Women, Ethics and the Workplace

By Candice Fredrick; Camille Atkinson | Go to book overview

This position would challenge the valorization of "male" qualities and skills, but not to the extent of merely reversing the hierarchy and replacing these with so-called female qualities and skills. It also acknowledges that women and men do not stand in symmetrical positions within an institution or society at large. Littleton appeals to the case of athletics to illustrate her position:

[E]quality as acceptance would support an argument that equal resources be allocated to male and female sports programs regardless of whether the sports themselves are 'similar.' In this way, women's equality in athletics would not depend on the ability of individual women to assimilate themselves to the particular sports activities traditionally engaged in by men. [And it] would support an equal division of resources between male and female programs rather than dividing up the available sports budget per capita. Since . . . per capita distribution would simple serve to perpetuate the asymmetry, diverting more resources to male programs, where the participation rate has traditionally been high. 19

In this way, differences between men and women, as well as among women themselves, are accepted while their negative consequences are mitigated. Still, the question may be raised as to the ultimate sources of these differences and what these differences mean on a deeper level. However, Littleton is more of a pragmatist and thus limits her focus to the legal and political aspects of difference and inequality, and she offers two reasons for this. First, that such speculation only brings us back to the question of nature vs. nurture, or the distinction between biology and culture, which she agrees is, itself, culturally based and upon which there is no consensus (as most postmodern feminists claim). But more importantly, she says, if in fact women "choose" to enter certain professions rather than others (nursing, for example, over real estate appraising), they still do not "choose" to be paid less. For her the causes are less significant than the consequences. "It is the consequences of gendered differences, and not its sources, that equal acceptance addresses" ( Littleton 1987: 1312). Littleton thus leaves the ultimate ontological or metaphysical questions to the feminist philosophers, choosing instead to concentrate on the practical aspects, or what will be most conducive to real social change.


CONCLUSION

In sum, it should be clear that there can be no singular paradigm for what constitutes a feminist position or feminist theory. While some general observations may be made, and must be made if we are to understand our world at all, they will always be subject to criticism or

-44-

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Women, Ethics and the Workplace
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - Ethical Theory 1
  • Conclusion 17
  • Notes 18
  • 2 - Feminist Theory 19
  • Conclusion 44
  • Notes 45
  • 3 - Sexual Harassment 47
  • Notes 65
  • 4 - Comparable Worth and Value 67
  • Notes 87
  • 5 - Advertising 89
  • Notes 108
  • 6 - Leadership 111
  • Conclusion 131
  • Notes 132
  • 7 - Working-Class Women 135
  • Notes 157
  • Conclusion 159
  • Notes 162
  • Appendix A Anita Hill Testimony 163
  • Appendix B Women, Family, Future Trends: A Selective Overview 169
  • Index 175
  • About the Authors 181
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