The oral tradition has handed down myths and legends that recount incidents of rebellion among Cuban women faced with abuse by the Spanish Conquistadors. The Spaniards forced them to work long hours, malnourished and physically abused, without rest periods to recuperate from exhaustion. In addition to this, white men treated Black women as sex objects, by rape or threat, but always with the psychological pressure of fear. The wives of the colonizers, despite their different situation, did not fare much better.
These women, also our ancestors, were under heavy pressure from patriarchal culture that relegated them to the status of slaves, as men exercised their oppressive power. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, liberal thought became influential in Cuba. No greater kingdom for women existed than the private sphere, and this idea carried the seal of the Rules of Law and Morality. Independent ideas abounded alongside the nascent national consciousness.
Six months later, when the Constituent Assembly met in the village of Guimaro, Ana Betancourt, distinguished fighter for Cuban independence, spoke: Citizens: the Cuban woman in the quiet dark corner of the home has waited patiently for this sublime moment in which a just revolution breaks her yoke and unfurls her wings.
Here everything was enslaved, the cradle, color, and sex. You all want to destroy the slavery of the cradle fighting until death. You have destroyed the slavery based on color, emancipating the servant. The moment has arrived to liberate women! Sarabia, , p. These first arguments of this type on the continent represented the most advanced intellectual thought of the era about women. These ideas are among the first feminist claims. Following the Europeans, Cuban women An Approach to Cuban Feminist Ideas and Objectives 23 demanded recognition of the equality and independence of their sex.
From this moment on, some women did not remain tranquil or resigned though no doubt it proved difficult to unfurl their wings. Cuban feminist thought began in this period when Cuba struggled for political and economic independence, first from Spain and later from the United States.
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Many women were prominent in these struggles, and many people viewed these women as mothers and wives instead of recognizing them for who they were, fighters and heroines. We have much more to do to get them into the place in history they deserve. To cite just one example, today we recognize Mariana Grajales, the mother of the Maceos, as we still call her, for the key role she played in the formation of the national consciousness of her children and her ideas about independence.
The significance of the nineteenth century for Cuban women schooled in feminist thought was the recognition of their condition of inequality, and the idea of overcoming it as an expressed goal. However, these ideas did not soon transform into action. In , the General League of Workers, in its Declaration of Principles, exposed the situation of extreme exploitation of Cuban women, especially women who worked outside the home.
In , Cuba formally gained independence, but its status had changed from colony to neo-colony. We were not free either way. A new political period began in Cuba in which women began a discreet movement to demand changes in their legal status. Legally, women were dependent on men who represented them in any situation dealing with property, business, or legal protection in general.
First their fathers, then their husbands, decided what was best for them. Not until did the Law of Patria Potestas pass. This law began to change this situation, at least on paper the reality was no different. In the twentieth century different periods of political struggle existed and women were not on the sidelines of all social movements. This organization was already demanding, among other measures, the right to divorce, which was passed in This period gave way to a feminist movement that sought the advancement of all Cuban women, a process that contributed to the planning of the First and Second Congress on Women in and , respectively, and is the reason why many consider Cuba the birthplace of Latin American feminism.
This constitution was advanced for its time, at least on paper, but reality did not always respond to what the constitution provided for. But we will not hear those words. Camila anticipated the difficulties in overcoming the obstacles then identified and how lengthy the fight would be, but perhaps what she did not imagine was that sixty years later her words would be almost as timely as when she uttered them.
All this feminist progress did not enjoy continuity in Cuba. In the first place, under the constitution of women had achieved equal rights, and yet these rights did not exist in practice. What did the first half of the twentieth century mean for Cuban women? From a legal point of view, women achieved the three primary victories of this century: the right to vote, access to all levels of education, and access to the labor market. From a practical standpoint, however, women did not widely experience the last two.
A second significant achievement was the right to divorce and the legalization of abortion, the second a goal of many contemporary feminist movements and controversial topic in many circles even today. How have these victories been put into practice? In , when the Revolutionary Social Project was organizing, women in general expereinced high rates of illiteracy, lack of education, and discrimination by class, race, and gender.
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In , women made up only Economically and educationally disadvantaged at that time, Cuban women were dependent on men. This was true in all social classes but, of course, more critical among poor women and worse among black women. A gradual but sustained process of large-scale social change for women began in In Cuba, unlike in other countries, this process came about not as a direct result of feminist campaigns, but as a consequence of a movement toward broad social transformations, a principal goal of the social project of the Cuban Revolution whose ideology opposed discrimination and inequality among people regardless of their class, ethnicity, or sex.
Transforming the subordination of women, taking them outside the domestic sphere that historically confined them, and converting them from solely being an end of social change to being also a means of social change were major goals of the Social Project of the Cuban Revolution. Without a doubt, a significant campaign of the first years was the literacy movement that benefited women and men of all ages. To provide continuity and to maintain the results of the elimination of illiteracy, the movement offered free education everywhere in the country with equal access for girls and boys, and made education through ninth grade compulsory.
