How has the transition to modern society changed women's lives?

1912 WordsApr 5, 20048 Pages
The position of women is often considered to have improved during the last few decades. There is, however, considerable debate as to the extent of change and the reasons for it. This essay will look at how women 's lives have changed in terms of employment, pay, education, household, sexuality and the state. I will conclude that the most important changes for women are in education, but that the basic pattern of inequality remains in most aspects of the social structure, from paid work to the household divisions of labour, from sexuality to violence. Ann Oakley (1981) has traced the changing status of women in British society from the eve of the Industrial Revolution to the 1970s. She claims that 'the most important and enduring…show more content…
This theory has been heavily criticized on a number of grounds, and the work of Lovering and others suggests that post Fordism cannot be seen as a general trend that has affected all employers. A different explanation for the changing nature and pattern of women 's employment in countries such as Scandinavia has been the shift to state policy. Talcott Parsons had proposed a functionalist explanation of women 's disadvantaged position in the labour market, which focused on the impact of the household. He argued that men get paid more because women 's domestic responsibilities adversely affect their involvement in paid work. However, in Scandinavia, there is a much greater public provision of childcare together with higher rates of female employment and a smaller wages gap between women and men. Thus changes to state policy can improve the nature and pattern of women 's employment. But has there been any change in women 's pay relative to men 's? The implementation of the Equal Pay Act between 1970 and 1975 reduced the wages gap a little. In 1970 women earned only 63% on men 's hourly rates, and only 55% of men 's gross weekly pay. In 1997, women working full time earned 81% of men 's hourly rate, but those women working part time only earned 59% of men 's hourly rates. Thus the size of the gap has been closing steadily for those working full time, but not for

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