Gender equity has been a sensitive issue throughout the world. Many societies have a traditional social hierarchy that ranks man on top of his female counterparts. However, the social dynamics in the society have begun to change over time. Many people have come out strongly to speak out for the female gender. They feel that the female gender has been oppressed for a long time and it is therefore prudent that the society transitions in modernity. Many of activities calling for affirmative action argue that the female gender has the same capabilities as the male gender. They believe that they should be given the same opportunities in life as the male gender. As much as this might sound to be a good stride towards social equity, the problem of gender parity has continued to feature even in strong democracies in the world like the United States. One might wonder whether there is any particular time that the world can be in a position to grant equal opportunities to both genders without a sense of bias. However, this question depends on the flexibility of any society to realize social norms. Unless a society is flexible enough elements of male chauvinism will continue to be evident in society. This paper intends to look at how gender roles play out in three different areas. These areas include; education, public policy and the workplace.
II. Overview of Gender roles
Over a long period of time societies have tended to divide labor between the two genders. Different sets of jobs have been associated with the male gender while some have been left to the female gender. For example, jobs that require a lot of physique like the construction industry and military operations have been traditionally left to the male gender. On the other hand, jobs like taking care of homes and the rearing of children has been thought to be the responsibility of the female gender. However, if one might look closely at these jobs, it is clear that any person of whatever gender can do these jobs.
Different societies have set up norms that tend to divide these two genders. This means that gender roles are purely a social construct. It is the society that creates the notion that different jobs can only be occupied by men while others are only applicable to women. This accounts to the reason as to why the female gender has always been confined to the domestic realm of the society and not allowed in the public realm. Men on the other hand have been allowed to explore many areas in in life both in the domestic and in the public domain. This poses the question of whether men and women are equal. Many argue that these two genders are not equal. One of the sources of this concept is the culture. Many cultures argue that the female gender is a weaker species compared to the male gender. This might bear some truth in it in that using some elements like physical strength men have are more strong than women but physical strength is not the only perspective that can be used to analyze the strength of any given person or gender. There are other sources of strength. For example, the ability to think and make sound decisions in strength. In such, there are many women across the worlds that have been known to outshine men in terms of decision making, reasoning, and the level of education. This means that the female gender has the capability of competing favorable with the female male gender at any level and sphere of life. This paper intends to look at the growing concept of gender awareness across the world and how the concept of male supremacy is slowly fading and in turn being substituted for more gender equity within society. This paper intends to use developments in the education sector, public policy, and the job market to justify this hypothesis.
III. Gender & Education.
Education has been considered as been a fundamental tool in the empowerment of society. Many scholars have argued that education is an investment that no one can take away. It remains with a person up to his grave. Bearing in mind that education has the ability to open doors towards greatness for the society at large, it is important that societies make sure that access to education is made available to as many members of the society as possible. Though one might expect this to be the case in many societies, the fact remains that many societies do not give equal education opportunities to all within these societies. Education has been considered to be a male affair in many societies. The reasons as to why many parents and guardians across the world have in the past been concerned only with the education of the male child is that they believe that the male child will at one point be the head of their households. If they are not adequately empowered with education, their financial beginnings might be humble which can hurt the general household. However, failure to educate, the female child, in the traditional view does not seem to have any repercussions. Many parents believed that the female child has an opportunity in life to get married to a rich man who can create a situation whereby the life of that child starts at a higher footing. Therefore, in the traditional school of thought, educating the male child is a worthy investment in that it improves the quality of life in the whole society.
However, dynamics have changed over time. The need for the education of the girl child has turned out to be an important thing. Many people have come to realize that the girl child has the same potential as the male child. In terms of the grasp of educational wisdom and knowledge it has turned out that more and more women can outshine men (Lindsey, 2005, p.76). Therefore, discrimination with regard to the education opportunities has been received with growing opposition in different societies. Many people are testimony that many women across the world have been able to accomplish educational prospects that many men will not be able to realize in their life time.
As the society transitions towards the provision of education opportunities both to the male and the female gender, one of the challenges that arise is the question of institutional materials that can be used to facilitate education. Though both the male and female gender has equal capabilities in terms of the grasp of educational knowledge, the fact remains that both sexes are different in terms of the physical elements. Therefore, different kinds of logistics are needed for both sexes if education each and every child within the society is going to be successful.
The girl child is the worst affected when it comes to the availability of a favorable environment for education. The girl child requires a lot of support both from the home environment and the school environment. Some of the materials that schools should seek to provide especially in the developing world where the quality of lives is low include menses paraphernalia, guiding and counseling of the girl child in terms of taking responsibility to be in school and the avoidance of unwanted pregnancies. In addition, parents and guardians have to be vigilant so as to make sure that their female children are not exposed to societal evils and oppression like early marriages and the unpopular practice of female genital mutilation. The girl child also needs to be supported with the classroom society. It is by nature that the female gender is often shy and frightful. Therefore, it is the responsibility of class instructors to make sure that they help the female child to gain more confidence with the class environment so that they can benefit maximally from the education process. In addition, the education system that the female gender is subjected to should seek to build better communication channels between the girl child, the parent, and the instructor. This makes sure that responsibility of supporting the girl child in the education process is a collective responsibility between the parent, the student, and the parent. Though one may be tempted to think that it is only the girl child that faces problems within the society, the fact remains that the boy child is current faced with problems as well. The exposure of the boy child to drugs and other social evils is a threat to the success of the boy child in the future. Therefore, though gender roles play out within the education process, it is important to understand that the success of the education process with regard to both genders depends on the collective responsibility of the society at large.
