Feminization of Poverty

Introduction

Today feminization of poverty is not a new phenomenon in our society. This phenomenon refers to the so-called paradox of poverty. Not all women have an opportunity to earn enough to avoid the negative effects of poverty. There are many causes of feminization of poverty, including social, political, economic and legal causes. Today millions of women are employed across the world, but the majority of women face various forms of inequality that make them socially disadvantaged. Canada is no exception. The term “feminization of poverty” was first announced by Diana Pearce in 1978 (Goldberg, 2000). This term stands for the predominance of women among the poor. According to Gertrude Schaffner Goldberg (2000), four factors have been linked to the feminization of poverty: “labor force, equalization, social welfare and demographics” (p. 18). Actually, the feminization of poverty is a complex process that has a strong impact on equality of opportunities for education in Canada. It is rather difficult to assess the extent of the feminization of poverty in Canada and other countries. The process of the feminization of poverty in Canada does not allow women to succeed in education and share equal educational opportunities with men.

The major goal of this paper is to discuss the issues surrounding the so called “feminization of poverty” and the impact of this process on equality of opportunities for education in Canada.

The varying conceptions of social inequality and its interaction with education

The varying conceptions of social inequality depend on various trends of social class and race, gender, and other aspects. These categories are often used as independent variables in research. In fact, “concepts of social inequality undergo considerable qualitative change with age resulting in the view that different strata are occupied by different kinds of people with different possessions or different behavior” (Leahy, 2003, p. 211). For example, women who are employed at full time jobs, earn about 60% of men’s salaries (Gaskell, 1993). Social inequality may be explained by different approaches to employment opportunities, education, effort and intelligence. Social change is influenced by certain changes in the varying conceptions of social inequality, “in terms of either the rich sharing their wealth or the poor gaining education, working hard and getting jobs” (Leahy, 2003, p. 212).

As a result, social inequality interacts with education, creating serious challenges for many people, including women. Unfortunately, there is a relationship between an individual’s social origin and education attainment. Social barriers affect the key steps in an individual’s educational life. These barriers are higher at lower levels, and lower at higher levels. According to researchers, people “who made the highest transitions are more homogeneous in terms of ability and motivation, which reduces the effect of observed socioeconomic origins variables” (Fernandes, 2005, p. 372). Nevertheless, in Canada, male dominance in education is obvious, because gender is implicated in the structure of Canadian society, and “it is implicated in how education is organized” (Gaskell, 1993, p. 145).

The ways in which poverty and social class have affected and continue to affect the educational experiences of students

Poverty and social class have affected and continue to affect the educational experiences of students. Recent research shows that social class affects the educational experiences and fortunes of students (Swift & Callahan, 2009). Students from more advantaged families have a chance to get higher grades. Many critics blame local authorities and the government for the considerable increase in social inequalities, and the relationship between educational achievements and class differences. Poverty is associated with low-academic performance of students. Today low-income students are moved to the schools that are located in the suburbs (Swift & Callahan, 2009). According to researchers, “people who live in chronically poor conditions are far more likely than middle class Canadians to experience reduced educational opportunities” and other problems which have negative effect on the overall living standards in Canada (Swift & Callahan, 2009, p. 81). Therefore, there is a necessity to address the issue of poverty and social inequality today.

The ways in which sexism has affected and continues to affect the educational and occupational experiences of women as students and educators

Sexism has affected and continues to affect the educational and occupational experiences of women as students and educators. The issue about sexism in educational and occupational experiences of women has been discussed by Jane Gaskell in the article “Feminism and its Impact on Educational Scholarship in Canada”. The author of the article states that “over the past twenty years the women’s movement has challenged many assumptions about how educational issues should be conceived, how the world works, and what is appropriate and natural for whom” (Gaskell, 1993, p. 146).

There are many examples that demonstrate the negative effects of sexism on women’s position in society and education system. In the period between 1890 and1920, many women entered the University of Chicago as students and as scholars. All of them faced sexual inequality. Dr. Clarke believed that women’s brains were not appropriate for the mental work (Gaskell, 1993). Besides, he stated that “since bodies had a limited amount of energy, if women put their energy into studying at college, they would have much less left for reproduction, and become sterile and hysterical” (Gaskell, 1993, p. 148).

In addition, the author suggests that special attention should be made to the development of effective strategies to provide equal opportunities for girls and women in education (Gaskell, 1993). The women’s movement was established to address such issues as “equal representation of female students and female educators”, make changes in the established standards of excellence in education system, various measures for educational achievement, and the set criteria for obtaining knowledge and other issues (Gaskell, 1993).

