Free Essays

First and Second World Wars and Women Enfranchisement


In this essay I plan to explore how the national patriotism engendered by the outbreak of the First and Second World Wars may have been more effective in achieving women’s suffrage than the comparatively impotent methods attempted prior by Millicent Fawcett and Emmeline Pankhurst. I will be studying the social perception of women before, during and after the wars, and comparing these views to gender treatments enacted in other countries. As a capricious issue spanning many decades and with no definitive date at which women’s enfranchisement was granted, I consider this to be an intriguing subject, and potentially a positive outcome that can be drawn from the bleak horrors of the war-time period. To ensure an objective analysis of this matter I have utilized a range of source material, including both detached, encyclopaedic annals of the topic, as well as more emotive diatribes from the women this subject personally affected.


“The war that has traditionally been defined as an apocalypse of masculinism seems to have led to an apotheosis of femaleness” (Gilbert 1983: p.424-425)

Little erodes the order of a status quo quite like war, a time where superficial social prejudices must be cast aside in order to unite in the name of preserving national identity. They can be regarded as “discontinuities”, moments or periods where “assumptions, rules or possibilities are so altered by events that the future, whatever it proves to be, cannot be the same as the past” (Butler and Bonnett 2007: p.18), and the two World Wars that stretched European and American resources and willpower to their most taut serve as archetypes of this rule. The assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Serbian Nationalist Gavrilo Princip in 1914 led to events which would leave European nations at their most insecure. World War I consumed over 70 million military personnel, and the Second World War 100 million, separated by an uneasy 21 year truce under the precarious demands of the Treaty of Versailles. It is unsurprising, then, that with all manpower mobilized in battle, and the manufacture of military resources at their most crucial, that gender discriminations should be lifted, and for women to be provided the same opportunities as men. This did not just result in increased aggregates of steel and munitions – this epitomized the change women had been actively pursuing for almost 50 years.

Chapter 1 – The Suffragettes:

The struggle for women’s suffrage had been prevalent since the inauguration of the 1832 Reform Act which prohibited women from voting, but until the outbreak of the First World War campaigns had been largely ineffectual. This was likely due to the contrasting extremist approaches undertaken by the two leaders of the Women’s Social and Political Union during this period; Millicent Fawcett believed in the merits of a patient, non-violent protest which, though maintaining a composed logic to the women’s arguments, simply was not forceful enough to convince the men in Parliament to allow women into the electoral process, and Emmeline Pankhurst who took control in 1903 encouraged militant tactics, including arson, hunger strikes and violent demonstrations, significantly raising influential attention, but proportionately more controversy to the cause. Whilst it is fair to say that campaigns for women’s enfranchisement have been controversial since their inception, taking the form of Mary Wollstonecraft’s 1792 treatise ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Women’ , feminist propaganda which “earned her considerable criticism as she dared to acknowledge the existence of women’s sexual desires” (Shukla 2006: p.7), the actions under the Pankhursts were amongst the most combative, forcing the Government to pass the Cat and Mouse Act which permitted the force feeding and imprisonment of those women undertaking hunger strikes. The suffrage efforts were disbanded by Pankhurst at the outbreak of the First World War, deeming it more important to conserve a robust nationalistic stance supporting the British government, and it was actually in working in the war effort that women proved the redundancy of sexual prejudice that they had been campaigning against.

Chapter 2 – War-time efforts:

World War I saw a significant shortage of British manpower, and hence with the majority of able-bodied men embroiled in conflict, it fell to the women to take on stereotypically masculine roles. The ability of women to comfortably tackle physically demanding jobs in ship yards, steel mills, foundries and munitions plants, “exercising springs of resourcefulness and courage without showing off or indulging in macho behaviour” (Stikker 2002: p.209), revolutionized the perception of what women were capable of achieving. Under the iconic image of Rosie the Riveter, garbed in work overalls and polka-dot bandana, women were motivated towards and celebrated for “their ability to excel in a man’s world” (Butler and Bonnett 2007: p.12), not only in labour-intense positions of production, but also economic roles such as bank-tellers and cashiers, as well as the millions more who volunteered through the Red Cross and other such organizations. Meanwhile, the prior efforts of the Suffragettes had almost been forgotten amongst the newfound sense of national allegiance, which had the WSPU replacing their published The Suffragette journal with Britannia.

In recognition of the efforts exerted by women during this period, in 1918 an act was granted that allowed female householders and graduates to vote, and full suffrage to all women was endorsed in the United Kingdom 10 years later. With women’s enfranchisement already solidly grounded by 1939, the Second World War allowed an even greater permeation of women into men’s roles, with female patrols being absorbed into First World Metropolitan Police Officers, giving “women police the chance to show that they were capable of performing every type of duty” (Majumdar 2005: p.146). The World Wars, then, were vastly more effective in securing women’s rights in Britain than the preceding Suffragette demonstrations.

Chapter 3 – Women’s rights elsewhere:

In other nations, however, women’s independence was not so permanent. Russia, for instance, saw Lenin and then Stalin appointing women to high status roles concerning family matters, only to have the male-orientated hierarchy abolish these policies in 1929 once their practicality had been exhausted. Mussolini promised improvements for women in Italy, but limited within a Catholic, family-centred ideology, making it inarguably evident that “he considered women different to men”, and only permitting Fasci Femminili, the women’s wing of the Fascist party, authority over “women’s issues” (Stikker 2002: p.211). Germany, meanwhile, was too overwhelmed following the First World War by the severe retributions enforced by the Treaty of Versailles, and thus attributed little significance to the consideration of women’s issues. Although Hitler during World War II asserted the value of women in the maintenance of an Aryan race, all matters of women and motherhood within the Nazi party regime were ultimately under male leadership. Consequently it seems reasonable to believe that the supposed recognition of women by these States actually possessed greater imperial motives – women’s labour was utilized not to equalize employment opportunities but rather “to supply cheap labour for their… economies, to back their military build-up and to add their demographic ‘weight’ in Europe”, and their “exaltation of motherhood” was actually in response to a ‘population problem’ harboured by the nations, attempting to counter declining birth rates which had arisen from increased practice of contraception and family planning. Once feminine value had depleted, it was back to the “macho nature of totalitarian systems” (Stikker 2002: p.212).


Although other nations may have disbanded positions of female power, Britain maintained gender equality as a direct response to women’s efforts during the war. Whilst it is true that as post-war manpower returned to swell employment figures many women lost their jobs to the pre-existing male masses, the critical part they played was not forgotten and served as a paradigm for the attitude towards women’s working roles. Although wartime women succeeded in achieving suffrage as well as equal employment opportunities, it was really the next generation of women who could appreciate this social change. Returning to domesticity, women never neglected the “economic hardship and social disruption during the Depression and World War II” and, wary of what the capricious future might hold, subsequently “encouraged their daughters to attend college and acquire employment skills” (Butler and Bonnett 2007: p.16). As a result, the current state of British gender isonomy can be traced back to the industrious efforts of women during the First and Second World Wars, periods when the nation could not afford to be discriminatory, and women were first allowed a true opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities.


Bonnet, K. and Butler, M., 2007. Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation tells its story. Iaso Books.

Gilbert, S.M., 1983. Soldier’s Heart: Literary Men, Literary Women, and the Great War. Signs: University of Chicago Press.

Majumdar, M., 2005. Encyclopaedia of Gender Equality through Women Empowerment. Sarup & Sons.

Shukla, B.A., 2006. Women on Women: A feminist study. Sarup & Sons.

Stikker, A., 2002. Closing the gap: Exploring the history of gender relations.

Free Essays

Women Enfranchisement and the World Wars


This essay is a short compilation of research into the reasons for the enfranchisement and supposed ‘ regendering’ of women during the years 1914 and 1945, to determine how much it was due to the actions of women during the two world wars. Historical discussion of the impact of the wars, particularly the First World War, tends to fall into two camps; the first see enfranchisement as a reward for “services rendered” during the war years (Marwick, 1974). The opposing side sees it as a consequence of the political maneuverings of the time; the need for electoral reform with respect to soldiers, changes in the make up of parliament and women’s political groups (Bartley, 1998). This enfranchisement is often linked to a wider social change in the attitudes of women, to them starting to climb out of the domestic sphere, as well as a re-evaluation of how they perceive themselves within society, although the extent to which this occurs is, for me, a key question to raise here.

1. Introduction

War bears little regard for tradition or morality. Traditional gender boundaries find themselves in a state of suspended animation in these times; men are suddenly turned from fathers to killers, women from housewives to TNT-stained laborers, and it is the war’s effects on the latter gender, with particular reference to their political rights, that will be discussed here.

2. The Wars

2.1 World War I

It is not hard to see why the idea of enfranchisement as a ‘reward’ is propounded. In WWI women found themselves thrust into difficult employment like the munitionettesor army nurses. This meant that women were often doing jobs previously filled by men, blurring the enforced boundaries between them, and unraveling previous arguments for segregation. However, they were paid less than male counterparts (although any pay was particularly important for those who had lost their partner’s wage to the war). The women that were enfranchised in the 1918 Act were limited to those over 30, which left out a majority of younger women involved in war work. Surely, if the vote was a reward, it would have been handed to all of those deserving it rather than just a small sliver?

2.2 World War II

The use of bombing by German military in WWII meant that homes were ensnared in the conflict, it‘ trampled roughshod through the women’s sphere, the home’ (Calder, 1969). Female conscription was introduced in 1941, increasing the ‘ dual burden’ of having to run a home whilst employed, which won them applause in the press and political speeches. They were drafted in to a wider variety of military occupations, often working alongside men. After 1945 though many women left their employment, and government policy pushed a reversion to the family, a pattern also seen in 1918. This correlation implies very little real change. This prevailing family emphasis, particularly for married women, is epitomized in the Beveridge Report;

“ The attitude of the housewife to gainful employment outside the home is not and should not be the same as the single woman…. housewives and mothers have vital work to do in ensuring the adequate continuance of the British race” (quoted from Smith, 1990)

Here it is important to note the use of language, particularly ‘ vital work’; it is reinforcing child rearing as an occupation itself, as it was considered pre-war. This is perhaps an attempt to appeal to independently employed women, putting the home and the workplace on even ground.

3. Political Action

3.1 The Suffrage Movement

The enfranchisement of women was its own battle, one being fought for many years prior to WWI’s outbreak. The Suffrage Movement had an undeniable impact because of its success in merely raising the idea that women should be allowed to vote. The key impact of the war was the disruption and pacification of the WSPU Party. This allowed the more‘ civilized’ NUWSS to lead negotiations of suffrage, and reluctantly accept the first steps of suffrage on a limited basis, hoping it would open the possibility for future full suffrage; “we should greatly prefer an imperfect scheme that can pass” (Fawcett, quoted in Pugh, 1977). It should be noted though, that during the war years Suffrage activity disintegrates.

3.2 The 1918 Election

1918 was to be an election year, meaning the compilation of a new electoral register, to include soldiers, opening up the pre-war reform debate, only this time on the politician’s terms, given the decrease in suffragette pressure. It is the effects of this initial limited reform that contributes to the further 1928 Act. The simple fact those who vote in 1918 do so in a competent and organized manner, as well as political help women’s organizations offered during the election campaign legitimized the campaign for further suffrage to be re-considered by government. Over time, the membership and hierarchy of the major parties change, allowing some of the pro-suffrage politicians to take on more decisive roles, and continue to push the issue. (Close, 1977).

3.3 The Labour Party

Another important political factor for the plight of women was the growth of the Labour Party. Their 1923 manifesto claimed:

“Labour stands for equality between men and women: equal political and legal rights, equal right and privileges in parenthood, equal pay for equal work” (quoted from Time and Tide magazine, 1924)

Being a party rooted in socialist ideology they saw equal voting among the genders and classes as integral to the political system. Understandably, given the period, this was seen as a radical attitude, but their election successes meant that women had one less political party to convince, and an increasingly powerful ally. After their 1924 election win, not appearing as revolutionary as many feared they would further legitimized their ideological stand point, and allowed them to begin the debate of reform promised in their manifesto, thus restarting the gears of the full suffrage debate.

4. Conclusion

Whilst war can be seen as a catalyst, it is not the catalyst for reform; instead I think there are several integral factors that intertwine in the period to allow reform. Given the horrors of the wars, it is not hard to understand why people have used it almost as a scapegoat for reform; this way, something positive can be seen to have risen from the ashes of terror. The treatment employed women faced, such as lower pay, in indicative of an unequal attitude towards them, and the continued inequality during the intervening years and WWII does not indicate a wide shift in attitudes . Similarly, if the right to vote was a reward for work undertaken in WWI, surely it would have been extended to all women involved, rather than a section.

This mistakenly ignores the extensive efforts of organizations like the NUWSS and the Primrose League, whose intelligent campaigning undermines preconceptions about women’s emotional capabilities, and gives men political equals to consort with on their own ideological terms and see the similarities in opinion they both hold. The inclusion of the socialist Labour Party in the Commons ensures that reform has at least one consistent political ally. Pragmatically, the need for a new electoral register in 1916 allows the limited female vote to be added on without the need for its own Bill, which many find easier to stomach.

If there were a marked social change though, surely it would be shown in data collected from the period, such as the ‘Wartime Social Survey’. The picture presented of female attitudes to employment is of a “temporary response to an abnormal situation” (Smith, 1990). Interviews with women of the period reinforce this idea, showing how, despite higher legal equality, old perceptions are still rife, and leads one to pessimistically conclude that psychological changes weren’t as great;

“Of course when we get married I shan’t want to work; I shall want to stay at home and have some children. You can’t look on anything you do during the war as what you really mean to do; it’s just filling in time till you can live your own life again” (quoted in Smith, 1990).

Archdale, Helen “Editorial” Time and Tide, January 25, 1924

Bartley, Paula “Votes for Women, 1860-1928”,London, Hodder Murray,1998

Calkins, Susanna “Women in Service during World War I” Women and War: A Historical Encyclopedia from Antiquity to the Present. 2006, pp 237-241

Calkins, Susanna “Women on the Home Front” Women and War: A Historical Enccylopedia from Antiquity to Present. 2006, pp 246-248

Close, David “The Collapse of Resistance to Democracy: Conservatives, Adult Suffrage and Second Chamber Reform, 1911-1928”, The Historical Journal, Issue 20, pp 893-918, 1977

Donelly, Mark “Britainin the Second World War”,Oxford, Routledge, 1999

Doerr, Paul “Women in Service during WWII”. Woman and War: A Historical Encylopedia from Antiquity to the Present. 2006, pp 241-244

Goldstein, Joshua S. “War and Gender: How Gender Shapes the War System and Vise Versa”,Cambridge,CambridgeUniversityPress, 2001

McMillan, James F. “The Coming of Women’s Suffrage, 1914-1945” [Online] Date unknown

Martin, Sara “Women and WWI-Women in the Workforce: Temporary Men” [Online] August 22, 2009

Marwick, Arthur “Women at War 1914-1918”,London, Croom Helm, 1977

Pugh, Martin D. “Politicians and the Women’s Vote, 1914-1918”, History, Vol. 59, Issue 197, pp 358-374, Oct 1974

Schwarz, Marc L. “Social Impact of World War I on Women”. Women and War: A Historical Encylopedia from Antiquity to the Present. 2006, pp 235-236

Smith, Harold L. “War and Social Change: British Society in the Second World War” Manchester,ManchesterUniversityPress, 1990

Free Essays

What were the key drivers for equal opportunities for men and women during the 20th Century?


At the beginning of the 20th century women in Britain were in an inferior position to men in virtually all walks of life.
The actions of individuals had a major impact on the development of equal opportunities for women.
The two world wars gave many women their first experience of ‘men’s work’.
The new ideas which developed during the sixties and seventies paved the way for our current conception of what equality of opportunity means.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the concept of equality of opportunity was virtually an alien notion in Britainand most of the rest of the world. Women, Gypsies, the elderly, Roman Catholics, those with disabilities and homosexuals, among others, all suffered from discrimination in different ways and to various degrees. The primary focus of this essay will be the drivers which have brought about the social, political and economic emancipation of women and the degree to which these goals have been achieved. These drivers can be identified as, firstly, those experiencing inequality, such as the Suffragettes and second stage feminists, with support, organising and challenging the status quo. Secondly, it is necessary to take into account the impact of the first and second world wars, the two most significant events of the century in terms of social, political and economic upheaval. The third driver has been cultural change from the 1960s onwards, with a focus on higher standards of living and more relaxed social and sexual attitudes. Lastly, it will be crucial to take into account the legal framework put in place by government to promote equality.

In 1900 British women could best be described as second class citizens, since they were politically unenfranchised and although the industrial revolution had brought ever increasing numbers of women into the workplace, they were not entitled to the same rights and privileges as working males.[1] In addition, regardless of work outside it, they were expected to care for their families and maintain the home. The prevailing Victorian attitude to women was well summed up by the poet and art historian John Ruskin (1864). ‘ Her intellect is not for invention or creation, but for sweet ordering, arrangement and decision.’

The earliest change came in the area of political power. Female suffrage in Britaincan be seen as both a part of a wider movement in the Western world and a product of the campaigning National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies and the more militant Women’s Social and Political Union, founded by Emmaline Pankhurst in 1903.[2] The early achievement of the suffrage movement’s goals elsewhere in the west undoubtedly encouraged it’s supporters in Britain, and close links were established between Pankhurst’s group and the American movement.[3] Between 1905 and 1914 the WSPU embarked on an increasingly violent campaign of civil disobedience which culminated in one of its members, Emily Davison, being trampled to death by a horse owned by King George V at Epsom races. After compromises were agreed with Lloyd George’s coalition government, the majority of the women’s suffrage movement agreed to work towards the war effort. (Cawood & Mackinnon-Bell, p.71) Whether the Representation of the People Act of 1918 can be seen as a form of reward or a means of enfranchising enough women to replace those men killed in the war without giving them a majority, is debatable. (MacCalman, pp.36-47 & Marwick pp.112-120). However, limited suffrage was achieved in 1918, followed in 1928 by the vote for all women over the age of 21, thereby achieving equality with men.

Between 1914 and 1918 an estimated two million women were employed in industries such as dockyards, munitions and transport, previously the sole preserve of men. Wages were higher than in employment such as domestic service but still lower than that of their male counterparts. In addition, many women found employment inFranceandBelgiumas nurses, ambulance drivers and in auxiliary roles in the newly-formed WRNS and WAAC. However, the claim made by the NUWSS president, Millicent Fawcett, that ‘The war revolutionised the industrial position of women – it found them serfs and left them free’, seems exaggerated. More accurate is the assessment made in 1919 by Beatrice Webb, that women’s economic and sexual status had not changed. ( Webb, p.334) At the end of the conflict, the numbers of women employed in the ‘war industries’ declined rapidly as returning servicemen replaced them. In a situation in which unemployment and labour unrest were rife, the backlash against the continued employment of married women in particular and promotion of their domestic role, was perhaps understandable.

During the second world war, under pressure from a small group of the 15 female MPs, the cabinet introduced the 1941 National Service Act, which recruited single women aged 20 to 30 as auxiliaries in the Armed Forces, Civil Defence or war industry. From 1939 to 1943 there was an increase in the percentage of women in the total workforce from 25.8% to 32.5%. (Summerfield) However, equal pay was not achieved. In 1945, demobilisation of women was not as sudden as in 1918 and in some industries where post-war demand was high, such as shipbuilding, many women remained in work. In addition, a late 1940s drive by the Labour government to expand the female workforce, led to many more women being employed as nurses, teachers and clerical workers, as well as in factories.(Summerfield)

During the 1950s, women made strides towards pay equality in teaching (1952) and the civil service (1954), due largely to pressure from female MPs such as Edith Summerskill and non-party pressure groups. (Pugh, pp. 144–62). The focus of second wave feminism, a term used to describe a movement which began in the the 1960s and had strong support in Britainand Europe, was equal opportunities in employment and education as well as legal, social and reproductive rights. Against the background of greater prosperity, new ideas, art and music, together with the social and sexual change which characterized the sixties, feminist thinkers and writers, such as Simone de Beauvoir, Germaine Greer, Marilyn French and Betty Frieden, created a level of debate in British society and media. The Equal Pay Act (1970) and subsequent Sex Discrimination Act (1975), the underpinnings of British equalities legislation, prohibited the unequal treatment of men and women in terms of pay and conditions of employment. The latter act also covers discrimination in training and education and the issue of harassment. [4]

As a result of a century of action by individuals, governments and the influence of monumental events such as two world wars and the cultural upheaval of the 1960s, Britainis undoubtedly a much more equal place at the end of the twentieth century than at the beginning. Margaret Thatcher remains the sole British female Prime Minister. There are currently 144 women out of 649 MPs at Westminsterand four out of twenty four cabinet members are women. ( In terms of business, in 2009 29% of the self-employed were women and 15% of the 4.8 million businesses in the UK were majority owned by women. (GROWE). In terms of elite sport, the success of team GB’s women in the London Olympic and Paralympic Games (82 out of 185 medals won) masks the lack of media coverage for women’s sport outside the Olympics and Grand Slam tennis events.[5] In terms of music and the arts, women such as J.K. Rowling, Tracy Emin and Adele are top earners in their respective fields. Thus it can be seen that, although women have made important advances towards equality in terms of political and economic power and their position in society, there are still significant battles to be won.


Harrison, J. (1991, Late VictorianBritain1875-1901 London

Cawood, I. & McKinnon-Bell, D. The First World War. Routledge (2001)

GROWE Greater Return on Women’sEnterprise. Women’s Enterprise Task Force (2009)

McCalman, J. Labour History No. 21 (Nov., 1971)

Maroula. J & Purvis, J. The women’s suffrage movement: new feminist perspectives.ManchesterUniversity Press, 1998).

Marwick, A. The DelugeLondon(1965)

Pugh, M.. “Domesticity and the Decline of Feminism 1930–1950.” In British Feminism in the Twentieth Century, ed. Harold L. Smith. (1990)

Report of the War Cabinet on Women in Industry, 1919

Ruskin, J. Lecture was given December 14, 1864, at the Town Hall,Manchester

Summerfield, P. Women Workers in the Second World War. Production and Patriarchy in Conflict (1984)

Women in Sport: The State of Play 2006; UK Sport,2006, p.24)

[1]Harrison (pp 157-183) states that in the 1901 census, 29.15 of women listed an occupation, generally badly paid. He lists the most common occupations for working class women as textile mill worker and domestic service whilst those from lower middle class backgrounds generally became teachers, nurses or clerks.

[2] Between 1893 and 1928, universal female suffrage was achieved inNew Zealand,Australia,Finland,Norway,Russia,Denmark,Canada,Germany,Holland,Sweden,U.S.A. and theUK.

[3] Pankhurst herself spoke at a rally in Conneticut in 1913.( Joannou and Purvis, p.157)

[4] The Act also created the Equal opportunities Commission, later the Equality and Human Rights Commission, to oversee its operation and bring prosecutions where appropriate.

[5] On average approximately 5% of all sports covers women’s sports.(Women in Sport: The State of Play 2006; UK Sport,2006, p.24)

Free Essays

Main reasons for Drive towards Equality in Men and Women


The 20th Century saw great advances in equality politics between men and women, particularly in the Western world. These reforms must have had political triggers, but what were the key drivers towards equal opportunitiesThis essay will argue that reform in Britain was the result of previous political action in the 19th Century, accompanied by the catalyst on extenuating circumstances during World War I and World War II. Precedents will be examined to determine what action preceded suffrage and prove that the war effort served to prove the capabilities and value of women in society.

The 20th Century was a significant turning point in the battle for equality of the sexes across the globe. Every country and nation has moved at it’s own pace in delivering equal opportunities to its citizens, but the 20th Century saw many breakthroughs, particularly in the Western world. This essay shall examine the key drivers and motives behind this equality reform with particular focus on British politics. I will argue that the key drivers towards reform were the building political pressure set in place in the 19th Century and the impact of the First and Second World War on society.

Although major reforms such as women’s suffrage took place in the early 1900’s these political amendments were not a brand new issue. The changes in the 20th Century were preceded by increasing political action throughout the latter half of the 19th Century. Women started to rebel against the double standard inherent in the “separate spheres” ideology which had been enforced for hundreds of years, excluding from public life and confining them to a more domestic existence.[1] However it is a fallacy that women remained completely absent from political life during these years, as middle class women often played supporting roles for their husbands.[2] Towards the end of the 19th Century women such as Josephine Butler, Lydia Becker and Elizabeth Wolstenholme paved the way for reform by breaking with traditional gender roles and becoming politically active in the public sphere.[3] Campaigns such as the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts 1860-1886 and for Married Women’s Property Rights saw great victories for women’s political activism which encouraged women to fight for their civil rights and influenced the suffrage movement.[4]

The women’s suffrage movement that took place in the first two decades of the 20th Century was arguably the most important step towards equality of the sexes. However the campaign launched by women such as Emmeline Pankhurst actually did very little to change the laws. Pankhurst held radical feminist views[5], describing herself in her autobiography as “militant” and her work as a “woman’s revolution.”[6] This militant behaviour did little to win over the favour of the government, but did succeed in keeping the issue of women’s equality in the public eye. It was the more endearing behaviour of women during the World Wars, especially the First World War 1914-1918, that proved the value of women and gained them additional rights and equality.

The First World War disrupted the campaigns of women greatly as supporting the troops took precedent. However new campaigns soon surfaced as women demanded the right to aid in the war effort. A large demonstration was held in Londonin 1915 as women protested for their “right-to-serve” in non-combat industries such as munitions factories.[7] Also in 1915 a certificate was issued to the ‘Women’s Land Army’, stating that any woman who laboured in agriculture during the war is “as truly serving her country as the man who is fighting in the trenches.”[8] Between 1915 and 1918 over one million women became employed in industries helping the war effort.[9] Some women were even brave enough to enter the battlefields as doctors, nurses and surgeons, risking their own lives for their country.[10] Women’s activities during the war not only proved their level of courage and loyalty through national service, but also showed that their abilities greatly outweighed that which had previously been attributed to them. An agriculture report from 1918 testified that women’s ‘shortcomings’ were “the result of want of training rather than that of zeal or capacity.”[11] In recognition of their toBritain women over 30 were given the right to vote in 1918. The law was extended to any woman over the age of 21 in 1928.

By the Second World War women had achieved suffrage and were now in a position to fight for more mundane but significant civil rights, which would not have previously been an option to them. In 1941 women fought against the poor quality of accommodation awarded to them when they were once again employed heavily in the war effort.[12] This demonstrates how far the rights of women had progressed to become equal with that of men: their value and contributions to the nation had become recognised, allowing them the power and right to fight for equality and better standards of living. Women also became skilled labourers due to the training they received in war-time occupation, allowing them to carve a niche for themselves in industry in times of peace and cementing an economic role for women.[13]

The pattern of revolution displayed by Britainthroughout the 20th Century is mirrored in other Western cultures. Canadian women won the vote in 1918 also, and women in the US won the right to vote in 1920. These achievements were also following years of preceding activism on behalf of women, during which time they campaigned for birth control rights[14] and took part in philanthropic movements. Yet it was the contribution of women to the war efforts that lead to the reform of civil rights at the end of the 1910s.

In conclusion the main drivers towards men and women’s equality in Britainin the 20th Century were the extenuating circumstances created by the First and Second World War. Women had begun to prove their worth in the public sphere during the 19th Century by implementing social reform, and they continued to display courage and ability when such qualities were desperately needed during the World Wars. Although other Western cultures were influenced by the war in similar circumstances there are still many countries worldwide in which women are treated as inferior to men.



Certificate issued to members of the Women’s Land Army, 1915 (PRO ref: MAF 42/8), sourced at ‘’, access date10/09/2012

Extract from the Report of the Board of Agriculture, October 1918, (PRO ref: MAF 59/2) sourced at ‘’, access date10/09/2012.

Extracts from the Report of the War Cabinet committee on Women In Industry, published in 1919, (PRO ref: MUN 5/88/342/18), ), sourced at ‘’, access date10/09/2012

Fawcett, Millicent G., What I Remember (London, 1925)

Hart, R A. (2009). ‘Did British women achieve long?term economic benefits from working in essential WWII industries?’. Stirling Economics Discussion Paper # 4006, sourced from ‘’, access date10/09/12.

Pankhurst, Emmeline, My Own Story, (London, 1914)

The Illustrated London News, July 24, 1915.- 109, sourced at ‘, access date 10/09/2012


Chalus, Elaine, ‘Elite Women, Social Politics, and the Political World of Late Eighteenth-Century England’, The Historical Journal, 43, 3 (2000)

Dawson, Sandra Trudgen, ‘Busy and Bored: The Politics of Work and Leisure for Women Workers in the Second World War British Government Hostels’, Twentieth Century British History, Vol. 21, No. 1 (2010).

Kennedy, David M., Birth Control in America: The Career of Margaret Sanger, (Yale University, 1970).

Purvis, June, Pankhurst: A Biography, (Routledge, 2002)

Roberts, M. J. D., ‘Feminism and the State in Later Victorian England’, The Historical Journal, Vol. 38, No. 1 (Mar., 1995)

Smith, Angela K., Suffrage Discourse in Britain during the First World War, (Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 2005).

Vickery, Amanda, ‘Historiographical Review: Golden Age to Separate SpheresA Review of the Categories and Chronology of English Women’s History’, The Historical Journal, 36, 2 (1993)

[1] Amanda Vickery, ‘Historiographical Review: Golden Age to Separate SpheresA Review of the Categories and Chronology of English Women’s History’, The Historical Journal, 36, 2 (1993), p. 401

[2] Elaine Chalus, ‘Elite Women, Social Politics, and the Political World of Late Eighteenth-Century England’, The Historical Journal, 43, 3 (2000), p. 670

[3] M. J. D. Roberts, ‘Feminism and the State in Later Victorian England’, The Historical Journal, Vol. 38, No. 1 (Mar., 1995), p. 89

[4] Millicent G. Fawcett, What I Remember (London, 1925), p. 118

[5] June Purvis, Pankhurst: A Biography, (Routledge, 2002), p. 7

[6] Emmeline Pankhurst, My Own Story, (London, 1914), introduction

[7] The Illustrated London News, July 24, 1915.- 109, sourced at ‘, access date 10/09/2012

[8] Certificate issued to members of the Women’s Land Army, 1915 (PRO ref: MAF 42/8), sourced at ‘’, access date10/09/2012

[9] Extracts from the Report of the War Cabinet committee on Women In Industry, published in 1919, (PRO ref: MUN 5/88/342/18), ), sourced at ‘’, access date10/09/2012

[10] Angela K. Smith, Suffrage Discourse in Britain during the First World War, (Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 2005), p. 78

[11] Extract from the Report of the Board of Agriculture, October 1918, (PRO ref: MAF 59/2) sourced at ‘’, access date10/09/2012

[12] Sandra Trudgen Dawson, ‘Busy and Bored: The Politics of Work and Leisure for Women Workers in the Second World War British Government Hostels’, Twentieth Century British History, Vol. 21, No. 1 (2010), p. 33

[13] Hart, R A. (2009). ‘Did British women achieve long?term economic benefits from working in essential WWII industries?’. Stirling Economics Discussion Paper # 4006, sourced from ‘’, access date10/09/12.

[14] David M. Kennedy, Birth Control in America: The Career of Margaret Sanger, (Yale University, 1970)

Free Essays

What were the key drivers for equal opportunities for men and women during the 20th Century?


Equal opportunity for men and women is a divisive global topic, and one that inspires political campaigning worldwide. In Western Nations, major steps were taken towards gender equality in the 20th century. However there are numerous milestones in both law and cultural perception that can be attributed as steps towards gender equality. By looking at the campaigning of the early 20th century and the socioeconomic change caused by the World Wars, the key drivers that allowed further social change can be identified.

