• Sexual differences and social rewards in the American family

    In this section we will consider the reasons for the unequal distribution of social benefits between men and women. Let us analyze three aspects related to this topic: family life, education and employment.

    Family life

    A traditional family in which the father works completely out of the house, and the mother is completely absorbed in household chores, has already ceased to be the most widespread social system in our society. More than half of all married women work outside the home. In connection with the increase in the number of divorces, the number of children who are raised in the families of single parents is increasing. Since in most cases, care for children falls to the share of divorced mothers, speaking of a "lonely parent", we often mean "single mother".

    In connection with these changes, new problems and opportunities arose. As for the problems, when both parents work outside the home, they must first of all somehow attach their children to the working day. Since only a few enterprises have day care centers for children or a flexible work schedule for parents, they are forced to hire housekeepers and nannies or arrange children in kindergartens. Another problem is that, even if both husband and wife work outside the home, the wife usually does the basic household chores. Studies show that this trend is particularly noticeable when the husband has a high-paying and prestigious job, and the wife occupies a low-paid position with low prestige. When the level of education of the wife is higher than that of the husband, the tendency to a uniform distribution of household concerns between the spouses increases. On the basis of other studies, it was revealed that the higher the earnings of a wife in comparison with the husband's income, the more power she gets in the family, her role in making decisions concerning family matters increases.

    As far as opportunities are concerned, if there is paid work, women probably gain a sense of worth and freedom that they are deprived of at home. Studies have shown that, despite the double burden of office and household duties, working wives are happier than housewives. Even if the work is uninteresting and low-paid, their self-esteem is higher than that of women, who are always at home. According to a study conducted by the Gallup Institute in 1982, the number of women wishing to have children and full-time jobs has increased by 25 percent since 1975.The number of women who prefer to be only housewives, from 1975 to 1982 fell by 27 percent.


    As already mentioned, belonging to the male or female sex can influence the progress in learning. Differences are especially pronounced in early adolescence, when girls are characterized by abilities for language, and boys are more likely to exhibit visual and spatial imagination and successfully solve mathematical problems. But while boys who are lagging behind in reading are often transferred to correctional classes, girls usually do not organize additional classes to develop visual and spatial imagination, even if they need it.

    The structure of the learning process can also have adverse effects on both boys and girls. Studies suggest that in preschool age girls are encouraged when they are near the reader;in elementary school they are praised for obedience. Boys are usually punished for breaking the rules, but, apparently, they are less rewarded for being passive and obedient than for girls. Although the achievements of both boys and girls are rewarded, the boys' desire to develop their personal qualities is encouraged, while girls are brought up in the spirit of conformism.

    In the period preceding adolescence, girls learn more successfully than boys. But when girls become young women, the "feminine" ideal to which they must conform is in conflict with the aspiration for achievement and the spirit of competition. To be feminine often means that the desire to entice boys, rather than academic success, is brought to the forefront. Girls try not to show their intellectual abilities and activity, being afraid to "scare away" potential fans. They lose interest in such challenging subjects as physics;even former honors pupils sometimes start to respond poorly to the quizzes on mathematics.

    Despite these clearly unfavorable factors, the number of women who graduated from colleges and entered the legal, medical and economic faculties of the university has significantly increased over the past 30 years. Between 1950 and 1980, the number of women who graduated from colleges increased significantly. However, during the period of postgraduate studies women usually specialize in such "women's" areas as pedagogy, English, journalism, fine and applied arts, foreign languages, literature, medicine and library science. The work in these areas is paid lower than in the technical professions, for example, in engineering and computer science.

    One of the reasons for women's unwillingness to acquire professions in areas where men predominate is probably a kind of "fear of success".Matina Horner suggested that success is identified with activity and "masculinity," and women are worried that they will be considered to be somewhat less feminine if they achieve it. To test her hypothesis, Horner suggested that the college students write a story beginning with the following sentence: "After examinations at the end of the first semester Anna became the best student of her course in the medical faculty."The same task was given to male students, and the name Anna was replaced by John. In analyzing the stories of male students Horner found that 80 percent of the subjects predicted success to John. As for the stories written by the students, 65 percent of the subjects showed a kind of "fear of success".In them it was predicted that Anna will have to pay for the success in her studies with a failure in her personal life.