Today the average educational level of the country is ninth grade for both women and men. Today, enrollment in the educational system is at 2,, Cubans. All this contributes to the privileged place Cuban women occupy in the work structure. These have given Cuban women independence and have elevated their self-esteem. The passage of the Family Code, which gives equal rights and tasks to men and women with regard to the family and domestic life, complemented the above. Our constitution states that women have the right of access to all of the roles and occupations of the State, of Public Administration, and of the Production and Lending of Services.
An Approach to Cuban Feminist Ideas and Objectives 27 The creation of laws that promote the fundamental rights of women and require the practice of equality facilitated the massive incorporation of women into the public sphere through employment and widespread access to education and job training.
This is a result of sustained access to education. Cuban women have been the greatest beneficiaries of education, a significant achievement of the Social Project of the Cuban Revolution. The Ministry pays special attention to sexual health and considers it wellness from physical, sexual, and emotional pleasure that is attained through the practice of self-determination in sexual relations. The major areas in sexual and reproductive health include the basic right of women to control and make decisions about their bodies and sexuality. The triumph of the Revolution brought many cultural institutions that promote our culture and contribute to the formation of new generations of artists.
Despite this emphasis on Cuban culture and the assimilation of the Vanguard into the world, women are not prevalent in the world of culture. Of the officially recognized artists, one quarter is female. In this area women need greater representation. Since the Revolution women have come to make up nearly a third of all bosses in Cuba; however, they are generally not bosses at the highest levels. In the general election of , an increase existed in the number of women delegates to the Regional Assemblies Cuba ranks first in Latin America and twelfth in the world in terms of the number of women in its Parliament.
Women have advanced considerably in the public sphere and in exercising their basic rights, but they continue to be primary protagonists in the private realm, with primary responsibility for reproducing the labor force. Women who have gone into this sector of the economy to take jobs for which they are overqualified, view this phase as temporary until conditions in Cuba improve. They are unwilling to permanently give up the personal satisfaction that comes from practicing their chosen professions.
The above reveals that the crisis has not harmed the progress women have made and that the progress is probably irreversible. Studies on the impact of the crisis and the economic changes affecting women show that women do not believe the crisis has had a positive influence on them, but that as a result of seeking alternatives to many problems of daily life they have faced, they are more creative, organized, and stronger. Women, regardless of the jobs they currently hold, have an image of women as capable of doing any job in society, and making progress in their abilities, which speaks well of their self-esteem, a process we discussed earlier that appears not to have stopped as a result of the economic crisis Vasallo, , p.
Cuban women, though they suffer domestic overload made worse by the current conditions in which they carry out these tasks, feel they are part of the public sphere which they do not want to give up. They have been able to confront the crisis, identify moments of personal growth, and build personal life projects related to professional and work advancement Vasallo, , p. For Cuban women, the twentieth century, especially the second half, represented the achievement of basic triumphs that feminists had attained in the world, minimally in legal discourse , though in our case they materialized in politics and all women received them, something for the rest of the world to aspire to.
We also need to continue participating in the transformation of Patriarchal Culture, which even women sometimes carry out and perpetuate through education and other ways we are not always conscious of, which curtails our progress. Estudios y conferencias. Havana: Editorial Letras Cubanas. Pichardo, Hortensia. Facetas de Nuestra Historia. Santiago de Cuba: Editorial Oriente. Pino Santos, Oscar. Historia de Cuba. Havana: Editorial Consejo Nacional de Universidades. Portuondo, Fernando.
Curso de Historia de Cuba. Havana: Editorial Obispo Sarabia, Nydia. Ana Betancourt. Havana: Editorial ciencias sociales. Vasallo Barrueta, Norma. Virginia: Studies in Third World Societies. Zaragoza, Spain: Egido editorial. Oliver Uruguayan women benefited greatly from a golden age of progress, promise, and possibility that existed during the early decades of the last century, as Adriana Marrero indicates in the following chapter. In this chapter I analyze the contributions to feminist thinking of some noteworthy protagonists of Batllist Uruguay.
The Latin American Context Combating the frequent assumption that feminism is a perspective imported exclusively from the United States or Europe, sometimes burdens analyses of feminist thought in Latin America. Although many scholars of feminism in Latin America acknowledge their appreciation of and reliance on feminist scholarship produced by intellectuals in Europe and the United States, feminist thought exists in Latin America that is not derivative of or dependent on theories produced outside the region.
Autochthonous feminist thought has existed in Latin America for centuries. As revisionist reappraisals of under-appreciated women thinkers have become more frequent, scholars are reexamining writings by women on a large scale as they continue to rescue such texts from relative obscurity. Concurrently, oral history projects enable us to hear the voices of traditionally voiceless women.
