Sex, Career and Family: Including an International Review of Women's Roles

By Michael P. Fogarty; Rhona Rapoport et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter IV
The Experience of Western Countries--Emergence of a New Accent

DISCRIMINATION NOT THE CENTRAL ISSUE FOR THE LONG RUN

In reviewing the experience of Western countries it becomes increasingly evident that there is a gap, or rather a change of character, between the short-term and long-term problems which have to be faced. The issues which arise in the short run are largely those of discrimination and of overcoming outdated beliefs. In Western countries, as in Eastern Europe, informal beliefs and practices inherited from the past often still stand in the way of women who wish to combine a career with family life. In addition, as a result of the piecemeal and ad hoc development of the movement of women into work and the absence of clear lines of policy, open and formal discriminations against women continue in the West in a way which would not be tolerated in Eastern Europe. It is still common in Britain to find women refused equal pay, the chance to compete for traditionally male jobs, or the right to access to executive clubs or dining rooms.1 Here and now, discriminations like these constitute an important problem, and are rightly a first target for reformers.

These, however, are historical survivals; support for them is crumbling, and in the not so very distant future they seem likely to lose much of their importance. Equal pay has become the accepted policy of the European Economic Community and of the public services of Britain and the United States, and now also, under The Equal Pay Act of 1970, of the private sector in Britain.2 The idea that most women are transients who do or should disappear

____________________
1
See Ch. I, p. 21, for examples of restraint on competing for certain jobs. The occupational studies reported below in Part IV threw up a number of cases where women are more or less formally refused consideration for jobs in certain areas (especially general and production management), or refused access to executives' normal social facilities.
2
See also the statement on Equal Pay for Women issued by the Institute of Personnel Management in March 1969; and P. Pinder, Women at Work, P.E.P., 1969.

-135-

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