A book report of Women and the American Economy: A look into the 1980s by Juanita Morris Kreps
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A book report of Women and the American Economy: A look into the 1980s by Juanita Morris Kreps
Authored by Juanita Morris Kreps and published in the year 1976 by Prentice-Hall and Englewood Cliffs, Women and the American Economy: A look into the 1980s probably remains one of the most powerful economic texts in American feministic history. In the book, main ideologies presented relate to the employment and unemployment of women, the concept and enhancement of equal job opportunities across different gender, the link between family, other societal units and the economic impacts of this interrelation, as well as reviews of occurrences and transitions in economic change. Other major themes considered include economic and monetary legislative procedures implemented by the government, Human capital, its existence and processes of legislation, the forces for labor as well as available market for labor, issues attached to sexual discrimination, other socioeconomic factors and feminism. In a broad perspective, the numerous publications falling within this edition truly offer a descriptive of Women and the American Economy.
Being a conglomeration of many papers, the dialogue of these publications is pegged on the rates to which women have developed and are able to expand their performance and economic roles. In this sense, they highlight changes in women’s socioeconomic lives and the resultant effects of changes brought about by the same. Again, they assess the impact of such activities and their transformation into the future; thus ‘A look to the 1980s. Not only does this collection cast an eye into the future, but as well, it quantifies this by a preview of the past. In this preview, the social values, work structures of women, their economic contribution and its overall economic effects are also analyzed and explored in detail.
In consideration of family setups and the relevance of awarding families time for care and development, ‘Women and the American Economy’ considers family roles as a homework that every woman must carry out. It is therefore inevitable that women invest their time in such activities, and that activities related to this must be given priority and consideration. An explorative review of the labor market reveals market segregation, and division of market labor lines. An example of large private firms’ case study indicates that there are those considered as men’s jobs while others are considered as women’s jobs. In this realistic view, there are also disparities in the payment systems offered for each individual and across these professions.
Reviewing the implication of women’s employment activities, there is an overall effect in their family lives and employment economics. Employed women are seen to experience better living conditions in their families. They support family finances and take part in family investment decision making processes. In essence, there is a realization that the more independent women are financially, the better their contribution to the American economy. In the search for this economic power and financial independence, the continuous and progressive establishment of equal opportunity laws takes place. These agitate fore equity, not only on financial and employment fronts but also on political and administration positions of women. When women achieve this distribution of political and administration position, they will stand better chances of participating more in economics and achieve increased equitability. Finally, the book talks about predictions from the 1970s into the 1980s which are indicative of the future expected positions of women in the society. In a nutshell, the whole book sums the position at the time in the topic Women and the American Economy: A look into the 1980s.
The composition of the book is eight articles written by different authors. An analysis of each of these indicates that there is quite an amount of scholarly work presented in them. These works question and critique certain issues in the economic state in relation to the women. To such questions, the articles still provide considerably an amount of answers. Yet even in this case, the articles remain analytical and specific on issues. It would be worth noticing that Kreps book is outstandingly non-sexist owing to the fact that it has six male and six female authors expounding different ideologies in relation to feminism and the economy. These authors also draw various economic projections based on the situations as in 1970s.
In review of the economic situations, projections made into the 1980s raise eyebrows and cause a number of worries. In the current state, there are skewed disparities in employment rates between men and women. In this prism, women are less privileged as they are viewed to earn money for secondary gains only. One of the authors; Nancy Barret, indicates that the society attaches a compulsive rationale to women’s employment situation and refers to their earnings as “pin money.” The prediction of more unemployment in the future then worsens the case, as this would mean less and less employment to the women. In the family set-ups, men are considered as breadwinners. This perception then works in favor of men and against women when it comes to employment and business opportunities. The perception that men are breadwinners and need employment more can be further confirmed by the contribution of Martha Griffiths which indicates more than two thirds of the total sum of women who are employed emanate from widowed, single, separated, or unmarried personalities. Thus, they are not within family set-ups. In cases where they are from married set-ups, most of them come from families where the husbands earn $7000 annually or less. In this sense, they have to work because their income is relevant as a supplementary to the husband’s salaries.
This argument is further substantiated by Griffith’s perspective that indicates that the value attached to the dollar owned by a woman is much less than that owned by a man in the market place. To this extent, analyses of various issues further bring out this inequality in a clearer way. Reviewing the provision of mortgages to men and women, comparing policies of life insurance to men and women, considering the policies on social security as well as analyzing the processes available for securing loans and all the conditions involved openly reveal that the American woman is not favored by her economy.