The difference between salaries and working conditions of men and women teachers in Nova Scotia, according to George Perry

The difference between salaries and working conditions of men and women teachers in Nova Scotia is discussed by Perry in his article “A Concession to Circumstances”: Nova Scotia’s “Unlimited Supply” of Women Teachers, 1870-1960”. It has been found that in Nova Scotia, women teachers faced social inequality and gender discrimination. According to the D. A. Muise’s study of the female labor supply in Nova Scotia, hiring decisions were inadequate. School boards were composed of men, who hired young women to work as teachers, and “in this process, women experienced a type of ghettoization” (Perry, 2003, p. 353). Besides, rural teachers were women, and their salary was 40% lower than the salary of urban teachers (Perry, 2003).

Actually, in 1920s, the educational system in Nova Scotia demonstrated serious financial constraints under the administration of self-governing school section and needed considerable changes. School boards refused to hire well-trained teachers, with high level of license, but they tend to hire “D” teachers with lower level of license or with no experience. In other words, they gave preference to cheaper work force. The lower class women teachers were ready to teach children for the minimal salaries. Special attention should be paid to the process of hiring women teachers. According to Perry (2003), “until 1930, the principle mechanism for increasing teacher supply was the Minimum Professional Qualification (MPQ), that allowed high school girls to get teacher license without professional training” (p. 348).  As a result, the government managed to solve the problem of shortage of well-trained teachers. The statistical data show that between 1880-1930, 55% of teachers were province teachers with MPQ license (Perry, 2003, p. 349). Thus, women teachers faced social inequality in employment and had to work for lower salaries than men teachers.

The major Perry’s conclusions

In his article “A Concession to Circumstances”: Nova Scotia’s “Unlimited Supply” of Women Teachers, 1870-1960”, George Perry came to a conclusion that between 1870-1960, women in Nova Scotia faced social inequality and gender discrimination in terms of the level of salaries. Actually, their “qualifications and salaries were among the lowest in Canada” (Perry, 2003, p. 327).

Besides, the author of the article concluded that it was possible to improve the functioning of the province original school-section system of financing public education by means of the so-called “concessions” to the existing circumstances.  The local authorities in Nova Scotia managed to make concessions in teachers’ qualifications to provide unlimited supply of provincial women teachers. As a result, in Nova Scotia, practically all schools were open.

One more important concluding remark is that Nova Scotia set an example that could be used by other provinces – “to have minimal requirements for a teacher license” (Perry, 2003, p. 360). Many other provinces in Canada and several American states made changes in certification of teacher standards, when they faced with teacher shortages in their regions.

Finally, the case of Nova Scotia “concessions” influences women’s roles in professional life (Perry, 2003). Many women were encouraged to work as teachers. In other words, teaching career has become a female occupation. Since that time, the influx of women continues to be large in teacher occupation in Canada and other countries.

Conclusion

Thus, it is necessary to conclude that the process of “feminization of poverty” has a strong impact on equality of opportunities for education in Canada. Since 1970, the feminization of poverty has become an issue of concern of Canadian women. Poverty leads to social inequality of women in various spheres of human activity, including education. The limited education is one of the major causes of women’s poverty in Canada. To address this issue, women should rely on the existing social security programs that could help to improve their social status. George Perry’s article helps to evaluate the significant role of programs aimed at reducing inequality in employments based on gender and social class. In general, the process of the feminization of poverty affects every aspect of women’s life in Canada, including educational opportunities, employment opportunities and gender roles. The difference between salaries and working conditions of men and women teachers, sexism in education and many other social inequalities should be eliminated by means of effective social security programs.

 

References

Fernandes, D. C. (2005). “Race, socioeconomic development and the educational stratification process in Brazil” in The Shape of Social Inequality: Stratification and Ethnicity in Comparative , ed. by David Bills. Elsevier.

Gaskell, J. (1993). “Feminism and its Impact on Educational Scholarship in Canada,” in L. Stewin & S. McCann (Eds.), Contemporary Educational Issues: The Canadian Mosaic (2 ed.), 145-160.

Goldberg, G. S. (2000). “The United States: feminization of poverty amidst plenty,” in The Feminization of Poverty: Only in America? ABC-CLIO.

Leahy, R. L. (2003). “The development of concepts of economic and social inequality,” in Psychology and The Economic Mind: Cognitive Processes and Conceptualization, ed. by Robert L. Leahy. Springer Publishing Company.

Perry, G. (2003). “A Concession to Circumstances”: Nova Scotia’s “Unlimited Supply” of Women Teachers, 1870-1960,” Historical Studies in Education, 15(2): 327-360.

Swift, K. & Callahan, M. (2009).At Risk: Social Justice in Child Welfare and Other Human Services. University of Toronto Press.

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[Accessed: September 29, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: September 29, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: September 29, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: September 29, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: September 29, 2020]