Such projects document the concerns of countless women living in poverty and obscurity who rise with the sun and manage to withstand life day after day. Feminism, then, is not merely some northern ideology imported into Latin America; instead, a developed native feminist thought has existed in Uruguay and other countries.
In practice, the concern with protection manifested itself in the passage of useful legislation especially designed to benefit women in the areas of labor, motherhood, and retirement. President Batlle established a political climate that, despite its patronizing elements, was propitious for feminist activism and advancement. Her sisters, Clotilde and Luisa, were the first female lawyer in Uruguay and a famous poet, respectively.
Many thousands of other women of all social classes became involved in advancing feminist causes. While Batllist politicians continued to establish favorable conditions for women, a range of Uruguayan thinkers delved more deeply into those familial and intimate issues in society that impacted substantially on women. Intellectuals in general, and philosophers in particular, were an esteemed and integrated part of society. Their frequent public lectures were well attended, they wrote essays that were published frequently in daily newspapers, and they spoke before the legislature. In addition to their university responsibilities, their role was to engage the public and help sort out the cultural issues that kept Montevideo abuzz with activity.
Vaz Ferreira was a pioneer in feminist theory, and his impact and feminist projects together demonstrate a telling lesson about feminism in Latin America. The ideas of this seminal Latin American social thinker and his provocative study of gender and family often appear as timely and universal today as they did when first delivered in Uruguay beginning in Vaz Ferreira analyzes the disproportion between the ideas and faculties of women and the scope that society allows to their activity. He advocates the right of women to participate in all that makes life valuable to the human being.
OLIVER and Parliament, essentially becomes official doctrine about women, and it gains wide acceptance throughout society.
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Sobre feminismo, however, reflects social changes that could be expected more than a halfcentury later. Vaz Ferreira's early influence on the suffrage movement was significant and his contributions are especially noteworthy given that Hispanic men of his era, generally speaking, were not renowned for their progressive attitudes toward women. In Latin American intellectual circles in the early part of this century, one effect of pervasive machismo and its complementary femininity was to marginalize women so thoroughly that thought about gender and family roles could only have widespread impact when expressed by powerful men such as politicians or philosophers.
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Although Living Logic and Fermentary are among his best-known works, and both are available in translation in English and several other languages, his lesser-known essay on women, men, and their roles and rights within the family, Sobre feminismo, first appeared in , though Vaz Ferreira wrote it between and , as he delivered segments of it as public lectures at the University of Montevideo where he was an internationally renowned professor. Vaz Ferreira would likely have published the lectures in book form much earlier than if the operations of the university press had not been suspended with some frequency.
Subsequent Spanish-language editions of Sobre feminismo appeared in , , and Set within the Latin American experience, carefully examining Sobre feminismo has the advantage of building on a historically powerful document, one which presents cogent arguments against the marginalization of women, the infringement of their political rights, and the second-class status they experienced in marriage.
Vaz Ferreira outlined a theory of cooperation between men and women that privileged monogamy, the family, and the equitable division of household tasks. He studied the ways in which pregnancy can be a disadvantage for women and suggested remedies to compensate for what he viewed as biological inequity. Well ahead of his time, Vaz Ferreira reflected on divorce, artificial insemination, and abortion.
Some of his importance rests on just that point: he is a model of solid, anthropologically sensitive social philosophy. These dates are historically significant because they show that women and men have done serious feminist thought in Latin America for nearly a century.
The theories of Vaz Ferreira have not yet received the critical attention they deserve. In general, Sobre feminismo continues to be a relatively unknown work even in some militant circles in which European and North American analyses of the human condition in general, and feminism in particular, remain privileged and widely disseminated. John Rawls, for example, in his well-known A Theory of Justice, does not address this problem. OLIVER The best strategy, according to Vaz Ferreira, for confronting the problem of the social situation of women has two steps: 1 examining questions of fact, the possible questions about the similarities and differences between the two sexes; 2 examining normative problems.
Vaz Ferreira distinguished factual questions from normative ones in his Living Logic Factual questions are those of knowledge and verification. Normative questions are those of action, preference, and choice. The second are most relevant to the condition of woman. Among the questions of fact, of similarities and differences between the sexes, Vaz Ferreira maintains that debatable data and undebatable data exist. This is the weakest point in his argument and a rare occasion when he fails to take socialization into account in ways we routinely use today when trying to explain differences between social groups and their roles.
More convincing is his treatment of normative problems in Sobre feminismo. Bad feminism does not even take it into account. Good feminism strives to correct it and compensate for it. Uruguay enacted suffrage in , after the United States and Ecuador , and before many European countries. To some extent, Vaz Ferreira also believes that matriarchy deserves a turn in beginning the long process of compensation.
