Gender Inequality- Still in the 21st Century?

In Heather Wuebker’s article, “Domestic duties still largely ‘women’s work’” (in UCI News), we are exposed to the presence of traditional “gender-normative” domestic roles of women continuing to persist in 21st century American society. In her essay on “domestic” in Keywords for Children’s Literature, Claudia Nelson, discusses how the term “carries a connotation of the old-fashioned” in which middle-class females are expected to “[adjust] to home duties” when engaging in the act of marriage (67). This idea of prescribed domestic ideals to married women are similarly seen throughout the lives of the female characters in Louisa May Alcott’s 19th century novel Little Women. Wuebker’s article interestingly educates us about how times of gender imbalance and submissive female roles have not changed as much as people may think.

"Housework mostly falls to women in the U.S., but the demands of their employment mean that American husbands must undertake a larger share of housework than in places where women do less paid work," says UCI sociology professor Judith Treas.

Similar to Little Women, Wuebker identifies that contemporary women often continue to exhibit traditional and expected ideas of their gender roles, but that these roles are also challenged at times, reflecting women’s search for independence and ways to disconnect themselves from these traditional expectations. Despite many pushes for gender equality in society, patterns of old-fashioned domestic duties and housework have been found to change only slightly. This shows us that the fight for women’s political equality does not always portray equality in marriage. The idea that this changing of gender roles is a slowly progressing movement makes me realize how Little Women continues to be a prominent novel in raising the frustration of women’s limited options in society. This article makes me wonder if marriage ideals of American society will ever evolve in such a way that we will be able to truly push past the ideological view of a woman’s “social responsibility” being that of housekeeping and childcare.


2 thoughts on “Gender Inequality- Still in the 21st Century?”

  1. What you wrote definitely got me thinking about feminism and gender equality in America. I think that a big problem today is that people still have the mindset that women are made to work at home and to take care of meals and the kids. When in reality I think that a lot of women are doing so much more than that. Women are taking on challenges men haven’t, women are becoming engineers, women are running for the President of the United States. Something people fail to realize is that women have just as much power as men do and women should be able to achieve the same things men can. I think as a society we need to move past the old ways and realize that things are changing.

  2. This is a very interesting discussion because we have not talked much about the role of women specifically in terms of marriage. I liked the point you made about how submissive female roles and gender imbalance haven’t actually changed as much as people think. Although women are becoming more successful in business and participating in things that are usually considered male activities, women are still expected to perform domestic behaviors in the household.

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