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The Relationship Between Economic Development and Women's Employment

This paper is a précis of an article on development titled “Barriers to women’s employment in developing countries” by Seema Jayachandran dated June 2020. The paper will outline the article’s focus on the influence of gender norms on the relationship between economic development and female employment, and its concepts of how gender-related social norms potentially constrain the employment of women.

The article’s findings are set in the context of developing countries. The author begins by first putting some numbers about women’s participation in the labour force globally (Jayachandran, 2020). The data shows that 1 in 2 women participate in the labour force as compared to 3 in 4 men. The earnings of women are also lesser compared to men. This difference can be attributed to social norms that exist in countries worldwide (Cislaghi & Heise, 2019). The author proposes that the larger participation of women in the labour force contributes to giving them greater power and autonomy, improves their equality status in various domains, and their influence in the family and society.

There is a negative relationship between the economic development of a society and women’s participation in the labour force. This relationship can be explained through a U-shaped curve where in times of low economic development, women’s participation is maximum (Verick, 2014). As a country moves along the curve and economic development increases, the labour participation of women lessens. This is because of two reasons: (1) income effect and diminishing returns which makes the stigma of working women more affordable for rich households because one earner is sufficient; (2) as industrialization increased with the emergence of factories, the belief was that the “dirty” environment of the factories is not appropriate for women (Jayachandran, 2020, p.2). The final upward move in the U-shaped curve comes as more offices and service sector companies emerge where it is believed that they provide a more suitable environment for women to work. However, in India, though call centre jobs are considered good for women, some communities have a belief that women should not work in night shifts.  

The author cites (Hansen et al., 2015) to state that historical experiences also shape modern gender norms. The higher women’s participation is in child-rearing, the higher it is perceived that economic production is exclusively men’s domain (Jayachandran, 2020). Moreover, the employment participation of women is also attributed to religious norms. The cultural barriers to women’s employment include: (1) the risk of harassment and violence in public places; (2) restrictions that societies impose on women’s social interactions; (3) the control of finances of the household which seems to be in the hands of males in the family; (4) the debate of who will be the breadwinner of the family and partner violence; and (5) the debate of who is responsible for household chores (Jayachandran, 2020, p.6).

For addressing the safety issues of women outside homes and at workplaces, several interventions can be implemented including policies like women-only subway buses and cars and employer interventions such as facilitating a work environment that facilitates gender equality and prevents any act of sexual abuse on women employees. In many cultures, families restrict women from engaging in interactions with males. The author says that there is a requirement for further research to find out how gender gaps impact employment success. The author suggests that business training would help to overcome the barrier of restrictions to social interaction.

Factors Restricting Women's Employment in Developing Countries

Furthermore, since family finances are dominated by males who “capture” women’s earnings, their participation in labour force lessens. Hence, if women have personal bank accounts and more control over their money, they would participate more in jobs. Then there is a debate on who should be the breadwinner in the house. Men often feel threatened when women have a job and autonomy (Jayachandran, 2020, p.15). This insecurity can result in partner violence. Interventions should be implemented to reduce society’s tolerance of violence. Another way to increase women’s participation in the labour force is by facilitating work-life balance. Here, social norms mostly dictate who is going to be responsible for household chores (Cerrato & Cifre, 2018). Workplace policies should be made for alternatives to a mother’s care for children.

Finally, the author also proposes that gender attitudes should be reshaped in schools because the knowledge gained in early adolescence is likely to remain with people in adulthood as well. Parents also influence children’s gender attitudes to a large extent and mothers spend the most time with children (Halpern & Perry-Jenkins, 2015), hence, it is important to make women more supportive of positive gender attitudes. 

The reason for me selecting this article was that it is an interesting research on the issue of development, more specifically the development of women. Economic equality for women is beneficial for an entire nation (UN Women, 2018). The article uses many studies and findings to make well-informed statements about how gender and social norms impact women’s participation in employment in developing nations.

I selected this article because I have observed that the role of women in the economic development of a country is considerably understated. The current global participation of women is 47% as compared to 72% of men (International Labour Organization, 2017). Hence, it becomes important to understand the underlying reasons for this huge gap. With the growing urbanization, the education levels of women are rising which is why their participation in the workforce becomes even more significant (Wang & Klugman, 2020). However, research shows that there is a negative relationship between urbanization and women’s workforce participation (Mitra, 2019). The article duly highlights this through the U-shaped curve theory. Women have the potential to contribute to economic production along with fulfilling their household duties, however, they remain constrained because of many cultural and societal factors (Bayeh, 2016). The article duly points out those barriers along with useful interventions to overcome them.

