In the first world, women are working even more than ever before. Coping with this change will be a great challenge of the decades to come.
The economic empowerment of women across thew old is one the most remarkable revolutions within the past 50 years, economically speaking. The remarkable aspect of this relies on the extent to eh change: millions of people who were once dependent on men have taken full control of their own economic fates. It is remarkable also because this has produced so little friction: a change that so greatly affects the most intimate aspects of our identities has been widely welcomed by men as well as women across the first world countries. Dramatic social change such as this seldom takes this much of a benign form.
Even benign form does have a sharp side – social arrangements have not caught up with economic changes as many children have paid the price for this rise of two-income households. Many women and men feel that they are caught in an enclosing tangle of commitments. if the empowerment of women was one the greatest changes of the past 50 years, socially speaking, dealing with its social consequences will be one of the next great challenges of our society.
Progress hasn’t been uniform across the board in many different nations. The change is, nonetheless, quite dramatic. Just a generation ago, working women performed menial jobs and were quite routinely subjected to casual sexism. Today, women make up the majority of professional workers in many countries.
What explains the revolution list hat politics have been playing their part. Feminist such as betty Friedan have fought domestic slavery and discrimination, as well as governments passing equal rights acts. Female politicians have taught young women that anything is possible.
The first world has seen a growth within the demand for female labour. When strength mattered more than brains, men had the inherent advantage. now that brainpower is the triumphant competency, the two sexes are much more evenly matched. The feminization of the workforce has been driven by the rise of the service sector, where women compete at the same level as men, and the equally relentless decline of manufacturing.
Demand has also been matched by supply as women are increasingly willing and able to work. Improved technology reduced the amount of time that was needed for the traditional female work of cleaning and cooking. Women, now more than ever, have the time as well as increased incentives to put effort in acquiring skills, particularly slow-burning skills that are difficult to learn and take many years to pay off. The knowledge hat women would not have to stop out of school to have a baby made school more plausible.
The expansion of higher education has also provided a significant boost for job prospects for women. This improves their value within the job market and shifts their role models from stay at home mothers to successful professional women. The best-educated women have always been more likely than other less-educated women to work even after having children.
A surprising thing about this revolution is how little celebration there has been. Most people do welcome the change and most Americans regard it as positive development. Few are cheering because young women take their opportunities for granted, and many women who work represent economic necessity rather than liberation. The first world’s growing army of single mothers have little choice but to work. The growing proportion of married women have also discovered that the only way they can preserve their households’ living standards is to work. In America, families with stay at home mothers have the same inflation-adjusted income as similar families did in the early 1970s. The reason is that the revolution has also brought many issues in its wake.
The big issue is that women’s rising aspirations have not actually been fulfilled. Women have been encourage to climb the ladder of business to only discover that the middle rungs are dominated by ben and the upper rungs are unfortunately, out of reach. the upper ranks of management consultancies and banks are typically dominated by men. Many women are forced to pick between motherhood and a career. The cost of motherhood is particularly steep for fast-track, career-oriented women. The world’s largest economy has adopted an idiosyncratic approach as America provides no statuary paid leave for mothers. At least 145 other countries provide paid sick leave as America allow sonly unpaid absence for serious illness.
So far with the combination of public and private-sector initiatives has only gone so far in terms of dealing with the problem. The children of poorer working mothers are the least likely to benefit from female-friendly companies. Millions of families are still struggling to make ends meet as insufficient child-care facilities are growing and a school day that bears no relationship to their working lies.
The Western world will be struggling to deal with the social consequences of women’s economic empowerment for many years to come.