Critical Assessment While the 20th century witnessed considerable progress in terms of civil rights, most individuals recognize the country still has significant room to improve. While gay rights may have temporarily grasped the nation’s primary focus, women’s rights still remain a prevalent issue…
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Conversely, McRae (2003) argues that women’s position in the workplace must be considered in relation to a variety of disparate social constraints. This essay presents a critical assessment of these explanations of women’s patterns of participation in the labor force. One of the pervading areas of investigation in Hakim (2006) is the extent that there are fundamental differences between men and women that account for their oftentimes divergent patterns in the workplace. For the most part Hakim (2006, p. 280) contends, “They are not fundamental qualitative differences, as often argued in the past in order to entirely exclude women from ‘male’ occupations such as management, the military and the professions.” In this way the research is arguing that there are limited physiological differences that divide men and women in the workforce. Still, the authors indicate that there remain divergent patterns of participation based largely on women’s preferences. The belief that preference theory can account for inequalities in the workplace place is recognized as conflicting with some of the dominant feminist narratives. The author gives a prominent example from modern society, indicating that the gender disparity in certain jobs in the past had been attributed a lack of family-friendly benefits; however, recent research shows that family-friendly benefits did not account for this gender gap. Even though Hakim (2006) makes substantial claims that are supported by empirical evidence, there is also the recognition that the article merely functions to reframe the debate. In this way the research has shifted existential focus to the nature of the job as determining the type of person capable of success in this area. Even as it article argues against the effectiveness of creating family-friendly benefits, it notes that it is the very lack of these benefits that distinguishes male dominant professions from gender neutral professions. Ultimately it appears that the issue is more of an ethical question regarding the extent it is worth restructuring the labor market to enable equal participation by all citizens. While Hakim (2006) makes recourse to preference theory in articulating divergent patterns of gender participation in the labor market, McRae (2003) argues that these divergent patterns should be understood more in terms of social constraints. Specifically, this research implemented an empirical study that examined women’s workplace participation following the first birth of a child. Additionally it followed their workplace and sex role attitudes. The research specifically positions its investigation in contradistinction with Hakim’s explanation that implemented preference theory. In this way, the researchers argue that while preference theory can account for some tendencies in the workplace, it does not go far enough in accounting for workplace disparities. In these regards, the argument is made that preference theory considers women’s labor choices will be able regarding the sort of life style they wish to lead; McRae instead argues that women’s workplace choices, despite their preferences, will oftentimes be restricted by their working capacities. While McRae’s empirical research is established on valid principles, it appears that the divergent conclusion that are reached when compared with Hakim’s perspective is largely linked to the ways that the authors frame the debate. For
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