Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Women in the Recession

While perusing the New York Times tonight, I came across an interesting article concerning women's role in the economic downturn. Although it may seem progressive that women are on track to hold more than half of our nations jobs, this statistic is deceiving. Ultimately, women have gained more equality in the workplace simply in response to the action of their male counterparts.

In the 1940s, women worked because men went to war. In the 1950s and 60s, women stopped working or took lower-paying jobs as a result of returning soldiers. In the 1980s and 1990s, women worked "telecommuting" jobs under the pressure of a two-income household with a man out at work. Today, it seems, women will become the majority of workers because a) they are still cheaper for employers than men and b) women are concentrated in lower-paying industries that have been less affected by the economic downturn. Because of these facts, Lisa Belkin argues that real progress might be shows when men and women are equally losing jobs.

I have an issue with this argument. Not only is it significant that women will hold more jobs than men, but the economy would certainly collapse without the support of all the women in their respective fields, even if they are concentrated in "lower-paying industries" like health care and education. We should be celebrating hard-working women everywhere, not showing the short-comings of the gender equality movement. I certainly hope to join these hard-working women in the near future. Don't you?

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