Women and Sex Roles: A Social Psychological Perspective

By Irene H. Frieze; Jacquelynne E. Parsons et al. | Go to book overview

10

Biosocial Aspects
of Reproduction

*In the early 1970s a controversy arose when a physician on the Democratic party's National Priorities Committee publicly asserted that women were unfit for high-level executive jobs and government offices because of their physiology, particularly the menstrual cycle and menopause.

If you had an investment in the bank ... you wouldn't want the president of your bank making a loan under these raging hormonal influences at that particular period....

There just are physical and psychological inabilities that limit a female's potential ... all things being equal, I would still rather have had a male J. F. K. make the Cuban missile crisis decisions than a female of similar age who could possibly be subject to the curious mental aberrations of that age group....

... it would be safer to entrust a male pilot's reactions and judgments in a difficult in-flight or landing problem than to even a slightly pregnant female pilot. (New York Times, July 26, 1970. )

Although few people take such an extreme a position, there is no doubt that beliefs concerning reproduction-related functions are an important factor in discrimination against women. Many believe that it is riskier to employ women than men because of the presumed greater absentee rate of menstruating women or because "women can always get pregnant." The latter

____________________
*
Diane Ruble and Irene Frieze were the primary authors of this chapter.

-191-

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