The normative problems that most concern Vaz Ferreira are those of relations between the sexes and the organization of the family. On the other hand, Vaz Ferreira is a pioneer of feminist ideas that became widespread much later. For example, although he believes that people ideally constitute relationships as monogamous marriages, he identifies marriage as an institution that regulates and limits the role of women in professions and the workforce and, therefore, needs modification to correct the unfair treatment of women.
OLIVER woman's ability to live for herself, which has to do with power, ability, and opportunity, should not depend wholly on marriage, as it appears to in mainstream society, which is one of the saddest and most unpleasant aspects of traditional society. The horrible part is that society is organized around making pariahs of women who do not marry. He advanced the right of women to participate in all that is valuable for any human being.
Latin American Feminist Philosophy 39 4. Women did not vote for the first time until because of circumstances brought about by the coup. For many reasons, most dealing with political developments, the progress women had enjoyed in the first three decades of the twentieth century slowed and eventually stalled. As the following chapter shows, many challenges still lie ahead and structural problems remain in Uruguayan society.
Feminist concerns sometimes arose tangentially in other philosophical discussions. For example, the Mexican philosopher Leopoldo Zea focused on women, indigenous peoples, and children as early as in his analyses of forms of marginality. In recent years, as Latin American women have entered the academy in greater numbers, many women philosophers actively engage in feminist philosophy, often in addition to other philosophical areas of expertise.
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Scholars of literature and the social sciences have increasingly drawn philosophers into their debates about feminist theory. The number of feminist conferences, books, and journals has increased, most notably in Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina, but similar phenomena are present throughout Latin America.
A key point of debate centers on disputes among feminist thinkers over the primordiality of gender and class. Some have maintained a traditional socialist idea that women must work toward justice with men instead of emphasizing differences between men and women, but others have argued that patriarchy must be subverted before a society unconstrained by divisions of gender could arise. While the first believe that class is primordial, the latter privilege gender-based social order in their analyses.
Feminist thought in Latin America can be differentiated from many of its North American and northern European counterparts by a pervasive concern for the family and forms of Latin social life and relationships. While alternative lifestyles do exist among women in Latin America, commonly feminist philosophy has attempted to end discrimination against women while simultaneously accepting the family as the fundamental social unit.
OLIVER the individual rather than family is not easily adaptable to some central Latin American contexts and is often seized on as evidence of unbridgeable cultural difference. Feminist thought in Latin America continues to focus first on the pressing concerns of Latin American societies, without necessarily concerning itself with questions of its applicability to other regions of the world. Instead of being a separatist movement, feminist thought is often well-served by connections forged with other areas of contemporary thought in Latin America such as the development of democracy, social justice, religious and secular ethics, and liberation philosophy.
NOTES 1. Amy A. See, e. Vaz Ferreira, Sobre feminismo, p. Latin American Feminist Philosophy 41 The questionnaire, self-administered, consisted of forty closed questions and an open question at the end of the form designed to allow young girls and boys to express whatever they might not have been able to express through the closed questions. I did not intend the research and the analysis of information to lead to the formulation or contrast of strong hypotheses on issues of gender.
I inferred little from there and soon abandoned the idea of relating to gender most of the phenomena that I attempted to explore. Something different happened after reading what the students had chosen to write at the end of the questionnaire. The differences I started to notice about the issues women and men preferred to raise, and the ways they chose to express their ideas, set me again on the track that I had already abandoned. Just speaking of their academic or jobrelated future, of their plans, or of their everyday life in school, men and women showed significant differences.
I will present these differences, starting with a brief description of the situation of women in Uruguay and of the structural constrictions and opportunities presented to them. Uruguay in the World and Women in Uruguay Uruguay is the fortieth country in the world in the index of human development for the year Regarding gender, Uruguay climbs four places, reaching thirty-sixth if we consider factors that the United Nations Development Program does in its index of development in relation to gender.
These factors include life expectancy at birth women surpass men by seven and a half years in Uruguay , the rate of literacy of adults, and the gross rate of enrollment for all educational levels where the difference in favor of women surpasses seven percentage points.
However, the same indexes of the United Nations Development Program show another less sparkling aspect of the same reality: Uruguay descends to fifty-sixth place in the index of gender potentiality: women occupy only The favorable indicators on the gender situation are already historical. A relatively long tradition of the exercise of rights of female citizenship, early compulsory schooling, and free public education benefit us. We also benefit from the laicism of a state that has sought early modernization, and that, by splitting public matters from religious life, has contributed to the erosion of traditional views of woman as wife and mother, and has favored her integration into the world of school and remunerated work.