Main Text

The movement towards equality between men and women in Western society progressed much faster in the 20th Century. This essay will look at driving forces such as the campaigning that led to political reform and helped change cultural perception of women’s roles, as well as the socioeconomic changes caused by the world wars that gave women an opportunity to take on roles previously denied to them, and how this led to further social and cultural reform.
Campaigns for women’s rights can be traced back to the 19th century, although it was not until the 20th century that legislation came into effect on a wide scale. These campaigns are best represented by suffragette movements in both Britain and the USA. In Britain in particular protesting reached heights that had not been seen for fifty years, national newspapers were awash with photographs of women chaining themselves to railings, and the death of Emily Davison only pushed the movement further. The suffrage movement was notably one of the first political movements to start breaking class and race barriers. In the US, women of lower classes and of African-American heritage gave support to the movement, and although the suffragettes were always dominated by white women of education, “[t]he shared exclusion of these different groups from the individual right of civic participation underscored their common womanhood.”(Evans)
Despite these breakthroughs in social inclusion, movements across the western world struggled to bring their governments to change policies – although Prime Minister of Britain, H.H. Asquith, did nearly sign legislation that would have allowed women who were over 30 and owned property, or were married to a property owner to vote. The Prime Minister pulled out on this due to concerns of what the boost in voters would mean for his political party’s chances on re-election. Up until this point suffragettes the world over had been fighting with very little success, apart from small steps such as The Employment of Women Act in 1906 (Checkland, p.22), which was brought around by international conference. Whilst this act protected women from being exploited in the workplace, it still restricted the amount they could work and kept the genders firmly unequal. The campaigning of women in the UK also helped push the government towards putting through the 1909 Trade Boards Act, a revolutionary step forward in maintaining the ethical rights of those in the workplace. The campaigning of the suffragettes was a major factor in bringing forth legislative reform, but was ultimately failing in its central cause to bring the vote to women.
The First World War was the key catalyst in bringing about far-reaching democratic and social reform for the Western nations. S.G Checkland said of its effect on the UK: “The war of 1914-18 cut across the policy debate of late Victorian and Edwardian times, overwhelming it with an experience of traumatic depth.” (Checkland, p.13) Key to this was a number of factors. Politicians priorities changed, and the party-squabbles that had been such a large part of many a government’s tendency to only look at their own higher class concerns were put aside for the duration of the conflict. Class barriers became thinner as men fought together on the front, and back home citizens were united in a common cause. The economic cost of the war was far reaching and caused further political change during for years after. Many suffragettes followed Millicent Fawcett in her “ceasefire” for the duration of the war, stopping their campaigning in a time of great national need. This choice helped stall the “hysteria” argument of suffrage opposition, and gave Fawcett and others like her enough influence to help lobby through what would become the 1918 Representation of the People Act. (Howarth)
More importantly however, the war caused a shortage of men in the workplace. Women found themselves given the opportunity to take on jobs previously denied to them – many in munitions factories helping the war effort. This proved to be one of the key drivers in bringing about gender equality, as once the barrier that faced women entering the workplace had fallen, the status quo could never truly be restored. In the years after the war, social reform spread through western countries, and finally women were given the right to vote in the US in 1914 and in 1918 in the UK. This step forward in equality was in itself a key driver for the rest of the 20th century: The eventual success of the suffrage movement remains an inspiration to feminist movements today, proving that democratic change towards gender equality is attainable.
Despite these steps forward, most women did not retain their jobs once the war ended. Whilst there was a small step forward for equality in the workplace, and some women did find more openings into jobs previously blocked from them. However in 1920 in the US only 21% of gainfully employed people were women. (United States Department of Labor) In World War Two, women again entered the workplace to replace the men who had gone to fight. At the end of that conflict, change was enough that women were no longer just housewives, there were firmly placed in the workplace as well. (Skoog, p.10).
The arrival of the contraceptive pill and laws allowing abortion came in the decades that followed, as did feminist movements that demanded equal pay and fought for further equality as the suffragettes once did. However, the key drivers can be attributed to those original protesters and their success in the early 20th century, as well as the society-reforming effects of the world wars on western nations. There is still debate on whether genders are truly equal, and on a global scale there most definitely inequality of opportunity. The actions and results of the movements in the 20th century do however prove there is hope for equality.


Checkland S.G. 1989. British public policy, 1776–1939. The Industrial Economies: The Development of Economic and Social Policies. Volume 8 (6), pp.13-22. Available at: Cambridge Histories Online [Accessed 19 September 2012]

Evans, S. Women in American Politics in the Twentieth Century. Available: Last accessed 19th Sept 2012.

Howarth, 2004. J. ‘Fawcett, Dame Millicent Garrett (1847–1929)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, online edn, Available at: [] Last accessed 20 September 2012.

Skoog, K. (2009) ‘Focus on the housewife: The BBC and the post-war woman, 1945-1955’. Networking knowledge: Journal of the MeCCSA Postgraduate network. Volume 2 (1) p.10, Available at: []Last accessed 19th Sept 2012.

United States Department of Labor, Our History, Available at: [] Last accessed 19th Sept 2012.

Free Essays

Is it obligatory for Muslim women to wear the headscarf?


Women’s headscarf becomes a prominent topic of discussion by many people throughout the world especially after the coming of the Islamic revival in many of the Muslim countries. After Islamic resurgence, many Muslim women have to or voluntarily put on the headscarf to cover their head. The issue of the headscarf has been debated especially after the raise of the feminist movement which believe that their rights have been discriminated by man’s interpretation of religious text and laws.

In 2003, Jacques Chirac, the French President gets an open letter saying that “the Islamic veil sends us all-Muslim and non- Muslim-back to a discrimination against women that is intolerable.” They really think that headscarf is a sign of suffering, make the life of women difficult and slow down the personal growth and social development of women. (Kavakci, 2004). However, many people nowadays including the non-Muslims see the headscarf as a symbol of liberation and modernization. In Malaysia for example, we can see many people voluntarily wear the headscarf with different fashion and style. Headscarf is not anymore a symbol of backwardness but it is something that many women are proud to wear.

There are many different interpretations and understanding on the Muslim headscarf. Thus, from all these different interpretations and meanings, we can see the outcome on how headscarf has been applied in the life of the Muslim women. If we go back to the traditional ulama’ (scholars) interpretations, we can see whether headscarf is obligatory or not for the Muslim women to wear.

The meanings and interpretations of the headscarf

In Qur’an, the headscarf is called as ‘?ijab’, ‘khimar’ or jilbab and there are many different interpretations of these words because of the different understanding and interpretations of the word itself. The simple meaning of ?ijab, khimar or jilbab in the Qur’an is the headscarf, veil or something that we use to cover our hair. Hence, before we go further to see whether headscarf is obligatory for Muslim women or not, we need to define it first.

The words used in the Qur’an for the headscarf is usually either khimar or jilbab. In Tafsir Ibn Kathir, according to Al-Jawhari, “jilbab is the outer wrapper”. (Abdul-Rahman, 2008, p. 67) In the time of the Prophet, women should draw their jilbab as a sign of modesty and to make them distinct from the slaves and the Jahiliyyah women. Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas said that the Muslim women must draw their jilbab from their head over their bodies including their faces and leaving the eyes open. The reason is to make others know that they believing women, they are free and not servants. (Abdul-Rahman, 2008) Hence, do we need to also cover our faceMany scholars say that it is only for the believing women in time of the Prophet as a sign of identification to make others know that they are free women and not slaves. All the Sunni scholars, Maliki, Syafi’e, Hanbali and Hanafi argue that face and hands should be uncovered because they are important in buying and selling, giving and taking. They also have agreed that wearing jilbab or the headscarf is an obligation to the Muslim women.

Islam has a system of ?ijab. What is ?ijab‘?ijab’ technically means covering. Beall define it as “any type of head-covering of Muslim women worn for religious reasons” (Beall, 2008, p. 339). According to Othman, ?ijab means ‘a loose and long type of dress that must be adopted by Muslim women’. (Othman, 2006, p. 340). Some of the scholars define ?ijab as “something that cover everything except face, feet and hands in public”. (Groen, 2010).However, according to Muslim scholars in Islamic jurisprudence, ?ijab is actually more than to cover the hair. For instance in surah Allah says: “when you ask (his wives) for anything from them, ask them from behind the screen (?ijab). It is purer to your hearts and to their hearts”. ?ijab is something that you use to control the interaction between men and women especially when they are not related to.

According to Naik, ?ijab is frequently been discussed in the context of women but actually, ?ijab in Quran was addressed firstly to men and then, to the women. (Naik, 2009) Allah says in the Holy Quran: “Tell the believing men to reduce some of their vision (?ijab) and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do”. {An-Nur: 30} From this ayah, some scholars define ?ijab as “a concept relating to the interaction of men and women, not just an item of clothing to cover the head or the body”. (Yaqoob, 2004, p. 4). Man should lower their gazes and if they look at women with bad thought, they should lower their gazes.

Then the next ayah Allah asks women to wear khimar: {And say to the faithful women to lower their gazes, and to guard their private parts, and not to display their beauty except what is apparent of it, and to extend their headcoverings (khimar) to cover their bosoms…. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.} (Surah An-Nur : 31)

In this ayah Allah gives five commandments for us as Muslim women to follow which include wearing the headscarf: to lower their gazes, to guard their private parts, not to display their beauty except what is apparent of it, to extend their headcoverings to cover their bosoms, not to display their beauty except to their husbands or their fathers, not to strike their feet (on the ground) so as to make known what they hide”.

According to Naik, women should cover their whole body except their face and hands. The khimar or the headscarf also should cover their breasts. However, this ayah not only talks about clothing, but it also talks about the moral conducts and attitude of both man and woman. Furthermore according to him, “?ijab of the clothes should be accompanied by ?ijab of the eyes, ?ijab of the heart, ?ijab of thought and ?ijab of intention. It also includes the way a person walks, the way a person talks and the way he behaves”. (Naik, 2009, p. 6). Therefore, ?ijab is not merely a piece of cloth, but it is more to a concept of modesty that must be applied by both man and woman.

We can see many ayah in the Quran talk about covering ‘aurah for example: O Prophet! Say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the faithful to draw their outer garments (jilbab) close around themselves; that is better that they will be recognized and modest (not annoyed). And God is ever Forgiving, Gentle. (Surah Al-Ahzab : 59)

There are disputations on this ayah because some women believe that this ayah only refers to the Prophet’s wives and the Arabs thus, it does not includes other women. But majority of the scholars agreed that this ayah is also refers to all Muslim women because Islam is universal, and this ‘modesty’ is also universal, it is not only referring to the Arabs and the Prophet’s wives. In addition, modesty not only needs to be implemented by women but it also includes men. The reason is to prevent them from harm and they can easily be recognized as a modest woman. (Naik, 2009)

Islam does not single out women in terms of dressing. It does asking both men and women to dress modestly. The difference is that Quran does not talk about men’s adornments as it does to women. (Barlas, 2002). Asma’ Barlas argues that ‘adornments’ in the ayah does not include hair and face. It is only refers to the bosom and private parts. However, majority of scholars have agreed that the adornment is referring to the whole body, including hair except “what is apparent of it” which refers to the face and hands because there is a hadith of the Prophet saying that to Asma’, Saidina Abu Bakr’s daughter when he sees Asma’ wear thin clothes: “O Asma’! When a girl reaches the menstrual time, it is not proper for her to expose her body except this and this”. He shows at his face and palm. (Abu Daud). (Chaudhry, 1991). According to Al-Qardhawi, the adornment in this ayah is refers to any natural or man-made beautification that is worn by woman to beautify herself such as make-up and tight dress.

Argumentations of women on headscarf

Some of the Muslim women believe that headscarf used to be a man’s way to control women and it also seen as the way women express themselves. Some of them believe that Islam asks them to wear headscarf but they still convinced by the arguments against headscarf and other Islamic practices of their upbringing especially those who coming from the cities. In villages, women are still practicing and interested in wearing headscarf because for some countries, headscarf is only for the villagers or the lower status women, not for the rich women especially those who live in the cities and towns. People in the cities, as being interviewed by Bullock, are really desired to wear headscarf but they afraid that people will question them and the condition will become worst when they cannot even find any job because of the headscarf. They also claim that the reactions of others towards them like they are coming from the outer space and they see headscarf as a block in interactions with people. (Bullock, 2002) However according to Katherine Bullock, in the conclusion of the interview on headscarf, she says that “Religious reasons were a strong motivating factor for the decision to cover, or for the belief that a Muslim woman should be covering”. (Bullock, 2002, p. 50)

Barlas does not agree with the argument that the Qur’an counsels modesty in two ways which is first, by sex segregation and second by veiling women in order to protect them and at the same time to protect the man’s sexual virtue. She argues that, if men and women are segregated, the ayah to cast down gaze would be unnecessary because how they can see each other if they are segregateHence for her, she believes that men and women can work together, but of course with limitation. When they meet each other, they need to lower their gazes and control themselves from fornication or act that will lead them to it and lower the gazes is far more important than wearing the veil. Therefore, this ayah totally contradicts with the rules of sex segregation established by the Muslim conservatives. She also argues that this ayah shows that the real veil is the eyes, not the headscarf. She and many other scholars believe that gaze is the ‘messenger of fornication’. Barlas believes that khimar (headscarf) is only to cover the bosom, not the hair and face. Norani Othman also has the same argument with Barlas that the headscarf is only to cover the breasts and not the hair. She further argue that, “the discriminate of Muslim women through the mechanism of ?ijab, gender segregation and social control is sustained and reinforced in contemporary society because quite often it coincides or intersects with the postcolonial politics of cultural identity”(Othman, 2006, p. 343)

Headscarf is only a culture?

Religion cannot be separated from the culture. We can see the way women wear their headscarf in one country is different with the way women in other country wear it. In the Middle East such as Egypt, their culture of wearing hijab is to cover everything except the eyes and that is their way to wear it and people with no hijab will be questioned. They have no choice except to wear it like that. In Malaysia, people have choice and they can choose whether they want to wear it or not. They can wear everything that they want and nobody cares. Hence in Malaysia, the headscarf is not a big issue because they have the freedom to choose and this is very different with other culture in other Muslim countries. In my opinion, Islam is flexible. In Islamic law and jurisprudence, the law must be made according to the context and situation of the people and the country. In the case of headscarf, Muslims need to understand that the reason of wearing the veil is to protect women from harm. Hence, if we go to the United States or other non-Muslim countries where majority of the people are not Muslims, we are not encouraged to wear the veil (niqab) if it makes us insecure.

Wearing headscarf is actually one of the ways Islam protects women. Islam allows women to go to work, seek knowledge, talk with man, engage in business but Islam asks women to cover their body and hair because of the security of the women and prevent the foolish to harass them. Hair is women’s pride and in Islam, women are protected and looked after. Therefore, we should not go against the command of God because He knows better what the best thing for us. (Abdul Rahman, 2003).


As a conclusion, I believe that headscarf is the dress etiquette which value women from the wild gazes of men because it is a protection, security of the dignity of women. However, the issue of headscarf become very controversial because of the misunderstanding of others especially the West (non-Muslims) who do not give the chance to the other people to speak for themselves. They just make an assumption and later, they confused people about it. They claim that headscarf is just a culture and women’s liberation is impossible except after they remove their headscarf. Many of the research show us that headscarf has been accepted by majority of the women as an obligation or a religious duty, and it is neither a tradition nor a social or political significance nor an oppression of man.

In one of the research on the hijab by Ameli and Merali, they report that 81% of the Muslims in the Britain said that hijab is the most important values that they must

– Before 9/11, 60.8% of women who wore some form of Hijab experienced being

talked down to or treated as if stupid. This figure rose to 68.5% after 9/11.

– The majority in all levels of education, except PhD assigned Hijab as one of the most

important religious values and for those with a PhD, the majority still believed it to be

a very important religious value

According to Othman, Muslim women in Malaysia are now debating on the women’s ‘authentic’ Islamic identity which they argue always been related with the act of covering as the sign of faith and good Muslim. This is actually the effect of the Islamic resurgence which makes a ruling to force women to cover their head and thus, it takes away the right of women to choose for themselves. (Othman, 2006). However, some Muslim women say that they are really grateful for the coming of Islamic resurgence because from that resurgence they know more about Islam and get the awareness on what they should do and not to do.

If we think with our rational mind, what harm did the headscarf bringMany of women with headscarf feel they are beautiful, more respected with more pride and have full dignity with headscarf covering their head. I do not see that headscarf is the oppression and pressure from man. However, I can see that uncovering the hair and body as the pressure from men because they like to see it. Obviously I am not going to please men by showing my hair and body to them and I am always feeling protected from men’s impolite stares. I just want to ask the women who really oppose the obligation to wear headscarf, when they pray, why they wear headscarfWhy they cover their hairWe can see women at funerals, many of the women will cover their hair. We can see here a very strong relationship between religion and culture. It is a sign that modesty (by wearing headscarf) is a norm especially for the Muslim women. Some people may say that they want to respect the funeral event and some of them may say that at that time they feel they should wear it to respect the religion.

Headscarf is a sign of obedience to Allah and the manifestation of faith. It is also a Muslim identity. We do not have to say that we are Muslims, people will just know it by our appearance. Headscarf is also a constant reminder to the Muslim women that they are Muslims and therefore, they should conduct themselves properly as a Muslim. One of the Japanese Muslims says that before she reverted to Islam, she always feel embarrass when men stare at her bosom and hip as if they are seeing something that they are not supposed to see. That is why Islam asks us to dress modestly, wear ?ijab and not being naked in the public. This is to protect women from any disturbance and harm. (Khaula Nakata, Ruth Anderson, 1995)

Last but not least, I strongly believe that wearing the headscarf is obligatory for all Muslim women but, this is the matter of choice. Many of the Muslim women do not wear the headscarf because of many different reasons that has been stated above. Wearing the headscarf for me is the sign of obedience to Allah and one of the ways for us to become modest. It depends on each person’s understanding and interpretations of the headscarf. Everybody has their own reasons to wear or not to wear it.


Abdul Rahman, M. S. (2003). Islam: Questions and Answers (Psychological and Social Problems). United Kingdom: MSA Publication Limited.

Abdul-Rahman, M. S. (2008). The Meaning and Explanation of the Glorious Qur’an. London: MSA Publication Limited.

Barlas, A. (2002). Believing Women in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur’an. University of Texas Press.

Beall, A. (2008). Hijab, Meaning, Identity, Otherization and Politics: British Muslim Women. Journal of International Women Studies , 340.

Bullock, K. (2002). Rethinking Muslim Women and The Veil. Herndon,USA: The International of Islamic Thought.

Chaudhry, M. S. (1991). Women’s rights in Islam. India: Adam Publishers.

Groen, J. (2010). Women’s warriors for Allah. United States: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Kavakci, M. (2004). Headscarf Heresy. Foreign Policy , 142.

Khaula Nakata, Ruth Anderson. (1995). Hijab(Veil): The view from the Inside. Saudi Arabia: World Assembly of Muslim Youth.

Naik, Z. (2009). Answer to non-Muslims’ common questions about Islam. Pakistan: Islamic Research Foundation.

Othman, N. (2006). Muslim women and the challenge of Islamic fundamentalism/extremism: An overview of Southeast Asian Muslim women’s struggle for human rights and gender equality. Women’s Studies International Forum , 343.

Othman, N. (2006). Othman, N. (2006). Muslim Women and the Challenge of Islamic Fundamentalism/ Extremism: An Overview of Southeast Asian Muslim Women’s Struggle for Human Rights and Gender Equality. Women’s Studies Internationla Forum 29 , 339-353.

Free Essays

How useful is psychoanalysis in understanding the cinematic representation of women?


‘It is widely felt that female characters in film have been restricted to the easy categories that classical narratives and familiar genres demand of them (the typical complaint is that women in films are either ‘virgins, mothers or whores’).’ (Cardwell)In this essay I will be discussing how useful psychoanalysis is in understanding cinematic representation of women. I will be focusing on key influential psychoanalysts from the beginning through to the modern representations of psychoanalysis, beginning with the founder Sigmund Freud but also mentioning more modern theories, such as those of Melanie Klien, Heinz Kohut and Jacques Lacan.

Psychoanalysis is a theory founded by Sigmund Freud (born 1856) in the 1890’s. It is possible to define psychoanalysis in three aspects. The first of these aspects being a method of mind investigation: concentrating on the investigation of the unconscious mind. The second being a method of therapy (psychotherapeutic) that derived from the type of investigation mentioned above. The final aspect can be defined as a group of theories based on the knowledge and data that is provided by the above investigation and treatment of the mind. The themes of psychoanalysis are power, ambition, insecurity, attachment, isolation and longing. ( It is a tool for understanding how the human mind works and it contributes insight into whatever the mind produces. Therefore it has a profound influence on many aspects of twenty first century culture, including cinema. Many of Freud’s key terms have become commonplace in modern society such as repression, libido, superego and fetishism. Freud believed in the Oedipus complex and that the individual who is unable to come to terms with their gender (activity for boys, passivity for girls) may become an hysteric and may display symptoms such as paralysis or amnesia. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) and Marnie (1964) show examples of the Oedipus complex. Jacques Lacan (1901-1981) was a French psychoanalyst that made huge contributions to the world of psychoanalysis and ‘extend psychoanalytical thought in several directions’ (Holcombe, 2007) . Lacan’s ideas have impacted greatly on feminist theory and also film theory. ‘Some aspects of Lacan have been useful in film theory because he combined Freudian psychoanalysis with semiology, thus offering a means for linking semiotic and psychoanalytic readings of films’ (Kaplan 1983:19). Karen Horney (1885–1952) was one of the first generation of women to be admitted to the study of medicine, she then undertook training in analysis and gained her M.D degree. Horney’s theories questioned many of Freud’s traditional views, especially the male-based view of the psychology of women and argued that the source of ‘female neurosis’ was due to male dominated culture. Her writings had a major impact on the beginnings of Feminist theory in the 1970’s.

As the position of women in society has progressed through time it is clear that the representation of women in film has developed alongside it. The male dominated society of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century is reflected in cinema and film. Women were portrayed in film often in a sexist way, in order to satisfy the male gaze. Out Of The Past (1947) is a classic example of Film-Noir written by Daniel Mainwaring and directed by Jacques Tourneur, which portrays two women from opposite ends of the spectrum. The character of Kathie is represented as the ultimate femme fatale as she attempts to manipulate men as opposed to the men manipulating and controlling the women. Women of this nature during this period were viewed (largely by men) as dangerous and irrational. This is because the femme fatale woman was rebelling against the conventions of traditional society. ‘As soon as the relation between vision and knowledge becomes unstable or deceptive, the potential for a disruption of a given sexual logic appears. Perhaps the disruptiveness can define, for feminist theory, the deadliness of femme fatale.’ (Doane, 1991: 14) However Ann, a character of the same film, is perceived as the traditional woman of the 1940’s who remains loyal to her man despite his disrespect and ill treatment towards her. A more recent example of a dangerous femme fatale character in film is Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) in the film Pulp Fiction (1994) directed by Quentin Tarantino, who is regarded as untrustworthy by her husband, Marsellus. ‘Marsellus cannot successfully or completely hold on to his beautiful Caucasian wife Mia (Uma Thurman), and unwisely has his lieutenants attending to her while he is out of town.’ (Hauke, 2001:58) Women were often portrayed as victims in past films however; it is not unusual for women to be portrayed as victims (in some cases) to this day. East is East (1999) directed by Damien O’Donnell serves as a prime example of women in film being portrayed as victims, in this case a victim in her own home. Ella Khan (Linda Bassett) is subject to violence from her husband, yet she remains loyal to his wishes. Films portray the character of a woman in similar situations as fearful of the males. The progress regarding the position of women in society, their rights and the move towards gender equality has led to a more proportioned representation of women in modern cinema. However, many female characters are still portrayed as inferior to males and still perhaps as a ‘stereotypical’ woman. Laura Mulvey (Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema) argues that in the majority of cinema and film the Male Gaze (the perspective of a heterosexual man) outweighs that of the Female Gaze.

‘In a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female. The deter-mining male gaze projects its phantasy on to the female figure, which is styled accordingly. In their traditional exhibitionist role women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness. Women displayed as sexual object is the leit-motif of erotic spectacle: from pin-ups to strip-tease, from Zeigfeld to Busby Berkeley, she holds the look, plays to and signifies male desire.’ (Mulvey)

Considering the above argument it is suggested that psychoanalysis is useful in understanding the general cinematic portrayal of women, being that they are in fact ineffectively represented due to the power of the male gaze on both sides of the camera.

Since the late nineteenth century women have played a key role in influencing the developments in the film industry. Females’ appearing in films was essential for the progress of the industry despite them being recognized more for their appearance than for their ability. The roles that women played were most likely to be that of the stereotypical gender roles of the time. Female actresses proved to be extremely popular with audiences and thus were an essential to the rise of and popularity of the film industry. As women had an increased role in society and they were able to earn their own income they began to take part in leisure activities associating outside the household with men. One of these leisure activities being the Cinema, and in effect it was in fact the women that were funding the industry. Middle class women began to re-shape the cinema experience for those of the lower classes and film producers focused and relied upon these women in order to promote the industry and help it thrive. Melodrama is something concerned primarily with the domestic and feminine themes, with melodramatic films often including a central female character. Melodrama is a genre that relied upon the interest of female audiences and the ability of female actors for its success. “So why is it that women are drawn to melodramaWhy do we find our objectification and surrender pleasurableThis is precisely an issue that psychoanalysis can help explain: for such pleasure is not surprising if we consider the shape of the girl’s Oedipal crisis. Following Lacan for a moment, we see that the girl is forced to turn away from the illusory unity with the mother in the prelinguistic realm and has to enter the symbolic world which involves subject and object. Assigned the place of object (lack), she is the recipient of male desire, passively appearing rather than acting.” (Kaplan, 1983:26).

As the theories of psychoanalysis have developed from Freud to Lacan and many more it has become apparent as to how cinema and psychoanalysis go hand in hand in understanding the complicated workings of the human mind. “Cinema allows the inner world to be represented through moving pictures – and some of our most vivid modes of “thinking” or “dreaming” occur in pictorial form” (Brearley, 2009). Psychoanalysts and Film Theorists, through their writings and investigations, have helped unveil the links between psychoanalysis and understanding the minds of not only real life characters but also those in film. Ideas derived from psychoanalysis help not only audiences but also many within the film industry understand the behavior of characters on screen and the reasons behind this behavior. Therefore it becomes clear that psychoanalysis has assisted the growth and understanding of the film industry, and thus theoretically it aids film theorists and others in understanding the cinematic representation of women. This is because the women presented to an audience on screen are fictional characters (although sometimes based or modeled on real people) and are being presented in a way that the person/people behind the lens of the camera interpret women. Although the cinematic representation of women does not always reflect todays society, psychoanalysis is useful in film in helping us understand the film industry’s interpretation: “Psychoanalytic ideas help make sense of characters’ behavior, though unlike in real life we don’t have the characters responding to help deepen, modify or falsify our interpretations. Instead, we try to make objective appraisals of what the director presents to us.” (Brearley, 2009).

The Feminist film theory derived from the 1970’s feminist movement where women demanded change in gender equality and representation. Laura Mulvey (1914) is a Feminist film theorist whose work and ideas helped move the orientation of film theory towards a psychoanalytic structure heavily influenced by Freud and Lacan. Mulvey’s intention was to combine film theory, psychoanalysis and feminism. Mulvey argues that most films present women in a way that is intended for male viewers, focusing on the sexualized appearance of women. Mulvey viewed Hollywood Cinema as something that used women as ‘erotic objects’. Voyeurism in film is something that links highly with psychoanalytical theories, and has become a popular topic of debate since the 1970’s around the time of the feminist movement. Its straightforward meaning is the pleasurable observation of someone else’s intimate acts, usually (not always) sexual. The fact that the person/persons are unaware they are being observed is key to the thrill, and thus huge links can be made between audience and film/cinema. “Psychoanalysis has been activated in feminist film theory primarily in order to dissect and analyze the spectator’s physical investment in the film. But to accomplish this, theory had to posit a vast synchrony of the cinema – the cinema happens all at once (as, precisely, an apparatus) and its image of woman is always subservient to voyeuristic and fetishistic impulses.” (Kaplan, 1990:48). Taking into account the links between psychoanalysis and voyeurism its demonstrated that it assists us in understanding the cinematic representation of women and how they are presented to the viewers of film in order to satisfy certain desires, largely sexual.

‘Gaze’ is a common psychoanalytical term brought into awareness by Jacques Lacan and can offer a great deal of insight into the cinematic world, and particularly the cinematic representation of women. In short, ‘the gaze’ means the fear one feels after becoming aware that he/she is a visible object. In film there are numerous types of ‘gaze’, the view of the audience is called the spectators gaze. The objects (characters, setting etc.) the spectators are viewing has derived from the camera’s gaze, usually that of the film director. The gaze is a crucial aspect of psychoanalysis that contributes to understanding the cinematic representation of women as it has huge links with feminist film theory and particularly Laura Mulvey. As mentioned previously, Mulvey suggests that the male gaze often outweighs that of the female in film. Mulvey also argues that the ‘gaze’ belongs to a single gender.

Through assessing many aspects of psychoanalysis and film it seems that psychoanalysis is helpful in understanding the cinematic world as a whole. I consider psychoanalysis to be of great help in understanding the cinematic representation of women. That being how cinema, despite developments in recent years both socially and industry wise, ineffectively represents women as they are today and instead falls into stereotypical ideas and purely satisfies the male gaze. However, it is also arguable that film is often fictional and thus one may believe that in cinema and film a true reflection of society is not necessary. Psychoanalysis has assisted not only film theorists in understanding the industry but has also, through Melodrama and such, helped the industry thrive. It is possible to view psychoanalysis, as a gateway into the minds of those on both sides of the lens, but only vaguely as those in film are unable to widen or provide depth into to the interpretations of those spectating. “Throughout the 1970s, Screen was the most important testing ground for the methodologies that have shaped contemporary film theory: semiotics, Marxism, and psychoanalysis. Central to each is an issue of representation. According to the semioticians, film was to be understood as a systematic network of binary oppositions, organized metaphorically, if not literally, like language. (Carson, 1994:50).

Bibliography – Joe Clifford

Word count


Brearley, Michael. (2009) ‘So, tell me about your director’ – cinema and psychoanalysis. In: The Guardian [online] (Accessed on: 04/04/11)

Cardwell, Sarah. Female Protagonist. In: [Online] On: 12/04/11)

Carson, Diane. (1994) Multiple voices in feminist film criticism. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.

Doane, Mary Anne. (1991) Femmes Fatales: feminism, Film Theory, Psychoanalysis. New York: Routledge.

Hauke, Christopher (2001) Jung And Film. East Sussex: Brunner-Routledge.

Holcombe, C. John (2007) Jacques Lacan. In: [Online] (Accessed on: 28/03/11)

Kaplan, E. Anne (1983) Women & Film Both Sides Of The Camera. Great Britain: Methuen & Co.

Kaplan, E. Anne (1990) Psychoanalysis & Cinema. New York: Routledge.

Mulvey,Laura. (1975) Visual pleasure and narrative cinema. In: Screen [online] (Accessed on: 28/03/11)

Free Essays

Women and Madness – exploring women’s firsthand literary accounts and asking how the social context of gender impacts on the diagnosis of mental illness.


In this essay I discuss three pieces of writing by women, reflecting on their experiences of medical treatment. Dating from 1898 to 1999 they explore the concepts and realities of women diagnosed with mental illness. I will mostly focus on the content of the pieces although discuss the imagery and metaphor that is repeated in all.

The first piece “The yellow wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a work of semi autobiographical fiction, the other pieces “Thorazine shuffle” by Allie Light and “The Looney Bin trap” by Kate Millet are autobiographical accounts of episodes of care. I will discuss themes that reoccur through all pieces and contrast the differences experiences to build a picture of mental health care for women throughout these times.

The yellow wall paper

Written in 1892 by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “one of the most commanding feminists of her time” (Hedges 1973 :119) at a time it was rare for women to address sexual politics, Gilman makes the link between gender, insanity and patriarchy. Gilman was a prominent activist and writer on social reform including “Women and economics” (1898) – an analysis of the situation of women and a theoretical treatise that argued that women were “subjugated by men, that motherhood should not preclude a women from working outside the home” (Gilman 1898).

The yellow wallpaper is a short story written in epistolary style as a series of first person journal entries. The journal describes the narrator’s experience of isolation during a period of “rest cure” (Oppenheim 1991) for a “temporary nervous depression – a slight hysterical tendency” (Gilman : 33).

Hysteria from the Greek hysteron for uterus, was a female condition defined as relating to femininity and female sexuality – a once common mental diagnosis of the 19th century it is no longer used as a diagnostic category (Micale 1993). “Like all things feminine (hysteria) seemed elusive and enigmatic to a patriarchal medical profession and was resistant to male rationality” (Showalter 2007). A Neurologist and progressive thinker of the 19th century, Horatio Bryan Donkin, linked the complaint not just to females’ physicality but to her “social conditions”. Donkin also noted a high propensity for hysteria among unconventional women, namely writers and artist (Showalter :145.) In this period doctors linked female ambition to mental illness warning that “pursuits of new opportunities (in work and fulfilment) would lead to sickness, sterility and race suicide (Showalter :121).

The tale describes the narrators gradual decent to madness. A feminist stance can and should be read into the novel considering the author; the themes of restriction and confinement echo the experiences of women of this time. Throughout the tale the narrator acts as prisoner, but a prisoner of her husband’s patriarchy not her own madness. Her husband forbids her to exercise her imagination in any way (Gilman: 34, 35, 36). She rebels and, deprived of any other stimulation turns imagination on to neutral objects in an attempt to ignore her increasing frustrations (Gilman: 34). Her preoccupation with the paper begins at first with dislike of the pattern, building to her seeing the pattern as bars with a creeping skulking female figure behind (Gilman: 40). Her negativity colours all she describes, “I never saw a worse paper in all my life… (its sprawling pattern) committing every artistic sin”. The idea of sin is pertinent, as is her description of the papers colour as “repellent, unclean yellow” a “sickly sulphur” (Gilman:35). These themes of illness, un-cleanliness and unnaturalness echo ideas of blame and questions of morality with pervaded the culture at this time. She reflects John makes her angry (Gilman: 34), and attributes this to her condition. She speaks of the effort it takes to dress or entertain, she blames herself saying she wishes she could help John (to make her better). She reflects John doesn’t know how much she suffers, simply that he knows there is “no reason and that this satisfies him” (Gilman:35).