IV. Gender & Public Policy
Public policy has been an area that has been occupied by men in the traditional set up of many societies. Public policy has been seen as an area that requires wit and expertise in order to satisfy the needs and wants of the masses. Therefore, women who have been seen in the past to be the weaker species have often been locked out of public policy. However, with the changing times, there has been a pressure from both civil societies and the international communities that women be accommodated within public policy. One of the reasons as to why women have been pushing to be allowed into public policy is because women, within many societies, constitute more than half of the society.
Without women in public policy, it means that women are forced to abide with law, regulations, and policies that are crafted by the minority in society. John Locke in his concept of Lockean liberalism argued that all humans are capable of reason. The changes in society are dependent on whether all individuals that constitute a given society are given the chance to do so. This means that a society that does not grant women the right to participate in public society can hardly realize positive change. Governance and public policy are elements in society that need to be inclusive of all the members of society.
As much as equity within public policy might sound as being a good idea, one of the problems that face the society today regarding public policy is the fact that members of the societies at times have seemed to be discriminative to women. In fact, even in stable democracies in the United States, women have not been allowed to occupy sensitive seats like the presidency. This does not mean that women in these countries do not have the will power to do so. However, the mindset of the voters and the electorate is still dependent on the traditional idea that women lack the potential and capability of leadership (Tolleson-Rinehart, 2005, p.82). One might be convinced that men in the electorate and the people who would not vote for a woman within an election to a given public office. However, dynamics have shown that women in themselves have adopted the notion that their fellow woman cannot govern. Many women have bought into the idea that a woman is not meant to occupy the public sphere but should be confined into the domestic realm. Therefore, the problem that faces the society in its efforts to realize equity within public policy is that changing the mindset of the society and especially the electorate will take a long time. The changing of the social paradigm that seems women as incapable of leadership cannot be realized overnight. It requires a lot of patience and sacrifice.
V. Gender & the work place
The workplace and the job market in general has been an area that has been discriminatory based on gender. Traditionally, it has been the norm that men are supposed to occupy jobs that require a lot of physique and concentration. This accounts for the reasons as to why many military troops across the world were not inclusive of women in the past. The military was seen as a career that requires a lot of sacrifice and concentration. Therefore, according to the traditional perspective, women were not well adapted for such a kind of career in that most societies regard them as being weak.
Looking at how gender roles play out in the workplace, trends have shown that men have been favored in some jobs while women have been favored in some. For example, it is common that some nursing facilities have purely female staff (Stockdale, 2007, p.93). This is not to mean that men cannot be able to do the job. However, social construct plays in the job market. Men are sometimes thought of not being thorough within their jobs and therefore some nursing facilities opt to have more women staff within their nursing work force than men. On the flipside, careers like Engineering have often been left for men to operate heavy machinery. Women have the capacity to handle this machinery but due to notions that are created within the society fewer women obtain jobs in this area.
Clearly, there is no difference between men and women in work place. However, social constructs within the society which have been evident in the past have created a situation whereby some jobs are left purely to men while others are left to women. One of the most consoling things is that social dynamics are changing government regulations and the education systems are opening up more opportunities for women to gain expertize in areas that were initially considered to belong to men. It has been evident that more women in some countries are gaining education compared to men (Sudha, 2000, p.41). This means that overtime, men and women will be able to compete on equal grounds within the job market in that the gap that existed between men and women in terms of skills and education levels is slowly reducing. Therefore, it is more likely that instead of gender roles playing out within the job market in future, employers will be looking for the expertize and the skills exhibited by the people within the workforce.
Another important source of discrimination within the work place is the leadership within a given employment entity. In some cases, it has come to be evident that if an employer of given firm or company belongs to given gender; it is likely that the employer discriminates against the different gender. Women bosses in some incidences have been known to discriminate against men who are ranked lower in terms of the job hierarchy. This discrimination often results due to the fact that some women feel threatened by men within the work place. They often feel that if they fail to deliver within the work place, it is more likely that their juniors within the work place are likely to substitute them. In addition, there has been an incidence where men have discriminated against members of the same sex within the work place. This behavior often results because some of the male bosses within the work place obtain sexual favors from their female counterparts (Barickman, 1991, p.64). Therefore, bosses prefer some of the leaders at the work place prefer to have women on their side and not men.
Therefore, for equity to be realized within the work place, employers have to look at the experience and the skills a worker in gauging the capability of that worker and not his or her gender. In addition, it is important that societies wake up from the traditional social construct that paints women as being incapable of occupying some jobs.
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