Adapted for website – GP tuition / O-level tuition articles- copyright Knowledge Skills LLP
About a month ago, there was quite a furor over gender stereotypes espoused by the organisation ‘Focus on the Family’. The issue of gender roles, identity and equality is a rather popular topic for General Paper; less so for the O-levels. Maybe there is still some apprehension in asking 15-16 year olds to consider the ramifications of gender roles. Nevertheless, ‘gender’ related questions for GP tend to be quite predictable for the A-levels. Oftentimes, most questions revolve around the issues of equality (have we achieved it?) and identity (are stereotypes valid?). There are many areas to discuss so we must as well begin with the issue of women in the workplace since students typically raise this point anyway. The materials have been adapted from N.Folbre and D.Gunn.
Women in the workplace
The term “breadwinner” originated in the 19th century as a celebration of husbands and fathers who provisioned their families, contrasted with wives and mothers as mere “dependents.” In recent years, there has been a significant increase in women being the main breadwinner of the family.
Historical experience suggests that winning bread is not all that she cracks it up to be. Many women can’t afford much beyond a tasteless white loaf. And many mothers devote a substantial share of their earnings to the support of their children because neither their fathers nor the rest of society is providing much assistance. But undeniably, in most parts of the world, women are earning higher incomes than their predecessors.
So what does that mean for Gender Equality?
Of course, increases in women’s paid employment have contributed enormously to their economic, political, and cultural empowerment. (each of this will be covered in depth at a later segment) Undeniably, the women gaining the top educational credentials they need to move into higher-paying occupations represent the cutting edge of a sustained threat to complacent sexism.
But the gains delivered by increased earnings for women have often proved uneven and insufficient, falling short of somewhat romantic expectations. Research has shown that women’s participation in paid employment has leveled out in recent years, and the female-dominated occupations that are predicted to grow rapidly in the near future represent a relatively small proportion of the labor force.
Further, many of these jobs pay badly. The two occupations projected to grow most rapidly between 2010 and 2020, home health aides and personal care aides, typically earn less than $21,000 per year. (please note that these are USA based examples)
The double burden on women
Women will almost certainly continue to enter more highly credentialed jobs in health care and elsewhere, but many women have been, and will continue to be, left behind. What many women have in common is a tendency to combine breadwinning with caregiving. As we show in For Love and Money, many women tend to enter caring occupations. Cultural norms still assign women more responsibility than men for the care of children, the sick and the elderly, and the market-oriented economy doesn’t reward such care very generously. Virtue is assumed to be its own reward.
Even women who earn far more than their husbands have a hard time persuading them to take more responsibility on the home front. They tend to reduce their domestic burden by devoting their own earnings to the purchase of substitutes for the services they once provided, such as child care and meals out. Furthermore, . . . [truncated – filed under GP Tuition: Gender notes]
How about the rest of the world?
While the developed world discusses the glass ceiling, the end of men and whether women can really ever have it all, activists in developing countries tend to focus on more basic issues like combating violence against women and providing equal access to vaccines, basic healthcare, and primary education. (students, please take note: Don’t always to write from a 1st world perspective)
“Today, it is estimated that 6 million women are missing every year (World Development Report, 2012),” writes MIT’s Esther Duflo, one of the world’s foremost development economists and a John Bates Clark medalist, in a new comprehensive literature review on the relationship between poverty and gender inequality across the developing world. Sex-selective abortion, infanticide, unequal treatment in childhood, and the risks of childbirth all play a role in the missing women phenomenon.
In local Singapore colloqualism, “So how?”
Will economic development, with its attendant rising incomes and resources, eventually lead to gender equality on its own, even without targeted efforts at improving conditions for women? Or is gender equality a prerequisite to achieving development goals? For the purpose of time management during the General Paper Essay, we can break this down into 3 simple ideas … [truncated – filed under GP Tuition: Gender notes]
There’s lots of evidence that gender inequality declines as economic development occurs and incomes rise. Prior to development, poverty-stricken families respond to income shocks by re-allocating resources to sons.
For example . . .[truncated – filed under GP Tuition: Gender notes]
. . .
Gender Equality and Community Development
Economic development in a community not only brings more doctors and health facilities, but also increases families’ abilities to weather the kinds of crises that disproportionately harm girls. In Duflo’s words: “[B]y reducing the vulnerability of poor households to risk, economic development, even without specifically targeting women, disproportionately improves their well-being.”
Development is also often accompanied by decreased maternal mortality and increased labor market opportunities for women, both of which may encourage parents to invest more in their young daughters. In other words, parents who think their daughters have a better chance of surviving the perilous childbearing years, or of one day getting a high-earning job outside the home, might make very different decisions about feeding and educating those daughters. A 2009 evaluation of a policy initiative in Sri Lanka found that a reduction in maternal mortality led to increases in female life expectancy, literacy and years of education.
But is it enough? “Is there a reason to design policies specifically targeted towards improving the condition of women?” asks Duflo. “Or is it sufficient for improving women’s condition to fight poverty and to create the conditions for economic growth in poor countries?”
Duflo doesn’t think development alone will be enough—gender gaps in wages and political participation persist in even the world’s most developed countries, and researchers have found . . .
[truncated – filed under GP Tuition: Gender notes]
Political Leadership and Social Media
So what about the other lever—empowering women through political quotas or scholarships—in the hopes it will drive development for both women and men? Kofi Annan isn’t the only one who views gender equality as a prerequisite for development—many microcredit loans and cash transfer programs are offered exclusively to women due to the belief that they make better spending and investment decisions than men.
Efforts to increase female participation in government, through quotas in India, for example, also result in different spending and investment decisions—despite early concerns that female leaders would simply vote as directed by their husbands. But perhaps the big issue we can consider is the impact social media is having on this complex issue. Several issues that need to be examined are . . .[truncated – filed under GP Tuition: Gender notes]
End of excerpt – For GP tuition / O-level English content