Our narrator is intelligent and educated, she knows a “little of design” (Gilman:39). Frustrated by her lack of intellectual stimulation (Gilman :36), she is excited by the paper – watching it gives her something to look forward to. John says she is getting better despite the paper (Gilman: 42) she doesn’t tell him she feels it’s because of the paper (Gilman: 43) for she fears he will take this away from it. This seems to suggest that life outside the room is equally if not more dull than it is now inside with her preoccupation. The more the wallpaper occupies her, the more reality retreats. Her dissociation begins as she starts to hide her true feelings from the real world.

Gilman was sent home after a month of rest treatment with instruction “never touch a pen, brush or pencil as long as you live” (Knight: 323). We see this element to the cure in John’s insistence that she doesn’t write. We see also the prevailing theory of the time in Jennie “…a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper, and hopes for no better profession…she thinks it is the writing which makes me sick!” (Gilman: 37).

The idea of writing as therapy the narrator offers “I think only if I was well enough to write a little it would relieve the press of ideas and rest me” (Gilman: 36) opposes prevailing medical belief that linked female ambition to mental illness (Showalter :121).

At this time psychiatrists were concerned with a moral cure for hysteria. Victorian Psychiatrist Henry Maudsley said “there is sex in mind as distinctly as there is sex in body”. The pervading thought at this time was that Mental illness would come if women tried to defy their “nature” and try to act as equal to men in society rather than as companions. Dr Edward C. Mann wrote in a medical journal in 1980 “The mental condition of women with hysteria is somewhat peculiar. The patient, when the hysterical feelings come upon her, does not feel disposed to make the slightest effort to resist them, and yields to her emotions, whatever they may be…she cares nothing for her duties and seemingly takes pleasure in exaggerating all her slight discomforts and annoyances, and be her suspicious exacting and unreasonable behaviour makes life generally uncomfortable to those about her.”(Shannonhouse: XIII).

Through illness the narrator is absolved of her obligations but as punishment or moral reminder of her duties she is placed in the nursery. Here, with little other stimulation, she becomes fixated on the wallpaper beginning with dislike for its appearance, moving from identifying secret meaning it its pattern to being excited by its hidden world. Considering Gilman’s feminist ideals, her experiences of mental illness and her understanding of the cause of this, as well as her experience of receiving the “rest cure” we can read the creeping woman (Gilman:40) in the paper as allegory for woman’s place in society. The bars she sees in the paper (Gilman: 42) being representative of the constraints of society and marriage (Gilman 1935:5)

The narrators husband John – also her physician – treats her not as his wife but as patient and as child; we see this in his language to her “blessed little goose” (Gilman: 36) “What is it little girl…Bless her little heart!…she shall be as sick as she pleases!” (Gilman: 37). Of all the rooms in the house it is the former nursery she is confined to despite her protests. The narrator speaks early on status of their marriage, immediately seeking to place this in context of social norm “John laughs at me of course, but one expects that in marriage” (Gilman :32). The narrator suggests that John as physician is the reason she does not make a quick recovery (Gilman: 33). In this way both author and narrator demonstrate insight to female mental illness and to the role that both patriarchy and medicine play. Today a prominent part of the treatment of the mentally ill is socialisation and integration with daily activities not isolation.

Gilman shows us the separation of the narrators’ consciousness in her secret journal as the story moves gradually towards climax, from the first mention of the wall paper until it builds to consume her thoughts and writing. Through her sickness the narrator is relinquished of her own parental and marital responsibilities. “Mary is so good with the baby. Such a dear baby! And yet I cannot be with him, it makes me so nervous.”(Gilman:35). The narrator struggles to not creep and to maintain her independence and autonomy, however the weight of guilt she experiences at neglecting her moral obligations as “he said I was letting it get the better of me and that nothing was worse for a nervous patient than to give way to such fancies” (Gilman: 35) coupled with the punishment of isolation slowly drives her mad. Gilman herself accredited her illness to marriage and motherhood (Gilman 1935).

We can read the narrators madness as a choice, she chooses madness over returning to her obligation but in this choice we can hear Gilman’s critique of women’s’ options at this time -Madness or compliance. In her autobiography Gilman says she sent a copy to Weir Mitchell, who chose not to comment she later learned however that he had revised his treatment (Gilman 1935).

Thorazine Shuffle

Written in 1999 Light reflects on her treatment in a mental institution 1963, she says “I was twenty seven when I began having the blues, not feeling in control of my life. I needed help with my children. I was afraid I didn’t know how to be a mother”. The theme of motherhood, and expected role are echoed here from the previous piece as is the authors fixations with descriptions of light “the particular slant of the light…the quality of late afternoon light…refracted on walls” (Light: 168) we can compare this to the narrator in The Yellow Wallpaper preoccupations with light “you can only see it in certain lights” (Gilman: 38) “when the cross light fades and the low sun shines directly” (Gilman: 39). “I watch for that first long, straight ray” (Gilman: 42). Also, her desire to set her belongings on fire (Light: 168) is again echoed in yellow wallpaper “I thought seriously of burning the house” (Gilman: 44).

Light like Gilman, tells how in illness her morality is called into question. She describes how her first meeting with her male psychiatrist involves her naked in a gown on a bed and him asking her questions of a sexual nature “do you like kissing your husband’s penis?” (:169) She reflects there was no right answer to this question, both called her nature into repute, either “frigid or a whore” (Light: 169). She describes her embarrassment and her shame. Here we see that a woman questioning her place in patriarchal systems is still a consideration in diagnosing female mental illness.

Within the ward itself Light describes a war, between the depressives and the manic patients “two battling armies” (169). She describes the sphere of influence within the Hospital as feudal system; the choice of language paints a vivid picture. “Langley Porter was a serfdom. Doctors came as trainees and we became their property…even as these potentates profited from the shambles of our lives we trusted them” (171). The language shows the divide between practitioner and patient and the authority of the former. “Potentates profited” – the power relationship is reinforced by the alliteration and the choice of words; Potentates – people with power and authority -who don’t simple make a living but profit from their patients. The word serfdom creates an image of the hospital as farm with patients as dumb animals to be worked and sold.

“I was given to Dr. Schwartz” (171), again the passivity is shown in the language, given to not assign to. The author uses the language of child or victim, a supplicant powerless to affect change. “if I behaved myself I could sleep at home”.(171) “Our contract began with the removal of clothes”(171). The use of “contract” suggests a business transaction; the passivity of the statement seems to reflect a blunting of emotion in the face of the oppressive environment.

The imagery has a sexualised overtone. “I had entered a kindergarten of managed play…the physical therapist pressed upon us the need to practice looking beautiful” again the merging of ideas of childlike helplessness and adult sexuality. “With our uncombed hair and unfocused vision, we sleep walked the corridors with books on our heads to improve out posture”. The idea that this is a legitimate treatment feels preposterous in light of modern treatment.

Themes of gender, responsibility and obligation of the earlier piece are echoed here. Even in chaos the obligation to be thought beautiful and to work towards this goal. “There is no way a patient, using her own words, can logically convince a doctor that she knows something about her person. He has to see for himself and then, if the patient doesn’t die, she might have won her point.” The helplessness is overwhelming. The author says “patient” but her use of “her own words…her point” add to the argument that it is woman as patient, female as supplicant to male – the social norm in a patriarchal society which psychiatry still was at this time. “He said I would feel better if I looked at him… I obeyed Dr Schwartz. I wanted to be a good girl…so I would do whatever that entailed…I often told Dr Schwartz that I needed something in my life…Something of my own…I wanted to go to school…his reply was “if you can’t stay home and look after your children, then get a job. Don’t waste everyone’s time by going to college”. Experienced 64 years after the writing of Yellow Wallpaper the idea as female as equal and deserving of education and experience is still seen as dismissible.

The loony-bin trip

In Millet’s account her first description a treatment and of oppression comes from a woman “tonight big nurse found me out…her instinct grabbed for me…and found the pill still in my cheek. I could confront or swallow. I decided to confront” (Millet :98). Hers is the most recent account of admission and her opponent female, perhaps this is what leads her to confront her treatment openly, unlike her counterparts. Her opposition is no good however, she is medicated. Here again we see women as powerless “Ann’s husband put her here, Mary’s in-laws, Margaret’s own mother” (100) although this time other women are complaisant in this forced incarceration and treatment. A female nurse “…who treat us as defective children…more like convicted felons” (99) administers medication. Millet talks of “being in the hard lock of Dr.Strong forever” (103).

The patriarchy she feels suppresses her is religious “You are in the hands of the church you ran away from…despite the presence of state it is Rome that has you prisoner…you little American freedom fighter business quite over, women’s lib and other notions crunched like cellophane” ( 103). “Joan of Arc, a heretic. Every night I will be tortured thus…they will inoculate me with this horror…our great sad room of waking women, each a prisoner of her mind and body.” (104).

Millet born 1934 is an American feminist writer and activist. Best known for her 1970 book “Sexual Politics”, she won a trial to prove her sanity and changed the state of Minnesota commitment law (Time 1970). Although in this age, 1970 women fight against their oppression “After a certain time many victims collapse and agree to be crazy; they surrender.” (Millet: 100). This new treatment environment is as toxic as the rest cure Millet describes it as “an irrational deprivation of every human need” asking if the cure for madness is fear and if the fear of being a captive might motivate recovery (101).

Sleep is a reoccurring theme of all three pieces. Gilman’s physician wants the protagonist to get more of it, Light describes how “I was put to sleep” (Light:169) Millet recounts “I won’t need anything to sleep. No, really. No. And the needle jabs your rear like an insult and the white stupor comes over”(Millet :102).

Both light and Millet describe how “a mental patient was not allowed to refuse medication. We were warned to take it orally or it will be injected” (Light: 172). This theme of women as defective or broken, for arguing with oppression and wanting different experiences from their lives reoccurs though all three accounts. Hard to fathom treatments with illogical cures acting to reprogram women to “behave” by fear and boredom appears in all, As the ideas of childlike powerlessness and of being property are also repeated.“there have always been those who argue women’s high rate of mental disorder is a product of their social situations, their confining roles as daughters, wives and mothers and their mistreatment by a male dominated and possibly misogynistic psychiatric profession” (Showalter:3).

Depression and anxiety are twice as prevalent in women as in men (Busfield 1996) and inequalities of gender create dependence and powerlessness in women. Because relationships between patients and staff reflect those in society the work force is often blind to inequality (DH 2002) and this is clearly highlighted in the suffocating treatment all three women experience. “There are differences in the family and social context of women’s and men’s lives…mental health care must be responsive to these differences” (Jacqui Smith, minister of mental health; department of health 2002).

Light tells us she comes from a line of depressives, passed down through the female line and again reiterates the connections between motherhood and depression. Light reflects on the history of depression on the female side of her family “My grandmother gave birth to nine children…her despair at perpetual pregnancy was contagious…My mother was a small girl when her mother tried to hang herself from the kitchen rafters. Pregnant again”.

Her mother’s favourite bed time story was about a little girl afraid of being stolen from her bed, the mother promises the girl will be safe but the girl is still stolen. The learned helplessness in their situations is passed down with each generation. The author reflects that all the stories her mother told her were about the consequences of looking, Blue beards wife looks it the locked room and seals her fate to join the dead wives there. Psyche looks at her lover after being bidden to love in the dark and loses him to death. In reality they are all about the consequences of defying patriarchal dictate.

Gilman , writing at a time when it was uncommon for women to have a voice, as an active feminist who divorced she still had to adhere to the confines of her society, her story then is a cautionary tale against women’s madness, its roots and its treatments.

In all accounts relatives exist as diminished characters over powered by the protagonists madness, this overpowering seems to be a release from the pressures and constraints all three women feel in their lives.

Reference list

Busfield,J., 1996 Men, Women and Madness – Understanding Gender and mental disorder. London :Macmillian Press Ltd

Chesler, P., 1997. (3rd ed) Women and madness. New York: Fall Walls Eight Windows

Department of health (2002) Womens mental health : into the mainstream accessed at On 31/3/11

Hedges. E,R., 1973 Afterword. The Yellow Wallpaper. New York: The Feminist Press

Knight, D,D,. 1994 The Diaries of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia

Light, A., 1999 “Thorazine Shuffle” in Shannonhouse, R,.ed. (2000) Out of her Mind: Women Writing on Madness: New York: The Modern Library

Micale, M.S., 1993 On the “Disappearance” of hysteria: A Study in the Clinical Deconstruction of Diagnosis .The history of Science Society. ISIS. 84:496-526

Millet, K., 1990 The Loony-Bin Trip in Shannonhouse, R,.ed. (2000) Out of her Mind: Women Writing on Madness: New York: The Modern Library

Oppenheim, J,. 1991 Shattered Nerves: Doctors, Patients and Depression in Victorian England. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Perkins Gilman, C., 1891 The Yellow Shannonhouse, R,.ed. (2000) Out of her Mind: Women Writing on Madness: New York: The Modern Library

Perkins Gilman, C., 1898 Women and economics. New York: Cosmobooks

Perkins Gilman, C.,1935 The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman: An Autobiography. (3rd Ed) London: The University of Wisconsin Press

Shannonhouse. R. (ed) ,2000 Out of her Mind : women writing on madness. New York: The Modern Library.

Showalter, E., 2007 The Female Malady- Women, Madness and English Culture 1830- 1980. London: Virago Press

Time magazine, 1970 The liberation of Kate Millet. Accessed on 31.3.11 @,9171,876784-1,00.html

Free Essays

Different treatments of osteoporosis can increase or prevent breast cancer in women


Osteoporosis is a progressive disease where bone catabolism increases faster than its formation decreasing the density of bones which results in a great bone weakness. Osteoporosis is associated with a great level of calcium loss making the bones very porous and fragile. Osteoporosis is a disease that affects 1 in 3 women and 1 in 12 men and can cause death in a severely fractured hip. Osteoporosis treatments targets bone cells to prevent bone weakening. Additionally, it also significantly reduces menopausal symptoms but increase the risk of breast cancer development. However, other treatments and specific inhibition factors can prevent or delay the formation of breast cancer in women.

Bones hold 99% of the body’s calcium which is involved in the daily turnover of the bones. Two essential cells are involved in the daily turnover of the bones. Osteoblasts, cells responsible for the bone formation taking place by producing a matrix of collagen which becomes mineralised. Osteoclasts cells functions in the breakdown and resorption of the bone tissue. Skeletal homeostasis is maintained through a balance between the activity of osteoblasts and osteoclasts.

The leading cause for osteoporosis is the lack of certain hormones and particularly oestrogen in women. This is because bone loss takes place as a result of oestrogen deficiency. In post-menopausal women an excessive resorption takes place causing bone weakness (osteopenia) and over time osteoporosis.6 During menopause osteoblasts fail to function properly and bone weakening rapidly occurs due to oestrogen levels significantly dropping. Therefore, the risk of osteoporosis in post-menopausal women increases due to a decline in oestrogen levels. Oestrogen regulates the activity of osteoclasts cells which results in slowing the dissolving of the bones.


Hormones are the most crucial modulators of bone formation as it has a direct effect on the bones by interacting with receptors. Treatments such as hormone replacements therapy (HRT) are widely used to entirely restore the rate of post-menopausal loss.1 HRT protects against thinning of the bones by increasing the availability of oestrogen levels in the body. It has a direct effect on cells by interacting with receptors at the surface of the cell. Its effect is mediated through a receptor called oestrogen receptor ?. The hormone binds to the receptor and is transported to the nucleus where receptor hormone acts as a switch to turn on the gene. However, many severe side effects are associated with this type of treatments such as breast cancer.

Other treatments such as selective oestrogen receptor modulator (SERM) also target oestrogen receptors in the body. SERM’s act as agonist or antagonist depending on different tissues in the body, it blocks oestrogen functioning in various parts of the body in order to increase the availability of the hormone in receptors located inside the bones for increased bone formation. Raloxifene is a selective oestrogen receptor modulator that has oestrogenic actions on the bone and anti-oestrogenic actions on other tissues such as the breast and the uterus. However, both treatments HRT and SERM are highly effective in alleviating menopausal symptoms. 4

Activation of RANK-ligand leads to breast cancer

Receptor activator nuclear factor (RANK) is a protein that is involved in the activation of bone formation and regulation of osteoclastic bone resorption. It acts primarily as a signal pathway to increase bone removal. Bone resorption is dependent on a cytokine known as RANK-L. RANK binds to its receptor RANK-L when expressed by the osteoclasts to activate and stimulate the osteoclastic formation which leads to bone resorption.

HRT triggers the RANK-L protein in breast cells which allows it to multiply causing a tumour. Studies and researches have shown that the activation of RANK is responsible for causing cancer in patients with osteoporosis.3 Therefore, blocking the RANK pathway with a drug can prevent breast cancer and also stop normal bone destruction.

Studies showed that women taking HRT had a higher rate of developing breast cancer. After 5 years of follow up, women taking these hormones had a 20% increase in breast cancer risk compared with placebo group. Therefore, the longer HRT medication is taken for, the greater the risk of breast cancer. In the fourth year and thereafter, breast cancer rates were higher in the oestrogen group with a significant trend of increasing breast cancer over time.

Raloxifene shows a reduced incidence of breast cancer by 27% compared to HRT. A statistically significant reduction in the incidence of breast cancer is shown among women taking raloxifene compared with the placebo group.5 According to the graph above raloxifene appeared to be most effective in reducing the incidence of breast cancer compared to HRT.

HRT aims to reduce the level of bones affected by increasing oestrogen in the body. However, it is one of the leading causes for breast cancer in women. Raloxifene is an alternative treatment used for patients with osteoporosis to reduce the level of bone dissolving and preventing severe side effects such as breast cancer. A separate study has shown that women who have abandoned HRT treatment had reduced breast cancer rates by 6%.2A study contradicting, based on several years of clinical trials shows that HRT is not the direct cause for breast cancer as women are at an elevated risk of developing breast cancer with age. Lifestyle also plays a great role in breast cancer development, the study reported that standard way of living such as smoking, fish intake, working on a night shift and birth weight increases the relative risk of breast cancer development and not synthetic hormones alone.1 Therefore if women were to abandon HRT drugs, normal daily life routine should also be considered in order to reduce the risk of breast cancer.


Bluming A Z. (2009). Hormone Replacement Therapy: Real Concerns andFalse Alarms. The Cancer Journal. 15 (2), 93-104.
Callaway E. (2010). Bone-disease drug could treat breast cancer. Nature.10 (3).
Castellano D et al. (2011).The Role of RANK-Ligand Inhibition in Cancer: The Story of Denosumab. The Oncologist. 16 (2), 135-146.
H Michael. (2007). Differential effects of selective oestrogen receptor. British Journal of Pharmacology. 151 (8), 384-395.
Natl J. (2008). Reduced Incidence of Invasive Breast Cancer With Raloxifene Among Women. Cancer Inst. 100 (12), 854-861.
Sambrook P. (2006). Osteoporosis. The Lancet. 367 (3), 2010-2018.
Watanabe K et al. (2010).Osteocytes in Normal Physiology and Osteoporosis. Springer. 2 (8), 224–232.

Free Essays

Study of the Support avaliable for women with myasthenia in pregnancy


The myasthenia nurse specialist can play a vital role in supporting patients with myasthenia who wish to conceive, who are pregnant and who have had babies. Within the specialist role supporting patients and their families is already a high priority, be this supporting patient choices, information giving, psychological support and facilitating patient pathways.

The clinical nurse specialist role encompasses transforming practice to support and improve patient care and nursing practice, through education, research, audit, clinical leadership and using evidence–based care (Mayo et al, 2010 and Muller et al, 2010). The clinical nurse specialist may be the link/key point of access for patients within a service, co-ordinating care and management of patients through complex pathways and providing information and support to ensure informed decision making.

The level or type of support may change when the patient with myasthenia decides to have a baby. This support may involve helping make the right choices regarding timing the pregnancy, medications and expectations during and after pregnancy. Most of the support given will be information and practical advice and during pregnancy the specialist nurse can liaise with the obstetric team to provide them with any information they may require.

The specialist nurse can also act as the link between the maternity and neurological services to provide a safety net for patients who are experiencing problems with their myasthenia. Several reports into pregnancy in patients with myasthenia suggest that there is an increased chance of relapse of symptoms in the first trimester and in the month after delivery, (Briemberg, 2007, Ciafoloni & Massey 2004, Batocchi et al 1999). The recommendations from the above authors are that patients with myasthenia have a collaborative approach to their obstetric care. The myasthenia nurse is in a good position to ensure that appointments can be made if medication adjustments or assessment of the myasthenia is needed as the pregnancy progresses.

The specialist nurses can provide Pre-conception support. Myasthenia gravis affects women mainly during the childbearing years therefore it is important to discuss family planning early; especially when starting on immunosuppression/disease modifying treatments, (Ciafaloni & Massey 2004 and Williams Sax & Rosenbaum 2006). Women may express concerns about the impact that these medications may have on the development of their baby. Williams Sax & Rosenbaum (2006) go on to suggest that patients should be advised not to plan pregnancy within a year or two of diagnosis as the risks of relapse increase if the disease is not stable. This view is also supported by Ciafaloni & Massey (2004) who suggest that maximising stability should be the main goal before planning pregnancy.

The role that the specialist nurse has is vital therefore in monitoring the symptoms and overall stability of the myasthenia through regular contacts and when the patient is planning pregnancy discussions can be centred around the implications of treatment on the pregnancy. Women and their partners often ask about the impact that pregnancy may have on the myasthenia, especially if there was a problem during/following a previous pregnancy. There is evidence to suggest that subsequent pregnancies may have differing patterns of relapse, where one may be rocky another may be uneventful, (Briemberg, 2007, Batocchi et al 1999), this then emphasises the need for close, collaboration between the neurology and obstetric teams. Barber (2008) supports the above view as close monitoring during pregnancy may prevent complications and may identify and manage problems early, while Thierry (2006) emphasises the importance of preconception advice to determine what support systems need to be considered for post delivery and supports the view that a collaborative approach to pregnancy management can support better patient outcomes.

Antenatal support:

Once a patient is pregnant, the nurse can help co-ordinate care by linking the neurology and obstetric teams, providing information about MG and medications. The nurse can provide support to manage the symptoms of fatigue (pregnancy related); and any problems that may arise during the later months. This may involve bringing the patient to clinic to monitor medications, as doses may need to be altered due to the pregnancy related renal clearance, expanded plasma volume and the changes in medication absorption; this is supported by Stafford & Dildy, (2005) who suggest that monitoring should also include signs of increasing weakness or the potential for a myasthenic crisis.

The specialist nurse can link with the midwife and get the health visitor involved early, as this may be beneficial as there is potential for relapse in the first few weeks/month post partum, at a time when sleep deprivation and hormonal fluctuations may make the myasthenia worse. Regular follow up – either telephonically or in the nurse led clinic may help to detect the potential for relapse post partum. The nurse is also able to consider referral to the obstetric physiotherapist for the assessment and support for changing mobility needs as the pregnancy progresses. The myasthenia nurse may be able to provide advice on practical things that may help with their baby; such as baby slings for women who have upper limb weakness.

The challenges faced by new parents such as sleep deprivation, hormonal changes and dealing with a small infant can be magnified in patients with myasthenia. If a new mother and her partner are not given sufficient support there is a 10-15 % risk of post natal depression in patients without a chronic condition (Horowitz & Goodman, 2005 and Lumley, 2005) and this has a huge impact on the family unit. Therefore it is well recognised that early support for the couple through ante natal classes and access to health visitors who have been trained in mental health issues, decreases the chances of post natal depression developing or may promote early recognition of symptoms (Brugha et al, 2000, Misri et al, 2000).

The Royal College of Nursing produced some guidelines on Pregnancy and Disability (RCN, 2007) for midwives and nurses, which encourage care providers to be aware of the potential for post natal depression in patients with disabilities. These guidelines provide useful information for nurses and midwives who are caring for long term conditions.

Post natal support:

The myasthenia nurse may help by being available at short notice for advice if in the immediate post partum period, the patient develops worsening of her myasthenia. This may involve liaising with the neurologist if the patient runs into trouble; bringing them to clinic early and facilitating appropriate admissions. Another aspect of support would be liaising with the health visitors with regards to issues around fatigue, breastfeeding (medication), monitoring for signs of post natal depression. It is important to ensure support for mums who are not able to breast feed due to weakness in their arms, making sure they are not stigmatised for not breast feeding.

If a woman’s initial presentation of myasthenia occurs after delivery the support needed increases, as not only does the woman have to deal with the myasthenia weakness, but also a small baby and an anxious partner. The information needs at this time need to be balanced with the need to ensure that the patient is able to bond with her baby and not get over exhausted. Over time the support will be tailored according to the needs of the woman and her partner. This may involve follow up in nurse led clinics, out reach and telephone support.

It is important to acknowledge the physical and emotional impact that being diagnosed with a long term condition has on a new mum and that all partners in the provision of care need to be balanced to ensure maximum support when needed.

Myasthenia nurse specialist network:

Provision of telephone support to a specified region and then support for patients within their designated NHS Trusts

Glasgow: Scotland

Oxford: Midlands

Southampton: South West England

Liverpool: North England and North Wales and Northern Ireland

London: South East England

Dublin: Ireland

Resources available for women and their partners:

Most patients with myasthenia will be aware of the support available through the website, the MGA Branch network and the Regional Organisers.

Information and support network for antenatal patients, post natal with classes and courses. breast feeding support support for mums – play groups to healthy eating advice and support for pregnancy and post natal period information about breastfeeding, medications in breastfeeding and support for baby and toddler activities and resources for parents/grandparents networking and support for new mums both on and off line information about use of real nappies and service provision across the UK. directs to local child information service for childcare provisions in local area national childminding association helps find registered, Ofsted inspected childminders national council for one parent families professional association of nursery nurses – employing a nanny sure start children’s centres and the services they provide to parents local support groups for lone parents supporting single parents to return to work

A literature search was carried out using Medline, Cinahl and embase using the following search terms: support in pregnancy, pregnancy and long term conditions, nurse role in support, pregnancy and disabilities, postnatal depression, postpartum depression, myasthenia and pregnancy.

Barber, G., 2008. Supporting pregnant women with disabilities. Practice Nursing, 19, 7, pp. 330 – 334.
Batocchi, A.P., Majolini, L., Evoli, A., Lino, M.M., Minisci, C., Tonali, P., 1999. Course and Treatment of myasthenia gravis during pregnancy. Neurology, 52, 3, pp. 447- 452.
Briemberg, H. 2007. Neuromuscular diseases in pregnancy. Seminars in Neurology,Nov 27,5, pp. 460 – 466.
Brugha, T.S., Wheatly, S., Taub, N.A., et al. 2000. Pragmatic randomised trial of antenatal intervention to prevent postnatal depression by reducing psychosocial risk factors. Psychological Medicine, 30, pp. 1273 – 1281.
Ciafaloni, E., Massey, J.M., 2004. The Management of myasthenia gravis in pregnancy. Seminars in Neurology, 24, pp. 95 – 100.
Horowitz, J.A., & Goodman, J.H., 2005. Identifying and treating postpartum depression. Journal of Obstetric, Gynaecologic and Neonatal Nursing, 34, pp. 264 – 273.
Jani-Acsadi, A., Lisak, R.P., 2010. Myasthenia Gravis. Current Treatment Options in Neurology, 12, pp. 231 – 243.
Lumley, J., 2005. Attempts to prevent postnatal depression. British Medical Journal, 331, pp. 5 – 6.
Mayo, A.M., Agocs-Scott, L.M., Khaghani, F., Moti, N., Voorhees, M., Gravell, C., Cuenca, E., 2010. Clinical Nurse Specialist Practice Patterns. Clinical Nurse Specialist, 24(2), pp. 60-68.
Misri, S., Kostaras, X., Fox, D., et al. 2000. The impact of partner support in the treatment of postpartum depression. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 45, pp. 554 – 558.
Muller, A.C., Hujcs, M., Dubendorf, P., Harrington, P.T., 2010. Clinical Nurse Specialist Practice and Magnet Designation. Clinical Nurse Specialist, 24(5), pp. 252-259.
Pregnancy and Disability; RCN guidance for midwives and nurses. 2007. Royal College of Nurses: London.
Roth, T.C., Raths, J., Carboni, G., Rosler, K., Schmid, R.A., 2006. Effect of pregnancy and birth on the course of myasthenia gravis before or after transsternal radial thymectomy. European Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery, 29, pp. 231 – 235.
Stafford, I.P., Dildy, G.A., 2005. Myasthenia Gravis and Pregnancy. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, 48,1, pp. 48 – 56
Thierry, J.M., 2006. The Importance of Preconception Care for Women with Disabilities. Maternal & Child Health Journal, 10, pp. S175 -176.

Williams Sax, T., Rosenbaum, R.B., 2006. Neuromuscular disorders in Pregnancy. Muscle & Nerve, 34, 5, pp. 559 – 571.

Free Essays

Domestic violence and ethnic minority Women living in the UK with “no recourse to public funds”



The focus of this study is to discuss the impact of domestic violence on black ethnic minority women living in the UK. To discuss intervention support services available and limitations faced in accessing statutory and voluntary organisations services. The topic has been chosen following a successful volunteering placement within an area of domestic violence.

Volunteering at Coventry Haven as a domestic violence advocate/support worker meant being confronted daily by black ethnic minority Women living in the UK with “no recourse to public funds” needing support. The “no recourse to public funds” rule means that women with unsettled status cannot access public provision including refuges, and social welfare (Sen. 2007:13)

The organisation delivers services from a feminist perspective, taking a critical position of women in question and argues that issues of masculinity power are the ultimate root of intimate violence (Dobash and Dobash 1979).

This feminist theoretical framework also argues that violence must be located within gendered perspective of men’s and women’s lives (Letherby 2003:42).

The literature based study will adopt a feminist perspective and framework which understands domestic violence as a gendered occurrence to provide an analysis of current and relevant literature on the issues of domestic violence on black ethnic minority women in the UK.

This study will also discuss effects of domestic violence on health and well-being of the black ethnic minority women in UK. Moreover, it will explore the support services available to victims and discuss the limitations faced in accessing state services. Research will discuss the implication of findings for practice and will suggest a number of various recommendations towards current support services.

From my own personal perceptions as a woman brought up in Africa, now living in the UK. Many women continue to occupy a less important position in family organisations with many African men still possibly viewing domestic violence as the only way to solve family disputes.Women’s Aid (2007) argue that although there is no legal definition of domestic violence, recommendation from the Home Office states that: “Domestic violence includes any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (physically, psychological, sexual, financial or emotional between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members in spite of of gender or sexuality” (Women’s Aid, 2007).

Until most recently, the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim was defined as that of partners, ex-partners or intimate family members, but following critiques by black ethnic minority women organisation like the Women’s Aid, Southhall Black Sisters, the definition now includes all forms of abuse including cultural specific forms of violence like forced marriage, honour killing and dowry attacks (Women’s Aid, 2007).


To discuss the impact of domestic violence on black ethnic minority women in UK and explore the intervention support services existing, the limitations these women face in accessing state services.


To provide an analysis of current/ relevant literature on issues of domestic violence on black ethnic minority women in UK.
To discuss the effects of domestic violence on the health and well-being of black ethnic minority women in UK.
To explore the impact of cultural influences when accessing domestic violence support services.
To explore the domestic violence support services available from statutory, voluntary organisations and their limitation in accessing these services.
To discuss the implication of the findings for practice and suggest some various recommendations towards current support services.


This chapter will discuss the methodology and theoretical framework which the researcher has adopted for the rationale of the study and will provide the aims and objectives for the research. The feminist theory of domestic violence will be briefly discussed within the research to gain an idea as to why men (perpetrators) abuse their female partners.

The research is a literature based project adopting the feminist perspective methodology which argues that issues of gender and power are the ultimate root of intimate violence (Dobash and Dobash 1979). The feminist theoretical framework argues that violence must be situated within the gendered context of men’s and women’s lives (Letherby 2003).

Understanding domestic violence as a gendered occurrence leads to a focus on the problems of violent behaviour. As (Cheyne; O’Brian; and Belgrave, 2000) argue, “The main purpose of feminist theory in every discipline has been to introduce the issues of gender”. With regards to domestic violence Kersti Yllo (1993) comments that, the most primary feminists insight, is that, domestic violence cannot be sufficiently understood unless gender and power are taken into account.

A critical theory of the feminist hypothesis will be adopted because of its distinctive features that focus on oppression and commitment in order to use the research procedures and outcomes for empowering the oppressed; in this case the black ethnic minority women living in UK either on spousal visa, students or unknown status. However, the black ethnic minority women would appear to be marginalised under this classification.

From my own personal perspective as a black woman living in the UK, many black women continue to occupy a subordinate position, with many black men possibly viewing violence as the only way to solve family problems.Through-out the process of the study, the researcher will remain in a distance objective stand to remain free from biases that could hinder obtaining knowledge. Objectivity in social research is, the principle drawn from positivism that strives to ensure that the researcher remains objective and distanced from the study. In this way, findings depend on the nature of what was studied somewhat than the personal beliefs and values or the researcher (Rubin and Babbie 2001).

