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GENDER AND EMPLOYMENT The debate about the relative significance of gender has been important to the understanding of structural force in peoples lives The meaning of place has to be incorporated into this understanding for us to fully appreciate the ways in which these structural forces work There is a need to make a distinction also between women and men concerning their perceptions and roles within the workforce in todays contemporary society The distinction between sex and gender made popular in Britain by Oakley that sex relates to the biological division whereas gender relates to the parallel and socially unequal division into femininity and masculinity Oakley 1972128-57 198141-62 has been extremely useful both politically and theoretically It allowed the development of thinking that stressed the social rather than the biological determinants of a wide range of behaviours and enabled an oppositional stance to biologisms that attempted to tie women to subordinate positions on account of largely immutable biology The influence of the distinction has been extensive not just within sociology where it became commonplace but in a wide range of social science thinking and in journalism It is frequently heralded as having made a profound contribution to feminist thinking and to have placed a powerful argument in the field of sociology Before the outbreak of World War Two women did not play a major role in the workplace Giddens argues however that women in pre-industrial societies had considerable influence in the household which in those times were not separate from the various productive activities Giddens 1998318 This idea changed after the Industrial Revolution as many men moved away from home to mechanised factories lessening the involvement of women in the economic process Women soon became more associated with domestic values and responsibilities which feminists would argue have tied them to inequality past and present The labour shortage during the war years of both World War One and World War Two
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