To illustrate this with dates, the Uruguayan state has had no official religion since the Constitution, and before that since , the petition of divorce by the wife's will was in force. However, this process, which reached its peak in the first decades of the twentieth century, first slowed down, and now appears to have almost stopped. Women continue, now more than ever, swarming University lecture halls in search of better and further education, and do everything they can to integrate themselves into working and professional life.
However, they do not achieve now what they did achieve a century ago: answers from the political elites in favor of equality. Only recently, and probably as a result of the diffusion of worldwide gender indicators, the concern of favoring participation of women in politics has started to emerge, shyly, and in isolated and minor sectors, increasing voluntarily the number of women on ballots. The question of allotments is not even a debate topic, nor is virtually any question concerning women.
This is not surprising: women comprise less than seven percent of the Equal Opportunities, Unfair Rewards 45 national parliament, and Uruguayan women only receive a third of the wealth produced by the country. Unemployment affected Let us examine more closely this difference, focusing on three main variables: education level, age, and occupation of men and women. Within a general context of high discrimination of incomes, the education level has almost no incidence in the economic parity between men and women. Female university students receive As a result of the completion of each of the stages of what we could consider a normal career, women barely reach half of what men with exactly the same education level receive.
The answer is interesting, as it takes us to two types of badly priced qualifications in the work market: technical degrees and teaching professions. For these two types of training, women obtain relatively less unfavorable incomes: Therefore, the cases in which the economic discrimination against women is less are those in which the addition of years of formal education after high school graduation appears to impair the expected income instead of increasing incomes.
In other words, women have fewer disadvantages in those qualifications that have a negative rate of return. We can easily see that the disparity in incomes that separates men and women describes a divergent curve that makes the incomes grow apart little by little as men and women grow older.
Men and women receive higher incomes when they are between forty and forty-nine years old. However, this difference in income varies significantly in each stage. At an earlier age, when the activities and positions are less qualified, the difference between the male and female salary is not so large. Yet, as they reach twenty-five, the breach of income between genders grows gradually; from thirty to thirty-nine years old, women receive The breach expands precisely when people reach the life stages in which they expect to have jobs of great responsibility.
Is this growing breach in salaries a numerical expression of the effect of the glass ceiling? Perhaps the answer to this is in the difference of salaries in jobs of higher income: university professionals and upper management. They may obtain degrees and pursue their professions, and even hold management positions, but the price they have to pay for this is that they will receive less than half of what their male colleagues receive.
To introduce another parameter of comparison that will let us see the effects, in terms of income, that the glass ceiling may have in Uruguay, referring to the income of men and women in positions immediately below management is sufficient: office jobs. We instead attempt to compare categories of what we can consider neighboring positions and could consider consecutive from a hierarchical perspective.
When we jump upwards, women pay the price. They do not reach those positions, or what they earn barely pays for the effort. In general, the difference in income between women in office positions and those who reach management or professional positions is barely Is this enough to compensate for the additional effort the promotion requires? The difference in income between a male clerk and a male professional or manager is In summary, men reach those positions more easily and frequently, and the profit they obtain is much larger.
Women and men came from similar backgrounds, their plans for after high school graduation were similar, and they appraised quite similarly the strengths and weaknesses of the education they were receiving. Conversely, the practice of sport was more frequent among men than among their female classmates.
In short, the relations we found were so weak, so inconclusive in inferential terms, and so insignificant from a sociological perspective that we were about to abandon the idea of using the survey to undertake an analysis based on gender. This question finally revealed the weight of a social structure pushing toward different destinies and opening different opportunities.
And the reason is that, when we speak of structure, emphasizing only the limiting effects is not possible. As Anthony Giddens says, structure has a dual character: it constrains, limiting the stock of possible courses of action in a given situation, but it also indicates tracks, opportunities, and crevices. It supplies the open tracks of the established, and leaves narrow trails to explore, spaces for innovation.
Young women place themselves as agents; they do not confine themselves to bear the situation. They interpret and skillfully pick their way through it. Young women are dexterous, and find those small but significant crevices that society appears to promise them. Let us see the question and the answers. Table 1 In the future, if it only depended on your will, what would you like to be? Did the wand work?
Table 1 is the result of a re-categorization of the probable answers the young students could give. It tries to show a distribution that collected the different destinies, some easier to achieve than others, in six basic categories, that could link the different life styles, values, and tastes. For an accurate reading, let us compare the rows, line by line, to perceive the different answers of women and men. According to the table, women outnumber men in their preference for university professions by twenty-three percentage points , for educational careers such as elementary school and high school teachers we will analyze this later , and, surprisingly, for office jobs.
The five percent of preferences Equal Opportunities, Unfair Rewards 49 for an office job cannot distract us from the nature of the question. This situation appears as if Cinderella had asked her godmother, as her only wish, to grow old under the florescent lights in a nine-to-five job. Men outnumber women in their preference for business activities, in particular those concerning their companies more than twenty-one percentage points of difference and for sport and artistic activities more than ten points of difference in relation to women. Without worrying about the traditional expectations of gender, men and women pair off percentages regarding their wish to stay at home, taking care of the household and children.