The study will draw together and re-analyse qualitative literature to discuss the impact of domestic violence on black ethnic minority women living in the UK on, either, spousal visas, student visas or under an unknown status. Research will explore the impact of cultural influences on manly and woman relationships within the black ethnic minority families, impact of domestic violence on the women’s health and well-being. Furthermore the study will look at limitations black ethnic minority women come across when assessing statutory and voluntary organisations services for domestic violence support/services.

A literature search is defined as methodical and thorough search of all types of published literature in order to identify as many items as possible that are related to a particular topic (Gash 2000:1)As Creswell (2003) points out, the literature review shares with the readers the results of previous studies and also benchmarks results of a study with other results. Primarily literature reviews are based on a synthesis of primary findings done by other researchers. It also helps in generating a picture of what is known or not known about a particular happening (Creswell, 2003; Groove, 1993).

Another reason for doing a literature based study is the time factor considering the process needed to undertake primary data collection. The use of literature review can be viewed as less expensive compared to primary data collection in financial terms. The researcher also agrees with Stewart (1993) who argues that in case of tough budget and time constraints the use of secondary data is also good enough and can make available quality data.

Like any other method of secondary research, literature review has its strengths and weakness. The strengths for literature based study is that the researcher rarely affects the subject being studied because books have already been written, case records already recorded therefore, analysing the literature can have no effect on them. Literature based research also permits the researcher to study processes that occur over long periods of time. Literature based studies also have some limitations depending on the data that already exists. Each time the researcher bases a research on an analysis of data that already exist, is clearly limited to what exists.

Due to sensitivity of issues of domestic violence primary research methods of collecting data might not have been the most appropriate for this research. It is very difficult to gain access to women in refuge in practical terms because refuge locations are kept secret for the safety of the victims. Victims may not wish to discuss their past experiences fearing to trigger some emotions. Some women in refuge have been hostile in the past towards academic researchers using residents (Hoff: 1999.)

The literature search focuses on sources that would meet the identified aims and objectives. Exploration terms were predefined to retain focus on domestic violence and abuse on black ethnic minority women.

Intended for the purpose of this research the term “Black” is used exclusively for women born in Africa, living in UK on either, a spousal visa, student visa or unknown status. One of the limitations will be in recognising unrecorded cases of domestic violence. Fearing stigmatisation and shame by many black women, many incidents of domestic violence go unreported within the black communities therefore; literature review may not be a true account of all the black women surviving domestic violence and abuse.


French et al (2001) suggest that literature review goes through three fundamental steps. This includes the search for relevant literature, analysis and critical evaluation of individual sources of literature and finally synthesis which involves comparing, contrasting, organising and finally presenting the written review. (French et al 2001)

For the purpose of this study, literature information will be sourced from either, books or journals, grey (unpublished) literature, official publications including charitable organisations. Most sources will be obtained from the library catalogue systems and electronic database using some key words.


Domestic violence, black ethnic minority women, abuse, perpetrators, spouse and battered women

Since initial literature search does always yield many articles, practical screening criteria will be used to screen literature in order to get articles that are relevant to the subject only. The practical screening criteria will include factors such as the language in which the articles are printed.

To arrive at relevant literature, database for Coventry University, Social Welfare and Community Studies was used. To search for literature the Coventry university catalogue searches of electronic database using tools like, Cinahl, Assia. Medical Science Academic Search, Ebsco, Science direct and the internet has been used.

The literature search used a set of inclusion and exclusion criteria, ensuring that time was not consumed on literature that was immaterial to the study.

Black ethnic minority women in heterosexual relationships only.Black ethnic minority women who were born in UK and anyone holding a UK citizenship.
Black ethnic minority women living in UK only. The reason is mainly to focus and target this group of women living in UK on spousal visa, student visa and unknown status only.Any articles in foreign languages will be excluded. The rationale for the exclusion ofarticles in foreign language is that, it would be costly in terms of finance having to pay translators.
Literature review that is more than fifteen years will be included in the research for historical background purposes.




This chapter will discuss the literature review on issues of domestic violence, focusing primarily on black ethnic minority women living in the UK. To be able to understand the issues of domestic violence, it is vital to recognise that violence against women is an international reality which has been acknowledged as a major public health issue (Shipway 2004). The acknowledgement of domestic violence internationally as a major public health has seen an improvement in numbers of localities dealing with domestic violence, but there remain some areas where little if anything is done to support women abused by intimate partners (Shipway 2004). Problems have risen where women from the ethnic minority have been lumped into one category and not considering their different cultural and religious differences.

With no intensions of making excuses, it has been noted that obtaining data on black ethnic minority women (BEM) housing needs is difficult. (Netto et al., 2001) report that there was national evidence that people from the black ethnic minority with including refugees find it very difficult to access services.

Whilst domestic violence affects women from all ethnic groups, women from black ethnic minority communities may face isolation more that women from the majority.

There are claims that women from the black ethnic minority communities may have to overcome religious and cultural pressure resulting in them being afraid of bringing shame onto their family respect or in some cases normalising and accepting domestic violence (Women’s Aid 2010).

According to (Binney et al, and Women’s Aid Federation, 1988), the average length of time a woman endures violence before leaving an abusive relationship is seven years. Also research has shown that a woman is beaten and average of 35 times before she seeks helps.

Amina Mama (1989) highlighted that the additional implications of race, ethnicity in conditioning the experience of domestic violence. In addition Amina Mama (1989) argues that fear of racism responses could act as barriers preventing black ethnic minority women from accessing services or speak out about the domestic violence they experience.

(Chantler et al (2006) mentioned that stereotyping and stigmatisation as barriers that prevent women from the black ethnic minority communities from seeking help. The position of black ethnic minority women escaping domestic violence is exacerbated by barriers to reporting abuse which also include protecting family honour and normalising and accepting violence. Netto et al (2001) indicated the lack of specialist refuge spaces and immigration legislation as a barrier that denies black ethnic minority women with insecure status to access domestic violence services.

Immigration issues posed a significant barrier for eight of twenty three survivors (Home Office 2008). As indicated by the Home Office, a woman who has entered Britain as a spouse of a British citizen does not have recourse to any public funds should the marriage breaks up within one year.

Exclusion in this way will stem, in part, from the fact that these women are categorises due to their unsettled immigration status which as a result becomes a barrier to accessing statutory services.

Whilst women from the black ethnic communities are faced with the same obstacles in leaving violent relationships as white majority (Burman and Chantler 2009), confirms that; money, childcare, housing, transport may carry cultural specific inflections, exacerbated by racism and class position. According to (Burman and Chantler, 2009), such representations, in most cases have material consequences in terms of policy and development (Burman and Chantler, 2009).

(Gilroy and Woods, 1994:101) states that black ethnic minority women face structured and subjective racism and sexism which determine their access to, as well as their choices in the basic right of adequate roof over their heads.

Roehampton University (2008) revealed that the housing needs of the black ethnic minority were overwhelming and a number of respondents admitted to the need for improved consultation with black ethnic minority’s sector (Banga and Gill, 2008:2). One woman stated that black women lack a voice, their needs are not accounted for and that it has not been about services to suit women and children’s needs but about women and children having to fit into services (Banga and Gill, 2008: 2).

The NSPCC domestic violence campaign briefing (2008) indicates, two thirds of local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales offers a specialised service to women who are victims of domestic violence; one in ten (46 out of 434 has a specialised black ethnic minority services for abused women. These are mainly in England (95 per cent) and almost half are in London. Such statistics indicate a gap in knowledge about the extent and geographical coverage for black ethnic minority and how domestic violence affects such communities.

On the other hand the success and accomplishment by the Southall black sisters (2008) confirms how the system can be achieved to challenge insufficiencies in local government response after winning a court case against Ealing Council (Southall Black Sisters, 2008).

The council was found guilty of failing to pay proper regard to equalities legislation, in particular the Race Relations Act when making its decisions to cut the entire funding of Southhall Black Sisters (SBS) who provided services for black women (Southall Black Sisters, 2008).

Rai and Thiara (1997) identified several obstacles to accessing the emotional, informational and instrumental support for women from specialist services. According to critics of “on-size-fits-all” approach, women have negative views of current policies of domestic violence especially those of local authority (Southhall Black Sisters, 2008). This “one-size-fits-all” highlights an institutional culture that fails to recognise the need for domestic violence action and policy.

The end the violence against woman campaign (2007) reports that the government departments failed to put in place a framework that ensures that domestic violence was addressed effectively. In addition Mason (1992) estimated that between 25 percent and 50 percent of homeless families headed by a woman had become homeless as a result of fleeing domestic violence. Vincent and Jouriles (1988). Bearing in mind such a high estimation by Mason (1992), it is important to note that in some cases battered women are confronted with homelessness and harsh economic hardships when they separate from violent partners.

(Williams and Becker 1994), concluded that, of the one hundred and forty two programs surveyed, less than have made special effort to accommodate the needs of black ethnic minority populations, for example providing outreach services, adding or tailoring intervention to encourage involvement by women from the ethnic marginal groups (Williams and Becker 1994).

In addition, statistics issued by Women’s Aid Federation of England made known that one in four women do experience violence in the home at least once during their life time (Women’s Aid Federation of England, 2002). Also according to the Home office, “two women weekly are killed by intimate partners” (Home Office 2002).

Numerous researchers and practitioners in the past studies on domestic violence within black ethnic minority communities have preferred to lump all women from the black ethnic minority in one group. (Fonte, 1988) points out that in much of previous researches; little attention has been paid to similarities and differences among different groups within the broad race/ethnic category (Fonte, 1998). For purposes of racial/ethnic comparisons, diverse ethnic groups have often been shrunken into heterogeneous categories for example “black” though ignoring the diversity within that larger group.

The process whereby individuals with diverse cultural backgrounds are sorted into broad race/ethnic categories by researchers is “ethnic lumping” (Fonte, 1993). In most cases when research is circumscribed ethnic group the findings are sometimes over generalised to all members of the larger group.Issues of within-group diversity have been rarely been addressed.

Moreover, experiences and values within these groups have been influenced not just by immigration histories, cultural heritages but also by historical facts. Researchers need to be aware and knowledgeable of how ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, language and socioeconomic status are crucial when collecting domestic violence data from women within diverse groups if their diverse needs are to be met effectively.

A more careful assessment of the potential role of race/ethnicity in domestic violence, rather than ethnic lumping and overgeneralization is essential if adequate interventions are to be developed and utilised at the same time removing the barriers faced by women from the black ethnic communities in accessing statutory and voluntary organisations.



This chapter will focus on the impact of domestic violence on the health and well- being on the lives of black ethnic minority women living in the UK as they face the barriers to accessing some statutory services. In seeking to understand the ways in which domestic violence and abuse undermines any woman’s life, health and well-being and the determination to survive it can be helpful for researchers to consider “Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs (1987).

Figure 1.1 Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs (1987).

In 1987 Maslow argued that the social and economic disadvantage people face, hold them back from meeting their needs. Memories of past events damage or block people’s capacity to act. (Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs (1987).

Abrahams (2010), affirms that abused women agree with Maslow by claiming, domestic violence/abuse demolishes the structure of their hierarchy needs with the loss of their personal identify, destruction of confidence and self -esteem, isolation from potential systems and fear of uncertainty (Abrahams, 2010).

Apart from women’s Maslow’s hierarchy of needs not being met and the physical aftermath of domestic violence, there are some serious consequences on the victim. The World Health Organisations (2001) lists depression, anxiety, psychosomatic symptom, eating disorders, sexual-dysfunction as being a direct result of the endurance of domestic violence and abuse. (World Health Organisations, 2001)

Below are pictures showing the aftermath of physical domestic violence on women.

Fig: 1:2 Women’s Aid, 2007.


The impact of domestic violence on mental health has been well documented and includes low self-esteem, anxiety and depression (Kirkwood, 1993, Mooney 1994 and Thiara 2003a).Research suggests that 50 percent of women users of mental health services have experienced domestic violence (Department of Health, 2003), compared to one-third of women in general population in the UK (Mooney, 1994).

Women from the black ethnic minority accessing mental health services remain over-represented within such researches. Given that the General Practitioner is the first port of call for women who face domestic violence (Dobash et al., 1985: 148), is considerable that seven women who were not in social housing were not registered with a General Practitioner (GP) in part because they were not able to afford paying for the medication that may be prescribed for them.

Campel (2000) confirms depression and post traumatic stress disorder as the most prevalent mental-health problems of intimate partner violence. A study by (Mclnnes, 2003) reveals that it is not only while enduring domestic violence that women feel the impact of negative stereotyping associated with domestic violence. (Mclnnes, 2003) also describes the stereotypes as a form of social violence inflicted upon women. Women continue to live with the feeling of rejection and stigma from the general public even after leaving the perpetrator.

A research by Mitchel and Hodson (1983) found out that sheltered women had a mean depression score two standard deviation above the norm. In addition to a number of studies focusing on battered women who sought medical service and presenting with high rate of psychological difficulties.

(Browne 1993; Holtsworth-Munroe et al. 2000) have also provided general discussions of the mental health correlates and consequences of husband violence. Other researchers have also documented depression in large percentages of battered women in shelters or those receiving non-residential services for battered women (Cascardi and O’leary 1992).

Results of studies on battered women showed that depressed mood, sleep problems, loss of energy, inappropriate guilt, problems with concentration and feelings of worthlessness were associated symptoms of depression (Andrews and Brown 1988). (American Psychiatric Association 1994) also reported that low self-esteem which is closely related and often occurs with depression is generally referred to as an overall negative evaluation of self within battered women.

In additions, Brown (1993) also observed that posttraumatic stress disorder may be the most appropriate diagnosis for many battered women with several researchers finding higher levels of posttraumatic stress symptoms in women receiving services from domestic violence shelters compared to other groups of women. Kemp et al. (1995) found out that 81 percent of battered women and 63 percent of women who were verbally abused met criteria for a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder.

Although it is unclear as to whether problems with substance mis-use arise before or after domestic violence, (Jaffe et al. 1986; Dawns and Gondoli 1989) argued that this issue warrants attention for the benefit of abused women. (Bergman and Brismar 1991) confirms that 23 percent of battered women who received emergency medical attention services had a history of alcoholism whereas no women in a non-abused comparisons group did (Bergman and Brismar 1991).



This chapter will discuss the cultural barriers within the black ethnic minority families to seeking statutory and voluntary organisations domestic violence support services. One of the most vital needs of women leaving home due to domestic violence is access to safe, secure stable housing. Although the refuge movement provides a network of refuges to women of all backgrounds, accommodation is available on an emergency and temporary basis only (Hague and Malos 1998:101).

(Lee et al., 2002) suggest that the most influential factor on how a woman responds to domestic violence is social and cultural context of her life. Even with the provision of refuges, a research by the (Southall Black Sisters, 2008) found out that black ethnic minority women and children endure violence for between three and forty years before seeing help.

United Nations (UNCRC Article 6 [1], reports women from the black ethnic minority communities take an average of ten years before leaving a violent relationship. As a result children grow up in unsafe and unhealthy home environment (United Nations 2008).

(Adams 1999) points out “In considering domestic violence within black ethnic minority families, there has been reluctance to acknowledge its existence”. In addition Mama (1989) remarks that violence against women is historical bound up in patriarchal practices which are based on gender relationships more so in the black ethnic minority households. (Women’s National Commission, 2003; Gill 2004) states that women are taught that the public image of family is more important than the safety of the individual.

Honour and respectability are dependent on a successful marriage. Also women fear dishonour and rejection from their communities if their marriage should fail. Just like the Asian women, black ethnic minority women consider seeking help from the outsiders as the last resort (Yoshioka et al. 2003). Black ethnic minority women are advised to stay in their marriage rather than leave abusive relationships (Gill 2004).

(Adams 1999) argues that there are greater obstacles for women coming to the UK on spousal visas, women complaining of domestic violence risk deportation should they leave the martial home before the first year of arrival or marriage. (Adams 1999).

(Abraham, 2000) indicates that isolation is an important factor in domestic violence particularly among immigrant families (Abraham 2000). For women with no-recourse to public funding (NRPF), this isolation continued after they left abusive relationships. Thirteen out of twenty women had no contact with family or friends in the two weeks prior to the interview due to a range of reasons including; lack of informal sources of support in the UK. Fear of being disowned by family for leaving the marriage and fear of being traced, including lack of sufficient funds to visit friends or speak to families in the subcontinent.

A research by the NHS (2003) suggests that sense of shame and fear of stigma within black ethnic minority communities might prevent women with complex social problems accessing services, the sense of shame in accessing drug services remain a concern.In addition problems of confidentiality within the community also lead to lack of confidence in services (Fawcett 2004). (Women’s Aid 1997), commissioned a study exploring the needs of black ethnic minority women.

The study illustrates that large numbers of from these communities are not aware of specialist support services. Lack of such information by the black ethnic minority women leads them to endure violence for longer periods.

(Women’s Aid 1997) also reveals, negative perception about refuges and inadequate help from agencies further heighten anxieties about refuges within such communities. Black ethnic minority communities, encompasses a multitude of ethnicities, nationalities, cultures and religions. As a result of this black ethnic women consist of various diverse needs, concerns and life-styles.(Dhillo-Kashyan and Woods 1994) highlights the difficulties for such women to retain their cultural and religious customs during their stay in refuges. He adds that it is apparent that there were difficulties in supporting women with specific needs with shared accommodation provided by refuges as communal living.

(Mama 1989; Adams 1988) noted that, there are greater difficulties for black ethnic minority women in accessing refuge support than white women. Furthermore, whilst other groups stated in the research that they would accommodate this group of women, there seemed little understanding of their cultural and specific needs.

Adams (1998) noted that black ethnic minority women feel far less secure in their own ability to leave home, particularly as they are considered subordinate within their own culture. In addition many women from the black ethnic minority communities stay with their abuser for economic reasons.

A Study by Humphrey and Thiara (2003), notes that women from the black ethnic minority community were significantly more likely to continue to suffer substantial problems both emotional and materially more than six months after separation from the abuser. (Humphrey and Thiara, 2003).

(Thiara, 2005) states that not being fluent in English acts as a barrier preventing black ethnic minority women from seeking help and accessing services. Such women are unable to access written information on domestic violence (Thiara, 2005).



Despite the Feminist organisations campaign and attainment in 1977, of acceptance of domestic violence as a basis for homelessness in housing legislation (Morley et al, 2002), women’s “general” refuges which opened in the 1970’s to aid women and children fleeing domestic violence, enabling women to re-build their live and move on to stable, suitable accommodation confirmed that not all women’s care support needs were being met and not all women had equal access to the “generic” provision (Banga, B., Gill, A. 2008).

Regardless of all campaigning, researches and large number of studies in domestic violence field, (Hague and Malos 1998; Dobash and Dobash 1992), changes in British social policy and housing policy in particular have in some respects, further secluded women and children experiencing domestic violence.

Research documents that in the face of state policy and local authority practice women’s refuges which maintain themselves on the rentals paid through benefit system for residence can seldom afford to accommodate women with no-recourse to public funding (NRPF). As a consequence, women with no recourse to public funds who repeatedly attempt to leave on many occasions only to return to their violent relationships (Dobash and Dobash, 1992; Mullender, 1996).

(Crisis, 2006) confirms, women’s homelessness continued to be ignored by strategic thinking and policy making even though many women are still staying in hidden, informal and marginalised homeless accommodation.

In a mapping exercise that included 551 woman’ organisations in London found that 73% of black ethnic minority organisation faced a funding crisis between year 2000 and 62% of black ethnic minority organisation had closed or moved locations (Soteri, 2002). Such data showed that by year 2000 black ethnic minority organisations were under threat and had less secure continuation (Soteri, 2002).

A study on women in refuge accommodation in 2007 found that on average black ethnic minority women who happen to be accommodated in refuge stayed forty-four days in specialist refuges than women who accessed the main stream (Gill, A.; Banga, B. 2008). Furthermore twenty one refuges turned away 2,300 women who attempted to access specialist refuges because they were full. As a result this rejection figure was mush higher for black ethnic minority women.A research by (Women’s Resource Centre, 2007) showed that only 25% (percent) of women who stayed in refugees went to council housing upon leaving the refuge.

A study conducted by Women Resource Centre (2008), on the state of London-based black ethnic minority women’s organisations, including the findings from the thirty-second report of the working group with the voluntary sector (2000) found that London-based black ethnic minority organisation had experienced long term volatility and 36 per cent have no paid staff at all.

Even if the demand for services had increased and workloads have tripled, evidence showed that there was little support in terms of secure and core funding (Women Resource Centre, 2007).

Women’s Resource Centre (2007) research on the state of funding for women found that the lack of suitable housing to move on to meant that, women stayed in refuges for longer periods of time.This resulted in women being isolated for longer periods. Also this lack of housing also influenced whether or not women return to their abusers.

In is research for Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Chahal (2000) suggests that black ethnic minority groups who are social housing tenants have a tendency to live in the most deprived areas and are over-represented in disadvantaged inner city areas. According to (Chahal, 2000) roughly 60 per cent of tenants within the housing association accommodation come from the black ethnic minority communities. (Coy et al. 2007) states that a third of local authorities in the UK have no specialised support services and fewer than one in ten have specialist services for black ethnic minority women.

While the UK government acknowledges that there are many commonalities in the experience of women escaping domestic violence, there appear to be little policy development that relates to specific concerns and needs of black ethnic minority women. Presents of racism in the mainstream refuges has been the subject of a number of researches over the past few years. This was highlighted in the recent research study (Chantler, 2006) which found, racism to be operating at three levels starting with the service users, workers and at state level through immigration policies that stop women from accessing services.


The provision of accommodation and support is vital for women who experience domestic violence, a fact recognised by the government in 2003 (Rights for women, 2003). Women from the black ethnic minority communities with a “no recourse” visa who experience domestic violence find themselves in a complex situation because they cannot access public funds. Neither to leave their partner and are fundamentally trapped in the violent relationship.

The ‘no recourse’ to public funds rule as defined by the Home Office (2009) prevents women, especially from the black ethnic minority community on spousal visa or subject to immigration control from accessing certain public funds including welfare benefits such as, income support, child benefit as well as housing and homelessness assistance (Women’s Aid 2007).

A survey of 11 London refuges found that in the period 2006/07, 223 women with “no recourse” to public funds requested refuge space. However, only 19 (8.5%) women were accepted for support. This meant that just 3% of the total of 585 women who were provided with refuge space providers in 2006/07, of the 19 women accommodated 16 had children (Islington, 2008), no re-course to public funds.

The Immigration law (underpinned by various immigrations Acts) is set out in the Immigration Rules, Part 8 of the Immigration Rules state that a woman who joins a partner who has a settled immigration status can be given a 2 years “spousal” visa on the condition that the partner agrees to provide for their financial and material needs (Home Office 2010).

When relationship breaks down, victims are often deterred from looking for help, or leaving violent relationships because they have nowhere to go, do not feel safe in their own homes and also do not have legal rights to remain (Rights of women 2003). Research by the (Southall Black Sisters, 2007) found out that it takes up to 24 months for a woman’s application for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) to be determined when she leaves an abusive partner.

(Brittain et al, 2005) states that for many women from black ethnic minority, the nonexistence of interpreters makes accessing services very complex. Bearing in mind the existing political climate of hostility towards immigrants, the cutback to interpretation as well as English language classes makes it likely that these barriers become entrenched, unless there is a change in policy and practice regarding interpretation and English classes. When experiencing domestic violence women who have ‘no recourse’ to public funds need be given the ability to access the services as they need to escape domestic violence and protect themselves and their children.


A research entitled until women and children are safe, (Women’s Aid, 2007) argue that women from the black ethnic communities face a number of problems within the legal process.In most instances gaining access to legal representatives is often stressful and confusing.

Lack of specialist services or interpreters mean that such women are deprived of effective access to law and those women whose immigration status made them not entitled for help with legal aid experience particular difficulties (Women’s Aid, 2007).

During the same time Women’s Aid research highlighted the process of going to court as itself traumatic and terrifying for women due to lack of separate waiting areas, so that applicants and their abusers often had to share the same small space (Barron, 1990).

(Women’s Aid, 2007) states that, courts like many other agencies have often failed to understand the whole range of emotional, psychological and practical reasons why many women stay with or return to a violent partner. As a result this does often have effect on women for not being taken seriously hence making them unwilling to come to courts.

(Bryan, Dardzie and Scafe, 1985) argue that the issue of law enforcement within black communities is extremely controversial. Negative stereotyping of black people individually and within family groups is pervasive.



In conclusion, the examination of literature revealed rather little published material on the issue of black women generally and even less on the subject of violence within the home. This contrasted with the wide body of work on white women suffering abuse from partners (Hammer and Maynard, 1987; Dobash and Dobash 1980).

The stereo-type that surrounds domestic violence often denies the legitimisation of black ethnic minority women as victims (Bograd, 1999). Often domestic violence against black ethnic minority women is not considered as serious as the violence committed against white victims (Harrison and Esquada, 2000). This often creates a barrier in black women’s willingness and ability to disclose issues of domestic violence to any professional or care providers. Any discriminatory practices limit such women’s comfort level in disclosing domestic violence and seeking out services to address it.

As mentioned earlier in the study, many researchers and practitioners in past studies on domestic violence within black ethnic minority communities have chosen to lump all women from this community in one category.

(Fonte, 1988) argued that in much previous researches, little attention has been paid to similarities and differences among various groups within the broad race, ethnic category.

“Ethnic lumping” as argued by (Fonte, 1993), ignores the diversity within the larger group of black ethnic minority women. Black ethnic minority women umbrella encompasses a multitude of ethnicities, nationalities, cultures and religions. As a result the black ethnic minority consists of various diverse communities, each with their own needs, concerns and life styles and cultures that have to be taken into consideration offering support.

Although it is clear that statutory and voluntary agencies have a moral and legal duty to respond effectively to the needs of women surviving domestic violence, practitioners need to become aware of limitations of a race-blind service delivery. (Dominelli, 1988; Mama 1989a) also argue that attention needs to be paid more generally on the effects of policing practice and immigration legislation on lives of black women.

Voluntary organisations such as Coventry Haven and many others play a key role in providing advocacy and other support services to domestic violence survivors yet these services appear to have been historically underfunded and struggle to meet the need of women who attempt to access them.In the face of state policy and local authority practice study revealed that women’s refuges like Coventry Haven which maintain themselves on the rentals paid through benefit system for women residence can rarely afford to accommodate women with ‘no recourse’ to public funding (NRPF).

Women’s Aid, (2009) research on domestic violence and housing policy found out that there is a reduction in resources available to organisations working with black ethnic minority women and such organisations have experienced long term stability with 36 per cent having no paid staff at all.

As a result funding remains one of the barriers for women accessing services. This study also found out that a lack of speciality shelters/refuge spaces and an absence of clear guidelines for involving specialist agencies in policy services development and evaluation meant that there is often low recognition of domestic violence with housing policy (Women’s Aid, 2009).

Finally, it is essential for all statutory and voluntary organisations recognise the need to evaluate their methods of delivering services and ensure that gaps are identified and filled as appropriate if the needs of black women surviving domestic violence are to be met from a different cultural perspective. Outreach services are very crucial for raising awareness about services and providing information to women from the black ethnic minority communities about the services. However the few services that are available have no regular source of funding as mentioned earlier in the study. As a result, many voluntary organisations working with survivors of domestic violence from the black ethnic minority communities will have no alternative but to shut down, leaving such women exposed to further violence from intimate partners.



Responses to domestic violence should be culturally sensitive and suitable therefore more training for front line staff/practitioners should be vital to make them aware of the cultural differences when responding to domestic violence. Too often “black” is lumped with white women and as a result, black women are invisible whose existence and needs are ignored (Dominelli, 2002:30). As a result of such practices of lumping black women with white women, black feminists have criticised the white radical feminists for not considering the experiences and perspectives of black women when dealing with domestic violence.

The complexities of race and gender can aggravate problems for practitioners and serve to cover the realities of women’s experience in the family (Lupton; Gallespie, 1994:106). In offering assistance to people of different race and social class, it is essential for practitioners to understand their viewpoints especially their culture and values about family life (Lupton; Gallespie, 1994:106).

During my practice as a domestic violence advocate/support worker for Coventry Haven, I noted that the organisation experienced some difficulties in supporting women from the black ethnic minority communities.

The reason being that, this group encompasses a multitude of ethnicities, nationalities, cultures and religions. As a result of such multitudes and lack of awareness and knowledge of different cultures by the front line practitioners meant that not all women’s needs were being met.

In every effort to meet black ethnic minority women’s needs, the services available fail to meet the complex needs of this population (Martinson 2001; Bograd 1999). In order to achieve this, (Borgrad, 1999) suggests that developing theories that move beyond simple description of domestic violence, but take into account intersections of race and class will be necessary in order to provide access to appropriate services for black ethnic minority women.

All practitioners within the statutory and voluntary sector need to recognise the practice dilemmas. Insufficient cultural knowledge may result in inabilities to distinguish between understandings, and respecting other cultures and holding stereotypical notions about other cultures which I found problematic for many volunteers during my practice as a domestic violence advocate/support worker.

Researches on domestic violence within ethnic groups need to pay attention on the differences among various groups as “ethnic lumping” ignores the diversity within the larger group of black ethnic minority women.
Theories need to move beyond simple description of domestic violence and take into account intersection of race and class in order to provide access to appropriate services for black women.
The Government needs to extend the domestic violence rule to include all abused women including women with ‘no recourse’ or insecure immigration status and introduce protection for this group of women whose marital relationships would have broken down.
Responses to domestic violence should be culturally sensitive and appropriate therefore, providing culturally appropriate information and support may assist all women regardless of their race/ethnicity to disclose domestic violence.
Mainstream services to augment their identification of domestic violence and signposting to specialist agencies for specialist services.
There is need for improved awareness and training for practitioners on culturally sensitive responses to black women’s domestic violence.
There is need to review some of the diversity policies and procedures in generic refuges.
More funding for more specialist domestic violence services working with women and children from the black ethnic minority communities.
More volunteers and interpreters from different cultural and language backgrounds are needed to ensure the language barrier is overcome.
The development of interpreting and translation services should be a prioritised, not only can they make life easier for people whose first language is not English, but they would also offer agencies same as Coventry Haven a more effective way of working through some complicated cases of violence.Practitioners from both statutory and voluntary organisations need to ensure that the needs of women from the black ethnic minority communities are addressed within the context of their being seen as whole human beings in which each area of their life interacts with others, looking at collective solutions to individual problems.

Free Essays

Examination of SportsScotland and Inactivity in women in Scotland


Inactivity in girls and young women is an increasing public health issue in Scotland. 65% of 14 year old girls do not reach recommended levels of physical activity and 43% of adult women do little or no exercise (Sportscotland, 2011). It is therefore understandable that the government is striving to tackle this problem by implementing initiatives such as Fit for Girls (FFG) in secondary schools across Scotland. The Fit for Girls programme is a joint initiative between the Youth Sport Trust and sportscotland, aimed at increasing physical activity participation among girls aged 11 to 16 years. The programme was piloted in 2008 and is being delivered to 296 mainstream and 11 additional support needs (ASN) schools across Scotland, over a 3 year time schedule. The primary objective of the programme is to bring about sustainable change in schools that moulds a positive future for girls’ participation in physical activity. Fit for Girls aims to achieve this by providing an interactive environment for participants, emphasising the importance of consulting girls, working with them to establish reasons for disengagement and developing strategies to enhance future participation. The principles of respect, empowerment and participation are inherent of the programme. Girls who are currently inactive or have low levels of participation are encouraged to express their thoughts, feelings and ideas in a real and honest way. It is hoped that the Fit for Girls programme, coupled with the engagement of PE staff and Active Schools Coordinators, has the ability to make a significant impact on girls’ physical activity levels as well as their perception of physical activity and sport.


Sportscotland is a Quango, that is, an organisation that is funded by taxpayers, but not controlled directly by central government. Sportscotland are provided with a budget from the government and they choose how, and where to distribute the funds. A sum of ?530, 000 was invested into the Fit for girls programme in 2008. This would finance the roll out of the program over a 3 year period. Each participating secondary school was entitled to apply for a ?700 start up grant. There was flexibility in how the grant was spent. However, funding could be used to employ staff or coaches to deliver sessions as this was not viewed as being sustainable in the long term however, the funding could be spent to train staff, volunteers, parents and senior pupils, to provide them with the essential skills and confidence required to deliver the activities. Other uses included modernising changing facilities, upgrading equipment, and providing development pathways for senior pupils. Whilst many acknowledge the importance of sport and its potential to greatly impact on a nation’s health, culture and pride, it can be argued that for a country in severe economic crisis, the ?46,257,000 savings, which could be achieved from cutting sportscotland may be better invested elsewhere in the public sector. It is due to this controversial issue that many organisations and projects such as FFG are hanging in the balance. They are completely dependant on funding and as FFG has reached the end of its three year schedule, it is not yet known whether their funding will be extended.

