Saturday, October 26, 2013
Idle Thoughts -- Modern Woman in the Workplace
Might the three arguments (motherhood, unfair competition, and hardening of the character) be valid in any conceivable modern context? Explain why or why not.
I'll take a look at these one by one.
First how does motherhood relate to working in a modern world?
We no longer believe that pregnancy is inherently incompatible with working outside the home. However, there are certainly jobs which would require exposure to conditions or materials which are hazardous to health of the unborn or to pregnant women. Pregnant women should be restricted from engaging in such activities. Employers should be restricted from assigning pregnant women to such activities. Reasonable and appropriate modifications to working conditions should be required if a female employee who works under such conditions becomes pregnant.
The issue of unfair competition is generally today seen in the opposite terms as it has traditionally been understood. Today it is much more likely that a woman will feel that she is been denied a pay raise, employment, or a promotion because of her sex. Men are unlikely to feel that women are being favored over them, as they once feared that women would take their jobs away. However, an interesting problem seems to be arising in America's colleges and universities. Far more women are now enrolled in most undergraduate programs than men. While this is not true in areas such as engineering, math, and postdoctoral studies, it is a clear problem in undergraduate studies.
I believe that this is partly as result of efforts which began in the 1980s to adjust schools to serve girl's and women's needs better. In the process, schools began to serve the needs of boys and young men less well. Fairness cuts both ways, so we should now be working hard to ensure that the numbers of male and female students who succeed in school and go on to college are roughly equal.
As far as hardening of the character goes, social attitudes have greatly changed as to how women should conduct themselves. Little girls are no longer expected to be shy, retiring, and acutely domestic. This is because they are longer expected to grow up to be women who display the same characteristics.
In today's workplace and society, a woman who is forceful and able to command is often seen in a positive light. You need only consider the situation of Hillary Clinton to understand this attitude.
To sum up, my answer to all three questions is no, but with some modifications. These modifications are reflected in the need to make adaptations for pregnant women in the workplace under some conditions, and to insure equal treatment for both sexes.