How should we interpret these answers? The first thing that immediately comes to our attention is the thoroughly diagnosed phenomenon, in Uruguay, of the realism and pragmatism of our youth: the great majority chooses fairly ordinary occupations and professions that do not challenge their likely chances and daily routines.
The wand appears to have rusted, perhaps due to disuse. The differences between genders are conspicuous. Men, more than women, took into account the simple taste for enjoyment and fun. Men more than women preferred recreational or expressive activities such as arts and sports; they also preferred working activities that offer, at least in appearance, greater freedom. To avoid, perhaps, any relation of dependency, forty-four percent of men would like to own their companies.
Conversely, women do not appear concerned about this. Considering the high remuneration men obtain in management positions, and assuming they consider this an attainable goal, that they wish to reach these positions more than their female classmates do is not surprising. Are young women giving up in advance a goal that will be elusive, and will not carry great economic returns? In the same interpretative direction that men search for advantageous and relatively less demanding positions, the hypothesis that the few young people that chose to stay at home are expressing their rejection of the rigorousness of the remunerated work market, more patent to them than the rigor of domestic work, would appear possible.
Assuming this does not mean we refuse to consider another hypothesis: that they just simply wish to take care of their household and children. The textual statements of the students, spontaneous and unmonitored, will help to shed light on these questions. For now, we can reasonably limit 50 ADRIANA MARRERO our inquiry to the question of the possibility that young women consider the liberal or educational professions, and office jobs, particularly bank clerks, which applicants often enter by contest, to be the meritocratic tracks that lead to success within a social structure that strongly constrains toward adscription and disparity between men and women.
Perhaps, vaguely conscious of the difficulties they will face in the professional, academic, or work world in general, the young women dream of spaces for themselves where their merits, their effort, and their abilities, instead of the spontaneity, enjoyment, and freedom of action men appear to wish for, mark the differences of effectively received social rewards. They may consider the formalization of professional or bureaucratic norms, impersonal rules and procedures in complex organizations, and degrees and rankings not as limitations to possible expansion of the spheres of action of the individual, but as mechanisms of protection against discrimination or arbitrariness, and as providers of devices of measurement and rewards of their merit, above every other difference, including those of gender.
Perhaps this entails giving up expressiveness, creativity, or the highest incomes , they could say, but it ensures tangible results. We can also consider the high ranking formalization of some systems, and rigid and parsimonious regulations on promotions, as the one ruling in elementary and high school teaching that women say they prefer, as a mechanism of protection against the tensions and frustrations that characterize other highly competitive academic and professional careers.
From this perspective, women would give up fighting for good positions in the more valued and prestigious professions, but they would also be giving up the tension derived from job insecurity, greater salary discrimination, and permanent competition. This gains greater plausibility if we turn back to the numbers we examined earlier; let us remember that office jobs and teaching jobs, although poorly paid, were the least unequal in terms of income. All the above does not mean to imply that young women perceive accurately the differences in remuneration, job opportunities, social rewards, and disparity between genders that we have described.
It does not entail that their answers necessarily reveal explication of the long deliberating processes that these issues take into account. It does not mean that the spaces preferred by women effectively result, in real life, as garrisons protecting against inequality.
The available information does not allow us to contrast empirically such hypotheses. However, we can explore their plausibility through analysis of the statements of the young women and men. In other words, if young women believe that others will effectively judge them by and reward them for their effort, they will probably show their disposition to make that effort. Moreover, if they believe in the force of meritocratic mechanisms, they will also be more demanding of others.
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In general terms, and from a typical-ideal perspective, belief in achievement and merit pushes toward achievement and merit; whereas the belief in the significance of ascribed qualities, such as parentage, gender supremacy, or racial inequality, invites conformity with the place assigned by the inequality system in force. When an unequal structure based on ascribed qualities, such as gender, for instance, combines with a meritocratic ideology oriented around achievement, the probable behavior is more complex.
Possibly, the individuals or groups benefited by the structure based on ascribed qualities, tend to seek the formal clearances that allow them on one hand, to compete with the other groups in an open system, and on the other, to legitimize the revenues of the greater relative rewards that the existing inequality system guarantees. The analysis would be even more complex if we were to consider other sources of inequality such as social class or ethnic origin. Considering that our universe of study has a relatively homogeneous background, we will consider these other factors as constant or irrelevant, and we will focus on the question of gender.
So now, let us try to give this theorization some empirical flesh. In summary, what do young women say when they speak? And above all, how do they say it? We will use the answers written by the students to the last open question of the questionnaire: Is there something else you would like to tell us about high school or your plans for the future?
