What I have been asked to do
The assignment has invited me to conceive a question centrally concerned with the subject of gender. There were seemingly infinite options that I could consider for such an essay. In exploring the initial subject, I became pertained with the sphere of work and employment, and within this, the inequalities that exist between males and females. Further I had a cognisance for the additional distinctions between female workers, namely those with children, and those without. Thus I decided upon the following question:
‘Gender equality in work is a myth.’ Discuss.
Why have I chosen this specific question?
The question which I have selected to write a plan on combines a number of components which could be sufficiently explored and developed in an essay. I believe these would go to presenting a good essay and for developing a solid argument. Essentially the essay question provokes an investigation of gender roles and how far they have been challenged or reinforced by the existence of work.
What will be contemplated in attempting to answer the question?
My primary investigations into gender equality, or rather the obvious inequalities which the question directs to, will be into the composition of work. Essentially this will involve an exploration simultaneously of both paid employment and unpaid domestic chores. This clearly is an issue specific to gender roles of Britain being depicted as a society ‘dominated by male bread winning and female caring’ (Warren, 2001, 548). Certainly Britain is a country observed to be particularly patriarchal, in direct comparison to the Scandinavian countries and their encompassing welfare systems which aim dismiss gender inequalities. Thus I will plan to look to explore different forms of work in Britain and how these serve to reinforce or challenge traditional roles of gender.
Additionally I shall consider the differences which are identifiable between women who have children and those who don’t. Working part-time is predominantly a female role in the employment market, and often in inferior types of work with substandard conditions. I shall investigate why this option is seen as the sole one. In my findings I expect to find that patriarchy is dominant in actuality, caused by structural differences in the employment market. The juxtaposition of working mothers and childless women, who are seemingly masculine serves to decease the distinctions between men and women, serving ultimately to hinder the mother in employment, be it full time or part-time.
Addressing the question: what is work?
Essentially work can be regarded as being ‘paid or unpaid’ (Abercrombie and Warde, 1998, 66). Gender equality in work is not traditionally associated in the domestic sphere of the home. In this essay plan, I am concentrating on a heterosexual couple whom live together in a household. What is being investigated here is how women who are employed in jobs, be it part-time or full-time, have the additional responsibilities of domestic chores when they return to their home. This is an intrinsically structural inequality that exists in society and the data which follows serves to illustrate this.
How I would utilise the source
The source was published in the mid-nineteen nineties, though the most recent material that it contains is over ten years old, and compares to the start of the previous decade in 1983. However, I do believe this exemplifies to what extent women are dominant within the house, doing work that is unpaid. Though over the period of the study there is slight dissuasion in the figures, with men doing slightly more work with regards to household shopping, making the evening meal and doing the evening dishes and the sharing of work is slightly larger, it is obvious there has been little change since the early 1980s. It would be intriguing to locate further studies which are more contemporary than the source I have used that is embodied in the essay.
However, using speculation I do not believe there would be a great variance in the figures, and there is a definite disparity between gender roles. The man is the fixer, as identified in the predominance of repairing household equipment. Thus seeing the ‘female as caring’ (Warren, 2001, 548), as most other chores are shared equally between husband and wife, or it is mainly the woman. I would expect to conclude that the woman being principal in household chores will inextricably link to the further predominant role of a woman being employed in part-time work. However this shall form the latter part of the essay, and I shall now concentrate on the evident wages gap between men and women, which is further hindered by women being mothers.
Consideration: the gender disparity in earnings
Headlines at the turn of the twenty-first century informed of the ‘Raw deal for women’ (Ward, 2000a, 7) and ‘Female forfeit’ (Ward, 2000b, 13). Thus there is evidence showing that women are disadvantaged in the labour market, and this is regardless of educational qualifications and employment breaks for women who choose to have children. A study conducted by the London School of Economics in 2000 showed that there was a distinct pay gap between men and women. This is an alarming study due to legislation implemented in the 1970s to try and curb this problem. Abercrombie and Warde are justified in their belief that the ‘implementation of the Equal Pay Act between 1970 and 1975 reduced the wages gap little’ (Abercrombie and Warde, 1998, 195). The table below will highlight the problems women face in employment in the twenty-first century.