Feminization has become a hot topic now as people begin to focus more on women’s rights. Sometimes, feminization can have positive or negative effects on society. It also can sometimes help to promote gender equality, depending on the context in which it is used and whether it is utilized in moderation.
The meaning of feminization, from a sociological perspective, is when gender roles are shifted in an organization, group, or society, towards focusing on women and femininity. It may also mean increasing the number of women who work in a particular profession or allowing them to be part of groups which tend to be male-dominated.
While the term feminization tended to refer solely to women historically, now it can also refer to someone or something in the process of adopting more feminine qualities. This can mean someone who initially did not possess feminine qualities, but ended up developing such qualities throughout their lives, or it can mean someone who was initially always feminine, but the feminine qualities of their personality became more enhanced over time.
Sometimes, the term can have a negative meaning, as it can refer to something that is unstable or can be a critique of a specific social process.
There are several different types of feminization recognized within society.
Types of Feminization
The first type of feminization defined is feminization of poverty
Women are far more likely than men to live in poverty. While this can refer to how much money women make, it also has much to do with gender biases that are in place and what opportunities women have where they live. Two-thirds of those living in poverty are women.
Single mothers are more susceptible to being in poverty, as their income may not allow for them to raise their children under proper conditions. Their workplaces may also have insufficient benefits for mothers or those taking maternity leave.
Some women worldwide feel as though they need to choose between either having a family or having a job. A woman’s relationship status (married, widowed, or divorced), her level of education, and her race all play huge factors in her likelihood of living in poverty and the level of poverty in which she will live.
Also, now that many workplaces place a huge level of importance on having a college degree, this greatly impacts single mothers, as they are less likely to possess any form of college degree.
Another important factor in women’s poverty is whether or not their societal values allow for women to hold full-time jobs and have good, stable incomes. Particularly in Latin America, North Africa, and Asia, some societies do not look highly upon women working outside of the home and having stable jobs. These societal values lead to the feminization of poverty.
Another form of feminization is the feminization of the workplace
This also can play hand in hand with the feminization of poverty. There are also fewer employment opportunities for women. While there has been a much larger trend towards employing more and more women, and of men who are willing to work with more women, there still remains a huge lack in high-quality jobs for women.
Women can still face a lot of discrimination in the workplace, as some employers may believe that women are not capable of performing the same amount or quality of work as men, or they may not pay women the same amount as their male counterparts.
Many employers may also not take into account that women tend to spend more time with their children than men do, and therefore, do not offer women with younger children proper work schedules, salaries, or opportunities that would allow for them to spend the proper amount of time necessary with their children.
The term “glass ceiling” was coined to represent the barrier that prevents women (or other demographics, but for the purposes of the discussion on feminization, the glass ceiling in reference to women specifically is applicable) from reaching a certain level in hierarchy.
It is a metaphor which refers to minorities and women being able to see the positions of hierarchy, but not being able to reach them due to the “glass” which separates them from those positions. This refers to the bias which may not allow women to have proper employment or employment opportunities. The amount of women in higher-level jobs, especially in business leadership.
Despite the fact that, over the past 20 years, the amount of women in the workplace has increased (hence, feminization of the workplace), their work still tends to remain undervalues and women still tend to remain largely underrepresented.
However, more women nowadays have the desire to work outside of the home, and statistics show that after having children, approximately 74 percent of women were able to return to work, of which 40 percent returned to having full-time jobs.
Another type of feminization is the feminization of education
Although there are some countries in which women have less educational opportunities than men, and in which societal values look negatively upon women obtaining higher education, overall, there is a higher quantity of women who work in the field of education or who study in school or college.
Statistics show that the majority of those who graduate from college are women, at 60 percent. There are far more female teachers than male, and since there are more female students and teachers, the school curriculum is therefore far more suitable for women than for men. Girls even outperform boys in almost all subjects and in all educational levels.
Effects of Feminization
Feminization can have both positive and negative effects, depending on how it is used and whether it is used in moderation or in mass quantities.
Women were often not allowed to have the same opportunities as men were. Therefore, feminization was necessary and needed. There are still many countries today where it is looked down upon for women to have the same opportunities as men or to be on the same educational and financial level as men.
Laws and values tend to place women behind men. While no country has fully achieved gender equality, some societies have greatly advanced due to the feminization of different spheres of life.
Feminization of the workplace allows for women to have more financial opportunities and to get out of poverty faster and easier. The more women work, the less likely their families will live in poverty. Women also, when given the opportunity, perform just as well as men in higher job positions. Most countries also have the issue of the gender gap, where women are paid less than men despite having the same level of competency and working the same amount.
Therefore, feminizing the workplace can have greater benefits for women, and since women tend to spend more time raising children, it will also have a positive impact on their children. Since poverty also tends to be generational, children will be less likely to live in poverty later on, if their mothers have proper incomes and do not live in poverty.
Feminization of education can have a positive impact on women, too, especially in countries where education for women is looked down upon or limited. However, it also has a very negative impact, especially in Western societies.
At one point, it was more common for boys to perform better in school and to obtain higher education. School uniforms were more tailored towards boys, and school curriculums tended to focus more on studying academics or practical subjects for boys, and studying housework and other traditionally feminine subjects for girls.
It once was believed that men should be intelligent and educated, meanwhile, women should stay at home and only know how to do household work. However, this greatly changed after the 1980s. Women greatly and rapidly advanced, to the point that now, girls outperform boys in almost all subjects and at all educational levels.
Once upon a time, boys outperformed girls after the eleventh grade, which many sociologists used as evidence that boys were supposedly smarter than girls, but the reason for them outperforming, later on, was because boys matured later. This was disproven after the mid-1980s, when the feminization of education began.
Now, girls obtain higher education at far higher levels than boys, which leaves many people to worry about whether or not boys are being left behind. Therefore, it is crucial to stress the importance of everyone obtaining a higher education, whether male or female, and to encourage men to participate in education just as much as women.
The level of importance for a girl to have higher grades and for a boy to have higher grades tends to differ, which can lead to boys being left behind. This applies more to Western countries, where women have better educational opportunities, but it is important that men and women have equal opportunities, and not that one gender should be ahead of the other.
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