Thus, the question was an invitation to the young women and men to express freely, in their words, their opinions, worries, wishes and fears. Forty-nine percent of those surveyed total accepted the invitation. We will show the differences of the 52 ADRIANA MARRERO expressions of women and men in two aspects of their reality: first, regarding their views on the education they are currently receiving; and second, regarding their projects and plans for the future.
Different Perceptions of Themselves, Different Perceptions of the World: Terms of Discrepancy Between Women and Men A conspicuous feature of female discourse that we gathered in the classrooms is the determination to always demand more: more challenge, more order, more hygiene, more organization, more punctuality, and assiduity on the part of teachers. We will examine actual examples. In this case, each passage works as a small piece of a big puzzle: taken separately, the express interests, wishes, and individual tastes; but taken as a whole, in the general context, they form a different composition, a configuration of senses of a different level with specific features.
That is why frequency is not necessarily the most important aspect. As with a puzzle, if we are to form a picture, just one piece may prove essential, more characteristic than many others, more common, and similar to another forming part of the background. This does not imply arbitrariness of interpretation. Conversely, we will examine what was not said, what is absent, and what is omitted. Women, unlike men, express disagreement with the level of instruction they receive.
We will show next some examples of this phenomenon. The adverse opinions on the level of education come, without exception, from female lips. Furthermore, the categorical and clear way of expressing this disapproval is surprising. The years we spend in it are just going through the motions, whereas, as far as I'm Equal Opportunities, Unfair Rewards 53 concerned, they should be something more, because when we leave high school, we have had twelve years of study from which we barely obtain what is needed including elementary school. About my future plans: the work field is getting more limited with time and it is more difficult to work in something we like.
We should be taught different subjects from the beginning and continue with those subjects until the end. Thus, we would finish learning completely about each subject, and not a little about each one. In the end, we don't learn much. One should not bite off more than one can chew. The level could improve, they say, but, in essence, is quite satisfactory. Honestly, I don't know yet what I will do. It could also integrate classes and other high schools with sport activities.
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They are not simple complaints. Young women demand an education more suitable to their needs, and more challenging. This latter aspect should be for all subjects since only a few have good teachers. Besides, there should be intensive courses in computer sciences and other subjects that prepare us for the future. Other subjects should be studied thoroughly. Offer extra classes as prerequisites for difficult subjects. Have the necessary number of subjects for our level of study. These things replace the auxiliary subjects, the longer time dedicated to subjects, and the intensive courses of the female discourse.
The high school should offer better comfort. She explicitly asks information. And they lack others, more necessary for a good preparation for life, either professionally or for the household. Namely, that what we learn has a daily application. The people who make the educational programs do not fit in with us, but apparently with fictitious characters, not real ones. On the contrary, everyday life includes domestic life and professional and public life.
In such an intertwined world, evidently, current affairs issues consist of the immediate and national reality and regional, international, and environmental affairs. If we can draw any conclusion from this, women are not asking for an education more specifically linked to concrete aspects of life, but generically linked to different aspects and spheres of everyday deeds. The young women express their unfavorable opinions in a clear, categorical, and sometimes brusque way. Again, from the point of view of these girls, the grown-up world and the youth world appear to have changed places.
The irresponsible, disrespectful, disorganized, and the ones who lack knowledge and ability are, for them, the adults. That students were respected as we respect the teachers. That sports were included in every grade and that the teaching of languages was organized and useful for the future not as nowadays.
I also disagree with the fact that the teachers are not qualified and that they are often absent. The teachers sometimes have no pedagogical notions and they do not know how to handle students. The organization of the school is not good. Even though there are good teachers, there are others that are not capable of teaching.
Are they conditioned by the socialization of gender, or simply more demanding? We cannot know. Not cleaning, not worrying about the hygiene of the school premises, is also neglecting the responsibilities that correspond to those in charge of running educational institutions. Again, the adults are failing to comply with their duties. They show themselves to be, as we will see, worried, underprivileged, and bewildered. Their discourse is different from that we saw in the case of women. Let us try to systematize these questions.
Men, and only men, feel they are too young or immature. Men perceive themselves as unprepared to make decisions or face the future. Even in the hypothesis that these kinds of students are used to feeling more protected, and therefore perceive themselves as needing more care and guidance, we should not lose sight of the fact that none of these examples belong to women.
The perception of immaturity links more to gender than to the type of institution or family background. I see youngsters live in indecision! Why do they use this form of expression? We do not know for sure. We may hazard that, for the young men themselves, coming of age and just about to leave high school classrooms forever, confessing their immaturity in the first person singular is not easy. Only men refer to effort. In this type of analysis, sometimes the significance of the case and its heuristic performance is more relevant than numerical frequency.
