Free example essay on Gender Issues:
Gender issues cover the movement of feminism, putting emphasis on the impact male dominance has had on society. For this critique I have chosen to focus on the importance of establishing equality in education. I have chosen a chapter from Pamela Abbot and Clair Wallace’s book “An introduction to sociology” (Feminist perspectives)
The reason I chose this particular aspect of Gender issues is because I believe education is one of the main factors affecting gender relations. It also has a great impact on decisions concerning the labour market.
The chapter puts forward the idea that the education system helps construct a gender divided society, “girls are not only disadvantaged in the educational system, but that it is there that they learn to be subordinate and to accept dominant ideologies”.
What the writer tries to put forward in this paragraph is that even though the educational system today is meant to be equal, it is not. It also states that women are taught to be submissive and passive, indirectly.
Another important point that is put across is the fact that girls and boys are directed into studying particular subjects, this is all a predisposition to channel each sex into specific aspects of the labour market. For example women are advised to take up subjects like economics, child development and the arts which will lead them to jobs such as catering, childcare, nursing or design. Whilst men are advised to study topics such as business management, natural sciences and mathematics. These offer opportunities to undertake future careers in “white collar” executive jobs in the business sector.
The author emphasises on the above by giving statistics of male and female students enrolled in these subjects. (These statistics are shown in table 1, which can be found, on the last page of the essay).
Although there are aspects, which suggest that sexism is still present within the education system, it is visible that there has been a vast improvement in the past few years.
“Although numbers in higher education have grown during the 1980’s and
1990’s, the biggest increase has been amongst women; there are now two
and a half times more women in the system than in 1970/1”
This trait was most visible after the National Curriculum was established.
The education system is not the only factor causing disadvantages for women’s studies. The family and the effects of peer pressure also affect this. Pamela Abbot quotes (Lees, 1993,Bates, 1993 and Wallac 1996) and states “girls are at a disadvantage and have difficulty in producing coursework or indeed in doing homework because of the large amount of domestic labour and childcare they are expected to perform at home.”
She then goes on to explain that Asian female are at a greater disadvantage than western world females because their religion and upbringing forces them to take part in these activities. In some cases it is expected that girls take time off school to perform domestic labour. This is one obstacle men in general do not have.
The author then goes on to explain the life style of non-academic girls, these are girls who leave school aged 16 having only a basic GCSE level education to work on. She describes how women’s academic lives are taken over by the idea that women exist to take an active role in raising and nurturing a family. This point of view causes girls to drop their studies and give in due to the fact that they are lead to believe that no matter how many qualifications they obtain, they will still end up working in a low wage part time job and raising a family. In the following quote this point is made visible:
“Many parents, teachers and employers ask “what is the point of girls striving for success at school when they will only get married and become dependants on men?” as do some girls themselves”.
This quote also carries another message, stating that many teachers and parents and employers do not encourage girls to continue their studies. This attitude causes girls to conform with the situation and accept their socially pre-planned fate quitting studies and quitting studies and becoming housewives.
This point of view is spawned from the assumptions that women were too weak to carry out laborious activities and should therefore reserve their energies for child bearing.
I believe that the chapter I have studied is not all negative. The author gives many facts proving that women are still at a disadvantage but at the same time she states that there has been a visible improvement: “girls now perform as well, if not better than boys in formal schooling”.
The author than goes on to argue the fact that from a very early age children are given texts and stories containing male and female stereotypes. She states that until this “hidden curriculum” is overcome, things will continue as they are at present. Men will continue to learn to want freedom, independence and power and women will only learn how to co-operate.
It is not a negative article, it is based on the idea that there is still room for change but some day true equality may be reached.