Unemployment is a sensitive issue that commonly attracts the attention of the society. In many states, it remains among the most common campaign tools used in asking the electorate for their votes by the politicians. Yet Griffiths notes that the American politician of this period is much less concerned with the state of unemployment. The reason for this little concern is the probably the fact that women form the backlog of the unemployed personalities. As such, it is not considered a serious issue that needs to capture much attention from politicians. On the contrary, the society remains obsessed with the idea of labeling a woman as a secondary worker and asserting for her that position more and more.
Another sensitive subject treated in Women and the American Economy: A look into the 1980s is the continuously changing role of women in the society which ultimately influences men as well as the members of the society. This contribution is made by Chafe, and he gives it a meticulous approach using specific time frames and proved documentation of facts. He singles out specific changes in economic roles as well as other social roles that women play in the society.
His first timeframe is the period preceding the 1900s. Over this period, Chafe notes that women’s labor was limited to farm and agricultural situations. In aspect, this was visibly a restriction as the only cases in which American women worked outside their homes was when they were non-native immigrant Americans or when they were racially non-whites. This in itself presents a racial structure and a traditionally set double standard of application. Notably, this standard and state was accepted by the society and entrenched into societal activities as existent. When industrialization came by, women’s participation in economic activities had to drop as men got job in the industries. Funnily, women were still not considered fit for industrial labor. On the other hand, women’s contribution to labor and economics had to drop because men would earn from industrialization as family breadwinners while women’s agricultural activities would become more passive in the absence of men.
In further considerations, the work done by men was considered as labor and had attachments of rewards. On the other hand, that of women had no economic connotation of any type. Considering that there was already a noticeable drop in economic values within family set-ups, women remained worse placed over the time. According to Chafe’s argument, women were on the overall considered to be home properties who simply belonged to the home. This stereotype made it quite difficult for women to achieve any economic or developmental milestone in America. As at the time Chafe was writing, he argued that this idea had carried itself further into the working place and had several connotations that wholesomely indicated it.
Another time-frame considered in this authorship is the duration between the 1940s and the 1960s. This period marks the possible beginning of sensible progress in the participation of women in economic and other societal matters. Although women had previously endured an undermined position in the society, the arrival of the Second World War brought with it different changes that had to be implemented. The first fact is that women came in handy in service at the war, providing the men with food, providing espionage services because of being less suspicious and subjective as well as working as service persons. Again, the departure of many men to the war created a gap that must be filled in the working environment. This gap was filled by women who gained employment positions in governmental and private organizations. It is worth noting that this position of women was societally accepted as it was considered a show of patriotism. On the other hand, women enjoyed these positions and went out of their way to prove that they were up to the task of working in employment opportunities. As Chafe puts it, it was this era that marked the institutionalization of women labor and their right to work away from their homes.
The last era is that that runs from the 1960s to the beginning of the 1980s. This span of 20 years is yet another sensitive descriptive of the transformations of women’s economic involvement in the American society. Although notable developments were seen in the preceding era, these were sometimes still considered as favors given to women. The society had not yet appreciated women fully and still held a hardline position on women’s work ability. At the same time, American women still remained considerably dependent on their husbands and societal control of numerous social factors. So in the 1960s, events were to occur that would change this position for good. These events included a more acceptable societal position and improved recognition in economic matters.
Just to note a number of changes, it is during this period that the use of control pills occurred. Again, the equal pay act which was to ensure that men and women would be paid equally was passes in 1963. This stopped the discrimination that was attached upon women in their society. Other acts passed over this period included the civil rights, and the equal rights amendment. Again, many commissions that looked into the welfare of women and various women organizations were allowed and formed by American women. Again, it was during this period that many prolific female writers began to express themselves more vividly and without withdrawn tendencies. To an extent, their assertiveness and desire to be recognized by the society had matured.
As argued by Chafe, this duration provided what would later be referred to as the liberation gap for women. In Chafe’s comparative review, this period was more successful than all other preceding periods. Again, the issues addressed successfully at this point were multiple and quite sensitive. Changes at home, in the market place and at work accorded the American woman a more comfortable point in her society. It is at this point that all the events of the past are used to cast a view into the 1980s which awaited American women. Even with noticeable difficulty, the economic activity of American women kept progress and improved each day with the American women overcoming previous barriers and becoming better contributors in the American economy.
Although the predictions made by the book are not quite encouraging to women, an assessment of the progress achieved is substantially gratifying. The contributions in this book are quite outstanding and indicate logically researched and argued positions with proof. This makes the book one of the most relevant texts in relation to feminism and women rights development, as well as laws and the history of women. To sum up, the book that drew its title from an American Assembly forum at Columbia University which was held in 1975 lived to tell the truth of the title. Even in the forum, there was appreciation that tremendous advancements had been made, yet the recognition of the fact that women and men were still far unequal. The skillful compilation addresses economic issues and the changing role of women in relation to employment, job markets, the family, and economic progress. It is a must-read for economic and feminist scholars and students.