The discussion of women in the workforce from the historical perspective would be incomplete without mentioning of the feminist movement. Initially, the movements of the 19th century were focused on women’s suffrage, i.e., the ability to participate in elections. Later, from the 1960s, feminists pay attention to the position of women in society, eradication of inequalities, and bias related to gender. At present times, the issue of women in the workplace remains topical due to the existence of the income gap between men and women that signifies that male workers are more valuable for an employer than female ones.
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Although women are actively engaged in defense of their right to be treated equally to men, history acts against them. According to Hideg and Wilson (2020), “reminders of past injustices against women undermine support for workplace policies promoting women” (p. 176). Therefore, the previous limitations of women’s abilities are regarded as the precedents that reduce all efforts of activists to zero. Nevertheless, people in countries all over the world keep on organizing protests and marches to attract the attention of the public of the existing problem of gender inequality in the workplace. For instance, in 2017, the largest peaceful international Women’s March was held with approximately 7 million participants.
The history lens is essential for a deeper understanding of the discussed issue because it shows its origins and traces patterns. For example, Goldin (2006) argues that the change in women’s role in the workplace is deeply connected with their self-perception as independent individuals. Up to the 1960s, it was unusual for women to support a family, while later it became normal that both spouses go to work. Besides, in the 1970s, women began to retain their surname after marriage (Goldin, 2006). Hence, the history lens allows us to understand how the image of women and their place in society changed from the 19th century and earlies up to the current times.
Most importantly, the historical approach to women in the workplace shows that protests caused by dissatisfaction with the existing income gap make the government take measures. This is illustrated by the implementation of the affirmative actions in universities and businesses, quotas on the percentage or number of female employees in a company, appearance of special educational and scientific grants targeted at women. However, it seems that the policies imposed from above reinforce stereotypes just as if women need additional help because they are too weak to overcome all the career barriers and difficulties. From this, it could be inferred that it would take a long time to change the culture and free it from gender preconception.
To sum up, the history lens concentrates the author’s attention to the fact that the question of women in the workplace remains pressing during the centuries. Apart from that, the problem is global since the activities and protests related to the issue of women in the workforce happen all over the world: in Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia.
Lens Analysis: Humanities
The reason for the presence of gender stereotypes in society stems from the teachers attitude to children. Trusz (2020) claims that the majority of instructors believe that precise sciences are for boys, while girls should be better in humanities. Thus, during the classes, schoolteachers reinforce these prejudices. Another way in which the issue of women in the workplace is illustrated in humanities is numerous novels, movies, paintings. At this point, it should be noted that such artistic creations appear in various cultures, not only, for example, the Western one.
The novel “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott, published in 1868, seems to be one of the most famous works dedicated to the issue of gender inequality that did not lose its relevance in the 21st century. In the novel, the protagonists face oppression expressed through the low value of womens labor (Desmawati, 2020). However, in modern cinematography and literature, more works depict women as strong players who could be as successful as men. Examples of these are such films as “The Devil Wears Prada”, “Million Dollar Baby”, and “Miss Sloane”, to name but a few. There are also such famous artists as Sarah Lucas, Susan Hiller, and Kara Walker, who create artworks that draw attention to the issue of gender inequality and underestimated abilities of women in the workforce. The critical message of these movies, pictures, books, and installations emphasizes the necessity to treat women equally to men and admit that the former also deserve high salaries and career perspectives.
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At a personal level, I share the strive of these artists to attract attention to the existing problem. The 21st century is known as one of the human rights that include equality and the absence of oppression and discrimination. It seems unfair that women face difficulties with employment because they are potential mothers and caregivers. Still, from an employers point of view, it is not beneficial to give a job for a woman who might go on maternity leave in a while. However, it is another topic for discussion.
At the professional level, humanities give an extensive ground for the detailed investigation of the issue of women in the workforce. It is curious to observe how the image of women in the literature and cinematograph was changing throughout the decades. Besides, it is also interesting to see the social problems that were depicted by feminist sculptors and artists. For example, it might be suggested that the question of women in the workplace became more burning during the last thirty years.
To conclude, it should be noticed that the sphere of humanities provides a ground for the multidimensional analysis of the investigated topic. On the one hand, it is possible to examine the proportion and the peculiarities of female employees in this field. On the other hand, the sphere of humanities reflects how the image of women was changing in various works of art.
Desmawati, E. (2020). Analysis of feminism in the novel of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Journal of Language and Literature, 6(2), 91-96.
Goldin, C. (2006). The quiet revolution that transformed women’s employment, education, and family. American economic review, 96(2), 1-21.
Hideg, I., & Wilson, A. E. (2020). History backfires: Reminders of past injustices against women undermine support for workplace policies promoting women. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 156, 176-189.
Trusz, S. (2020). Why do females choose to study humanities or social sciences, while males prefer technology or science? Some intrapersonal and interpersonal predictors. Social Psychology of Education, 23, 615–639.