Thursday, 18 February 2010

Wk 2 Women and Work

1981 - New York Times

2010 - Washington Post

Both of these articles are about women in the workplace in America.

The first article is from the New York Times and is written in 1981. The article discusses the rights of women in the workplace, particularly about their exclusion on the ground of health and safety. In this case, fertile women were excluded from working in certain areas of a chemical plant due to the risk this could cause to an unborn foetus. Two women chose to be sterilised in order to allow them to work in the area. The employer argues that as the foetus has legal rights as well as the mother, it would be irresponsible to allow a women who has the chance of getting pregnant to put her foetus in harms way. This is particulalrly interesting as eight years earlier, the supreme court in America ruled that a foetus did not have legal rights as a person (Roe vs Wade, 1973). The article continues to debate whether women should be protected against their will when men are not, even if there is a chance that the same chemicals could damage their fertility. This article was written while second wave feminism was still in progress and women were still fighting to equality.

The Washington Post article was written in January of this year. This article is commenting on the increased number of women in the workplace to the point where they are becoming the majority. However the author is not celebrating this fact. Instead the author is commenting on the increased pressure that the Millenial women are under to be both the 1950s stereotypical housewife and the 1980s career women. This article was written when apprently all barriers for women have been broken down and equality regins yet the article suggests that despite this apparent equality, men seem to have the easier life and even suggests that men are in fact choosing to marry one of these "Millenial" women for this reason.

I find it interesting that despite these articles being written nearly twenty years apart, both authors seem to pity women and feel that men are responsble for their plight. The first article comments on men protecting women agaisnt thier will, and the second is not far away from suggesting that men are exploiting women in their fight for equality in the workplace.

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