Women in Industrialized Societies
Attempting to answer the question, “What factors contribute to a decline in the status of women in industrial societies?” proves somewhat problematic. Because one would invariably assume that as the overall standard of living improves so too should the status of women, discerning what promulgates the decline of women with a industrialized society requires the social scientist to take more than a precursory look at cultural and social discourse. Rather it requires the social scientist to look beyond obvious educational and economic status to determine the role that women play in postmodern culture.
Looking specifically at the United States, it can clearly be argued that women enjoy a comfortable standard of living. Comprising slightly more than half of the current work force, in the twentieth century women, as a minority group, have made more advances than any other ethnic or social group. Despite this advancement, however, it seems that the inherent structure of industrialized society carries with it a prescribed set of gender roles and/or stereotypes that ultimately force women into a subordinate position in regard how much they can ultimately achieve.
To illustrate this point consider what the following author has to say about women’s roles in Western society: “It is generally accepted that inequality between men and women stem from attitudes, prejudices and assumptions concerning the different roles assigned to men and women in society. These roles, which are learned, e.g., those of parent, housekeeper, provider of basic needs, etc., largely determine the type of work men and women do”. While one may assume that these attitudes are those that were prevalent in the early and middle part of the twentieth century, one needs to consider that this article was written in 2001. Thus, it becomes apparent that when it comes to how women achieve and what women achieve, gender bias or stereotypes play a significant role in shaping women’s overall status in society.