Essay on Advances in women’s rights since 1920

Two waves of changes have brought new legal and social rights to women in the XXth century. They happened between periods of 1921-1926 and 1965-1986. During the first period, women have gained a right to vote and some social rights, including acceptable working conditions and minimum wages. On the other hand, second wave, which has caused numerous debates, had made men and women equal before the law. Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was thought to grant a definitive protection to women and was adopted in 1972. While women have gained many of the same rights and privileges of men since the 20’s, they are still discriminated against through a lack of comparable sexual freedom and in the workplace with less compensation for the same work.

Help with Essay on Advances in women’s rights since 1920
Help with Essay on Advances in women’s rights since 1920

In the course of our history, we can notice that women had been discriminated against men in rights, opportunities and careers. Ancient nations had no respect for women, since their maternal role has been regarded as the only place woman may be of use. Besides, earliest Greek mythologies had been considering woman as a source of all evil, who had brought troubles and pain into this world. Bible tells us that woman was tempted by Satan first; thus, some men blame their wives that ‘I have sinned because you had made a bad choice in the very beginning’.

Moreover, being a good mother and an obedient wife was a social role of any woman. Till the end of XIXth century, mothers taught their daughters how to cook, clean and take care of children. These girls had suffered domestic pressure inside the family and cultural pressure in the outer world. Female children were offered as a sacrifice to family life. Society, where men were representatives of all humankind, ignored women’s feelings, attitudes, desires and opportunities for years.

However, the period of Middle Ages, which gave a leading role to aristocracy, has granted the world such prominent women rulers as Queens Elizabeth and Victoria of England and Catherine the Great of Russia. This drastic shift in women’s favor had called other women to action. They gave women new hope in intelligence, talents and abilities. Formal education was developed into colleges and universities for female students; thus, they have got another place to work, except home. According to Compton’s Encyclopedia:

Women obtained 19 percent of all undergraduate college degrees around the beginning of the 20th century. By 1984 the figure had sharply increased to 49 percent. Women also increased their numbers in graduate study. By the mid-1980s women were earning 49 percent of all master’s degrees and about 33 percent of all doctoral degrees. In 1985 about 53 percent of all college students were women, more than one quarter of whom were above age 29. (Compton’s Encyclopedia and Fact-Index, vol.24, pp. 263).

Nevertheless, “during the heyday of the women’s movement more than 30 years ago, “59 cents on the dollar” was an oft-heard rallying cry, referring to how little women earned compared with men” (Business Week online, para.1). Thus, equal rights movement had brought legal changes, but, has not moved the discrimination away.

Men suppose that women cannot be trusted because of their role in the family – they are the weakest link in the ‘work chain’. Boss is not sure of his woman employee’s future and makes no promotion because she may get married, bear kids and stay for 1-year-period at home to take care of them; thus, he disregards her abilities and career. Statistics does not give us the number of women who buried their talents and career in high school, because of future expectations of motherhood. Besides, “just one year off cuts a woman’s total earnings over 15 years by 32%, while two years slice it by 46% and three by 56%” (Business Week online, para.8). Thus, women take the burden of caregivers and pay the whole price for it by their own earnings.

Some professions are considered to have status ‘for men only’. In the beginning of XXth century women were not allowed to be doctors, teachers, lawyers, etc. This statement has not greatly changed to the end of the same century. The percentage of women lawyers and engineers to men has varied from 2:98 to 22:78 and 7:93 accordingly. (Compton’s Encyclopedia and Fact-Index). Some companies still hire single women, because subconsciousness tells managers that married women are unreliable and less effective. At present, wives and mothers may hear countless reasons why they do not suit this one or another position, such as our company’s customers had used to work with men. But the only true motive is married women, according to the Constitution and some acts, were given the right to have social services and under such laws they are protected by the government. Nobody wants to play a trick with it; but, at the same time, the most of managers suppose that employee may use sick or vacation leave to take time off for his/her own expenses.

Along with information, stated above, women of managing positions are fired more often than men of the employee’s level. As for the sexual harassment, women are still treated differently from men, especially in this highly immoral society we live in now. “Sexual harassment is any unsolicited and unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that creates an uncomfortable working or learning environment for the recipient.” (“Can’t You Take a Joke”, para.10). Not all of the companies give clear standards of behavior and working conditions that relate to women. Some of them may be aware of federal law protection of women’s rights and experience sexual harassment at work place. They may be afraid of loosing their job and go through indignity and disgrace.

There is a way out. Federal Law prohibits sexual discrimination at the workplace in the Civil Right Act of 1964, Title VII that must be “applie[d] to private employers, state and local government employers, labor organizations, employment agencies, and joint employer-union apprenticeship programs with 15 or more employees”. We should hope for the best that women’s rights will get its full force, but, this change still depends on the economic and social issues of the country as a whole and every company and industry individually.

Works cited:

  1. Business Week. Women’s Pay: Why the Gap Remains a Chasm. Online. June 14, 2004. Retrieved on October, 19, 2006. Available: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/04_24/b3887065.htm
  2. Civil Rights Act, Title VII, 1964.
  3. Compton‘s Encyclopedia and Fact-Index. Vol.24, pp. 261-268. Chicago, Illinois, 1995.
  4. Equal Rights Act, 78 Stat. 255 (1964); 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2.
  5. Val Marsden & Meredith Lane-Richardson. “Can’t You Take a Joke!”: Sexual Harassment at Work. Education Australia Online. Retrieved on October, 19, 2006. Available: http://edoz.com.au/educationaustralia/issues/harassment.html

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