October 20, 2011
Historian Stephanie Coontz on Rebalancing of Genders
She talks about when and how women not just in this country but worldwide, started to rebalance the power between sexes.
It starts happening between genders when women not just started to work but got paid to work. After they get into the workforce, literacy goes up, they get a choice of who they got to marry, and then labor laws changed among other things.
If you think about it, the countries with the lowest rights for women are the countries where women have the lowest access to the labor force. Sexual harassment didn’t come force in the U.S. until 1993.
Two thirds of divorces are initiated by women. Countries like China have had an 800% increase in divorce over the past 25 years. Countries which are socially more conservative, where women have experienced job independence but not other independence have gone on strike with marriage and motherhood.
Look at an example of what happens when women are empowered. In Guatemala, women are still exploited and underpaid and yet $12 extra income in the hands of a Guatemalan mother adds healthy weight gain and balanced diet into the mouths of her children whereas it is an extra $166 extra income in the hands of a man to get the same result.
Look at countries like Italy, where women don’t have as many rights, the woman who tastes that independence In Sweden, there is no such association.
There has been tremendous reversal for women in the U.S. for women who were born before 1960 versus after 1960. For women born before 1960, if a woman had higher education and earning, they were more likely not to marry or get a divorce quickly. Women today with higher education marry later and they’re less likely to divorce.
The bad news is that today in the U.S., where women also work, most children six and under have both parents work outside the house, but the laws and rules of conduct in the workforce haven’t caught up with those trends.
A few stats: in the U.S., business family work policies is last among all wealthy countries in the world. America doesn’t believe it to be “class privilege” to stay at home with the family, nor does it have a national childcare system or standards. Even the medical leave act in the states is lower than any other country.
There is the highest work family stress in the U.S. than any other country and they work the longest number of hours in the world, including Japan.
“We have to redefine work balance,” says Stephanie. Women’s access to careers has been the greatest achievement for globalization but we can no longer sustain a work regime where we are expected to be available to employers 24/7, and yet still take care of all other human needs at home.
She adds, “we have got to have a better balance between work and home and culturally, we have to embrace it and respect it. We need to redraw the boundaries of our personal lives in the same way we have our professional lives. “Mapmakers, bring it on and make it happen,” says Stephanie as she ends her talk.
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