    At the next stage of the study, Horner observed the drop in the test subjects. Women, in whose stories the "fear of success" was more felt, successfully worked independently than in groups where competition was observed;men and women who were not afraid of success, excelled in the atmosphere of competition. Horner came to the conclusion that in the students' passages there was a profound anxiety that interfered with women's intellectual activity.

    In a further study, Hoffman found that more men( 77 percent) than women( 65 percent) were worried about success, but perhaps this was due to various reasons. While women were afraid of the social consequences of success( meaning the inability to find or save a husband, as well as the likelihood of dissatisfaction with men and women occupying relatively low-paid positions), men are worried how success will affect their personal lives - whether they can givefamily enough time or to satisfy their own interests, not related to work. It is difficult to unequivocally interpret these results, but probably the concern of women was due to social concerns, while the anxiety of men was mainly attributed to a sense of guilt.


    In 1985, women accounted for almost 45 percent of the workforce in the United States. In the same year, 58.6 per cent of working women were married, and 60 per cent had children under 10 years old.

    These data indicate a noticeable increase in the number of working women after the Second World War. But what kind of work do they do? The diagram shows the activities performed by women. The majority of working women occupy low-paid "women's" positions, mainly related to clerical work. In 1980, 54 percent of female employees were engaged in clerical work, while 71 percent of male employees were skilled technicians or managers. In addition to clerical work, women often become primary school teachers or nurses - these professions are also considered "feminine" because they are concerned with care and upbringing and are paid lower than those of other professions requiring a relatively high level of training and intellectual ability.

    As for the occupations related to manual labor, a disproportionately large number of men occupy relatively high positions here, for example, masters.

    Scheme Work performed by women( in%)

    a - specialists in the technical profile, trade

    and administrative personnel 45.6

    b - managers and highly qualified

    specialists 22.5

    в - service workers 18.7

    г - operators,assemblers and other workers 9.6

    d - manufacture of precision instruments, handicrafts, repair

    work 2,4

    e - agricultural workers, workers in the field of

    forestry and fisheries 1,2

    Even in those industries where women mostly work, they are not usually appointed by masters. For example, in Boston, 66% of workers in the electronics industry are women, but only 7% of women have a relatively high status of masters.

    Recently, there have been some( though not very noticeable) changes in the specialization of women.

    In 1970, women accounted for 40 percent of the workforce, but only 8 percent of physicians( nationwide), 4 percent of lawyers and judges, and less than 2 percent of dentists. By 1980, these figures increased by 13.4, respectively;12.8 and 4.3 percent.

    Discrimination at work

    Women who acquire occupations that are dominated by men often face problems that have not been resolved so far. For most professions, the internal stratification system is characteristic. For example, in medicine, women make up the majority in such areas as pediatrics, psychiatry, health education, - sheafs are purely "female", relatively low-paid specialties related to caring for people. And they are a minority in other areas of medicine, for example, in surgery of various profiles. Quadrango( 1976) conducted a survey and found that male doctors considered surgery to be the most prestigious profession with the highest status, and pediatricians and psychiatrists had the lowest prestige and status among doctors. Surgeons were the most highly paid, pediatricians and psychiatrists had a relatively low salary. Kvadrugno also interviewed 25 female doctors, trying to find out why they chose their specialties. She received two answers:

    1) during the period of training at the medical faculty of the University, surgeons often showed hostility toward them;

    2) they are more likely to be supported in "female" occupations.

    Only a few women have faced open discrimination, although this has been observed from time to time. However, their sense of negative attitude towards them in some fields of medicine and support in others caused the desire to avoid potentially conflict situations.