Links to Elite Sport and Mega Events

The links between Fit for Girls and elite sport is limited. It is unlikely that a project of this nature and capacity will unearth a substantial amount of new talent, of the standard to perform at an elite level. The links between this project and events such as the 2012 and 2014 Olympic and commonwealth games appear to be relatively minimal. These mega events are elite sport and competition at the highest possible level and see countries and athletes from all over the world participate whereas, FFG is sport at a basic, introductory level and is a national strategy within Scotland, exclusive to girls of a certain age. However, by focussing on the foundation principles and objectives of both events, links can be made.

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” (Olympic creed). Whilst the Olympic Games and FFG appear to be at polar opposites on the sporting spectrum, they both share a similar philosophy which places great importance on participation and personal achievement. It is evident that hosting the 2012 Olympics and 2014 Commonwealth games provides the nation with a great opportunity to capitalize on the hype and publicity of the games and foster this as a catalyst for change and sporting development. This is recognized by reaching higher which acknowledges that “Major sporting events such as the Olympic, Paralympics and Commonwealth Games provide electrifying experiences for competitors and spectators. If such events are to provide an enduring legacy, they must be used as catalysts for change.” – (Reaching Higher, 2007).

In FFG’s 1st year, participation levels in P.E and extra- curricular activities rose from 18- 27% This increased participation, expands the national pool of elite sporting talent for events such as the commonwealths, illustrating that FFG does link to elite sport and its major events. In the same way, these mega events greatly benefit schemes of this nature. Reaching higher states that, “Volunteers and professional staff are core to the delivery of our vision. Without their expertise people will not get enthused and involved and our sportsmen and women will not reach their potential.”- (Reaching higher, 2007). Whilst it is unlikely that the programme will produce a wealth of new elite sporting talent, FFG does have the potential to produce girls who are passionate about sport and may pursue a career in the sport and leisure industry, in a voluntary, coaching or management and development capacity. This is perhaps the most prominent link to elite sport and mega events and the project has a framework in place to promote and develop this. The level 1, Sports Leader Award is offered to s4 core pupils, this allows them to gain leadership experience, work with Active Schools Coordinators and Sports Development, as well as working with talented girls who are at risk of becoming disaffected. Additionally, the ‘Heartstart’ Training, British Heart Foundation program is offered, teaching pupils emergency aid such as CPR and how to recognise heart attack symptoms. It can therefore be drawn that whilst the links between this program with elite sport and mega events are indirect they are still significant.


The most prominent issue regarding inclusion with this program is that it excludes boys. Through FFG, the young women are receiving higher quality equipment and changing facilities, as well as having a greater deal of input and choice into the curriculum structure. It is evident that this may result in the boys feeling jealous and overlooked, which could have a detrimental effect on male participation levels and motivation. However, Reaching Higher illustrates that with regards to female participation in the 16+ age group: rates stand at 59% against 68% of young men additionally, 40% of girls have dropped out of all sports activity by the time they reach 18 (sportscotland participation survey. 2002-2004). This demonstrates that drop out and participation levels are a greater problem in girls than boys. Studies have suggested that the main reasons for girls drop out in P.E are lack of skill, and feeling embarrassed (Fit for Girls Workshop: Bucking the Trend, 2010). On average, girls enter sport at 7.4 years of age in comparison to boys at 6.8 years old. 47% of girls are reported to be involved with some kind of organized sport by age 6, while 60% of boys of the same age are participating. (Women’s Sports Foundation Research Report 2008). This illustrates that on average, boys have a head start on girls with regards to sports participation and skill development. Research into the sociological dimensions of girls’ physical activity participation concluded that the “traditional subject matter of physical education…privileges boys while disadvantaging girls”. What is sometimes referred to as the “hidden curriculum” in physical education, places great importance on skill level and ability, as well as emphasizing competition, rather than promoting sport and physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle. (Garrett, R. 2004). The curriculum centre’s around team games and competitive activities and this learning climate, in turn, has often favoured male pupils due to their greater level of experience in a sports environment. Additionally, their confidence to perform athletic skills, which they are both competent and familiar with lead them to enjoy and excel in P.E classes, while girls often experience anxiety and marginalization. Literature also states that women are far more self-conscious than men when participating in sport and physical activity. (Brudzynski, L., William, E. 2010). The Fit for Girls program aims to combat this by adapting the curriculum to include more expressive and artistic activities, in conjunction with this, evidence suggests that the female only environment assists in reduce anxiety and body image concerns “Female PE staff makes me feel more comfortable taking part in activities, especially trampolining and dance.” (Bannockburn High School, S3 pupils.) Many would champion the program for seeking activities and teaching environments which increase female participation in P.E however, it can be argued that with regards to the modernized changing facilities, which include hair dryers and straighteners, the boys are being unfairly discriminated against and are disadvantaged. In today’s society, young men feel the pressure to look a certain way and conform as well as girls, this could be seen as a luxury which if anything, nurtures stereotypical views and creates an even greater sense of segregation and conflict between male and female pupils. Alternatively, Evidence suggests that whilst boys do care about their appearance and would like upgraded facilities, it has a stronger influence on the take-up of females than their male counterparts.

Fit for Girls’ runs in 296 of 376 mainstream high schools, which equates to 79% and only 11 out of 193 ‘ASN’ high schools, equivalent to 6%. Whilst disabled pupils are not completely excluded from this scheme, the figures clearly illustrate that the provision is severely limited. “People with a disability, who equate to one in five of our population, are also less likely to participate in sport” (Reaching Higher, 2007). Therefore, it can be argued that if anything, they are at a greater need for exposure to projects such as this. Conversely, it is evident that there are many children with additional need who do not attend an ASN school, instead they are included in the mainstream schooling system,(Scottish Education Report 2007), suggesting that whilst the program is only operating in 6% of ASN schools, it is likely to be reaching a larger percentage indirectly.

A further issue regarding the inclusion of this program is that it is only delivered in secondary education. It can be postulated that FFG would achieve even greater results if it was to engage with the girls at a younger age i.e. primary school. By interacting with the girls at a younger age, there is more chance of positively influencing their perception of sport and instilling good habits and attitudes however, It has been identified that between the age of 14-18 is the period in their life when most girls drop out of sport, with 40% being completely disaffected by the time they reach 18.

With projects such as this, which rely heavily of funding, there is always going to be issues of inclusion. This is a project which undeniably targets a very specific population, thereby excluding many others however, by analyzing the scheme and what they are striving to achieve, it is difficult to condemn or pick fault in their strategy. The nations’ disengagement with sport and the problems that this creates cannot be tackled with one sweeping solution, whilst FFG may isolate certain groups; it is likely to have a greater success rate by focusing on its target demographic and their specific needs, rather than attempting to reach a larger population on consequently limited funding and resources. Whilst the reasons to target such a specific population are justifiable, the project could be made more sustainable and inclusive if it was integrated into the curriculum for excellence. This appears to be the next logical step forward and would enable the program to flourish and progress without the requirement of additional funding.


In today’s society a physically active lifestyle is recognised as an essential component of healthy living. In addition to the long term health benefits, physical activity during childhood supports holistic development, assisting to prevent overweight and obesity and the health concerns associated with these conditions, as well as enhancing psychological wellbeing. With adolescent girls being identified as at risk of becoming disaffected, The Fit for Girls project set out with clear objectives to increase the participation in sport of this population and improve their experience of sport. There is limited literature evaluating the success of the project to date however, from initial figures and case studies, the project appears to have been a success in achieving its primary objectives. With regards to elite sporting pathways and links to mega events, the connections are extremely limited, only by analysing the basic foundation principles can any parallels be drawn and even then, they are still weak. Undoubtedly there are issues of inclusion with this scheme, by targeting such a specific demographic; it inevitably isolates a wider population. With everything considered, it can be drawn that whilst its links to elite sport are limited and it may be subject to scrutiny over issues of inclusion, the project was successful in achieving its objectives and is a small, but significant stepping stone towards increasing female sports participation. Despite acknowledging the success and importance of this project it could be concluded that the best way forward does not require an extension to the funding, instead, the principle and structure of the project should be addressed and integrated into the curriculum for excellence.


Bailey, R., (2005). Evaluating the relationship between physical education, sport and social inclusion. Education Review, 57, (1), 71-90.

Brudzynski, L., William, E. (2010)

Garrett, R., (2004). Negotiating a physical identity: girls, bodies and physical education. Sport, Education and Society, 9 (2), 223-237.

Ferguson, M., (2009). Call for Scottish PE overhaul after damning report. Future Fitness. Sport and Fitness for today’s youth, July. p.5.

Fit for Girls Workshop: Bucking the Trend, (2010)

Hardman, K. (2007). Physical Education: “The future ain’t what it used to be!”

University of Worcester, UK.

Hardman, K., (2008). The Situation of Physical Education in Schools: a European Perspective.

Human Movement, 9 (1), 1-14.

Scottish Executive (2003). Let’s make Scotland more active – A Strategy for Physical

Activity. The Stationery Office, Edinburgh.

Scottish Education Report. (2007)

Wallace, J ., Homes, A. (2007). Fit for the FutureYoung people’s participation in

physical activity in Scottish secondary schools. Scottish Consumer Council, Glasgow.

Women’s Sports Foundation Research Report. (2008)

Reaching Higher. (2007)

Free Essays

Women are often portrayed as selfless, innocent, and virtuous in gothic literature” To what extent do your selected texts conform to this view?


Gothic Literature, originating in the late 18th century, coalesce the rhythmical language and vivid imagery of Romance novels with the dark and terrific supernatural beings, gloomy settings and fiends of classic Horror. Much like horror novels Gothic literature was created to evoke feelings of terror and in the words of Mary Shelley ‘curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart’ of audience who was predominantly female. Gothic literature of this era was generally written by women, homosexual men and marketed at a female audience. The appeal for contemporary women was believed to be that Gothic literature would ‘allay their doubts about what it takes to be a desirable, beloved woman, and to reassure them that their husbands are not dangerous’as Gothic tends to have a handsome, magnetic suitor or husband who may or may not be a lunatic and/or murderer. The audience expectation of Gothic literature was often based around the setting, language, traditional character roles, supernatural beings and classic horrific entrapment scenarios.

General roles within Gothic literature include a heroic character and villainous beings. Yet it is specifically the female characters within these fictitious novels that are interesting as they are often portrayed as ‘selfless, innocent and virtuous’ women. However, in certain instances their role is subverted or enhanced in some way, and with the likes of more modern gothic fiction and media texts like Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight, Ann Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles and Anthony Shaffer The Wicker Man it is clear that this genre and its traditions have evolved through the centuries. It is widely believed that Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto was the original Gothic fiction novel, and rightly so as it incorporated each classic element, set the foundations of attitudes towards women which continued into the 19th Century and furthered with works such as Shelley’s Frankenstein, Samuel Coleridge’s Christabel and Poe’s short stories.

In early Gothic, women were often portrayed as weak, selfless and innocent as clearly shown here in Walpole’s ‘Castle of Otranto’ “she would not only acquiesce with patience to divorce, but would obey, if it was his pleasure,” This not only shows howwomen like ‘Hippolita’ lacked social power, but how they were subjected to male oppression and forced to obey the words of their husbands simply because they were their husbands. However, this marital obedience is subverted in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in which it is Victor who obeys his wife Elizabeth, when told to come home. It is rather humorous that throughout the novel, although all the women are place in the tradition role, it is Victor, the heroic protagonist, who from the beginning instead of trying to deal with the problem of his monster, faints or falls into a fever. He strangely continues to adopt stereotypical feminine traits such as physical weakness, fainting and illness: “his body dreadfully emaciated by fatigue and suffering. I never saw a man in so wretched a condition”. The constant description throughout of his meek appearance is helps to sustain his femininity.

One could argue that another questionable decision made by Shelley was how every female character within the book apart from Mrs Saville died or were murdered. Caroline Beaufort is a selfless mother who dies taking care of her adopted daughter; Justine is executed for murder, regardless of her innocence; the creation of the female monster is disregarded by Victor because he fears being unable to control her actions once she is animated; Elizabeth waits, impatient but helpless, for Victor to return to her, and she is eventually murdered by the monster. Seeing as Shelley was the daughter of highly respected advocate for women rights and feminism is was striking to the contemporary and modern audiences to see how she effortlessly disregards the lives of the women in the novel firstly, by killing them off. Whilst also eradicating the natural role of women as child bearers when Frankenstein, a male, creates life without the need for a woman and when given the opportunity to create a female he destroys it, for fear of the consequences it could entail. In light of the knowledge that ‘Percy Shelley laid a heavy editorial hand’ on the first manuscript of Frankenstein, one might argue that Percy often ‘seriously misrepresented Mary’s intentions’, and characters and only portrayed the women in such a way that would be acceptable and a true representation of contemporary women of the era. However, it could be argued that as a classic example of society within the 19th century, Mary Shelley was only depicting real life and demonstrating that ‘their model behaviour lowers their resistance to the forces that kill them.’ Implying that their soft and submissive nature will ultimately kill them if they do not retrieve self-empowerment and subvert the traditional role of women.

Nevertheless, the women within ‘Frankenstein’ are still portrayed in a selfless light and they each have small yet significant roles within Frankenstein. Caroline Beaufort, in my opinion is the most selfless and embodies the classic portrayal a woman within this novel. Caroline, ‘possessed a mind of an uncommon mould, and her courage rose to support her in her adversity’ In light of this quote, I noticed that she is, for the most part, mentioned to be helping people whether it be her sick father, Victor or Elizabeth. Mother of both Victor and Elizabeth she died from Scarlet Fever which she contracted whilst nursing Elizabeth back to health, ‘when she heard that the life of her favourite was menaced, she could no longer control her anxiety. She attended her sickbed after knowing the severity of its contagiousness; ‘her watchful attentions triumphed over the malignity of the distemper’. Even on her death bed the fortitude of her good nature takes over as she wishes Victor and Elizabeth‘firmest hopes of future happiness’

Elizabeth Lavenza is the adopted daughter of The Frankenstein’s, despite this, she and Victor later marry and she takes on the role as the devoted wife and waits patiently for Victor’s return from Ingolstadt. ‘She was docile and good tempered, possessed an attractive softness.’ Elizabeth is beautiful, so, by Victor Frankenstein’s judgement, she must be a good and honourable person. Much as the monster is defined by his ugliness, Elizabeth is defined by her attractiveness which was a classic element of a gothic female, one being beautiful whilst lacking personality and a sense of worth. However, throughout the novel there are glimpses of a different side Elizabeth’s character who although she ‘does not share Frankenstein’s alchemical interests, she is educated with him’, like Ligeia character. Elizabeth writes regularly, and it falls to her to describe Justine’s background, and uses her education to assist Justine in her trial when all others believed her to be guilty over the murder of William.

Justine Moritz, William’s nanny, is the final female who isn’t portrayed as ‘innocent’ within the novel but still embodies the traditional depiction of a submissive gothic woman and ultimately meets her inevitable death when hung for the murder of William Frankenstein. When wrongly accused of the murder instead of fighting against the injustice of the circumstantial evidence against her, she fall apart and feels guilty for the death. Believing she should have protected William, as his maternal figure, she confesses, I did confess; but I confessed a lie. I confessed, that I might obtain absolution;’. In the end she falls under the oppression of the male dominated legal system and is hung. Although considered a minor character and is only mentioned briefly she creates a large impression on both Elizabeth and Victor as all throughout the trial he is troubled and wallows in guilt because he knows Justine is innocent and convicted because of crimes of his creature yet he allows her to take the blame.

In addition, to the awareness of male oppression and writers, I often questioned why so many iconic male Gothic authors such as Walpole, William Beckford and M.G Lewis were suspected of homosexuality, as Gothic was traditionally romantic and marketed at female audiences. Some would say that creating strong independent women were a way for the males to channel their unspeakable desires that were suppressed by Sodomy laws which up until 1967 ‘prohibited gross indecency between males, or in more daring cases, to create an underlying confession ‘Ah father, how willingly would I unveil to you my heart! How willingly would I declare the secret which bows me down with its weight! But oh! I fear, I fear–””That you should abhor me for my weakness;…”father!” continued he in faltering accents, “I am a woman!”

Despite the male oppression of the 19th century authors continued to create characters like Ligeia who dominate the story and Poe dedicates the majority of the narrative to her description, one paragraph in particular is solely describing her eyes ‘hue of the orbs, far larger than the ordinary eyes. The obsessive nature of Poe’s narrator could also suggest that the power and pure intelligence of Ligeia has driven him insane creating what some might argue was a drug induced hallucination of his the late Ligeia as he was an avid opium user. The narrator’s obsessive nature and mental breakdown is another classic character motif which runs throughout early Gothic fiction and the strength of Ligeia is really shown when she appears to be able to reincarnate in some way in place of Rowena. Regardless of whether it actually happened Poe reflected her ‘stern passion’ and power well as even after he remarries Rowena ‘the successor of the unforgotten Ligeia’ the narrator is unable put thoughts of Ligeia out of his mind, ‘there is one dear topic, on which my memory falls me not’.

Coleridge’s Christabel is another classic gothic novel which broke the mould of modern literature way before its time. His female characters, Christabel and Geraldine, are a far cry from the traditional underdeveloped female protagonists who often wade through the novel ‘menaced by fiends in a gloomy castle’., but rather plays on the sadistic nature of women and its female readers who ‘enjoy the sensation’of fearfulness. Christabel’s character itself reflects these women who appears to enjoy the thrill of the spell that’s she is under, ‘Yea, she doth smile, and she doth weepSadism is a theme that has been adopted by many modern Gothic texts and Horror films. Characters of the likes of Amanda Young, from the Saw cult movies, pretends to be a victim of the sadistic killer Jigsaw and it comes to light that she enjoys playing the part as she helps to kidnap other victims and has her significant reveal scene at the end of the film allowing her to revel in what she has done. This suggestion of enjoying pain and distress is a revolutionary idea; Coleridge took Gothic heroines to a whole new level in his era as he allowed his audience to delve into the psychological side of his characters. Mental illness and breakdown was not a new subject within Gothic literature but the psychosis often affected male characters, except this level of psychology created new and more interesting female protagonists and subverted the traditional depiction of level headed and innocent women.

Nonetheless, the reader sees that Christabel is not as innocent as she is portrayed at face value, as a young women held under a spell. But her behaviour from the beginning of the tale suggests otherwise as I first wondered why she out so late within the castle grounds praying alone and then the narrator mentions that “She had dreams all yesternight/Of her own betrothed knight” we are not given anymore information on these dreams but they can be seen as innocent or suspicious as she has not seen him for a while. Once Geraldine is inside Christabel’s room, before she is spellbound Christabel offers her wine and “O weary lady, Geraldine,/I pray you, drink this cordial wine!/It is a wine of virtuous powers” Then, Christabel undresses, sits down, “And on her elbow did recline/To look at the lady Geraldine” as she undresses. This interest in watching Geraldine undress seems quite uncharacteristic of Christabel or of an innocent and naive young damsel. This is merely a suspicion of Christabel’s innocence but once the story is reread her action and innocence become questionable and takes us back to the sadistic side of her character and suggests that whilst Geraldine is manipulating the other characters, Christabel is manipulating her audience.

Furthermore Geraldine’s character in Christabel is rather interesting as she was the first female character that I had come across who had so much power over all characters and became the supernatural being within the novel instead of a ghost or hideous creature created in Frankenstein. Firstly her power and influence over the other characters alone contrasts to the stereotypical role of women in traditional Gothic literature. Essentially a witch she casts a spell over Christabel and later she takes Geraldine back into her room and Geraldine undresses, the narrator yells “O shield her! shield sweet Christabel!” , who doesn’t want Christabel look at Geraldine’s body, perhaps in fear of corrupting her innocence. Geraldine is also able to manipulate the male characters as the Baron is smitten with her and hangs on her every word portraying her strong sense of empowerment much like Ligeia who is said to have been smarter than most men.


Another female presented in Gothic literature is the force of nature which is often personified as a woman and a strong female principle. ‘She’ is frequently infiltrated by Gothic characters who brave her strong forces at climatic parts of the novel. Shelley uses stormy weather, darkness imagery and the desolate arctic to provide the perfect ambience for Frankenstein, specifically the epic chase between Victor and The Creature in the middle of the Russian arctic. ‘The abrupt sides of vast mountains were before me; the icy wall of the glacier overhung me, I was cursed by some devil’. Yet although sometimes seen as a curse Victor also describes his recovery from grave illness through his affinity with natural. Although nursed back to health by his closest friends, it is the breathing of the air that finally gives him strength “we passed a fortnight in these perambulations: my health and spirits had long been restored, and they gained additional strength from the salubrious air I breathed, the natural incidents of our progress“. Thus showing another powerful side of the women in gothic who, although shows maternal and mothering qualities by essentially making Victor better, Mother Nature undoubtedly make several strong appearances which also help to present the Gothic nature of the novel. ‘a flash of lightning illuminated the object and discovered its shape plainly to me; its gigantic stature, and the deformity of its aspect, more hideous than belongs to humanity, instantly informed me that it was the wretch, the filthy demon to whom he had given life’.

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Factors affecting women working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Increasingly, Muslim women are involved in their countries’ economy as part of the labour force. Saudi Arabia in particular has seen higher numbers of Muslim women become economically active. However, women around the world are disadvantaged in employment for social, cultural and other reasons, and it has been argued that this is particularly true of Muslim women, as in addition to the obstacles faced by women worldwide, they also face additional problems including religious factors, cultural issues and the lack of role-models to encourage enterprise and a culture of women in work. While Saudi Arabia, as a large producer of oil, has a healthy economy, women currently play only a minor role in the work force, and of women available for work, nearly 30% are unemployed, although there are signs that women are starting to play are larger role in the economy.

The study aims to examine the particular obstacles to full participation in the labour market for Muslim women, through looking at their experience in Saudi Arabia. In order to do this, it examines the nature of the social and cultural norms in Saudi Arabia to assess the role they play in oppressing women in the workforce, as well as looking at current legislation and its role.The role played by other factors including childcare, financial issues and personal perceptions is also considered.

A literature review analyses the background in detail, providing a context for the primary study. The literature review covers a number of general areas, for example the social, geographical and cultural factors which surround women’s lives in Saudi Arabia, particularly the nature of the Islamic code which dictates behaviours.Statistics showing the current participation of women in the workforce are given, and the nature of working life for women in Saudi Arabia is analysed.

The primary phase of the research was carried out through interviews with a mix of both quantitative and qualitative data was collected, in order to give a detailed picture of how women working in Saudi Arabia perceive the world of work, as well as one which is statistically valid and reliable. The rationale for taking this particular stance is discussed. 20 women from Saudi Arabia, currently studying in the UK were interviewed. Demographic data was collected, information about work experience and future work plans were also noted. The women were also asked in depth about barriers to working in Saudi Arabia, their awareness of laws and regulations in the workplace, attitudes to marital responsibilities and work, work and religion, and attitudes about gender roles in work.It was found that women face many challenges in the Saudi Arabian workplace, and that 60% of those interviewed were not planning to return to work there. Issues mentioned include the right to work in the same workspace as men, inequalities of pay, and limits on women taking managerial roles over men.It was concluded that the main issue is the cultural diversity between Islamic and non-Islamic societies.Recommendations for Saudi Arabian government, business organisations and the general population are made.

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Research Proposal On Social/Psychological Implications Of Genocide On Women


Genocide remains at its core an act that has plagued human beings for many centuries. It simply refers to the intentional destruction of a group of individuals such that the death toll almost defies belief (Prunier 1997). For example, the genocidal regimes in the 20th century alone resulted in the annihilation of sixty million people (Kuper 1981). Among the most notorious was the Nazi Germany where tens of millions who were characterized as “savage” indigenous people were annihilated in the name of “progress”(Kuper 1981).
Genocide however remains a difficult event to analyze since it represents the most horrible of deeds. How can we comprehend such levels of atrocitiesIt has also been argued that an analytical explanation of genocide especially by those who did not experience it is a futile exercise, one that falls short in its task of elucidation (Jongman 1996). Nevertheless, finding an explanation to the causes of such atrocities are prerequisites to restoring social order. While remaining sensitive to the victims of genocide, many scholars believe that such atrocities are a result of human behaviour, albeit an extreme one (Halpern & Kideckel 2000).


While genocide has been given vast and lengthy coverage in other disciplines, the relatively lack of research on genocide within the field of anthropology is surprising. For example, until the mid – 1980s, anthropologists have remained silent with regards to the Holocaust (Hinton 2002). Also there are very few anthropological articles exploring the Armenian genocide. This raises a fundamental question. Why have anthropologists failed to engage with the genocide topic more critically?
As Fein (1990) suggests, this neglect is shared by other social sciences which have pushed the genocide topic into the realm of specialty studies. There might have been hesitancy among anthropologists on tackling this matter because of its perceived threat to the concept of cultural relativity or perhaps they shied away from politically volatile issues. Whatever the reasons, they began to engage more actively in this topic during the 1980s.
In contributing to the small body of work on genocide in this field, this dissertation will examine the social and psychological implications of genocide on women. The dissertation will seek a deeper understanding of the most heinous crimes in history from an anthropological perspective. The researcher will not only describe the occurrence of such events, but also give an explanation for such an occurrence. The study will thus take new points of view which would be helpful in understanding the magnitude of past atrocities and in developing strategies to prevent the reoccurrence of such future massacres at the heart of humanity


The main objectives of this study are:
• To investigate the social and psychological effects of genocide on women
• To understand the magnitude of past atrocities and give an explanation for such an occurrence from the perspective of anthropologists.
• To develop strategies to preventing the reoccurrence of future atrocities.


Whereas research focusing on genocide is vast, relatively few studies that explore on genocide from anthropological perspective have been published. In his book, Genocide: A sociological perspective, Fein (1990) describes the evolution of the genocide concept. Fein outlines key issues in the anthropology of genocide and laments the lack of academic research in this field. The author further proposes a criterion for distinguishing genocide and suggests new directions for further genocide research in the field of social sciences.

Zygmunt (1991) explores on modernity and the holocaust. He argues that the Holocaust was a product of modernity since it constituted of a coalescence of several aspects of modernity. While sharing a similar view, Bodley (1999) argues that the annihilation of indigenous people is a subject of modernity. In his book, “victims of progress”, he notes that genocide has been justified on grounds of modernity – the idea of “progress”. These pieces along with other seminal works from a few other anthropologists constitute the genocide studies in the field of anthropology showing the lack of academic research in this field.


The scope and content of this research will be guided by the following research questions
• What are the social and psychological implications of genocide on women?
• What are the possible causes of past atrocities?
• What strategies can anthropologists employ to prevent the reoccurrence of such future massacres?



A quantitative research approach has been considered for this dissertation because such an approach would be more useful in obtaining a broader depth of analysis on the impact of genocide on women. Given the nature of this study, it would be more tenable to conduct a quantitative research.

Secondary data sources will be employed as the main method of data collection and analysis. An important part of the strategy will be to ensure the availability and easy retrieval of the relevant data, given the vast amount of secondary data. This is important because archived secondary data are usually very large and retrieving the relevant information can be time consuming.

Survey will be used as the primary instrument for data collection. The researcher will survey archival documents on genocide research. Survey documents will be obtained from the British and US archives.

In analyzing the data obtained above, the researcher will utilize publications from other sources in order to supplement the findings. The study will utilize scholarly and academic journals, textbooks and relevant publications on the implications of genocides on women, especially the book entitled “annihilating difference: the Anthropology of genocide”. The report by USAID’s Center for Development Information and Evaluation (CDIE) will also form an important contribution in this study. This report evaluates gender issues in postconflict societies while focusing predominantly on the impact of genocide on women (Dadrian 1995).

The main ethical issue likely to emerge in this study is the issue of obtaining consent with the primary researcher. It should be noted that informed consent cannot be presumed where there are sensitive data involved. However, given that it might not be feasible to seek additional consent, a professional judgment will have to be made by the researcher regarding the re-use of data and whether this amounts to violation of contracts made between the primary researchers and the subjects of genocidal regimes.


In view of the above, it can be concluded that this analysis is of paramount importance. Besides giving the social and psychological implications of genocide on women, the research will be helpful in understanding the magnitude of past atrocities and in developing strategies to prevent future occurrence of such massacres at the heart of humanity.


Bodley, J., 1999. Victims of progress. 4th edition. McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages
Dadrian, V. , 1995. The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans
to Anatolia to the Caucasus. Providence, RI: Berghahn Books.
Fein, H., 1990. “Genocide: A sociological perspective”. Current sociology. Vol 38 (1)
Halpern, J.M., and D.A. Kideckel. 2000. Neighbours at war: Anthropological perspectives on Yugoslav ethnicity, culture and history. University Park, PA: Penn State University Press.
Hinton, A.L., 2002. Annihilating Difference: The anthropology of Genocide. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Jongman, A.J., 1996. Contemporary Genocides: causes, cases, consequences. Leiden: PIOOM
Kuper, L., 1981. Genocide: Its Political Use in the Twentieth Century. NY: Penguin Paperback.
Prunier, G., 1997. The Rwanda crisis: History of a Genocide. 2nd edition. Columbia: Columbia University Press
Zygmunt, B., 1991. Modernity and the Holocaust. New York: Cornell University Press

Free Essays

Does the Daily Mail Hate Women or Love Them? Answer with Reference to the Paper’s Recent Content


A study of the content of the Daily Mail, examining whether it is anti-women. While circulation figures and content suggest the paper is successfully targeted at women, many critics have been vocal in saying that the paper is misogynistic and encourages self-hatred in women. A number of the paper’s articles are discussed in terms of this, and it is shown that the paper is indeed predominantly anti-feminist, but with some dissenting voices amongst its writers.

1. Introduction

Superficially, the evidence seems to suggest that the Daily Mail love women. Not only does the paper offer many features, including a Sunday magazine, targeted at women, but they are also keen to emphasise the high readership amongst women in their material targeted at advertisers. However, closer inspection of the content of the newpaper reveals a somewhat different story. The woman beloved by the Daily Mail is one for whom behaviour and experience is rigidly prescribed across many areas from the workplace to the home and family. Far from presenting a post-feminist picture which celebrates the diversity of women’s experience, the overriding message presented by the Mail (with one or two dissenting views) is that feminism has failed both women and society. The following first examines the evidence to suggest the Mail is pro-women, then looks at writers who have argued that the Mail is, in fact, firmly anti-women, before discussing in detail recent content from the Mail, which suggests that the paper is, overall, against all but a narrowly proscribed role for women.

2. The Daily Mail Loves Women: The Evidence For

The Daily Mail seems, on first glance, to be more popular with women than men. Figures show that out of a total readership of 4,705,000, just over 53% are women (2,508,000). Special daily features seem to be targeted at women, with Monday including a ‘women’s features section’ and Thursday including ‘Femail’ magazine (NMA 2011). As Feldman points out, the paper has a higher female readership than any other, with the Express and Mirror second and third at 49 and 48% respectively. Its success with women, Feldman suggests, may be down to the way it models its content upon women’s magazines, with “revelations and confessions”, and the current editor, Dacre, argues that the paper simply gives women what they want (Feldman 2006). Dacre has attracted much criticism, although he has increased sales at a time when rival papers struggle, and the paper is very influential amongst the predominantly middle class, southern readers in the suburbs (Beckett, 2001). Dacre’s editorship of the Daily Mail has been marked by a winning formula of “potent mixture of anti-Blairite Europhobic politics and artful lifestyle material, concentrating on self-improvement, health and relationships”, which seems attractive to its female readership. Greenslade suggests that it is now a “chameleon”-like entity, changing its editorial policy in a bid to attract more readers and compete with the Sun to become most popular UK daily (Greenslade 2005). Dacre was voted the UK’s “most powerful newspaper editor” over the Sun and Mirror in 2001 (Guardian 2001). The attempt to boost female readership continues: in 2010 Sweney reported that the paper embarked upon a new, high profile advertising campaign with TV commercials to highlight each of the paper’s sections to women. The campaign was designed to promote a relaunch of the weekend supplements, overhauled to “have more of a women’s weekly feel” with higher celebrity content and fashion. The aim of the change was to attract those woman for whom the paper had previously been unattractive, and further increase the female readership (Sweney, 2010).

3. Alternative Perspectives

Notably, the most vocal critics of the Daily Mail and its attitude towards women come from other journalists: the academic arena seems not to have discussed the paper’s anti-feminist stance. In an article titled ‘does the ‘Daily Mail’ really hate women (2006), Sally Feldman points out the contradictions in the paper, and the “unsisterliness” of much of the content, for example the number of articles criticising other women for defects in their appearance. She points out that the Mail was originally started to appeal to a female readership, concentrating on middle class women in the UK. By the 70’s and the rise of feminism, the paper voiced concern about the rise of women’s liberation and the permissive society, but Feldman suggests the editorship of Paul Dacre marked a turn to more extreme views (Feldman 2006). Others have criticised the Mail for misogyny. Polly Toynbee is particularly vocal in her analyses of the Mail and its attempts to “foster national anger, despair and fear” (Toynbee 2008). She suggests that its “spiteful” and “bitchy” approach is designed to increase insecurity in women and “make [them] miserable” (Toynbee 2008). In addition, Catherine Bennett suggests that it has a “growing inability to relate to real, rather than idealised women” evidence through an obsession with appearance, sickness and the benefits of staying at home to look after children, eschewing feminism and caring for one’s husband. For the Mail, she suggests, being a woman is akin to having a condition which can lead to death (2003). This is echoed by Levy, writing in the Guardian (2009), who calls the relationship between its female readers and the papers “abusive” and asks “why is it acceptable to openly bully … women”, dismissing suggestions that the misogynistic tone is “a self-knowing bit of fun and fluff”, suggesting rather that they demonstrate a much “darker side” to the paper. The Mail has recently attracted an increasing number of complaints over its content, including for the way it depicts women. For example, in early 2009 the paper had to apologise to a number of women for suggesting that they had children adopted rather than risk looks or career (Fitzsimmons, 2009).

