What do you see as the most significant element of the feminist movement that is concerning the development of the global economy over the past number of years? How does this movement reflect on doing business at the international level, and why? You may wish to draw on the analysis of Simone de Beauvoir, and her notions of the other in your reply.
The greatest contributing factor of the feminist movement to the global economy has been the rapid increase of the labor pool, and a cheaper labor in general. At the beginning of the last century, only 1% of workers worldwide were female. Between the 1970’s and 2000, that number rose to about 45%. In 2010, 49.83% of all workers in the United States are female and 50% of all workers worldwide are female. With the great increase of viable workers, most areas of commerce exponentially grew. Fewer men needed to work in agriculture, education, service, and sales, which meant more men could work in manufacturing and manufacturing could experience significant growth. Now, in nearly every field, there are basically equal numbers of each gender employed. There are a few industries such as heavy construction and manufacturing that experience vast occupational segregation and imbalance, but for the most part, things are divided fairly equally.
Feminism has not ushered in equality throughout the majority of the world. Employers worldwide, the United States included, still continue to exploit and subjugate women. In 99% of all fields, women earn less money for doing exactly the same job. Statistics vary, but on average the American female worker earns between 69% and 73% of what a male worker earns according to the US Census. My favorite way to illustrate this point is follows: If a female student and a male student take exactly the same multiple choice exam and they both answer every question correctly, the male would receive a grade of 100% and the female would receive a grade of 69-73%. He would get an A+ and She would get a D+ or a C- at best. Is that fair? No, of course it is not, but it happens every day, all over the world, in business.
The United Nations Human Development Report 2004 shows that in rural areas, women work 20% more than men (102 minutes a day) and in urban areas women work 5% more than men (20 minutes a day). These statistics do not necessarily reflect the often-lopsided gender division of domestic duties such as child rearing, cleaning, shopping, and other domestic duties such as personal accounting and administration. Women in general and in the work force experience significantly higher levels of exploitation, oppression, harassment, violence, violation, retaliation, are responsible for fewer decisions, and earn much less than their male counter parts. In the United States women experience the glass ceiling 84% more than men do. Only 16% of all executives in the United States are women. Strangely, the market fails to consider that women make nearly 70% of all private purchases made in the United States, including automobiles and technology.
On a global economic/business level, industry and business greatly benefit by having women in the work force. Not only do women work more, work harder, do more menial jobs, but also on a whole they are paid much less, which inevitably increases the bottom line profit margin for businesses across the globe. The most disturbing aspect of this analysis is that women put up with unequal pay and oppressive treatment in the guise of “making forward progress.” To quote a long standing advertisement slogan, “You’ve come a long way baby!” It is disgusting. Currently, women are just as much to blame as the businesses and men who oppress them. It is time for women to put a stop to this unfair treatment and continued oppression at the hands of men, other women, and an unbalanced society.
Feminism has lead to an interesting mix of liberation and continued oppression of women. In most places in the world, women are free to work and gain an education, and in many cases they have no choice in the matter. Yet, feminism also set women up for even more oppression, harassment, violence, and frustration through that employment and education. I am not saying that these conditions did not exist before feminism, because, of course they have always existed. This second-class citizenship for women has existed since men decided to dominate women and swing society from matriarchal to patriarchal systems of governance and control. Simone de Beauvoir illustrated this very well in her book, The Second Sex. She discussed the oppression of women in great detail. She argued that men chose to dominate women for the specific purpose of creating a patriarchal society, and their method was to create the myth of woman as the emotional, hormonal, incapable, unintelligent, weaker sex: a woman couldn’t be understood by a man so it is better to dismiss her and control her than to deal with her. This tactic worked quite well and it continues to work in nearly every society in the world.
It is amazing to think that just 150 years ago, most women were not even considered citizens or people for that matter. In many places in the world they still are not. I guess we should be happy at how far women have come, but I for one, am not. Yes, I am thankful for my education and for my employment, however unequal my work and pay are to my male counter parts. But, I think it is a disgrace to the United States, to men, to women, and to all humanity, that in 2010, in America, women are still unequal, still fighting an uphill and thankless battle for gender equality. The Scandinavian countries including Iceland have the best record for gender equality and they also top the lists for education, happiness, and for quality of living standards. These countries demand equality by enforced laws and the citizens happily embrace equality as the only logical political and economic system.*
* Norwegian gender equality policies attract attention partly because of Norway’s relatively high birth rate (top five in Europe). Having a strong female professional participation and top score on gender equality while still maintaining birth rates is made possible much thanks to the legislation in Norway:
• All big companies must have 40% representation of both genders in their board.
• The Gender Equality Act prohibits all discrimination on grounds of gender.
• Parents are entitled to one year leave after birth, and the parents can divide this between them as they wish. Six weeks are reserved for the father.
• Government ensures full day care coverage
An employee with small children has the right to flexible working hours, regardless of gender.
Norway: – Gender Equality is Smart Politics
Cauchon, Dennis. Women Gain and Men Lose Jobs,
http://www.ilo.org (International Labor Organization)
Ten Surprising Statistics About Women in the Workplace, Feb 15, 2010
The United Nations Human Development Report 2004
The Global Gender Gap Report 2009