Women were severely limited at the beginning of this century, as to the jobs they could apply for. These were mostly service positions such as nursing, teaching, secretarial or servant. Few women were college educated, both because it was thought that women were not capable of higher learning, and also because it would be a waste of money to prepare a woman for a job that she would not be allowed to hold.
Toward the middle of this century, there was a gradual change, and with the advent of Title IX, women started to attend college en masse, and to enter into job positions that were called "non-traditional." Just to name a few: medicine, law, business, engineering and agriculture (other than Home Ec.)
Women have filled these positions and they have excelled in them, proving over and over that not only are women educable, but that they are capable of doing the work of this world that was formerly believed could only be done by men. Despite this, there has not been a concomitant equality in pay for service. Women still are paid less for doing the same job as a man except mechanic!
You may have seen the statistics. A recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that women's wages had dropped another 2% lower that men's (27% less now.) A recent national survey showed that while women are concerned with child care, the strongest issue for them is equal pay. Wage discrimination has been ILLEGAL since 1963 but is still rampant. This despite the fact that 41% of working women provide sole support for their families.
Recently, many women's organizations have banded together for change, forming Working Women Working Together Network, with equal pay a priority. More info on what they are about may be found by calling toll free: (888) 971-9797.
One other report just released where women are NOT discriminated against shows that women are getting AIDS at a rate higher than men. In fact, while the incidence of new HIV infections for other populations are going down, it is increasing in women -- that's heterosexual women, by the way.
While this and similar efforts are going on, we note that most women's groups are still referring to certain jobs as NON-TRADITIONAL. Indeed, a recent web site has been established by some women's groups to sign up mentors for women interested in non-traditional jobs.
Just when are we going to wake up and call professional jobs "traditional?" Why do we form groups and WWW pages asking women to sign up as "role models" for "non-traditional" jobs? Don't we just buy into the fallacy that certain careers, i.e., any that pay more than minimum wage, are always going to be either out of the reach of women or that women still are not qualified? [liznote]
What does that say about what women's roles are supposed to be?
If we continue calling for female role models in "non-traditional" jobs, the message is being sent that we, also, BELIEVE THAT WE ARE ENTITLED TO ONLY CERTAIN TYPES OF JOBS AND CAREERS.
We should be offering role models for all types of jobs and careers, period! We should NOT reinforce the impression of low self value in ourselves and our culture by perpetuating this cultural myth.
Copyright 1997 Renee T. Louise and Ruth M. Sprague, Ph.D. These articles may be republished for noncommercial use only, provided that they are copied intact, and that this copyright notice is attached. Address all queries to: TWANDA@ConnRiver.net.
G e n d e r G a p p e r s T M
[liznote: if your thinking cap is on, you might find some fodder for thought by viewing this site: Advancingwomen.]