This is one of those cases. One, because it constitutes a rather long text, in which the young boy takes his time to explain, appealing to his rejection to the endeavor, the effort demanded by the process by which, first he chose, and then put aside, a profession. Finally, it brings in an additional justification: the discouragement toward competition among eventual colleagues.
The second case is interesting because he chooses to emphasize effort when he expresses his intention of doing what many of his classmates are going to do without complaint: study and work at the same time. Even more meaningful is the fact that he is talking of studies that most students do not consider too demanding a short technical career, and not a very difficult one and have rather favorable working conditions as a bank clerk, relatively well paid, with benefits for students and without long working hours.
Is the effort, then, so great? It was the most appealing to me then. But after some time, I was discouraged because I realized the effort it would take and the time it entailed 8 to 10 years. Anyway, I'm not so fond of medicine as to spend 10 years of my life studying it.
My future plans are to get a job in a bank and make a great effort to graduate from business administration school. Perhaps another way of doing things exists? Their silence appears to say so. I would also like to become a physiotherapist and a very good sportswoman. Only men express a deep discouragement in relation to the future.
A few manifestations of disorientation, discouragement, or deep despair appear, and all of them belong to men. They appear downhearted, overwhelmed by an uncertain future, and by circumstances that appear to them completely uncontrollable. Their discouragement comes from their lack of faith in education and in the possibilities of future welfare that it promises, but also, probably, from a perception of helplessness to face an adult world into which they do not dare go yet.
The statements themselves are not substantial; they tell us little about issues although they express, in their emptiness, a disorientation manifested even in the way they construct the sentences, as in the second case. Neither do I think we will have a lot of future if we continue like this. Nothing else. The Future: Certainties, Uncertainties, and Strategies to Face It At this stage of the analysis to raise a question that, if it were to receive a positive answer, may shed new light on the statements of the high school students appears pertinent.
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Are not the doubts and discouragement of the young boys the result of a more accurate representation of the reality they have to face? Could not it be that the apparently so secure and adult stance of the young girls hide an insufficient reflection on the difficulties, obstacles, and unfairness that they are bound to suffer? Do they have a kind of selfreliant and arrogant attitude to face the conditions of an adult world they are unacquainted with and they underestimate?
With the facts available right now, we already know that, regarding the advantages of gender that await them, men do not have many reasons to feel discouraged. Unemployment affects them less, income will benefit them more, and they will have better opportunities to reach high positions. The difference, perhaps, is not in the fact that the perception of reality is more or less accurate. The difference is in the way they react to that perception. So let us proceed to answer the following, perhaps more interesting, questions, for which we have not introduced yet elements of interpretation.
The appraisal of the texts produced by women do not allow us to talk about lack of reflection about the future, about the disparities underlying the different systems, or about the difficulties of their insertion in the work market. The question of gender, as a problematic instance and cause of disparity, is completely absent in the discourses. It is regrettable that although you study hard, if you do not have a good economic position or acquaintances inside, you cannot get a good job, particularly in the area where I hope to work, international relations or political science.
It is important that everyone has knowledge and social charm. The state should provide more resources to the Education Institutes, as education is what creates the rest of the professions. Without teachers or professors there would not be lawyers, notaries, doctors, etc. They express themselves directly. What they choose to express is, to some extent, slogans.
Far from the moderate tone, sometimes thoughtful and balanced, sometimes simply hopeful of the girls, boys choose those words, those phrases that could well be adequate to close a speech in a school assembly. I do not think I am exaggerating, but let the readers make their judgment.
It is necessary to defend the possibility of having access to an increasingly greater criticism. An uneducated nation is a defenseless nation. No to the reactionary and backward-looking reform that prefers to computerize us rather than teach us how to think. Is perhaps the more moderate or balanced way of saying similar things sometimes superior or better? This is not the time to discuss this question. We do not attempt to do so; we limit ourselves to demonstrating a difference that may be significant. We saw earlier the disorientation and feeling of defenselessness and bewilderment men expressed; we also saw that these are not issues that women deal with.
If the future is, in the best of cases, uncertain and even threatening, taking steps to face it with probabilities of success may be necessary. Analyzing the words of the students, a set of strategies, perhaps reducible to a few types, through which they tried to reconcile what is desirable with what is possible, and in general, handle the risk of unknown 62 ADRIANA MARRERO circumstances, together with the expressions of wishes and preferences, should be possible to find.
If men show themselves to be defenseless, are they the ones attempting to prepare better for a possibly hostile world? Barbi Sido. Hannah Cockayne. Kimberley Faria. Robyn Newton. Amy Oliver Barnes. Board book. Children will love flipping the pages of the small book to find and match the opposite to the big book page. Inside this fun springtime board book, Hop the Easter Bunny is busy delivering eggs, three dizzy daisies are dancing in the Easter garden, and Belle the lamb is wearing the special bonnet she's made to open up the Easter Parade.
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