However, some have also suggested that the Mail is not entirely anti-women. Writing in 2006, Odone expresses a view that journalists writing for the Mail showed “a surprisingly wide range of voices”, and that the newspaper seemed to be starting to move away from the restrictive, self-hating model it presented as the preferred option for women. Odone suggested that Dacre may “suspect that some women readers could be wearying of the masochistic hatred of their own gender that the Mail has enticed them with” (Odone 2006).

4. Evidence from the Daily Mail

Despite some dissenting voices, examination of the recent content of the Mail would suggest that critics of the paper’s attitude towards women have a point. This section will look in more depth at recent articles and the way they seem to portray women. The Daily Mail website’s ( was searched using the key term ‘feminism’, and brought up 426 results. A study of the most relevant of these articles reveals a gloomy picture for feminism, which reveals a lot about the Mail’s overall portrayal of women, and suggests that women still suffer from media portrayals of unrealistic body ideals (Paludi 2010), stereotyping into submissive roles (Biagi 2006) and restricted employment options (Kramarae and Spender 2000).

Overall, the Mail’s take on feminism is generally critical, but with certain ambiguities. Most articles are politically conservative and overtly anti-feminist, for example a recent report that David Willetts has criticised feminism for widening the poverty gap, reducing social mobility and made it harder for working-class men to achieve workplace success (Groves, 2011). Feminism is also held responsible for a number of society’s problems, for example Phillips (2007) suggests that it is the cause of issues with cleanliness and poor care of patients in the NHS, because the left-leaning “nursing establishment” has decided that the “womanly” aspects of looking after patients are demeaning, and that women in the profession should aspire to be more like men (Phillips 2007) In addition, “feminism ‘could be bad for your health’, argues Gill (2007) citing Swedish research which, it is claimed, suggests that ‘equal’ men and women are more likely to be ill or disabled. Other recent Mail articles claim that feminism is responsible for making women more unhappy (Koster 2009), has destroyed women’s ability to cook (Prince 2010) and has led to a rise in extreme yobbish behaviour amongst young girls (Phillips 2008). One particularly popular tactic is to publish pieces with an apparently anti-feminist agenda written by, or interviewing, figures previously associated with the feminist movement. For example, the novelist Fay Weldon is cited as criticising feminism for making women unhappy as increasing demands to both succeed in the workplace and at home mean life is highly pressured for all but the most wealthy (Dolan 2009). An article by Erin Pizzey (2009), famous for highlighting the plight of domestic violence in the 70’s, suggests that she has “never been a feminist”, believing the movement is based upon a “lie” about men, that they all have the potential for violence, a lie which is destructive to family life. Rosie Boycott, writes that nowadays men have little sense of their identity and role in society and feel “undervalued, their voices and opinions unheard” as a result of the feminist movement and the breakdown of sharply differentiated gender roles(Boycott 2008).

Another key theme in Mail articles is an attempt to rewrite feminism to the extent it is barely recognisable as such, for example claiming that high heels “empower women” (Femail 2009), or that the history of women’s liberation has got it all wrong: “forget feminism, it was agony aunts who liberated women” (Hinsliff, 2011), a contention which fails to take into account the extent to which the agony aunts might themselves have been influenced by a feminist agenda. This effort to rewrite feminism frequently seems motivated by a desire to reject any seriousness, and present it in a way to appeal to a new generation of image-conscious, media aware and celebrity obsessed young women.For example, Swales (2005), commenting upon a survey suggesting that, for many women, success in the workplace is equated with being good looking, suggests that women should “work with the stereotype and play to its strengths”. This Mail version of feminism, however, is surely oppressive to women who have no desire to dress in high heels or conform to conventional images of attractiveness.

However, amongst the openly critical articles and those in which reactionary views of the role of women are dressed as feminism, there are a number of articles which are more supportive of feminism. For example, Hazard (2009) writes in support of feminism While the title of the article: “Let’s put the fun back into feminism: Forget burning bras and Germaine Greer, what we need now is Cheryl Cole” suggests this is another typical Mail article, the content is actually rather more considered, highlighting the extent to which women, despite their success in the world of work, are still “buying into a culture which … degrades women”, and suggesting that the only way to continue the feminist cause is to present it in a light which uses the tools of image and marketing.A number of articles are also more openly supportive of an unambiguous feminist cause: For example, in an article from April 2011, Suzanne Moore argues “It wasn’t feminism that shut the coal mines, Mr Willetts”, attacking a previous critique of the notion of equality between the sexes by the Tory minister, suggesting that his notion that feminism is to blame for the gap between rich and poor is “a bizarre form of denial”, and stating that evidence in fact shows that gender equality is associated with higher social mobility (Moore 2011). Similarly, a 2008 article (Clark 2008) discusses the ‘growing trend’ towards sexualisation of young women, including giving themselves nicknames like ‘slut’ and ‘whore’, the negative influence of celebrities who define themselves through their bodies, a commericalisation of childhood and the consequent damage to teenage girls’ self-esteem. The article considers a suggestion by an academic that “teenage girls should be taught feminism at school” teaching them about positive examples of well known women writers, suffragettes and even fictional characters in order to overcome the bad effects of media images. In 2009, Liz Jones argued, writing about Obama’s support for feminism, that there is a greater need than ever before for support for women’s rights, as despite new legislation and more equality in pay, women still work primarily part-time rather than full time, earn 17% less than men, are subject to domestic violence and hold just 12% of directorships within FTSE 100 companies. Jones also suggests that young women are increasingly embracing a misogynist viewpoint which accepts that women are “okay with being treated as sex objects” While these articles go some way towards overturning the view of the Daily Mail as overtly anti-feminist, they are, it should be noted, in a minority.

5. Conclusion

The Mail’s formula of news, lifestyle and celebrity gossip seem to work to attract a readership in which women predominate, thanks to the editorship of Paul Dacre. However, the paper has been criticized for the misogynistic attitudes which lie just beneath the surface of this content. A careful examination of the recent content of the Mail suggest that critics are right to be suspicious of the paper’s agenda. The bulk of articles about feminism portray women in an oppressive light and the feminist movement is, it is suggested, one that has harmed society. However, while this represents the dominant viewpoint, there are dissenting voices putting forward a more pro-feminist agenda, which suggests that the reality is rather more complex than appears at first glance.

6. References

Beckett, A (2001) ‘Paul Dacre: the most dangerous man in Britain?’, The Guardian, Thursday 22nd Feb 2001.

Bennett, C (2003) ‘Read all about it in the Daily Misogynist’, The Guardian, Thursday 26 June 2003.

Biagi, S (2006) Media/Impact: An Introduction to Mass Media, Cengage Learning, Belmont CA.

Boycott, R (2008) ‘Feminism has turned men into second-class citizens, but have women’s victories come at a price?’, Daily Mail, 2008.

Clark, L (2008) Girls should be taught feminism at school ‘to counter negative influences of celebrity role models’ Daily Mail, 2008.

Dolan, A (2009) ‘Feminism turned women into miserable ‘wage slaves’ just like men says Fay Weldon’, Daily Mail, 30th November 2009.

Feldman, S (2006) ‘Does the Daily Mail’ really hate women?’, The Independent, Sunday 2nd July 2006.

Fitzsimmons, C (2009) ‘Daily Mail apologises to women over adoption feature’, The Guardian, Thursday 12 February 2009.

Gill, C (2007) ‘The height of feminismOr do high heels demean women as sex objects?’, Daily Mail, 25th March 2007.

Greenslade, R (2005) ‘Mail domination’, The Guardian, Monday 6 June 2005

Groves, J (2011) ‘Tory minister: Feminism widened poverty gap and set social mobility back decades’, Daily Mail, 1st April 2011.

Hazard, H (2009) ‘Let’s put the fun back into feminism: Forget burning bras and Germaine Greer, what we need now is Cheryl Cole’, Daily Mail, 10th August 2009.

Hinsliff, G (2011) ‘Forget feminism, it was agony aunts who liberated women’, Daily Mail, 11th February 2011. Dolan, A (2009) ‘Feminism turned women into miserable ‘wage slaves’ just like men says Fay Weldon’, Daily Mail, 30th November 2009.

Jones, L (2009) ‘SOS for a new feminism: How Obama’s being hailed as a new champion for women’, Daily Mail, 26th January 2009.

Koster, O (2009) ‘Women are more unhappy despite 40 years of feminism, claims study’, Daily Mail, 1st June 2009.

Kramarae, C and Spender, D (2000) Routledge International Encyclopedia of Women: Identity politics to publishing, Routledge, UKBiagi, S (2006) Media/Impact: An Introduction to Mass Media, Cengage Learning, Belmont CA.

Lewy, R (2009), ‘Daily Mail misogyny a ‘joke’ too far’, The Guardian, Friday 27th March 2009.

New Media Age (2011) ‘NMA Facts and Figures: Daily Mail’, [online] (cited 12th May 2011), available from

Odone, C (2006) ‘The acceptable face of the Daily Mail …’, The Guardian, Monday 13 February 2006

Paludi, M A (2010) Feminism and women’s rights worldwide, Volume 1, ABC-CLIO, USA

Phillips, M (2007) ‘Dirty wards, feminism and the tragic end of Florence Nightingale’s ethos of patient care’, Daily Mail, 15th October, 2010

Phillips, M (2008) ‘Fire-bombs, mugging and gang warfare – just what has gone wrong with girls?’, Daily Mail, 12th May 2008.

Pizzey, E (2009) ‘Why I loathe feminism… and believe it will ultimately destroy the family’, Daily Mail, 24th September 2009.

Prince, R (2010) ‘Has feminism killed the art of home cooking?’, Daily Mail, 21st September 2010.

Swales, E (2005) ‘Turning heads – the secret of our success?’, Daily Mail, 3rd August 2005.

Sweney, M (2010) ‘Daily Mail targets women aged 35 and older with ?10m TV ad campaign’, The Guardian, Thursday 28 January 2010.

Toynbee, P (2008) ‘The miserablists need a politics they can believe in’, The Guardian, Tuesday 24 June, 2008.

Free Essays

Influence of Career Priority on Job ½àti¾factiîn and Job Commitment among Profe¾¾iînal Women


I would like to express my thanks to my advisor, for his suggestions, comments, patience and understanding. Very special thanks to my parents, my father, my mother, my brother and my sister who were continuously supporting me throughout my life and leaving me free in all my decisions.

I would also like to thank my colleagues for their technical support whenever I needed. I would like to thank to Department, university managers, teachers and students with whom I have worked.


This study explores the area of career priority in job sàti¾factiîn and job commitment for women in United Kingdom and Nigeria. It investigates key concepts and takes an analytical perspective on contemporary practice. The main focus of the research is on job sàti¾factiîn and job commitment, and how these areas impact on profressional women. The research also looks at aspects of career priority, particularly attempting to gauge its effect on Influence on job sàti¾factiîn and commitment. A literature review looks at existing research in the area, while a primary study collects data from women in the UK and Nigeria looking at job satisfaction. The study aims to examine the factors which influence job satisfaction and commitment for these women, and also looks at the role of career priority with regards to these areas. Data is collected for a number of variables including payment, opportunities, supervision and co-workers, and demographic variables such as age, education, number of dependents, years in business, hours of work, and often work outside the town were also collected in order to examine relationships between these factors and job satisfaction.

Thesis statement

A business orgànisàtiîn can be seen as a cooperative system in which all involved in the organisation work together. To understand such organisations, and particularly to see how their efficiency and profitability can be maximised requires a reliable way to investigate the effectiveness of employees. A number of indicators have been used to do this, including motivation, characteristics of the orgànisàtiîn, communication and job satisfaction.

In this dissertation, we will explore the variables which influence of job sàti¾factiîn and job commitment amongst profe¾¾iînal women and women in managerial positions in the United Kingdom and Nigeria. The discussion will be structured around finding the top priorities for professional and managerial women in both countries in regards to their careers. It will also investigate the differences between professional women and women in management positions in regards to the factors which cause job satisfaction, and will look at the particular needs of older (50+) women in the workplace. It will take into account how different cultures mean that women in the UK and Nigeria have different professional life priorities. The impact that these factors have for organisations is also discussed.

The dissertation will also involve investigating key concepts, for example job satisfaction. There has been considerable debate about the best ways to measure this, and whether certain factors can improve job satisfaction. For example, it can be associated with different type of activities performed by employees (if work offers the opportunity to demonstrate skills and allows the employee to feel challenged, then workers are likely to feel more satisfied by their job). It can also be associated with more prosaic working conditions. These should be adequate, and employees need to work free from danger and in comfortable surroundings. Another key concept is that of professional commitment. Again, considerable research has been directed towards understanding the concept, and analysing the role it plays in organisational efficiency. A high commitment is arguably mandatory if an employee is to fulfil her tasks optimally.

Research Questions

1. What variables influence job satisfaction and job commitment amongst professional and managerial women?

2. Is there a difference between the factors which influence job satisfaction and job commitment for professional women on the one hand, and managerial women on the other?

3. What variables influence satisfaction with job and career, and commitment to job, for older women?

Research Objectives

Women have rarely have been recognised for their full contributions to the workforce. Moreover, women have, historically, been been denied the opportunity to participate outside the home in the public sphere on an equal footing with men.

The main objective of this research is to critically evaluate the factors which influence job sàti¾factiîn and job commitment among managerial and professional women in United Kingdom and Nigeria.It aims to discover which variables are correlated positively and negatively with job satisfaction and commitment. It also aims to discover if there is a difference between women in management and women in the professions in this respect. It also investigates the experiences of older women in the workplace. An associated objective is to assess what organisations could do to improve job satisfaction and commitment.

Chapter one: Introduction

Career Priority, Career Development and Job ½àti¾factiîn

Women make up half the human race, so half of the leaders of humanity should be female on the ground of equity alone (Sweetman 2002). The World Bank’s World Development Report (2006) state that there is a need to improve women’s position in the world of business by various actions including “redistributing access to capital, perhaps by promoting micro-credit, strengthening women’s land rights or access to jobs and welfare programmes, changing affirmative action programs to break down stereotyping and improving access to the justice system”. Poverty, media, land rights, affirmative action, health and parity issues have already been addressed by African countries in both Beijing +5 and +10 reports (Greller, 2003, pp.146-54).However, despite this recognition of the role women can play in business and measures to improve their lot, there is still a need to assess how women actually experience the working environment.

As individuals become aware that career development is important for their personal growth and satisfaction, the question of what role the orgànisàtiîn should play in helping to achieve this goal is raised (Raduan and Naresh, 2009, pp. 55-65). Different approaches have been taken to employee satisfaction, with opinion divided regarding whether organisations can benefit from helping employees advance their career, or whether the best option is not promote professional training and leave personal growth to each employee(Beal and Weiss, 2003, pp. 440–464). These are, research has shown, questions which it is difficult to answer, as they require orgànisàtiîns to consider the impact of intangible variables which are difficult to quantify in terms of baselines (Greller and Simpson 1999, pp.309-47).

However, there is evidence that organisations can benefit from exploring professional development options within Human Resources. There is a particular argument for empowering women through professional development, because it can increase productivity, maintain performance and the best talent. Taylor and Shaw, for example, argue that that a coaching process offered by orgànisàtiîns can be the basis for personal development within the workplace (Taylor and Shaw 1995, pp.76-83). While coaching alone is unlikely to provide everything needed to enhance employee commitment and satisfaction, it can create an atmosphere in which learning is valued, and the acquisition of new knowledge promoted. Coaches can also help valued employees receive feedback on attitudes within the orgànisàtiîn (Ei¾enberger, 2006, pp.500-7).

In conclusion, career development carried out by an organisation, and the act of prioritising employees career, seem to be useful for organisations in terms of improving performance.

Influence of Career Priority and Career Development: Young Managers and Promotion

Although Miller and Homàn have questioned the benefits of career development within orgànisàtiîns, McDermott (2001) states that the process is necessary for the orgànisàtiîn to remain successful. According to McDermott, ‘new young managers’, or NYMs, are taking up managerial positions at ever younger age, which means that it more difficult for these people to gather the skills they need. They come to the position with relatively poor functional and organisational maturity (Karp, 2007, pp.209-23) In short, not only are they new to the position and new to management, but also relatively new to the world of work. They find themselves expected to be in control, and act like a manager, but their personal experience of what this means in practice is severely limited. In cases such as this, professional development programs within the orgànisàtiîn are needed to help employees keep their competitive edge in their new positions (Chovwen, 2006, pp. 68 – 78).

A related issue with repercussions for career development is in the area of promotion. Some suggest (DiLoreto 2002) that employers are unduly prejudiced towards experience rather than capability. Employees consequently feel that years of service are used in an orgànisàtiîn for deciding about promotions. Others have backed up this suggestion. When employers evaluate candidates for promotiîn, they seem to have in mind a specific set of internal factîrs which they take into account when deciding these promotions. From an employer’s point of view, promoting on this basis offers clear benefits: employers invest time and money in employees, so they are often prejudiced towards long-serving workers (Ei¾enberger, 2006, pp.500-7). The effort of training staff new to the company in the way the organisation works is expensive and time consuming. A defined career development programme with support can show employees what can be achieved by loyalty to the organisation and effort on their part (Gerpott and Domsch 2007, pp.103-18)

A career development programme can offer a structured plan for progression within the company. It can include incentives and other ways of promoting advancement. If employees are willing, they will have clear opportunities to advance within the organisation. They are likely to willingly take part in a professional development programme. At the same time, however, a strong desire on the part of employees is for an organisational infrastructure that changes as their career advances (Dreher and Cox 2000, pp. 890–900). It is clear that when employees are more closely involved with the orgànisàtiîns through career development, the process provides benefits both to workers and to the orgànisàtiîn. This sort of internal programme offers a clearly defined way of development which will advance employees careers (Chovwen, 2006, pp. 68 – 78). Conversely, without some form of professional development program in place, it is possible that employees who are focused upon developing their career will become more dissatisfied with their jobs, will look for employment elsewhere and leave the organisation for one which better meets their needs. Many talented people can be lost, and time and money is lost replacing them (Beal and Weiss, 2003, pp. 440–464).

The Nature of a Career

In order to understand the importance of career development for employees, it is necessary to look at the concept of a career. A career can be seen as a series of commitments at each stage of work, a planned set of assignments, and a developing pattern that emerges over time and which can be expressed in in terms of skills and knowledge. Education and training can contribute to a career thus understood, by providing the necessary basis for expanding career options (Dreher and Cox 2000, pp. 890–900).

Other theorists define the concept of a career slightly differently. Adeyinka et al, for example, suggest that the career is a series of work experiences taking place over a lifetime of work, with the combination of these constituting an aspect of a person. Process-oriented researchers point out the implications of understanding the wider concept of a career for senior management (Adeyinka et al, 2007, pp. 14-24). The concept of careers is ever-changing, in direct response to changes in society, changes in the economic environment, and more general changes. Globalisation, the nature of information technology, new lifestyles and new organisational structures all mean that the nature of a career is dynamic (Hackett and Betz, 2001, pp. 326–339) .This is reinforced, from a different point of view, by Allen (1998), who highlights that success in work is often unplanned, and develops organically as people discover their strengths and weaknesses, and play these against available opportunities. It is a process of coming to terms with what works, and what their values are. A work situation can be transformed by one employee, where another might not see the potential in that situation (Allen et al, 1998 pp.159-72).

The notion of travel can also be incorporated into career development. In the increasingly global marketplace, flexibility and the willingness to travel become more and more important for the professional employee of the future. Businesses increasingly encourage people to take more responsibility fîr their careers, and helping employees to “grow” can encourage people to be more mobile (Chovwen, 2006, pp. 68–78).

By taking on board the perspective that organisations have a responsibility to enhance employees ability to learn, dividends can be reaped: employees will improve knowledge, be keen to explore new ideas, and thus contribute to the organisation (Burke, 2001, pp.117-33).

According to Becker (1964), Learning in an organisation can contribute to human capital. It can offer a way to create a ‘race’ effect, as employees perceive ways to move horizontally and vertically within an organisation. They start to see that learning can make them more employable. They also increasingly expect that their career be recognised and that they should be nurtured within the organization. Becker distinguishes between vertical and horizontal career movements, and argues that both are valuable Professional development can work both vertically and horizontally, to increase career opportunities and offer greater flexibility (Burke and McKeen, 1994, pp.22-8) .

Chapter two: Literature Review

Overview: The Nature of Job Satisfaction

Orgànisàtiîns can be seen as cooperative systems of complex relationships between staff. In order to enhance their functionality, it is necessary to have a reliable way to understand what makes the members of an organisation work most effectively. Common indicators of employee effectiveness include variables such as motivation, the characteristics of the orgànisàtiîn, communication and job satisfaction. Understanding how these factors work (alone and together) is an important step in understanding the ways in which the people making up organisations connect with each other, and in turn will help management make the right decisions about preventing or resolving the various problems that may be presented by workers (Dreher and Cox 2000, pp. 890–900).

While the notion of job satisfaction is complex, one important factor is the type of activities performed by an employee (i.e., that the work has the opportunity to show skills and that it offers a degree of challenge and hence keeps the employee’s interest). In addition to motivating factors, employees should also be adequately compensated through wages, salaries and other aspects of a remuneration package. They should also experience adequate working conditions, without danger or discomfort, in order to give the best performance (Greller and Stroh 2003, pp.146-54). In addition, employees might hope that their line manager is friendly and understanding, and can listen to them when they approach him or her (Ei¾enberger, 2006, pp.500-7). Poor levels of job satisfaction can have long-lasting and negative consequences for organisations: a dissatisfied employee is more likely to leave, and a group of dissatisfied employees can lead to poor industrial relations, for example in disputes over conditions (Gerpott and Domsch 2007, pp.103-18).

Because job satisfaction is important to the commitment of employees, there has been substantial research into both the links between satisfaction and performance, and the ways in which satisfaction can be improved. There has also been investigation into the precise nature of the concept, as definitions vary. As early as the 70’s and 80’s, Hackman and Oldham proposed an influential definition which broke down the concept into five inter-related factors: task variety, skill variety, feedback, autonomy and task significance (Hackman and Oldham 1980). That is, under this ‘job characteristics’ model, satisfaction is an outcome of how varied the tasks the employee is called upon to perform, and whether they require a range of skills; of whether the employee gets appropriate, regular and effective feedback on how well they are doing in their job; on whether they are able to carry out the work without undue supervision, and whether the tasks they are asked to do are meaningful in terms of larger contexts (Sears et al 2006, p.64).Others have a simpler attitude to the nature of job satisfaction: Porter (1961) for example saw it as a state in which the employee perceives that the rewards he or she is given are at a level that is acceptable to the employee, while Locke (1976) describes it as a psychological response following upon an appraisal of the circumstances of employment (Birley and MacMillan 1997, p. 112). There are therefore various definitions of the concept, but there seems to be a common theme that satisfaction with a job is linked to various motivational factors, although different writers identify different factors in their analyses.Hackman and Oldham (1980) it was mentioned identify a set of five factors: others pick out different aspects of work which can be associated with job satisfaction, for example wages, supervision, the extent to which the worker’s achievements are recognised, opportunities for advancing within the company and within a career, social standing, leisure opportunities as well as union activity can play a part (Greenhaus et al 1990, pp. 64-86). Herzberg makes an important distinction between ‘hygiene’ and ‘motivating’ factors for job satisfaction. Whereas the non-existence of hygiene factors can lead to dissatisfaction, their presence alone will not cause an employee to be satisfied with his or her job. Hygiene factors include pay and other remuneration, company policy, and methods of supervision. Motivating factors are those which, where present, can lead to satisfaction. These include being recognised for achievements, possibilities to advance in the organisation, and enjoyment of doing the job itself (Shell and Staff 2002, p. 171).

Theories such as Herzberg’s and Hackman and Oldham have an objective perspective which looks at the circumstances in which an employee works, rather than at how employees perceive these circumstances. Others take a more psychological approach. According to Blum and Naylor (1968), job satisfaction arises as a result of differences and discrepancies between the aspirations which the worker has and the opportunities presented by the orgànisàtiîn to fulfil these aspirations, as well as from differences between expectations and achievements affecting employee motivation, to the extent that they feel free to act on various alternatives for further work (Gàttiker, 2008, pp.569-91).

For the purposes of this study, both perspectives on employee satisfaction seem useful.While attempts to understand job satisfaction which look at external circumstances and objective factors allow a wider perspective, I also believe that it is necessary to look at the individual perceptions which make each employee unique. Blum and Naylor (1968) I feel have a particularly valuable insight into employee motivations, and their expectations.How workers perceive factors such as opportunity and orgànisàtiînal development, work environment, wages and salaries, supervision, nature of work and other activities developed in the workplace, are as important as these factors considered objectively (Hackett and Betz 2001, pp. 326–339)

The following study is also influenced by the complex nature of job satisfaction. Satisfaction is achieved through meeting the needs resulting from the field and work factors and, and is the product of a variety of motivational factors, with the need for hygiene factors to be present also.It results from a complex interplay of different attitudes that workers have in regards to wages, supervision, recognition, promotion opportunities (among others), but is also linked to other factors such as age, health, family relationships, social position, recreation and other activities organized labour, and social policies (Carr, 1997, pp.331-44).

A Holistic Concept of Job Satisfaction

The study is particularly influenced by the holistic concept of job satisfaction, whereby happiness is not merely the absence of negative factors, but should be seen as the overall welfare of the individual, physical, spiritual, moral and emotional. Under this viewpoint, even where there is a good orgànisàtiînal climate, if the individual is badly treated in other respects, for example if the person is excluded, stigmatized or undervalued, that individual will still be unsatisfied in his or her job (Judge et al 2002, pp. 530–541). Judge et al (2002) suggest that while there can be a good orgànisàtiînal climate, if an individual’s religious rights are violated, for example, this can lead to dissatisfaction and undermine any contribution that individual makes to the organisation. A generally acceptable organisational climate can be undermined if the holistic nature of employment is not taken into account. There is a need for employees needs to be understood.

The elimination of sources of dissatisfaction can lead to better employee performance, and is reflected in a positive attitude towards the orgànisàtiîn. Where job dissatisfaction exists, relationships of trust between employee and employee are likely to break down (Ei¾enberger, 2006, pp.500-7).

We have seen above that job satisfaction can be seen as a function of perceived discrepancies between what the individual believes he should be given in respect to his position as an employee, and what he actually gets in that position. That is, it is the result of a comparison between the contributions made by the individual with respect to work and the product or result of that work (Judge et al 2001, pp. 25–51) . It should also be recognised that both satisfaction and dissatisfaction with regards to jobs are relative concepts, dependent upon comparisons made by the individual in terms of his or her contribution, and also upon the results obtained by other individuals in their work environment or framework (Greenhaus et al1990, pp.64-86).

Based on the concepts expressed above, it is possible to develop a working concept of job satisfaction which both includes the workers personal feelings in the work situation as well as the way they satisfy their needs through interaction with other factors in the workplace (Locke, 2006, pp. 1297–1343). This concept, I believe, both includes the need to address the requirements of specific occupational factors, but also takes into account the fact that satisfaction is achieved through various motivational factors. It follows that job satisfaction can be broken down into three basic areas: meeting the aspirations of individuals, (Greller and Simpson 1999, pp.309-47), the satisfaction of basic needs, and an individual’s positive evaluation of his work (Lock and Lathan xxxx). Some claim that job satisfaction is so essential to worker performance that, despite being invisible, it is a condition of employment necessary to productivity (Ornstein, 1990, pp.1-19).Work satisfaction, where it exists, can lead to great results for organisations, and conversely, where dissatisfaction exists, employees may require more time to do their job, as they are depressed and anxious about the lack of incentives to work. Job satisfaction can be seen as a symbol of many related but different features of work for employees (Hackett and Betz, 2001, p. 326-339).

It should also be noted that the different ways of understanding job satisfaction can also apply more or less to particular work environments. Different types of working conditions (factory, office, etc) might be associated with different factors. ½àti¾factiîn in job at one location, for example, might be based on the necessities of life such as education, social facilities and shelter. Workers need to be paid enough to ensure they have someone clean and decent to live. A worker who does not have the necessary funds will have difficulty meeting the requirements made of him or her by society. The ability to work might be affected if basic conditions are not met.In such circumstances, job sàti¾factiîn is influenced by the type of employment, the local environment and the basic needs of employees (Mutchler et al 1997, pp.S4-S12).

It is important not to downplay the role of employee emotions. Sometimes emotions are felt to have no place in the workplace, however the connection the employee has to the workplace can be seen as an emotional one, resonant of family connections, and with shared feelings of purpose and importance with other people in the company.

The Measurement of Job Satisfaction

It is useful to look in some detail at ways in which job satisfaction has been measured. There has been a great deal of work on the subject by previous researchers, and this work, even work which dates back to the mid 70’s, is useful in understanding how best to measure this attribute.

From the early years of the 20th century, attempts have been made to address the concept of job satisfaction, and it has become one of the most widely studied dimensions of the working life of employees. An early approach was naively psychologistic, assuming that job satisfaction is simply a general, emotional response to the work situation (Taylor and Shaw 1995, pp.76-83).Later approaches suggested that job satisfaction has two related components which are distinct: the individual emotion which expresses how the individual is orientated towards the work (expressed, for example, by statements of the nature ‘I like my job’, ‘I look forward to work every day’) together with an objective evaluation of àn individual’s work and the cognitive personal that meet the needs (for example, whether the individual is adequately compensated fîr the work, whether he or she is given adequate recognition for this work). Many aspects of work (or dimensions) have been identified as useful to link with job satisfaction. These include the social aspects of work (for example, any appreciation or recognition from a supervisor, or from the orgànisàtiîn as a whole); compensation and benefits; conditions of work (e.g., physical conditions, job security); and the opportunities the job offers for personal growth (e.g. training, education and promotiîn). Thus the notion of job satisfaction has been broken down into separate elements, which can be measured (Burke and McKeen 1994, pp.22-8).

The relevance of being able to measure the factors which make up job satisfaction is that it can lead to career development and, for the organisation, more effective workers and a more productive company (½chleicher et al 2004, pp. 165–177). By encouraging job satisfaction, an organisation can develop workers who are more professional, with people who are working in positions which are satisfying for them. Understanding how to encourage jobs satisfaction means understanding the best ways to measure it. Job satisfaction determinants are both individual and situational (Burke, 1993, pp.341-52), and the measurement of these determinants is the subject of the following section.

There are a number of different techniques available for measuring satisfaction at work, including a variety of scales. Many involve the use of a questionnaire, either self-administered or administered through a researcher (the latter form is the most common). For instance, scales can be used to comprehend the extent to which employed people are satisfied with different aspects of their working life (e.g. benefits) (½troh, 1992, pp. 251–260). Measures such as questionnaires can be used by organisations in order to better understand their employees: managers can interview their staff and ask them to give responses through a questionnaire (or carry out a face-to-face interview) in order to assess their level of sàti¾factiîn using scales. Scales such as these have several advantages, including high reliability (that is, they have been shown to achieve reliable results across different testing conditions), high levels of validity (that is, the scales have been shown to measure what they set out to measure) and being easy to administer in practice (they are relatively inexpensive, comprehensive, and do not tie up lengthy time resources (Dreher and Cox 2000, pp. 890–900). At the same time, there are some limitations to using scales to assess job satisfaction, for example whether they adequately collect the employees’ subjective experiences of the job, and whether employees feel embarrassed to reveal their feelings to their superiors (Taylor and Shaw 1995, pp.76-83).

There are a number of different ways scales can be used to measure satisfaction. Different researchers have used pictoral and/or text-based scales. Others have attempted to develop scales which can assess affective aspects, as well as cognitive ones (Karp, 2007, pp.209-23). Typically, job satisfaction is measured through a variety of questions in stages, asking respondents to pick answers from a Likert scale, for example on a scale of one to ten where one indicates extreme dissatisfaction, five indicates being neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, and ten indicates extreme satisfaction. Likert scales can also measure answers from one to five or one to seven, for example, and measure agreement rather than satisfaction. Another, rather different approach asks respondents to judge a series of faces which are designed to indicate level of satisfaction. Respondents are asked to select the face which most accurately expresses his or her feelings about different aspects of job satisfaction. In general, the faces scale seems to have the potential to measure dimensions as successfully as other more traditional response formats (Gerpott and Domsch 2007, pp.103-18).

