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JW REVISION NOTES Female Employment in the UK since the 1970s Changes in the 1970s Royal Commission on Population Report 1949 Suggested that artificial bars on married women should be placed, as society could not adjust to the new female labour force. Marie Stopes (1918) Married Love Written to recommend birth control, for the interests of women. Stopes was Galtonian as a eugenicist and also disagreed with abortion. Marriage Law Reform (1910) Equal Pay Act (1970) Before this, in 1970 women's earnings were on average 63 per cent that of men. Most of this change occurred in the years immediately following the EPA and the SDA Sex Discrimination Act (1975) Now fully repealed and replaced by the Equality Act (2010) Firestone (1970) The dialectic of sex "In the radical feminist view, the new feminism is not just the revival of a serious political movement for social equality. It is the second wave of the most important revolution in history. Its aim: overthrow of the oldest, most rigid class/caste system in existence, the class system based on sex - a system consolidated over thousands of years, lending the archetypal male and female roles an undeserved legitimacy and seeming permanence." (Firestone, 1970) Firestone proposes that social drift is not radical enough for women to bridge the gaps between 'present-day' and a state of emancipation from patriarchy. Drawing upon Freud and Marx, Firestone argues that the fundamental cause of gender inequality is the unequal 'fundamental biological condition' of women's burden of childbearing. This subjects them to menstrual inconveniences and unwanted pregnancy. It gives them a greater duty of childbearing and early childrearing, thereby establishing a division of labour that forms the basis for a discriminatory gender divide. She says 'the heart of woman's oppression is her child-bearing and child-rearing role" . Firestone's political utopia requires revolution because gender inequality is such a fundamental problem that it can only be eradicated through radical social engineering. Firestone is not alone in these sentiments. She is influenced by de Beauvoir's work, which is also oriented from a psychoanalytic perspective upon the state of the fundamental human condition. In the 1970s, the concept of a feminist revolution was perceived to be a key step that would translate social change into institutionalized political reform. Ann Oakley (1974) Housewife Made it clear that motherhood has high expectations, which are often not met by the actual childbirth . However, Oakley's previous study, Becoming a Mother, was very middle-class. Reid (1983) criticizes this in 'a sociological imagination?' saying that if she had studied Glasgow, she would have found that women had very different expectations of childbirth, and had already experienced all kinds of life upsets before. Changes since the 1970s Court (1995) Women in the Labour Market From 1970 to 1995 employment for women rose from 57% to 71% (compared with 90% and 85% for men) and by 2006 the economic activity rate for women is projected to have reached 75 per cent. 93 per cent of the total increase in women's employment was in part-time work. This growth has been in the service sector, particularly the public sector. The most notable changes have occurred among women with children under five, 43 per cent of whom now work, compared with only a quarter in 1973 (Figure 2). Over half of new entrants to the law are women, whereas they account for only seven per cent of High Court Judges. Occupational segregation is still resilient, with over half of women employed in clerical, protective services and sales. Lewis (2009) Work-Family Balance The 1970s was a time of considerable change in social policy and legislation. The Equal Pay Act of 1970 and the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 were indicative of the increasing rights of women in the workplace. This mirrored increasing female participation in the workplace: "Women's employment rates increased rapidly during the 1980s, and had reached the Lisbon target of 60 percent by the early 1990s, but then slowed. Further increases in women's employment have been concentrated among mothers with dependant children." (Lewis, 2009)
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