The selected article confirms my assumptions on the development related issues that surround women worldwide. Just like the author proves in the article, I had assumed that cultural barriers to women’s development (such as restrictions on social interactions, less control over household finances, and debates on the responsibility of household chores and bread earning) are more pronounced in developing nations like India and Mexico since people here are more traditional in their beliefs. However, I had assumed that urbanization and modernization have a positive impact on women’s participation in economic production on the grounds that modernization modifies people’s beliefs and make them more accepting of changes. The article though contradicts this view by stating that urbanization and higher income make it affordable for households to refuse women employment.

Interventions to Increase Women's Employment

In terms of professional learning, the article was very useful to teach me about the relevant issues of gender inequality in the labour force. My knowledge of the factors that contribute to this inequality and the possible ways in which these can be eliminated was also enhanced by reading this article. The article cited various experiments and studies to prove the given points which taught me the value of data and findings in making our research arguments even more credible and reasonable.

Furthermore, reading the article and then preparing the precis aided active learning. While reading the article, I was thoroughly engaged with the topic and its implications. I could also draw connections between the article’s findings and things that I have witnessed or read in my life about the hindrances that women face in getting a job. The article was helpful in my professional learning in ways that it enhanced my knowledge about the impact that various cultural, religious, and historical beliefs have on the relationship between women’s labour force participation and the economic development of a nation.

The article will help me to acknowledge the condition of women in the continuously growing world. It made me take notice of the real happenings in the world, how women are treated, what problems they must face while stepping out of their houses, how they remain behind their male counterparts in the professional domain despite having similar levels of knowledge and capabilities, and how they have been held back by the society for a very long time. Finally, the article is valuable in terms of my professional learning because learning about these problems made me critically reflect on the interventions that are already in place and those that need to be implemented (such as raising people’s awareness of these topics and government policies to promote women’s development) in order to help women reach their full potential by participating more in the economic development of their countries. Greater participation of women in education from an early age improves economic opportunities for them by increasing levels of labour productivity and human capital (OECD, 2014).  

References

Bayeh, E. (2016). The role of empowering women and achieving gender equality to the sustainable development of Ethiopia. Pacific Science Review B: Humanities and Social Sciences, 2(1), 37–42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psrb.2016.09.013

Cerrato, J., & Cifre, E. (2018). Gender Inequality in Household Chores and Work-Family Conflict. Frontiers in Psychology, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01330

Cislaghi, B., & Heise, L. (2019). Gender norms and social norms: differences, similarities and why they matter in prevention science. Sociology of Health & Illness, 42(2), 407–422. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.13008

Halpern, H. P., & Perry-Jenkins, M. (2015). Parents’ Gender Ideology and Gendered Behavior as Predictors of Children’s Gender-Role Attitudes: a Longitudinal Exploration. Sex Roles, 74(11-12), 527–542. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-015-0539-0

Hansen, C. W., Jensen, P. S., & Skovsgaard, C. V. (2015). Modern gender roles and agricultural history: the Neolithic inheritance. Journal of Economic Growth, 20(4), 365–404. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10887-015-9119-y

International Labour Organization. (2017). The gender gap in employment: What’s holding women back? Ilo.org. https://www.ilo.org/infostories/en-GB/Stories/Employment/barriers-women#gender-gap-matters

Jayachandran, S. (2020, June 29). Social Norms as a Barrier to Women’s Employment in Developing Countries. Www.nber.org. https://www.nber.org/papers/w27449

Mitra, A. (2019). Women’s Work in Response to Urbanization: Evidence from Odisha. Indian Journal of Women and Social Change, 4(1), 92–106. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1177/2455632719836804

OECD. (2014). Enhancing Women’s Economic Empowerment through Entrepreneurship and Business Leadership in OECD Countries. https://www.oecd.org/gender/Enhancing%20Women%20Economic%20Empowerment_Fin_1_Oct_2014.pdf

UN Women. (2018, July). Facts : Economic Empowerment. UN Women. https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/economic-empowerment/facts

Verick, S. (2014). Female labor force participation in developing countries. IZA World of Labor. https://doi.org/10.15185/izawol.87

Wang, L., & Klugman, J. (2020). How women have fared in the labour market with China’s rise as a global economic power. Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies, 7(1), 43–64. https://doi.org/10.1002/app5.293 

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"Barriers To Women's Employment In Developing Countries." My Assignment Help, 2022, https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/educ3830-education-in-a-global-society/the-family-and-society-file-A1E3D23.html.

My Assignment Help (2022) Barriers To Women's Employment In Developing Countries [Online]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/educ3830-education-in-a-global-society/the-family-and-society-file-A1E3D23.html
[Accessed 16 July 2024].

My Assignment Help. 'Barriers To Women's Employment In Developing Countries' (My Assignment Help, 2022) <https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/educ3830-education-in-a-global-society/the-family-and-society-file-A1E3D23.html> accessed 16 July 2024.

My Assignment Help. Barriers To Women's Employment In Developing Countries [Internet]. My Assignment Help. 2022 [cited 16 July 2024]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/educ3830-education-in-a-global-society/the-family-and-society-file-A1E3D23.html.

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