    Trying to avoid rejection, women chose a job in which they felt comfortable and needed. For example, a female doctor told: "I heard that in some medical institutions women's activities in medicine were not encouraged and they reluctantly took them to work;I think we should avoid places where you can face difficulties. "

    The short end of the economic baton

    Injustice in pay and distribution of prestigious professions exists not only in medicine. The incomes of men and women are unequal in other areas. In 1980, the average salary for men was $ 322 per week, and women on average received only $ 204 per week.

    Why is the labor of men more in demand than that of women? Many factors contribute to this. As already noted, women for a long time engaged only in the upbringing of children and the household. Although the cult of True Feminism is destroyed, there remains some idea of ​​the "mysterious female soul"( noted by Betty Friedan), under the influence of which women are less eager for material and professional success than men. Another factor is related to the role expectations of men and women. Male self-consciousness is formed on the basis of the belief that the husband should be the breadwinner of the family and the main meaning of his life is in the work;the work of the wife outside the house can cause her husband's displeasure, as this is contrary to his male ideals. The less it earns, the less this contradiction manifests itself.

    Single women can expect to earn three times the wages of married women of the same qualification, but they earn less than men who perform the same work with them. Probably, this is due to direct and indirect discrimination - in the first case, women are not allowed into high-earnings, in the second case only low-paid positions within certain professions are provided to them.

    Interruption of employment

    Another factor affecting the earnings of women is that women's work experience is interrupted for family reasons more often than for men. Scheme 2 shows significant differences in this respect between women and men. Pay special attention to "family reasons" for the interruption of employment for 6 months or longer( 64.1 percent for women and 1.5 percent for men).A survey in 1970( when women and men were asked how many years they had not worked during their entire work activity) showed that 74.4 percent of men and only 28.1 percent of women never interrupted their working experience. In addition, a stunning fact was revealed-29.1 percent of the women interviewed and only 3.1 percent of the men reported that they did not work for half of their potential work experience. Of course, lack of work affects the difference in pay, because the one who does not work, does not receive anything. Specialists estimated that this factor causes a difference of 15 percent between the earnings of women and men.

    Women and the promotion of

    Rosabeth Moss Kanter argues that the structure of organizations contributes to creating an unfavorable situation at work, and for this both men and women have to pay. Since women are mainly engaged in clerical work, their opportunities for promotion are limited, and the desire for success is weakened. This problem was reflected in the feminist saying of the early 1970s: "A woman must work twice as much as a man to earn at least half as much."

    Scheme Differences in remuneration for men and women in the US

    Kanter also argues that women's secretaries and clerks need not move up the career ladder, because they acquire some kind of indirect prestige due to a connection with a high-ranking or influential boss. The power of the executive secretary controlling people's access to the chief's office may be more beneficial than the authority of the director of the institution, who is forced to keep abreast of all matters( from bills to clerical paper clips).When women move up the career ladder, they usually have less prestige and power over subordinates than men holding the same positions. For both men and women, the boss often seems harsh, petty, picky;this leads to the undermining of her power - failure to comply with orders and unwillingness to listen to her valuable ideas until they are repeated by her male colleague. It is interesting to note that men are tormented by the same problems. According to Kanter, when men "fall into the trap" and become "middle managers"( which is a high achievement for most women), they begin to behave like "typical bosses".

    "Just a housewife"

    Finally, what about a woman who does not work outside the home and is considered "just a housewife"?To start with, there are rarely "just housewives".In addition to performing household duties, many wives are active outside the home - they work in voluntary organizations, participate in political events, take care of sick relatives, are members of clubs, continue their education, etc. In addition, many wives help husbands work without getting any direct monetary reward. Women print and edit manuscripts of their husbands;are aware of business and social meetings of her husband;manage the financial affairs of the family( in our time, this work requires a calculator and a fairly extensive knowledge of the economy);in the turmoil of Christmas holidays help her husband working in the store;replace it in the office if it is sick. Wives of politicians speak with speeches in support of this or that campaign. Wives of senior officials arrange evenings and pick up gifts for their husbands' colleagues. Wives of priests actively participate in the life of the church - they take care of parishioners, head church committees and carry out work in the field of public services. Papenek called this kind of participation in the affairs of her husband "one career for two".