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Should Women Be Allowed In The Work Place?

Updated on October 28, 2009

As a woman, campaigner for equal rights, and pseudo feminist extraordinaire, I pose this question after having read a most delightfully trashy romance novel. (I don't care, some of them are so utterly awesome it's a travesty that they're not recommended reading for men who would see the kind of drivel that women go mushy over and perhaps finally understand what women want, but that's another article and I digress,) anyway, in this romance novel, the strong, masculine conservative protagonist makes the claim that women should not be in the work force and that allowing women to join the workforce has lead to several negative consequences.

The gist of these consequences is that the workforce nigh doubled in size, giving employers more choice and allowing them to drop pay rates. At one time, a man's salary could support a wife and children, now the idea is laughable unless you happen to be a ponzi banker. Women no longer have the 'option' to work, they must work as well as raising any children they have.

I thought to myself, Egads! Slade McRomanceypants is quite correct, not only does he have imaginary broad shoulders and smoldering eyes, but he has accurately pin pointed the source of ills in our society.

At one time a woman could stay home and raise her babies if she so chose, nowadays a woman is torn between the need to make money and the desire to tend to her children. This leads to a deep seated guilt for many women who must drop their small children off to be cared for by others at a time when insticnt tells them that they should not leave them alone for a minute, lest a foul predator snatch them. Many claim that women have, in a sense, removed themselves or been removed from the roots of femininity which gave them their strength.

Recent years have seen a backlash against this type of thinking and increasingly, some women are wanting to stay home with their children and resume traditional gender roles. But it is harder now. The daughters of the women who burned lingerie and demanded to be allowed to work are now discovering that they must work. There's no doubt that women traded a certain amount of theoretical security and protection when they forged their way into the workforce, but that is the way life works. Everything is a trade off, and all things have consequences.

I said earlier that women now 'have' to work in the majority of cases to support themselves. This not some unintended consequence of the feminist movement however, this is the natural result of being equal. If men and women are equal, then men and women have the same responsibilities not as walking genders, but as individuals. Even to my ears however, this rings with but a hollow truth for it supposes that men and women can exist absent of their natural biological drives, and whilst we know very well that some women thrive in the workplace and even on the battle field, and some men thrive in the domestic arena, it does not mean that all men and women are so fluid.

Where things truly become convoluted is when children come in. A woman without children has no reason not to work, at least in my mind. However a woman who is trying to raise human beings to an age where they will no longer drink bleach if given half a chance may very well find that having a few meager months maternity leave and then being forced to leave her child in the care of another is a terrible situation to be in. Then again, she may be sick of making small talk with a barely sentient being by that time and leap at the chance to return to a world where the walls aren't all painted in bubblegum colors and caterpillars are just another bug and not an important educational tool worthy of devoting several brightly colored cut out tomes to.

The battle between so called 'equality' and the natural urges of the human male and female has been raging for eons and isn't likely to end any time soon, but it behoves us to remember that we are human animals, and that part and parcel of being human animals are gender differences which sometimes, really do make all the difference.

Should women be in the workplace? I believe they should be, but I also believe that we should acknowledge the sacrifices which are made not by a few men and women, but by the whole of society in order to support that ideal of equality.

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    • Hope Alexander profile imageAUTHOR

      Hope Alexander 

      8 years ago

      Ah, but they used to find peace quite easily along gender lines, didn't they :)

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 

      8 years ago

      Terrific hub. The struggle between the realities of the working world and the demands of parenthood will never find peace with each other. The only solution I can see, and it is not always possible, is finding a job that allows you to work from home, if not everyday, than some of the time. Let's face it, no one can be in 2 places at once, but that is what most women are faced with. The guilt is enormous.

    • ledefensetech profile image

      ledefensetech 

      8 years ago from Cape Girardeau, MO

      Or it could be, Ralph, that a CPA or auditor can work from home almost as easily in the office or field. Certainly a young woman who is interested in pursing a career and family should look at that sort of thing when deciding what they want to do with their lives. Some careers naturally lend themselves better to working moms than others.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Hope, I'm not sure about the details, but I've read that parents are entitled to one or two years' paid parental leave in the Scandinavian countries. The pay may come from the employer or from the government. In either case it's expensive, but may reduce future costs related to developmental or psychological issues. The U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act provides for up to 12 work weeks' per year for the birth and care of a new born child of the employee. I know of a case where a career management woman worked until a couple of days before giving birth and returned to work two or three days after giving birth. Some people in the office were critical of her return to work so quickly after her baby was born. It seems to me that since more and more women find they have to work or want to work and have children it would make sense for employers to adopt policies to meet the needs of working parents and those of their children. It would be great if employers did this voluntarily, however, very few employers have chosen to do so. Accounting firms seem to be an exception, perhaps, because of the time and money it takes to train a CPA/auditor.

    • ledefensetech profile image

      ledefensetech 

      8 years ago from Cape Girardeau, MO

      It's not so insane, Hope, if the company uses that as a way to attract quality workers. It does, of course, have to be voluntary between the worker and employer. Believe me, if I had an employee that was responsible for earning me profit, I might be tempted to offer something like that, so long as the cost didn't eat up all of the profit. Plus, using that as an example, could motivate the rest of the workforce to increase profit and if they did so successfully, I could see extending the program.

      Unfortunately, something like that sticks in the craw of someone devoted equality of outcome, rather than the equality of opportunity.

    • Hope Alexander profile imageAUTHOR

      Hope Alexander 

      8 years ago

      Interesting points, ledefensetech.

      And Ralph, should companies really be responsible for paying for maternity leave and child care, etc? They're businesses, not social institutions. I'm pretty liberal, but I find the idea that a business has to support the children of its staff, therefore providing more compensation to staff with children than to those without to be quite insane.

    • ledefensetech profile image

      ledefensetech 

      8 years ago from Cape Girardeau, MO

      That kind of argument masks the real problem. Women have always been free to work if they so chose. They may have not always been able to chose the type of work they wanted to do, but the option of working has always been there.

      What we've really seen over the last few decades is the [b]need[/b] for women to enter the workforce [i]to help provide for their families[/i]. That's quite a bit different than the idea of expanding the options available for women in the workforce.

      The reason this has been a necessity is because real wages have been stagnant for about 30 years or so. What has not been stagnant is the standard of living. Inflation pushes up the cost of living every year and since men's wages were stagnant, women had to step in to provide what men once could do alone. The feminist movement hailed this as a move in the right direction, and in a sense it was.

      I'm all for opening up choices to people, but you shouldn't have to have both parents work just to support the family. That is due entirely to the high cost of the American worker and the ever rising standard of living.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      "nowadays a woman is torn between the need to make money and the desire to tend to her children."

      and betweent the desire to pursue a career using her talents and education.

      Women who want to be in the workplace should be in the workplace. Women who prefer to care for children should not have to be in the work place. Other countries provide much greater help in the form of paid parental (either spouse)leaves, and child care allowances. A few U.S. companies have quite generous parental leave and part time work for parents policies. DeLoite Touche and perhaps other accounting firms have comparatively generous parental leave and part time work opportunities for their professional employees. Some companies provide day care facilities. More needs to be done.

    working

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