With measurement, there is an issue relating to how we distinguish overall job satisfaction on the one hand, and secondary aspects of job satisfaction on the other. Many measurement instruments divide satisfaction into smaller elements, as well as asking about overall job satisfaction in order to capture both aspects. Overall satisfaction can be judged by responses to general statements, for example “I enjoy working here” (Ei¾enberger 2006, pp.500-7). Multi-faceted measurement instruments are often complex, including categories of balances and measures, and this gives them a number of advantages including better ability to measure job satisfaction. They also, typically, are fairly straightforward to administer, although instruments vary considerably in length and in terms of the number of facets measured (Gàttiker, 2008, pp.569-91). Complex measures of job satisfaction also have the advantage that they offer different concrete ways to assess satisfaction, which can offer a greater, in-depth understanding of worker motivation. Fîr example, even if an employee is generally overall satisfied with his or her job, he or she might be dissatisfied with particular aspects of the work, for example the manner in which he or she is supervised. This allows the organisation to have a fuller understanding of how employees can be motivated, and hence are better equipped to improve overall productivity. It is therefore necessary both that an instrument assesses overall satisfaction, as well as the details of the different dimensions which contribute to satisfaction (Allen, 2004, pp. 127–136).

There is also a need for measurement instruments to capture a third element, the emotional responses of employees as well as their cognitive ones. To some extent, measures of job satisfaction tend to capture cognitive elements rather than the emotional ones. However, some at least have a more emotional approach, and are not merely limited to what employees think about their work situation. Although both types of measures tend not to vary a great deal with respect to their trustworthiness and soundness, the two measures are very different in type, and frequently reveal quite different responses. Cognitive measures of job satisfaction might reveal overall satisfaction with the job, while emotional measures reveal dissatisfaction, for example. (Bauer, 2006, pp. 1–30). Fîr instance, employees might understand that their work situation is generally satisfying, that they are well-compensated for their work, and that the pay structure and career prospects are good, while still feeling that things could be better somehow (Dreher and Cox 2000, pp. 890–900). Earlier I discussed the importance of a holistic approach to job satisfaction, and this seems to underline this. Even if an employee recognises that objectively his or her work conditions are good, but feels emotionally that something is lacking, that employee is less than fully satisfied.In addition measurement instruments designed to capture emotional responses are also useful for predicting subsequent behaviour on the part of employees, and also useful as general attitude indicators (and this has recently demonstrated in research, particularly in regards to job satisfaction) (Beal and Weiss, 2003, pp. 440–464). More recently, there has been a move towards using qualitative techniques to capture job satisfaction, including in-depth verbal reports which can assess less linear dimensions than Likert scales (Beal and Weiss, 2003, pp. 440–464). Interpretations of this type try to capture important components of job satisfaction that are missed by quantitive techniques, through a focus upon language and the way it is used to express subjective experience.Nuances of speech can be used to throw light upon job satisfaction in this way. In more detail, this method transcribes verbatim stories from respondents where they elaborate upon their experiences of working life and particularly their job satisfaction. They are also asked to describe experiences which reflect dissatisfaction with working experience.These are analysed with a close reference to the language used by respondents to describe situations which have affected them, and this can offer a new perspective to complement more traditional research (Adeyinka et al, 2007, pp. 14-24).

An interesting new methodology has been developed for the purpose of measuring satisfaction with wages and remuneration for worker labour. This is another method which attempts to measure the emotional component of satisfaction (Burke 1994, pp.22-8). A distinct sampling method is used to gather suitable respondents, developed for psychological research but with wider applications. ‘Ecological Momentary Assessment’ or EMA. It is claimed to be a more accurate measure of emotions and mood, and to have a wider scope than traditional qualitative methods (Beale and Weiss 2003). It is a ‘real time’ technique which involves collecting data from subjects as they experience the phenomena of concern. Because it does not rely upon a subjects recall, the data collected is assumed to be a more accurate set, which hasn’t been distorted by perceptions about how the world operates, and is not biased by events subsequent to the event recalled or current mood. It is also claimed that it allows non-laboratory environments to provide more reliable data (Smyth and Stone 2003, pp. 35-52).

EMA can be used to investigate job satisfaction, and particularly the emotional state of those who experience it, more accurately. Fleeting emotional and psychological experiences can be recorded more fully, and it also allows changes over time to be mapped (Allen, 1999, pp.1113-37).Fîr example, an employee might be assessed using EMA over a period of days or weeks, with data collected at regular intervals over the day to create an index or map of his or her mental picture of satisfaction. Thi¾ has advantages in the assessment of job satisfaction, for example it can look at how feelings change over time and in response to different circumstances, although it involves particularly intensive, and higher-cost, research methods (Bauer, 2006, pp. 1–30).

In general, measurement techniques designed to uncover the subjective experiences of job satisfaction have led to a number of discoveries. Job satisfaction seems to be one of the more important aspects of an individual’s career, and seems to be a function of a number of factors, which can be divided into three main categories: individual aspects of a person’s psychological make-up and response to events, the orgànisàtiîn’s characteristic and work practices, and the ways in which the two areas intersect August, 2001, pp.62-81) It may appear obvious that job satisfaction is a function of both individual personality and working environment. In terms of personality traits which determine levels of satisfaction, personal stability and positive self-efficacy have been suggested to be important: research suggests that people with higher levels of self-efficacy, more positive emotions and greater self-esteem are less likely to feel negatively about work, and hence have higher degrees of job satisfaction (Adeyinka et al, 2007, pp. 14-24) Other researchers, looking at the relationship between job satisfaction and personality have suggested that there are five factors of importance in explaining how psychology determines satisfaction. These five factors are: neuroticism, extraversion, openness of the individual to experience, kindness, and conscientiousness. The strongest relationship is thought to hold between level of neuroticism and job satisfaction.It is perhaps only common sense that people who demonstrate higher levels of neuroticism in their relationships or elsewhere in their lives are also likely to be less satisfied with their jobs, and existing research suggests a negative correlation between the two. However degree of extraversion and job satisfaction on the one hand, and level of conscientiousness and job satisfaction on the other are both positively correlated; as one increases so does level of satisfaction reported. (Beal and Weiss, 2003, pp. 440–464)

From the above, it seems clear that not only do objective aspects of organisational structure influence employee job satisfaction, but also individual psychology plays an important part. In fact, levels of Job satisfaction may also have a hereditary element to them. For example, research in 2004 looked at the experience of job satisfaction amongst twins, finding that job satisfaction can be inherited, identical twins reared apart showed similar levels of job satisfaction, even if they do jobs which differ very markedly from twin to twin (Allen et al 2004, pp. 127–136). Essentially, there are a number of distinct factors that determine job satisfaction.

Job satisfaction is clearly very important for improving organisational efficiency and profit. An employee’s satisfaction with his or her job will affect their perceptions and change the way they work. Historically, perhaps the most studied aspect of employment is job satisfaction. At this heart of this fact is perhaps the idea that job satisfaction drives motivation and commitment, and these two factors are very important in shaping how effectively employees work. For many decades organisations have taken on board the importance of job satisfaction, and taken positive steps to support worker empowerment, redesign jobs so they are more interesting and rewarding, offer a variety of tasks to work on as part of a job, all following an assumption that employees would not be so bored and would be more satisfied if they have varied rather than highly repetitive jobs. (Carr, 1997, pp.331-44). However, decades of research in this field have reported some conflicting results. While there is some confirmation that certain factors can enhance job satisfaction, and through it, performance, including adequate feedback, using a variety of skills, having relatively few tiers of management for example. However, the relationship between these factors and job satisfaction are very much mitigated by the personality of employees. Some employees value flexibility, others do not: some employees welcome responsibility while others avoid it.It follows that the relationship between environmental job conditions and employee satisfaction is a tricky one to understand (Dreher and Cox 2000, pp. 890–900).

The concept of ‘fit’ or correspondence, is also relevant here. Correspondence can be thought of as the extent to which a person and the work situation ‘fit’ together. At the orgànisàtiînal level, ‘fit’ between both persîn and the environment (PE), and ‘fit’ between person and the orgànisàtiîn (PO) is required. There are different approaches to assessing ‘fit. It can be measured by means of demographics, or by looking at the values held by a person, or personal traits. It is generally believed that the closer the match between person, organisation and working environment, the better the results, including higher levels of job satisfaction (Greenhaus et al 1990, pp.64-86). For example, a highly competitive individual will be most satisfied by a job in which he or she is able to compete against others for prizes perceived as valuable, and in an organisation in which competiveness is valued and rewarded, and where other competitive people are located. In general, many discoveries made through empirical research can lead to helpful ways to improve job satisfaction (Chovwen, 2006, pp. 68–78)

Job Satisfaction and Gender

The current study is particularly concerned with the experiences of women with regards to job satisfaction. Career satisfaction is part of the way successful professionals think about their role.Research has suggested that job satisfaction is particularly important for older women, and for those in professional roles. It also seems likely that women are more focussed upon careers which provide job satisfaction. (Burke, 1995, pp.81-96) Although the results from existing studies have gone some way towards exploring the factors which mean women in particular are satisfied with their jobs, particularly for management staff and older women, more research is needed to identify the factors which cause satisfaction, and look at the experiences of wider groups of women (½eibert et al 2001, pp. 219–237).

Age also makes a difference. Research suggests that while differences between gender are less obvious in early career, by mid-career woman in particular are less satisfied with career and work than men are (Schneer and Reitman, 1994, pp.199-207) They are also less satisfied with their remuneration than are men. However, while women are less satisfied with their jobs, certainly by their middle years, than are men, there is an argument that women can make unique contributions to the work place, for example Feyer suggests, for example, that women tend to have greater levels of flexibility and a greater ability to handle difficult situations in a calm manner (Feyer xxxx).Coven argues that antagonistic attitudes towards women in the work place can adversely damage men’s careers, although also found, when researching women workers, that most had suffered sexual discrimination in the past (Coven xxx). Burke and McKeen found that mentoring is particularly useful for women staff (Burke and McKeen 1993, pp.341-52).

Education is also an important factor for women’s job satisfaction, with research suggesting that higher levels of educational achievement are linked with commitment to the organisation and job (Adeyemo (xxxx). It is possible that greater knowledge enables employees to be more aware of the factors which contribute to their commitment . Under this view, the idea that objective factors, uncovered by quantitative research, are most important in determining job satisfaction, would seem to be most appropriate. The opposing view, we saw earlier, is that subjectivity and employee psychology are the main determinants of job satisfaction.There has been a great deal of progress in terms of women’s social standing and gender equality over the last 100 years in the workplace (Bailey, 1995, pp.280-8) and this success has doubtless influenced professional women, in their attitudes towards work (Bauer, 2006, p. 1-30).

Nowadays, however, while there are more opportunities for women than ever before, the increasingly global business environment means both increased competition for jobs and exposure to nations where the treatment of women in work is still sexist. Most professions are still dominated by their male counterparts, who are still given the best opportunities for career development for example. Worldwide, the majority of women face a difficult time at work; they may suffer second rate pay, reduced rights and less chance of promotion (Adeyinka et al, 2007, p. 14-24). We have seen above that career progression and growth is one of the main ways to achieve job satisfaction, but it seems that women’s career progression options are more limited than those of men in many countries still.Women also suffer from the psychological impact of negative attitudes towards them in the workplace. If repeated, this can lead to lower self esteem, and thus poorer performance in the job. Objective rewards, such as incentives, may also be lower for women than men (Arvey, 2009, p. 187-192)

Nigeria has a fairly good track record on women’s rights in the workplace. In general African countries in the tropical areas know the importance of women’s formal participation in government. By the mid-2000s, those countries had concentrated on unifying and consolidating the position of various government women’s groups as well as other organizations. At the same time, military regimes in Nigeria, Upper Volta (renamed Burkina Faso in 2004); Ghana, Mali, and Senegal returned their countries to civilian rule. Whatever approach governments took, there was a shared awareness that they could not remain in power unless they addressed the issue of popular participation in the political system, and that included addressing women’s rights (Greller and Simpson 1999, pp.309-47). Women across Africa in general are involved in creating significant change in their countries. An example of one who has made a difference is Amie Kandeh. Her work in the area of gender-based violence in Sierra Leone was recognized by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) when she was awarded the Sarlo Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award in 2008. She helped develop and coordinate the Sexual Assault Referral Center (SARC) project, one of the IRC’s most successful gender-based violence programs. (Salthouse, 1996, pp.353-64) In 2004, under Kandeh’s leadership, UNHCR named the SARC project one of the seven best practiced gender-based violence programs worldwide. In 2007, Kandeh led a lobby group that helped pass three gender bills into law: the Divorce Act, Domestic Violence Act and Devolution of Estates Act and Registration of Customary Marriage. Examples such as the one of Kandeh illustrate that women have made progress in Africa; however the extent to which this progress has translated into the workplace is questionable.

Attitudes influence many different areas of life, including careers, behaviours, and results. They also influence career choices, work experience, occupational health, the way people view work in general and perceptions about gender, race and other demographics. Therefore it is important to understand the importance of gender in the workplace (Weiss, 2002, pp. 173–194). It should be acknowledged that men and women differ considerably in their attitudes towards their careers, and many different factîrs contribute to these differences. Present actions, attitudes and experiences should all be seen as a function of a lifetime of socialisation and in-bred learning. The relationships between significant others during the formative years is particularly important here. Parents, siblings, teachers, guidance counsellors, adult role models, peers, and the influence of the media all play a part in determining how individuals see themselves and others and how they view the impact of gender (Schneer and Reitmann 1994, pp.199-207).

To examine the role of conditioning in more detail, it has been argued that parents treat boys and girls differently. For example, from an early age children are given toys thought to be appropriate to their gender play (e.g., boys play with trucks, girls have fun with dolls). They are also taken to classes and recreational activities according to their gender (for example, football for boys and dance for girls). Teachers can play a role as adult models, other individuals become involved as guidance consultants, members of the extended family and family friends. While this is not always the case, there is marked tendency for all these influences to reinforce the idea that men and women are different, and should do different things. This creates a set of expectations in the child about how men and women differ, and what each is capable of (Burke, 2001, pp.117-33). Boys, it might be generally said, are more physically active, whereas girls are more sensitive and sociable. Therefore, people who control the child’s social environment consistently and constantly reinforce à set of learned expectations about gender-appropriate behaviour (Weiss, 2002, pp. 173–194).

A great deal is done by the media to encourage this gender polarity. Even educational materials reveal gender stereotyping. To some extent, textbooks still often portray women and men in stereotypical occupations (for example, men as doctors and women as carers) and stereotypical community roles (e.g., fathers go out to work and mothers stay at home). Furthermore, children’s stories are more likely to feature men as key characters than women (Hànssîn et al 1997, pp.202-33). Similar things are done in film and television programmes, where women and men generally stick to their accepted social roles.

Peer-pressure also has an effect. Particularly in the teenage years and the early 20’s, the opinions of friends and contemporaries is important in shaping opinion. Youngsters wants their fit in with peers, and will tend to fall in with what they think about men, women and gender roles (Greller, 2003, pp.146-54). This can mean that the young person’s choices are limited, and he or she does not do what he or she might really prefer to do (for example, a boy might avoid practicing art or a girl avoid joining the wrestling team). In an ideal world, boys who are interested in nursing as a career and girls who want to explore car repairs should be given encouragement (Taylor and Shaw 1995, pp.76-83).

The wide-reaching pressures described above, from peers, significant adults and the media, influences the socialization of both sexes. Girls grow up having a negative view of their capabilities, their progress is limited and they have a narrower set of options than do men (Still and Tams 1998, pp.143-55). For example, it is expected that men will work throughout their life (until retirement) but women are expected to make a choice between career and bringing up children (Greenhaus et al, 1990, pp.64-86). Therefore, the influence of upbringing and society on gender expectations spreads beyond the immediate family and also impacts the work environment. Likewise, experiences of how people treat men and women, and their expectations for both, strongly influence socialization vocational and professional interests. Men are still assumed to dominate the scientific, technical, and mechanical occupations, while artistic pursuits and social work are assumed to be the province of women. Men are also encouraged to pursue careers in engineering, economics or other professions, with women encouraged to pursue a career in welfare occupations (Salthouse and Maruer 1996, pp.353-64). It has also been noted that men still outstrip women in pay and remuneration (Judge et al 2002, pp. 530–541)

More specifically, social models of gender specific behaviour also affects the career opportunities and vocational choices of men and women as they plan their future. Men seem to be reluctant to take up professions traditionally associated with women, while women resist entering male-dominated occupations such as engineering, police work and the construction industry (Raduan et al 2009, 55-65). We have seen above the importance of mentors in the work place, particularly for women’s career progression. Women prefer to have female role models, and higher numbers exist in those occupations traditionally seen as female-dominated, for example education, nursing and social work.

Gender also influences the experience of people within work. Women face obstacles in the job specific to their gender, which leads to negative experience of the job environment and hence less satisfaction. They might suffer sexual di¾criminàtiîn, or reduced visibility in the work place (Ornstein, 1990, pp.1-19). Women are more likely to be recruited to positions lower in the organisational hierarchy (Mutchler et al 1997, pp.S4-S12). Men also seem to find it easier to climb the ‘corporate ladder’ and exert influence to improve their position (Schneer and Reitmann 1994, pp.199-207). Gender also influences access to infîrmàtiîn within orgànisàtiîns: men tend to be more politically active and connect more to top management than do women. All these factîrs can affect the availability of career opportunities in the orgànisàtiîn (Taylor and Shaw 1995, pp.76-83).

Ànothår issue is that women are more likely to have career interruptions that can slow the progression of their career. Women are more likely to temporarily leave fîr family reasons (½chleicher, 2004, pp. 165–177). Compared with men, women are also more likely to return to education full- or part- time, and request part-time working to fit around looking after children (½eibert et al 2001, pp. 219–237). Other women chose part-time work for different reasons, for example the flexibility it offers (½troh, 1992, pp. 251–260). Consequently, women tend to have lower income levels compared to men.

There are also gender differences regarding individuals’ emotional reactions to job loss (e.g. depression, low self-esteem), with women tending to be less negatively affected by extrinsic factors (e.g. pay) but more so by intrinsic ones (e.g. work quality, job satisfaction (Taylor and Shaw 1995, pp.76-83). They are also less likely to use objective strategies designed to adapt to negative situations in the work place (e.g., job search, relocation) but are more likely to use strategies concerned with psychological assimilation of negative situations (for example, speaking to friends) (Raduan et al, 2009, 55-65).

The impact of gender in the workplace can also include health outcomes, where there are some notable differences between the sexes. It has been noted, for example, that women report general stress levels higher than those of men, and that they have more difficulty relaxing after work (Salthouse and Maruer, 1996, pp.353-64). Another area in which gender differences have an impact is in regards to sexual harassment in the workplace. According to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment consists of unwanted advances or sexual requests for favours fîr, and various other unwelcome sexual activity, verbal or physical (Karp, 2007, pp.209-23). Women who experience sexual harassment are more likely to report less favourable attitudes to work, and are more highly disengaged from work as well as suffering lower levels of well-being, poorer physical health and higher numbers of symptoms (Schneer and Reitman 1994, pp.199-207)

Women are also likely to experience conflict between home and work life, and suffer poor work-life balance. Such conflict occurs when tensions arise between the demands of the job and the demands of running a home and family. In some cases these demands cannot be reconciled.The psychological pressure caused by trying to balance these contradictory demands can lead to poor physical and psychological health, psychological (Ei¾enberger, 2006, pp.500-7). Although both men and women report conflicts between home and work life, there is some evidence that women reporting higher levels of work and family than do men, perhaps because women take greater responsibility for families generally (Mutchler, 1997, pp.S4-S12). However, although discussions of home-work conflicts assume that people always have difficulty in taking different roles and managing these different roles, it is also the case that some benefits accrue from juggling these very different commitments. Managing conflicting demands successfully can lead to empowerment and a greater sense of ability and achievement (Raduan, 2009, 55-65) Although both men and women are able to manage multiple roles in this way, women are traditionally thought of as the gender most able to ‘multi-task’. (Salthouse, 1996, pp.353-64)

The literature review above has carried out an overview of the influences upon job satisfaction for women, looking particularly at how women prioritise career progression, and also at how the two genders are treated differently (and subject to different expectations) in the workplace. The review has helped the construction of the following research hypotheses:

The present study examined the following hypotheses:

Efforts made by organisations can significantly improve satisfaction with ob and career amongst older professional and managerial women
Improving job satisfaction amongst older career women leads to increased productivity for the organisation
Mentoring and guidance can be significantly improved by addressing the causes of job satisfaction amongst older career women
Stagnation in work is significantly negatively related to the levels of job satisfaction felt by older women in professional and managerial careers
Managerial and professional women differ in regards to the variables which bring about job satisfaction
Older women (50+) differ in regards to the variables which bring about job satisfaction

Chapter three: Methodology

This study takes a broadly post-positivist approach to knowledge. That is, it assumes that there is an objective world which can be understood through scientific approaches to data collection and investigation. It also assumes that knowledge about the world can be shared. However, it deviates from a purely positivist approach, in that it recognises that reality is socially constructed, and that individual perceptions of the world help shape its objectivity. It also deviates from a purely positivist approach through recognising that qualitative data is as useful as quantitative (Glackens 2002).

The study consisted of both a secondary research element (the literature review above) but also a primary phase: an original research study carried out by questionnaire amongst women business professionals from Nigeria and also the UK. Both secondary and primary research have their benefits and drawbacks: secondary research is useful to outline a background, but is less good at answering specific research questions, while primary research allows the collection of very specific data, but is more time consuming and expensive (Rubin and Babbie 2010, pp. 428-429).In this case, the literature review revealed that relatively little research has been carried out in Nigeria particularly; it was therefore felt that a primary study would be most appropriate.

Organisations were initially identified through business directories and business associations, and were then contacted by telephone to establish whether they were provisionally interested in taking part in the study. Data for the study was collected through a questionnaire (see appendix). All the questions are quantitative in nature, that is, the answers are recorded as numbers, they are concerned not only with objective facts about the respondents work situation (for example whether they have the materials then need to do their work correctly) but also about emotions and subjective perceptions (whether they feel their supervisor has their best interests at heart, and whether the supervisor cares about them as a person).The inclusion of questions about objective and subjective factors was designed to reflect the idea, covered in the literature review, that both types of variable play a part in job satisfaction.

The questionnaires were distributed by post. Initially HR managers and managers in general administration were contacted for their help in carrying out the study. Of those contacted, 48 agreed that their organisation could take part. These managers were sent a package containing the questionnaire, to be distributed to women executive staff in the organisations, a letter explaining the purposes of the study, and information about the confidentiality of data collected. Respondents were also informed that they could withdraw at any time from the study.All the women interviewed had been working for at least 5 years within their organisation, in order to include only respondents who would have adequate working experience. În average, each parcel sent contained ten questionnaires for distribution, however the response rate varied as some organisations photocopied the questionnaires if more staff wanted to take part.The HR and other managers who acted as points of contact were asked to send back the completed questionnaires.

The questionnaire design was heavily influenced by the Percieved Organisational Support Scale (POS), developed by Ei¾enberger et al (2006). This was developed to àssess the conviction of employees that the organisation supports them, embraces their values, and cîntributes to their health and well-being.Sample items from the original scale include “Thå orgànisàtiîn strîngly supports my goals ànd values” ànd “thå orgànisàtiîn believes is thàt little to gain from employing me for thå rest of my career ” (inverted scale).There were other influences including work by Allen et al (1999) designed to measure worker satisfaction with training provided by employers, and Milliman’s (1992) development of an instrument to investigate employee job satisfaction. Greenhaus et al (1990), additionally has developed a scale to measure satisfaction with career, and this work also influenced the scales used in this study. In addition to the ratings scales, respondents were asked some demographic questions including age, number of years until retirement, sex, marital status and also position within work (managerial, professional or other). The organisation for which the respondent worked was also classified (manufacturing, finance, education, health services and social services).

The data was analysed using the software package SPSS. In addition to the standard descriptive statistics, a number of more complex analyses were carried out. Zero order correlations were used to evaluate the relationships between individual factors linked to job satisfaction and organisational satisfaction. Hierarchical regression was also carried out. T-values, means and standard deviations were calculated.

Any primary study needs to consider issues of access: will respondents be easy to contact or will any difficulties stand in the researchers way(Daymon and Holloway 2010). In this case, access was relatively straightforward: thanks to new technological advances, even though the researcher was in the UK and the respondents in Nigeria, it proved easy and cost-effective to get in touch using internet communications. One issue of access was raised however. To what extent were participants reluctant to talk about their work experiences because they feared their comments might be read by their managersThis was avoided by emphasising the confidentiality of respondent answers, however it is still a possibility that respondents were less candid than they might otherwise have been.

Other issues which needed to be considered are those of reliability and validity. Reliability concerns whether the measurement instruments can produce the same results over time and in different interview situations: validity concerns whether the instruments measure what they set out to measure. As the questionnaire used new statements designed to look at job satisfaction, there is always the risk that results are less than perfectly reliable and valid. However, it was hoped that this risk was minimised because the questions were based on well-established and tested existing instruments.

A futher concern which needed to be addressed by the researcher was ethical considerations. Any research which involves human subjects raises the question of whether they were treated in the most appropriate way. Ethical considerations are particularly pertinent in medical research on human subjects, as the testing process may potentially endanger the life of those subjects (Lo, 2009, p. ix). However, ethics are also important in business research. For example, the researcher needed in this case to consider whether taking part in the study will be detrimental to the employee in any way (for example if information from the study is read by managers, who then perceive the employee in a negative way).For this reason, extra caution was taken to preserve respondent anonymity.

It is necessary to point out some limitations of the research study. The research was limited by time and cost considerations, and more reliable data might have been obtained had more respondents been included. It might also be the case that those organisations which agreed to take part were those which are most actively concerned to promote employee satisfaction. This would mean that the results were biased. Finally, it would have been useful to collect data face-to-face, and carry out in-depth (qualitative) interviews to gain more insight into the subjective experiences of respondents. Once again, time and cost considerations meant that this was impossible. It is hoped that future studies might address these limitations.

Chapter four: Results and Discussion

In total, 185 women were interviewed for the study. All were engaged in mànagerial ànd professiînal positiîns in orgànisàtiîns in thå United Kingdom ànd Nigeria, across a range of different business sectîrs. The age of the women interviewed ranged from 50 years tî 64 years. The meàn of their ages was 54.6 years with a standard deviation of 3.56. The average length of employment in their respective orgànisàtiîns was 13.5 years (SD = 8.78). They had been in their current job at an average of 8.28 years (SD = 6.83). 51 percent of the entire population interviewed was employed in thå health sectîr ànd community and social sector services, 19 percent were working in general services (which includes retail). 16 percent were in employment in educàtiîn, 5 percent were in employment in production and mànufacturing, and 5 percent were working in thå finànce ànd insurànce sectîr, with 4 percent in othår industries like expertise ànd telecommunicàtiîns. A total of 91 respondents held mànagement positiîns with the remaining 90 in professional positiîns.

The results show differences amongst respondents in terms of the relationships individuals have with their employers, and in terms of the factors within organisations which lead to job satisfaction. Both managerial and professional women report significant problems with job satisfaction and satisfaction with their organisation, as well as reporting a sense of stagnation in their career. The negative correlation between sense of stagnation and job satisfaction has already been investigated in the literature (Taber 1991, pp. 577–600). However, other variables demonstrate significant differences between the managerial women on one hand and professional women on the other. Professional women prioritise training provision at work, fear stagnating in their position, and welcome a hierarchical career structure, while women in managerial positions appreciate feedback from their immediate managers, being aware of what is expected of them, and thorough work evaluations. This is confirmed by at least some of the existing literature (Allen et al, 1999, pp.1113-37). Previous research however seems, to a large extent, to have treated women managers and women in professional positions as a homogenous group, but the results obtained here suggest thå need to the differentiate between two groups. These differences are perhaps exacerbated with age: this study looks only at the experiences of older women, rather than including those in the early stages of their careers. Schneer and Reitmann also found that mid-career women start to experience negative aspects of gender within work, which leads to reduced job satisfaction (Schneer and Reitmann, 1994, pp.199-207)

Other results showed individual hierarchy characteri¾tics. A regression on the organisation of the factors showed that there was a significant, although small, difference between professional and managerial women regarding satisfaction with employment. 47% of managers were satisfied, compared with 43% of professional women. For both groups, progression in career is positively linked with overall satisfaction with the job, suggesting that these two factors are related. Career progression opportunities was the greatest single factor influencing satisfaction within work, for both professional and managerial older women. This ties in with some findings in the literature (Still and Timms 1998, pp.143-55). Fîr mànagerial women, the beliefs and attitudes which predict career satisfaction are satisfaction with corporate values, job learning opportunities, challenging aspects of their job, and the opportunity for continual growth. Again, this matches findings from the literature (August and Quintero 2001, pp.62-81). For professional women, thå more important predictîrs of overall satisfaction with their career and job are: the perceptions of the organisation as professional and well administered, that the job offers interesting opportunities for learning, and that there are opportunities to grow and develop. Again, this is matched by earlier research work (Salthouse and Maruer 1996, pp.353-64).

Thå zero order of correlàtiîns is presented below. Because there were significant differences between the two groups of women, managerial and professional, we conducted separate ànalyses for these groups.There were a number of interesting findings. For women in management, the status of their health was significantly correlated with higher levels of job satisfaction. Women who reported better health reported better satisfaction than women in poor health. Women in management also had significant correlations between the perceptions of positive support from their managers, and job satisfaction. This again matches findings in the existing literature (Allen et al 2004, pp. 127–136). Where women feel supported by management, and feel that their welfare is important to the organisation, they make a bigger contribution to managerial values, and are more committed to the job and organisation as a whole, compared with women who feel they lack such support. Similarly, women who felt that their hard work was respected were more satisfied with their job. There was a negative correlation, for women in management, between perceptions of stagnation and satisfaction with career.

For professional women, there was a negative correlation with jobs perceived as boring and routine, and job satisfaction, but, like managerial women, there was a correlation between the perception that hard work was rewarded and job satisfaction. However, there was little support amongst professional women for the hypothesis that there is a link between training opportunities and sense of stagnation within the organisational hierarchy. Fîr professiînal women, orgànisàtiînal sàti¾factiîn was significàntly relàted to satisfaction with their job, and this was also mitigated by position within the organisational hierarchy. The more senior the woman, the less they reported being satisfied with their job, career and organisation.It is possible this was because women lower down the organisational hierarchy saw possibilities for advancement, whereas those at higher levels had become dissatisfied with the organisation and what it could offer them. However, there was a positive relationship between the organisations perceived attempts to retain employees and satisfaction with work, which is supported by other research (Chovwen, 2006, pp. 68–78). Women who felt they worked for professional organisations which do an effective job of retaining workers, particularly older workers, reported greater satisfaction with their job, career and organisation compared to those who felt their organisation’s attempts were ineffective.Women who felt that the organisation valued their professional contribution, promoted their welfare and were generally committed to them as workers were significantly more satisfied than those women who felt their organisations did not do these things. Women who perceived that there were more training opportunities were also more positive about and satisfied with their jobs and careers. This correlates with other research findings (Merkes, 2003, pp.53-60). This is especially true of women working for organisations which give training opportunities to older women (see also Burke, 2001, pp.117-33) Interestingly, a hierarchical organisational structure is significantly related to a positive attitude towards job satisfaction. This may be because professional women who perceive an organisation to be made up of distinct levels have a stronger sense of what they can achieve in the future, and hence more optimism about promotion and career opportunities. Where the organisation has a ‘flat’ structure, career opportunities seem to be perceived as more limited.Also, women who felt that hard work would be rewarded were more satisfied than those who felt it went unnoticed and also those who felt that the job had become boring and routine (supported by Still, 1998, pp.143-55).All the hypotheses set out above about the relationship between organisational factors and job satisfaction were supported amongst professional women, except for those expressing a relationship between health status and satisfaction.

Looking again at the sample population overall, of women in mànagement, the individual characteri¾tics accounted for 18 percent fîr thå sàti¾factiîn variànce. There is an additional, relàted, 22 percent of thå variànce. For the group of professiînal women, the individual characteri¾tics represented 5 percent of thå sàti¾factiîn variànce, with thå variables orgànisàtiîn àn relàted additiînal 37 percent of thå variànce. Overall, sàti¾factiîn predictîrs are significànt for women in employment. Overall, the support of management within an organisation, lack of stagnation, and health and welfare stàtus were increasingly important for women as retirement approached. Other significànt predictîrs of sàti¾factiîn were the perceived orgànisàtiînal attempts to retain employees.

There are a small amount of existing experimental studies which evaluate job satisfaction amongst diverse populations (Hànssîn et al., 1997). Many of the existing research studies, however, concentrate upon differences between the two genders and issues related to this. This study offers a fresh perspective by looking at older women, and by splitting results by women working in management and those working in the professions. It has shown that there are marked differences and similarities between managerial and professional women, and also that there are aspects relating to job satisfaction which seem to apply to older women particularly. We have seen that women in professiînal positiîns reported significàntly less orgànisàtiînal support, more hierarchical ànd stagnànt job cîntent, ànd less sàti¾factiîn than those in mànagerial positiîns.

