The roles of men and women in the work place and in the family have evolved over time such that the theories that had been designed to explain the relationships between such variables have become obsolete. Research show that the new theories that have been developed to try to support the predictions, are not yet at per with the reality of things. The article indicated the authors’ attempt to breach the gap between the old theories and the required theories. This was done by reviewing different research work on the subject of gender, work and the family.
The 20th and the 21st centuries came with great surprises concerning the roles of women and men in their families and at the work places. This study looks at the cases in the United States. The women, for example, have been seen to occupy positions at all levels in the education sector. This fact was arrived at by the National Center for Education Statistics (2000). These statistics also indicated that the women, like men, are graduating from some of the very well known educational institutions. Some results even indicate that in other institutions, the number of graduating women surpassed those of men.
The number of working women in the United States have grown exponentially and this explains why the women occupy 48 percent of all white collar positions. The women have actually been seen to occupy their positions or different positions in the workplace for up to thirty years. This has led to what is referred to a dual-earner family. This is a situation whereby both parents work and receive a salary. Women are now holding senior positions in the government and the corporate world. This was not the case some 50 years ago since this positions were thought to solely belong to the man. It is even more astonishing to learn that many women now earn more than the men do.
Roles have also changed a lot and one area includes child raring. Women now spend less time with the children and do the house chores less often than the men do. The positive aspect of all these changes has been in the stabilization of the families. This is seen as more people settle for marriage and get children. The incidences of divorce have also declined dramatically (Cherlin, 1999).
About 50 years ago, people believed that families functioned well when the man engaged in business while the woman remained at home to care for the children and perform the house chores. This was a case of gender-role specialization which meant that each individual played a specific role which would then favour the both and hence stability in the marriage. Furthermore, as the mother spent more time with the children, it caused the development of good relationships between the children and the mother.
Psychoanalytic theories tried to explain the behaviour of the different sexes during that time. According to the theory, the role that the women and men played in the family was because of the nature of their developmental stages. The man’s developmental stages was believed to lead to a healthy childhood and the boy would feel whole as an individual. The girl, on the other hand, was seen to have an unhealthy childhood and therefore, required to get married to a man to experience that wholeness. Gender differences are seen in many aspects of life, even outside the family situation.
Today, roles have changed and both men and women are being involved in multiple roles. This has been facilitated by different aspects including the need for added income, moral support and the need to gain experience in different areas other than those that one is accustomed to. It can also be noted that there are no major psychological differences between the sexes. At some point in time also, the experiences of both parties become similar. There are, however, instances where multiple roles are not beneficial and this includes, among others, a case whereby the quality of the role is not satisfying.
The theories on men, women and family have some contradictions when the studies are considered. Although the theories are supported by available material, some of them have more supportive data than others and therefore, it is biased. The paper also failed to address on the conditions that limit the benefits that should accrue from multiple roles. The notion that multiple roles always lead to stress may not be true since there are many stable families that have parents practicing multiple roles.
The strong points may be seen in the use of different theories to explain the connection between gender, roles and the family. The theories include the sociobiological, psychoanalytic, expansionist and functionalist theories. The expansionist theory is of importance to the future research that might be done in the topic since it offers a better framework (Cohen & Wills, 1985).
Looking at today’s families provides evidence of the great changes in the setting and functions of the parties in the household. The position of the mothers in the family has elevated to match up to those of their husbands. The women are now seen to be getting involved with the activities that were solely reserved for men in the ancient days. Women can be spotted repairing some household equipment and doing others technical work. In some families, the women are the breadwinners. In such families, the man may just remain in the house and do house chores which were previously reserved for the woman.
In other families, however, both the man and the wife may have jobs. These twists of events may be due to such issues such as the increased cost of living. As the cost of living increase, the likelihood for the limited salary from one individual to sustain the family may be minimal and therefore, both parties take part in making money in order to share the costs. This may be beneficial in that both the man and the wife take part in the taking care of the family and hence, increase the man-wife bond. It might however, be disadvantageous in that the parents might not have enough time with the children since they would be spending a lot of time in the workplaces.
The article that has been reviewed touched on some of the changes that have occurred in the workplace and the home (family) over time. The roles of both the women and the men have changed dramatically in both areas. Areas that require more research to be carried out include the processes that support the idea that multiple roles are helpful to relationships and the physical and mental well-being. Further research needs to be done to study on the possible conditions that has a limiting effect on the benefits accruing from multiple roles.
- Cherlin, A. J. (1999). Going to extremes: Family structure, children’s well-being, and social science. Demography, 36, 421-428.
- Cohen. S., & Wills, T. A. (1985). Stress, social support, and the buffering hypothesis. Psychological Bulletin, 98, 310-357.
- National Center for Education Statistics. (2000). Postsecondary education. Digest of education statistics, 1999 (NCES Publication No. 2000031, chapter 3). Washington, DC: Author.