Do women have equal rights as men? Can they balance their housework, take care of kids and work outside homes? Do men in our society always overshadow their existence? These questions came to my mind when I first thought about the changes in the status of women from ancient times to the women of today. Throughout history, most societies have held women in an inferior status compared to men. This situation was often justified as being the natural result of biological differences between the sexes. In many societies, for example. People believed women to be naturally more emotional and less decisive than men. Women were also held to be less intelligent and less creative by nature. Many sociologists and anthropologists maintain that various cultures have taught girls to behave according to negative stereotypes of femininity, thus keeping alive the idea that women are naturally inferior. But in the last 40 years significant changes in the workplace, in homes, and have influenced the American political system.
The division of tasks that originally had been determined by physical differences became a matter of tradition. Consequently, even after machinery canceled out the advantage of male strength and birth after birth control gave women the means to regulate their childbearing, women continued to face barriers to entering many occupations. But today there are much fewer barriers than before. Women have proved themselves in every field of work. But these changes occurred gradually yet consistently. The changes began with women’s examination of their personal lives and developed into a program for social and political change. Women’s groups discovered discrimination in the workplace, where women received less pay and fewer promotions than men. They also uncovered barriers to women seeking political office and to female students striving for high academic achievements.
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Informal women’s liberation groups, which were first formed by female students active in the civil rights movement and in radical political organizations emphasized self-awareness and open discussion to combat discrimination and to establish greater equality between men and women in marriage, child-rearing, education, and employment. Large, formal organizations developed alongside the small women’s liberation groups that campaigned for the passage and strict enforcement of equal rights law. President John F. Kennedy’s Commission on the status of women, founded in 1961, discovered a number of legal barriers to women’s equality. It reported on laws that barred women from jury service, excluded women from certain occupations, and, in general, kept women from enjoying their full rights as citizens. In 1966, a number of feminist leaders formed the national organization for women (now) to fight sexual discrimination.
In the united states, several laws passed during the 1960s and 1970s aimed at providing equal rights for women. The equal pay act of 1963 requires equal pay for men and women doing the same work. Title IX of the education amendments of 1972 bans discrimination on the basis of sex by schools and colleges receiving federal funds. This law applies to discrimination in all areas of school activity, including admissions, athletics, and educational programs. The equal credit opportunity act took effect in 1975. It prohibits banks, stores, and other organizations from discriminating on the basis of sex or marital status in making loans or granting credit. The most notable single change in women’s lives may be their growing participation in the paid labor force. In the United States, the percentage of employed women rose from 28 percent in 1940 to 57 percent in 1989. The contemporary women’s movement contributed to an increasing acceptance of careers for all women, including mothers with young children.
The proportion of married women with children under 18 and a job rose dramatically, from 18 percent in 1950 to 66 percent in 1988. Women’s group has changed many people’s view about male and female roles. These changes have affected the workplace, the family, and the way women live their lives. Through the vote, women’s groups have influenced election results and government. They have also influenced legislation. They also point to growing equality between the sexes. Textbook publishers have adopted guidelines to eliminate language that uses male forms to represent everyone. For example, a fireman becomes a firefighter, and a policeman becomes a police officer. Women, as well as men, serve as anchors for television news shows. Several women have held the highest political office in their country, including Margaret Thatcher of Britain, Golda Meir of Israel, and Corazon Aquino of the Philippines.
In the united states, the number of women in law and medicine rose dramatically. In high schools and colleges. Women’s studies courses in history, literature, and sociology have brought new attention to women’s lives. Changing attitudes about the roles of women and men have also affected the way people conduct their everyday lives. For example, many men now take a more active role in parenting. More husbands now join their wives in natural childbirth classes. Some men have taken parental leave from work or chosen to work part-time when they become new fathers. Thus, changes in the status of women have taken place throughout history and will continue to take place. Men and women now work side by side in many different organizations. Women have earned respect and position in society and the trend toward greater equality of the sexes will continue.
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