the world’s most successful companies, and earning almost 60% of university degrees in America and Europe, women’s presence in the workforce is more prominent today than ever. This “economic empowerment of women” is changing the workplace, as we know it. Only 20 years ago, women were viewed as only capable of unskilled jobs and were assumed to place marriage and children before having a career. In today’s society, women have more opportunities to have power over their lives and chose their career path.
In today’s global economy, every country should be utilizing the talents of their women in their workforce. For many countries, this progress has not been the same as America. For example, in Italy and Japan men employment rates are more than 20 percentage points higher and women’s employment rate is still below 50%. On average, women still earn significantly less than men and are a minority in top management. Remarkable Social Change without Conflict
The Economist found three surprising results from the increase of women in the workforce: the lack of privilege felt from women about their new opportunities, unmet expectations of women’s role in the workforce and the lack of resistance from society, especially men.
The lack of celebration from women is believed to be because of the economic necessity of women to work. Today, most households are two-income and women have little choice as to whether they want to work or not. Their contribution is the only way for many households to maintain their standard of living after having children. Also, many young women take this opportunity to work for granted, because they have grown up in a welcoming environment where women were always part of the workforce.
Although women are encouraged to enter the work force, only 2% are managers and less than 13% are board members. Men dominate top management. America and Britain’s average full-time, female workers earn only about 80% as much as their male counterpart.
Finally, most Americans are comfortable with women in the workforce with 9 out of 10 men are even comfortable with women earning more than they do. The minimal resistance to this social trend, especially by men, has allowed it to adapt rapidly and with little conflict. Contributing Factors to this Social Change
A major explanation for increased women in the workforce is the large amount of women who are university graduates and professional workers. Growth of higher education has increased women’s value in the job market and has caused a shift in the woman role model as professional women, not just homemakers. According to The Economist, in 1963, 62% of college-educated women were in the workforce whereas 46% of those who had a high school diploma. Today, 80% of American women with a college education are in the workforce in contrast to 67% with a high school diploma and 47% without one. Women are also educated in more “marketable subjects” such as business and management. In 1966, 40% of women obtained a degree in education and 2% in business and management. Where as today, 12% obtain degrees in education and 50% obtain degrees in business and management. Engineering and computer science are one of the few areas women are lagging in.
Politics have had a major effect on this revolution. Feminists have made domestic slavery unacceptable. Feminists have also strongly criticize discrimination toward women in the work place. We’ve even seen equal-rights acts passed in order to assure an equal playing ground in the work force for men and women of all ethnicities.
Economic and technological forces...