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dany masado

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can we reform the discussion surrounding gender inequality?

As of late, the gender discussion seems to dominate the mainstream discussion on social justice. The alarming trend that I have noticed is that it has become a real battle of the sexes where one side accuses the other of causing its demise, which means any progress for one gender is seen as a loss for the other. I am proposing that we start to reframe the gender debate in a way where we can honestly address issues faced by men without saying "men just don't have as bad", in a way where we can address female issues without saying "women complain too much, get over it.
We must remember that progress in gender justice is (or should be) a benefit for all not a sum zero battle. Often, we get caught up if tallying up a score on who has it worse, rather than finding ways to address issues for both sides, simultaneously.
What will you tell your sons or your daughters when they come to you for advice?

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  • Jul 3 2012: The truth of the this debate is what exactly is equality? Males and females are very different. Some of this "discrimination" does not come through sexist ideas but rather from practicality. Look at construction workers for example. There are probably a lot more male construction workers than female construction workers. While I think a women would certainly be able to be a great construction worker, it would probably be easier for the male who is on average taller and heavier than his female counterpart. I don't necessarily see that as discrimination, but I see it as efficiency.

    I believe that in many ways women are discriminated against in the work place. There are many more male dominated jobs than women dominated jobs. This in large has been based on physical requirements of jobs and social attitudes. Remember that until fairly recently in American history (world war 1 was when it women really joined the work force in mass, and again in WWII), and people just take a long time to break stereotypes.


    It seems that women who have children can cause relatively more issues for employers than their husbands. A lot of that is simply biological. Maternity leave is still a chunk of time where someone cannot work. Males don't have this equivalent. Also, I saw something on the news that I think is important. I saw a women recently sue her company because her company wouldn't let her off early to pick up her child from school. She wanted to get off two hours early many different days. As the boss of that company, I would not grant that request because I'd be missing an employee for two hours frequently; it would have nothing to do with the fact that she was a mother.

    Males and females have different biological needs and social roles. These different needs require different rules and regulations.These different regulations are not "equal" though. I don't think true equality is what we even really want. I think as a society we just need to be reasonable and unbiased.
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      Jul 3 2012: Noah I suggest you look at how the Scandinavian countries have been handling these issues for 50 years now... not to the detriment of any company, women, men or their economies. I think you would be surprised to find out that your positions and thinking are quite retrograde.

      As for women construction workers...averages are not the issue. A small man with relatively little upper body strength who spent his youth typing away on a keyboard would be no match for an athletic woman who spent her youth doing triathalons. We need to stop thinking in "averages" and open the world up to individuals with strengths and weaknesses...
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        Jul 3 2012: I second Liz here. In Canada, what it has taken to defeat this type of usually faith based logic is human rights legislation. Our human rights tribunals have proven scientifically that many of the so called requirements for jobs were simply guesses for lack of a better word - designed to keep women and minorities out. For example how tall should you be to be a good firefighter? Is it relevant?
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      Jul 4 2012: Noah does have a great point though. We do need to really define what we mean by equality. We often say that there is an undeniable bias toward males in the top positions, yet nobody seems to point out the fact that Another thing to point out is that men have the highest percentage of job related injuries or fatalities, not counting the obvious life expectancy difference. Do we attribute this to gender inequality too, or do we simply say that it's the way things are?
      • Jul 4 2012: To Mrs Smith and Mrs. McLellan, I totally see what you're saying. I was not saying that there were not exceptions to stereotypical views of men and women; I was simply pointing out a biological truth. Men are normally larger. There are certainly exceptions to this like the hypothetical example that Mrs. McLellan pointed out. There is something very important to note about the stature difference though. Why are there different divisions between males and females in sports? In the olympics, the weight-lifting is split into a male and female division because, on average, the male competitors are larger. All I'm saying is that there is a biological difference that slightly favors men in physically demanding jobs. Mrs. Smith, I really know nothing about these laws, so I don't know what to say about them. I believe that a company should hire who they believe would do the job in the best way possible. I couldn't really see the height of a firefighter being relevant. The firefighter should be chosen based on his or her ability to do the job.

        Dany, I believe that a lot of the job-related injuries come from the differences in jobs. I believe that if there were equal amounts of men and women in these jobs, the difference in injuries would be much smaller.

        One other issue is the choice of vocation. My teacher is a female engineer which was very uncommon when she graduated. It is not that her female friends couldn't be an engineer (they most certainly could), they simply chose to get some other degree. That being said, it does create a field that has many more males than females. I don't think that this is necessarily sexist though. Society didn't really stress female engineers thirty years ago, so we have many male engineers. This isn't really discrimination against women; it is societal thinking though that just promotes other jobs. I don't believe that women were ever told "you can't" they just were never told "you should." Now there are more female engineers than back then
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          Jul 4 2012: I love chatting with you Noah!
          I simply feel that while there are a few occupations (furniture movers)ho benefit from greater physical strength - it is worse than you let on- with women having estrogen influenced muscle mass and men having testosterone influenced muscle mass- partially creating the difference in physique- but it is still the men in charge holding on to old and worn out logic to keep certatin folks out of the fold.

          What I did not tell this group is that four of us were hired on the same day. 3 men and me. The toolmakers refused to train a woman and threatened a walk out strike. The union backed the men (the majority and to hell with facts or truth) and all four of us were laid off to appease them. We were rehired one day after out lay off surpassed the time we worked (to surcumvent legalities) and rehired with a different job description which did not require our training by toolmakers. We were, of course paid less. I had to get my training from some men who would not even talk to me. They did not want me there and they felt that they should not have to train a woman. How would you endure such treatment? How can we all do better for your daughters and sisters and for my sons?

          BTW- I worked there for ten years and guess what???????????????

          They denied me a pension because I had taken a maturnity leave during that time.
      • Jul 4 2012: Debra, I totally see understand your side. There are only a few jobs which physique plays a fundamental role, but i still think it is worth mentioning. You were wronged; there is no denying that. I don't really know how to "fix" the problem either. The only thing silver lining that I can see on this issue is that things are changing. Sexism is becoming less common in the younger generations. That is coming through women who work hard and accomplish despite the opinions of others. Your ten years at this job proved that you could do this job quite well. You chiseled against the stereotype and changed how the people you worked with saw women in your field. We are changing the stereotypes; unfortunately culture takes a long time to change.

        The only thing that we have to be conscious of is the what we are working for. Our goal should always be equality. We need to be very careful that we don't inadvertently hurt the other sex while trying to promote our own.

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