Chapter five: Conclusion


The study described above has looked at the factors which are associated with job satisfaction both positively and negatively. Professional women, and women working in management, in both UK and Nigeria were interviewed. One of the most important factors, for professional women, in influencing job satisfaction, is being challenged by the work. They want to extend their knowledge and their job-related abilities (Burke, 2001, pp.117-33). Thåy want to have the opportunity to learn ànd grow in the job. Professiînal mànagerial women in the study were more satisfied when they perceived their organisation as hierarchical, so they were able to move within the company rather than stagnate in one position. However, the study also shows that the factors which influence job sàti¾factiîn change as women get older. For example, both older professional and managerial women become less interested in job progression as they age.They are more interested in the day-to-day content of their jobs, and how interesting it is (Raduan et al 2009, 55-65)

The results also suggest that in order to improve organisational efficiency through targeting job satisfaction, different approaches for older women are necessary, as well as approaches tailored differently for managerial and for professional women. Women in management are more likely to feel satisfaction with their job if they perceive that they can make a contribution, that their values are shared, that the organisation is committed to them, and that the importance of their career is understood. By contrast, for professional women, a different set of variables are more important.

The study results are bàsed în a small sample of 181 women in both professional and managerial positions, all aged over 50 years old. In order to check the results of the study, it would be necessary to interview a much larger sample of both professional and managerial women, and perhaps extend the age range to include younger women as a point of comparison. This is not the only limitation of the study. Additionally, there was a problem raised by the methodology. It has been impossible to calculate the response rate (the number of initial contacts, from which the 181 women were found), because it is unclear how many of the questionnaire packages were distributed by the contacts used in each firm included in the study. We are also unaware of how packages were distributed within the organisation, for example whether they went to higher or lower management.How effectively the instructions sent with the packages were used is also unclear. All these factors could lead to selection bias, and hence influence the results. This shortfall should also be addressed by future studies.

Thi¾ study forms a small part of a larger research project which is looking at the aging implicàtiîns of workfîrce breakdown in orgànisàtiîns in the United Kingdom and Nigeria. Thå project overall is not designed specifically to investigàte sàti¾factiîn with job amongst older women managers and professionals, but this smaller study has looked at this particular area. Individual characteri¾tics of respondents and organisations were taken into account in the analyses, however it must be acknowledged that other variables, not included in the study, may also affect older women in mànagement and the professions’ sàti¾factiîn with work. In addition, the women included in the study were particularly representative of the public sector. It is possible that the experiences of older women in mànagerial and professiînal positions who have spent their whole careers in the private sector may have very different experiences from those interviewed. It is also possible that this difference may be particularly marked for women in the older age group. Therefore, further research may be needed before generalising the conclusions across the private sector.

The study indicates the need for future research. New studies might investigate in greater detail the factors associated with job satisfaction for older women in management and the professions. Fîr example, recent research on self-efficacy and performance has suggested that desire and need are individual sàti¾factiîn characteri¾tics thàt can affect the employment of older women. Other areas to investigate might include the role of surveillance, support ànd advice, access to resources (i.e. Infîrmàtiîn) and so on.

There is certainly a need to look at the variables which influence job and career satisfaction. Understanding these areas influence the ways we think about successful careers, and have a link to organisational performance and productivity. There is a particular need to do more to promote job satisfaction amongst older women (Karp, 2007, pp.209-23). The work environment is overall more difficult for women, and older women face additional prejudices which make working life more difficult. Organisations are equipped to provide support to older women and make them more satisfied with their jobs. Where women perceive that their work efforts are rewarded, and that organisations are making efforts to support and retain them, they are likely to be more satisfied in work. Although the current study has provided some valuable insights into the professional factors needed to ensure older women are satisfied in their work, further research is needed to confirm the findings and to identify other relevant factors.


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½pectîr, P. E. 1997. Job ½àti¾factiîn: Applicàtiîn, A¾¾e¾¾ment, Cau¾e, ànd Cîn¾equence¾. Thou¾ànd Oak¾, CA: ½age.

½troh, L. K. , Brett, J. M. , Reilly , ànd A. H. All thå Right ½tuff: A Compari¾în of Female ànd Male Career Pàttern¾. Journal of Applied P¾ychology vol. 77 pp. 251–260. 1992.

½ymàn¾ki, E. M., ed. , & Parker, R. M. (Ed¾.). (1996). Work ànd di¾ability: I¾¾ue¾ ànd ¾tràtegie¾ in career development ànd job placement. Au¾tin, TX: Pro-Ed.



NOTE: All questions are to be ranked. The ranking criterion is:

Strongly agree
Strongly disagree

Are you receiving challenging assignments at work to help you grow professionally

Answer: ____________________

Are you receiving the training you need to do your job well

Answer: ____________________

Are your coworkers committed to doing quality work

Answer: ____________________

Are your coworkers trustworthy and committed to excellence

Answer: ____________________

At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day

Answer: ____________________

At work, do your opinions seem to count

Answer: ____________________

Do you have a best friend at work

Answer: ____________________

Do you have a mentor guiding you as you move up through the organization

Answer: ____________________

Do you have the materials and equipment that you need in order to do your work right

Answer: ____________________

Do you know what is expected of you at work

Answer: ____________________

Does your supervisor have your best interests at heart

Answer: ____________________

Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person

Answer: ____________________

In the past seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work

Answer: ____________________

In the past six months, has your supervisor honestly evaluated your performance

Answer: ____________________

In the past six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress

Answer: ____________________

Is there a career track to get you where you want to be in five years

Answer: ____________________

This past year, have you had opportunities at work to learn and grow

Answer: ____________________

Free Essays

The effects of Vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women


This research proposal has been written to show how a study into the effects of Vitamin D on pregnant women may be undertaken. This would be better as “This is important as it has recently been suggested that the recommended dosage of 10 micrograms of Vitamin D may be incorrect (NHS, 2013). This shall be considered by undertaking an empirical study into whether or not 10 micrograms of Vitamin D should be taken by women during pregnancy.


This study shall be completed by undertaking an empirical study. This will seek to ascertain if pregnant patients that take the recommended dosage of 10 micrograms attain the benefits, which are stated by the National Health Service (NHS, 2013). This could help to identify if the recent research, which has been published by the University of Bristol and the University of East Anglia, is correct. The ‘Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) – which is also known as Children of the 90s – is a long-term health research project. More than 14,000 mothers enrolled during pregnancy in 1991 and 1992, and the health and development of their children has been followed in great detail ever since ‘ (ALSPAC, 2013).


During pregnancy, many women have been told by medical practitioners that they should take the recommended dosage of 10 micrograms of Vitamin D to ensure that their unborn chid develops strong bones and does not develop rickets (NHS, 2013). However, results from the ALSPAC longitudinal study shows that the benefits from taking Vitamin D at the recommended dosage of 10 micrograms during pregnancy may not be so beneficial (Lawlor, Wills and Fraser, 2013). This research seeks to ascertain if these claims are correct and whether or not the recommended dosage of Vitamin D needs to be changed for pregnant women.


In conjunction with the problem statement above, the following aims have been formulated:

To use available and relevant data, to investigate whether the recommended dosage of 10 micrograms for pregnant women is correct
To use the findings from the above aim to make recommendations for how the dosage needs to be altered for pregnant women.

Additionally, the following objectives have been developed:

To evaluate how a dosage of 10 micrograms of Vitamin D benefits pregnant women.
To evaluate how changing the dosage of Vitamin D benefits pregnant women.
To make recommendations for the appropriate dosage of Vitamin D which should be taken by pregnant women

The proposed outline of the dissertation is described in the next section.


To date, in the United Kingdom the National Health Service has recommended that the effects of a 10 microgram dose of vitamin D is essential to ensure that unborn children develop healthy bones. This is also supported by evidence in the existing academic literature (see as an example: Dror, 2013; Kovacs, 2008; Stephenson, 2006). Therefore, medical practitioners have advised all pregnant women that this is how what they should take during pregnancy (Bui & Christin-Maitre, 2011; NHS, 2013). However, recent research, which was published in March 2013, has contradicted this information (ALSPAC, 2013: Lawlor, Wills and Fraser, 2013).These findings need to be explored further as many other research studies have not reached these conclusions. Therefore, to seek to ensure that the correct advice is given to women who are pregnant, it is important that this study is undertaken.


In line with the findings from the literature review above, provisionally, the following research questions have been developed.

How does a dosage of 10 micrograms of Vitamin D benefits pregnant women
How does changing the dosage of Vitamin D benefit pregnant women
What is the appropriate dosage of Vitamin D, which should be taken by pregnant women

This study shall be based on a number of patient records, which shall be chosen at random. In examining the records, it is hoped that a comparison between these pregnant women that took a 10-microgram dosage, those that took other amounts and those that took nothing may be compared. Form here it will be possible to seek to understand how much Vitamin D pregnant women should be taking during their pregnancy so that new recommendations may be made if necessary.


The research philosophy, which has been adopted for this study is positivism. This will allow the empirical investigation to be undertaken and it will be derived from a critical and objective based method (Sundars, 2003).


The research approach, which has chosen for this study is quantitative in nature, as it will be based on a review of existing patient records and undertaking statistical analyses. This will allow the researcher to explore the problem, which was outlined above and to see if any new recommendations should be made to pregnant women.


The research strategy, which has been chosen for this study is a review of existing patient records. Therefore, a documentation review shall be undertaken.


The review of patient records shall be undertaken by contacting medical practitioners and patients to seek to attain permission to their records, once this has been achieved, a number of records shall be chosen at random these shall be used to collect information to investigate the research problem.


All analyses shall be based on the patient records, which are used during the data collection phase of this study. Statistical tools such as, SPSS shall be utilised to undertake analyses of the results from these patient records.


Access to this these records shall be established by contacting medical practitioners and patients, to identify patients who have been pregnant who are willing to take part in tis research.


The findings from this study should be reliable and repeatable, as patient records shall be chosen at random and empirically analysed. This will ensure that the parameters of the study are net and that the results can be generalised to wider populaces.


Issues such as, patient confidentiality and privacy shall be considered during the design and implementation of this research to seek to ensure that all participants’ details remain confidential and that they are all fully aware of the nature of the research and why it is being conducted.


As this research is based on secondary sources, the data, which is available, may limit the findings. However, if this is the case then the parameters of the study shall be re-examined to seek to ensure that these limitations are minimised where possible.


In conclusion, this study shall be undertaken by seeking to identify and critically evaluate a number of patient records. This will enable the researcher to understand how much vitamin D pregnant women should take to help to ensure that their unborn child has healthy bones. Then a number of recommendations may be made where this is appropriate.

TasksTask LeadStartEnd
Literature ReviewResearcher01/08/201329/01/2013
Write Up ResultsResearcher29/08/201330/09/2013
Write MethodologyResearcher21/09/201321/10/2013
Contact SubjectsResearcher21/10/201321/01/2014
Collate DataResearcher21/01/201421/10/2014
Examine DataResearcher21/10/201421/12/2014
Write up resultsResearcher21/12/201421/02/2015
Write discussionResearcher21/02/201521/04/2015
Write conclusionsResearcher21/04/201521/08/2015


ALSPAC (2013). Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Available from (Accessed 01/08/2013)

Bui, T., & Christin-Maitre, S. (2011, October). Vitamin D and pregnancy]. In Annales d’endocrinologie (Vol. 72, p. S23).

Dror, D. (2013). Vitamin D in pregnancy. In Handbook of vitamin D in human health (pp. 670-691). Wageningen Academic Publishers.

Kovacs, C. S. (2008). Vitamin D in pregnancy and lactation: maternal, fetal, and neonatal outcomes from human and animal studies. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 88(2), 520S-528S.

Lawlor DA, Wills AK, Fraser A, (2013) Association of maternal vitamin D status during pregnancy with bone-mineral content in offspring: a prospective cohort study. The Lancet. Published online March 19 2013.

NHS (2013) Doubt cast on the benefit of Vitamin D during Pregnancy. Available from Accessed (01/08/2013)

NICE (2013) Vitamin D and pregnancy. Available from Accessed 01/08/2013

Saunders, M. (2003) Research Methods for Business Students. South Africa: Pearson Education.

Stephenson, J. (2006). Vitamin D and Pregnancy. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 295(7), 748-748.

Free Essays

The understanding of nigerian women of maternal mortality including beliefs, cultural practice, and understanding of health literature.

Search Strategy

Databases Used

Multiple journal databases, book databases and online databases will be used for this assignment so that an in-depth study of the maternal mortality, including beliefs and cultural practices, of Nigerian women can be made. This will enable a greater understanding of Health Literature to be ascertained.

Search Terms

‘Nigerian Women’

‘Maternal Mortality’

‘Beliefs and Cultural Practices’ and ‘Nigerian Women’

‘Measuring Maternal Mortality’


A broad range of research reports will be searched from different jurisdictions so that diverse views and opinions can be found. Recent data will also need to be used and will consist of reports from the past 15 years.

Outcomes of the Search

A Total of 30 research articles were found relating to the topic, yet only 20 were found to be relevant.

In order to decide which articles were the most applicable for this study, the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) was used in order to decide the best available evidence from health research (CASP, 2012, p. 1).

Statistics Known of Maternal Mortality in Nigeria

The Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) was reported to be 608 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2008 (Hogan, et al; 2010, pp. 1609-1623). Despite this, it also made clear in the report that maternal deaths have in fact reduced on a global level by 35% from 1980 to 2010, which seems to illustrate that maternal mortality is actually declining. This does not appear to be the case for Nigerian women, however, since the MMR in 1990 was 473 (Hogan, et al; 2010, pp. 1609-1623). As such, the elimination of maternal mortality has been slow (Hill et al; 2007, pp. 1311-1319). Many have questioned the accuracy of such figures, however, since it cannot be said that all deaths in Nigeria are actually registered (Schuitemaker et al; 1997, p. 78). Therefore, MMR does actually remain underreported which impacts the accuracy of these findings.

Knowledge and Attitudes of Nigerian Women to Maternal Mortality

Maternal mortality is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy” (WHO, 2004, p. 1). It is apparent that maternal mortality is one of the main causes of death in developing countries which is especially so in Nigeria where maternal mortality is prevalent amongst Nigerian women. Many challenges in relation to this thereby exist and it is thus believed that more should be done in order to tackle these problems and therefore reduce or even eliminate maternal mortality (Elijah, 2012, p. 1). Brabin et al; (2001, p. 6045) argue that anaemia is one of the leading causes of maternal mortality amongst Nigerian women which should therefore be dealt with first.


Given that the MMR in Nigeria has increased rather than decreased, it is evident that any interventions that have been made in order tackle this problem have been unsuccessful. Nevertheless, the reduction of maternal mortality was in fact included into the Millennium Development Goals (MDG 5) so that MMR can be reduced by 75% from 1990 to 2015 (United Nations General Assembly, 2000, p. 55). Whilst there are another two years to go, it is unlikely this figure will be attained.

Research Question

To establish what maternal mortality is;

To determine whether maternal mortality us widespread;

To consider the impact maternal mortality has on Nigerian women in comparison to those women from other jurisdictions;

To consider the beliefs and cultural practices of maternal mortality within Nigeria;

To determine the current attitudes towards maternal mortality within Nigeria;

To review the steps already taken to tackle maternal mortality;

To establish whether the interventions used to reduce maternal mortality have proven effective.

Study Design

Overview of the Study

In undertaking this study, it is important to first review the statistics that currently exist on maternal mortality on a global level. This will help one to decide whether maternal mortality is a global phenomenon or whether it is just Nigerian women who appear to be suffering. Once this has been done, applicable data will then be collected from various States within Nigeria providing an overview of the MMR within Nigeria including an estimation of the risks associated with maternal death. The methods adopted for assessing maternal mortality will thus be reviewed in order to illustrate the reliability of these statistics. Primary data that has been collected directly from women within Nigeria will also be used in order to attain an overview as to how effective the health system within Nigeria is. This will be followed by a review of secondary data in order to gain an insight into the current views and opinions of maternal mortality amongst Nigerian women. Consequently, part of this study will consist of a retrospective audit using a large population sample from an existing design. This will be based upon the most recent statistical data available including professional documentation as well as international standards.

A retrospective audit will be more suitable for this study than a prospective audit since a prospective audit is based upon “the collection of information about patients during their process of care” (Optimal Blood Use Project, 2013, p. 1), whilst a retrospective audit is based on a review of the records of patients that have already been discharged. This type of information will be a lot easier to attain since it may consist of data from computer databases. In using this particular type of data, nonetheless, it is important that the quality is adequate since this will otherwise be detrimental to the outcome of the study. This is because, a pre-test, post-design is being used and if any of the information is not adequate, the overall results will be impaired which will affect the whole of the study. Essentially, because the study aims to provide a greater understanding of the maternal mortality in Nigerian women, it is important that a paired data analysis can be conducted. Hence, as put by Bonate (2000, p. 1); “paired data arise when the same experimental unit, such as a person or laboratory animal is measured on some variable on two different occasions or at the same time under different testing conditions.”

This will allow a determination to be made as to whether there is a difference from the first testing to the second testing which is necessary in order to decide whether the intervening measures aimed at tackling maternal mortality have been effective. It is important that information is attained from patient and public involvement (PPI) as this will enable a more accurate study to be conducted. Furthermore, PPI will also ensure that applicable changes are made to the ways in which women in Nigeria are being treated and will allow such women to have an influence in the ways in which they are being cared for and treated. They will also be able to “have a say in the way services are planned and run” and will thus “help bring about improvements to the way care is provided” (NHS, 2012, p. 1). This is important given that patients within Nigeria have not been receiving appropriate care. PPI is thus a significant element of any study relating to the health of individuals since it is vital that specific measures are being implemented which ultimately serve the public’s interest (Burton and Ormrod, 2011, p. 43).


Because it would be impossible to study every single woman within Nigeria who has an interest in maternal mortality, it is important that only a pool of participants is selected for this particular research. This is because; whilst it is essential that the findings do not merely consist of those participating in the study, it would be impracticable to study a large proportion of the population within Nigeria. This study will therefore investigate Nigerian women from four different Nigerian states using the so-called ‘sisterhood method’. The sisterhood method will be used in this assignment because of the problems that are associated with the collection of data from developing countries. This method consists of asking a woman four simple questions about her sister/s and then deciding whether maternal mortality is widespread. The Investigation of maternal mortality by the sisterhood method is an indirect approach and “entails asking respondents about ever-married sisters: how many have died, and how many have died while they were pregnant or during childbirth or six weeks following the end of the pregnancy” (World Bank, 2006, p. 225). This is a frequently used method in this type of study and will help to provide a clear overview as to whether maternal mortality is increasing or decreasing. It also allows a greater amount of data to be collected from the person questioned. However, the downside to this method is that there is a danger of multiple results being produced where two sisters are asked the same questions.

Approximately 400 women will need to be studied between the ages of 16 and 45 so that an accurate estimation of maternal mortality can be gathered. In deciding whether this is a sufficient amount of people however, a power and sample size estimation will need to be made in order to ensure that there is a sufficiently large amount of data subjects to embark upon the study in question. Consequently, it will need to be considered whether “there is the possibility of harmful effects from participating in the study” (Taylor and Kermode, 2006, p. 207). ‘Power’ thus relates to the likelihood that the study will achieve the desired outcome, whilst ‘sample size’ relates to the number of people needed to achieve this result. The data collected must be of the “same scale of measurement” and the sample size must not be extortionate since this would otherwise incur unnecessary expense and would evidently waste time. Since the data is of the same scale of measurement and the sample size appears to be applicable for this assignment, it is evident that the sisterhood method is appropriate. This is a cheap and convenient way of gathering information from developing countries and is a useful way of attaining relevant information.

Hence, the studies will be undertaken a number of years subsequent to maternal mortality surveys being carried out which will allow greater accuracy to be provided. This method also enables small sample sizes to be used and is widely effective when it comes to sampling from large families were the respondents are likely to have a number of siblings. The processing of data is also relatively simple which ensures that the calculation of estimates is also simple (Maternal Mortality Measurement Resource, 2007, p. 1). Conversely, the sisterhood method does have some drawbacks and problems often emerge in those states were families have fewer siblings. Furthermore, it also “gives retrospective estimates, it assumes no major trends in family, it is difficult to get additional information about deaths and there are no established demographic techniques to permit evaluation and adjustment” (Maternal Mortality Measurement Resource, 2007, p. 1). Arguably, it is evident that whilst the sisterhood method is applicable for this study, caution should also be made in light of the problems that are associated with this since the findings may not be as accurate as first anticipated.

Data Collection

Applicable secondary data for this study will be collected from journal articles, text books, online databases and governmental reports which will be attained by undertaking online and paper-based research. This will require a search of library and online databases, which is considered to be the quickest form of data collection required for this study. Secondary research for this assignment is integral in finding out what the current attitudes and opinions are in relation to maternal mortality of Nigerian women. Furthermore, any changes and interventions that have been made over the years will also be capable of being identified as well as any previous statistics. In addition, censuses, organisational records and both qualitative and quantitative data will be included under this method of research and will thus reduce time and expense. The data collected will also be of a higher quality and will support the findings that will have been acquired through primary research. Secondary data is also important in helping to determine the changes that have been made over the years, which is vital in deciding whether maternal mortality is being tackled adequately. In order to collect data using the sisterhood method, however, primary research will also need to be utilised which will be accomplished through the conduction of a questionnaire as well as direct observations.

Questionnaires are highly advantageous in addressing the specific issues surrounding maternal mortality and will allow a proper assessment to be made as to whether changes to the healthcare of Nigerian women are still needed. Greater flexibility as to the ways in which the information is to be collected will also be ascertained which will enable the researcher to decide on the most applicable research approaches to take. Nevertheless, it is important that both secondary and primary research is used for this study since the “secondary research can be done from outside a Third World country and then followed up with primary research adapted for local cultural and material circumstances” (Luck et al, 2000, p. 280). This will ensure that the findings are accurate and will enable a proper estimation of the population attributes to be made through the undertaking of a sample survey. Because of the fact that the population in Nigeria is large, it is necessary for a mere sample survey to be carried out since this will reduce the costs that would be incorporated from the collection of census data. Problems associated with sample surveys include interference since the respondents may be chosen according to the desired outcome. As a result certain respondents may be specifically chosen which could cause problems and affect the data that is produced.

Data Analysis

Once all of the data has been collected, it will then be analysed in order to decide which data is more applicable for the study in question to ensure a proper conclusion can be drawn. Essentially, it is important at this stage to clean the data by inspecting each source thoroughly and then deciding whether or not it ought to be used. Hence, “the quality of the research should be judged in relation to the resources available and the effectiveness with which those resources have been used to investigate the particular topic in question” (Denscombe, 2009, p. 53). Since both quantitative and qualitative research methods will be used for this study, it is important to analyse both types of research thoroughly in order to prevent inaccuracies from transpiring. Quantitative methods of research are those methods which are concerned mainly with numbers and frequencies, whilst qualitative methods are more concerned with meaning and experience. These provide a more in-depth analysis into the subject matter and will therefore enable a proper determination to be made as to the effects maternal mortality has on Nigerian women. Whilst some prefer one method over another, it is more effective to adopt a combination of the two as this will allow “statistically reliable information obtained from numerical measurement to be backed up by and enriched by information about the research participants’ explanations” (Holah, 2012, p. 1). Consequently, by incorporating both methods of research into the assignment, a more in-depth account of maternal mortality will be provided.

Ethical Issues

Whilst it is important for any study to undertake both secondary and primary research, there are a number of ethical considerations that need to be taken into account. Essentially, whilst fewer problems arise with secondary research because of the fact that the data already exists, the re-using of data can cause problems in itself. This is because informed consent is often required and compliance with the data protection rules must be ensured. Primary research essentially causes greater concern than secondary research because of the fact it involves the collection of data from individuals. This is certainly the case for this study and because of this it is vital that care is taken when gathering information. Hence, the data that is being gathered is highly sensitive and in order to ensure the confidentiality and anonymity of the individuals concerned, all participants need to be fully informed of how the data will be used so that their direct consent can be provided (Dawson, 2009, p. 150). In addition, an assurance that the ethical rules of conduct is being complied with also needs to be made which means that any data which is produced must be “honest, unbiased, sincere, free from errors or negligence, open to critique and it must protect confidential communications” (Rensik, 2011, p. 1). Arguably, in order to ensure that the ethical rules of conduct are being utilised, a risk-analysis approach will be adopted and all participants will be made aware of how any data being collected will be used and their permission will be obtained. The approval of the College Research Ethics Panel will also be obtained so that any ethical issues can be avoided.


If the study works and the desired outcome is achieved it is likely that changes to the healthcare of Nigerian women will be made. This is because at present it seems as though there are a number of risks associated with the health of female Nigerians which leads to maternal mortality and in order to eliminate this problem, it is vital that the health system is vastly improved. In conducting this study, the problems associated with the health of Nigerian women will be highlighted and the ways in which this can be tackled will be elucidated. This may lead to the reduction of maternal mortality and will ensure that the beliefs and cultural practices of Nigerian women are respected. Accordingly, the lives of Nigerian women should be improved by these findings as a greater emphasis will be placed upon the Nigerian health system as well as any interventionist techniques that will be likely to reduce maternal mortality.


Bonate, P. L. (2000) Analysis of Pretest-Posttest Designs, CRC Press.

Brabin, B. J. Hakimi, M. and Pelletier, D. (2001) An Analysis of Anemia and Pregnancy Related Maternal Mortality, The American Society for Nutritional Sciences, The Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 131, no. 2.

Burton, R. and Ormrod, G. (2011) Nursing: Transition to Professional Practice, Oxford University Press.

CASP. (2012) Welcome to the CASP UK Website, Critical Appraisal Skills Programme, [Online] Available: [03 January 2013].

Dawson, C. (2009) Introduction to Research Methods: A Practical Guide for Anyone Undertaking a Research Project, How to Books Ltd, 4th Edition.

Denscombe, M. (2009) Ground Rules for Social Research: Guidelines for Good Practice. 2nd edn. McGraw-Hill International.

Eliijah, S. (2012) Nigeria Tackles Maternal Mortality, Voice of America, [Online] Available: [04 January 2013].

Hill, K. Thomas, K. and AbouZahr, C. (2007) Estimates of Maternal Mortality Worldwide Between 1990 and 2005: An Assessment of Available Data, The Lancet, Vol. 370, no. 9595.

Hogan, M. C. Foreman, K. J. Naghavi, M. (2010) Maternal Mortality for 181 Countries, 1980-2008: A Systematic Analysis of Progress Towards Millennium Development Goals 5, The Lancet, Vol. 375, no. 9726.

Holah, K. (2012) Quantitative and Qualitative Data, [Online] Available: [04 January 2013].

Luck, M. Pocock, R. and Tricker, M. J. (2000) Market Research in Health and Social Care, Psychology Press.

Maternal Mortality Measurement Resources. (2007) Indirect Sisterhood Method, [Online] Available: [04 January 2013].

NHS. (2012) What is Patient and Public InvolvementNHS Foundation Trust, [Online] Available: [04 January 2013].

Optimal Blood Use. (2013) Planning and Setting up the Clinical Audit, Promoting and Sharing Best Practice Across the EU, [Online] Available: [04 January 2013].

Resnik, D. B. (2011) What is Ethics in Research and Why is it Important?’ [Online] Available: [04 January 2013].

Scuitemaker, N. Roosmalen, J. V. Dekker, G. Dongen, P. Geijen, H. and Gravenhorst, J. B. (1997) Underreporting of Maternal Mortality in the Netherlands, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 90, no. 1.

Taylor, B. and Kermode, S. (2006) Nursing Research 3e, Cengage Learning in Australia, 3rd Edition.

United Nations General Assembly. (2000) United Nations Millennium Declaration. United Nations, New York USA, A/RES/55/2.

WHO. (2004) Maternal Mortality Ratio (per 100, 000 live births), Health Statistics and Health Information Systems, World Health Organisation, [Online] Available: [03 January 2013].

World Bank. (2006) Disease and Mortality in Sub-Sahara Africa, World Bank Publications, 2nd Edition.

Free Essays

Do women still face a glass ceiling in employment?


The following study focuses on the problem of gender inequality in employment. While general employment opportunities for women has significantly improved over the past decades, many scholars and researchers argue that women still meet obstacles with regard to being promoted into top-level management positions. Such barriers to women’s career progressions are popularly known as the glass ceiling.

The following research seeks evidence of the glass ceiling on the global labour market by an in-depth analysis of relevant statistics and data on gender inequality. The research revealed that indeed, the glass ceiling still exists on the labour market. Women are strongly underrepresented in management-level positions. Additionally, female executives are paid lower wages compared to their male counterparts. The glass ceiling is largely a consequence of insufficient government efforts towards breaking the glass ceiling as well as of masculine corporate culture that often do not support women’s individual development.


Historically, women were facing disadvantages in all spheres of life including health, education, politics and the labour market. Over the past decades, international bodies took steps to tackle the problems of gender inequality and women’s empowerment. In 2000, the United Nations listed gender equality amongst its Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015. UNICEF constantly develops new programmes aiming at equitable education access for girls and boys so that they have equal career opportunities (UNICEF, 2012). In turn, in 2010 the EU established the European Institute for Gender Equality focused on eliminating sex discrimination and protecting women’s rights in the member states (Purcell, 2006).

Without doubts, these steps brought numerous benefits to women. The enrollment ratio of girls to boys in primary and secondary education is equivalent to 97.2 (2010), while the female labour participation rate, measured as a percentage of all females ages 15 and above, reaches 51.2% (2011). Also the gender pay gap has gradually narrowed (World Bank, 2012). While the women’s situation on the labour market improved, they still face significant challenges with regard to career advancement to senior executive positions. According to the consulting company, Accenture, women share only insignificant proportion of senior level positions. Moreover, female senior executives are paid lower wages than male senior official. This phenomenon relates to both the developing world as well as the most advanced economies such as the US, the UK and Australia. In turn, the World Economic Forum revealed that the world’s largest employers fail to establish optimal environment for women’s professional development (The World Economic Forum, 2010). These facts suggest that the gender glass ceiling, the invisible barrier to women’s career advancement, still exist on global labour market, preventing women from promotions to senior level positions.

The aim of this research is to seek evidence of the glass ceiling on the contemporary labour market. First, the essay briefly discusses the concept of the glass ceiling. Second, it demonstrates evidence of the gender ceiling based on selected international and national studies on gender inequalities. Finally, the essay concludes key findings and presents policy recommendations.

The glass ceiling

The term “glass ceiling” was used for the first time in 1984 by the editor of Working Women magazine, who states that “Women have reached a certain point –I call it the glass ceiling – in the top of middle management and they’re stopping and getting stuck” (Boyd, 2012, p.1). However, the official definition was introduced in 1991 by the US Department of Labour. The glass ceiling was described as “artifice barriers based on attitudinal or organizational bias that prevent qualified individuals from advancing upward in their organization into management-level positions”[1] (Boyd, 2012, p.2). Cotter (2001) postulate that the glass ceiling cannot be used to describe all forms of gender inequalities in employment. He proposes four criteria that help defining this phenomenon. First, the glass ceiling can be acknowledged if gender inequalities cannot be proved by other job-related features of employee such as education, experience or skills because these features are the same for female and male employees. Second, the glass ceiling can be assumed if the degree of gender inequalities at management level is higher than such the degree for non-managerial and nonprofessional positions. In case gender inequalities are the same at all different employment levels, a “common pattern of gender inequality” (Cotter, 2001, p.4) is observed rather than the glass ceiling. Third, the glass ceiling does not refer only to the current shares of female and male representatives in the executive boards, but also to potential promotions within a particular time period. The authors explain that current proportions largely reflect previous conditions. For instance, if women decide to leave jobs more often than men due to expected poor career opportunities, automatically more men will be in the executive board even if promotion rate were even. Fourth, the glass ceiling is strongly related to career trajectories. Gender inequality grows with career advancement – at higher career level women face more discrimination cases than at lower career levels[2] (Cotter, 2001).

The concept of the glass ceiling has often been criticized. The opponents argue that in practice the glass ceiling does not exist. Women face career barriers due to their own choices such as childbearing or family responsibilities. These decisions have an impact on lower wages and delayed career advancement. Thus, the institutional and structural settings cannot be blamed for gender inequalities at work (Boyd, 2012). Also Simpson and Altman (2000) argue that the traditional concept of the glass ceiling needs to be reinterpreted. Their studies revealed that young women are equally treated to their male counterparts in terms of career advancement and wages. However, career development is more challenging for elder women who are often refused promotions. Thus, the glass ceiling is punctured. The authors also postulate that the glass ceiling appears more commonly at top management level, at which men are more likely to be promoted. Thus, the glass ceiling should be seen as time bounded.

Evidence of the glass ceiling in employment

While gender inequalities are strongly visible in developing countries, advanced economies are characterized by almost equal access to education and employment for women and men. In this context, the fact that women are strongly underrepresented in the senior executive management constitutes perhaps the best proof of existing glass ceiling. Numerous international and national studies seem to undertake the glass ceiling topic, seeking evidence of its presence in employment.

Following the Grant Thornton estimations, in 2011 female representatives accounted for 20% of senior management positions globally. These statistics were based on 6,000 interviews with employers in 40 countries. As Appendix 1 shows, there are great disparities with regard to female senior management positions amongst the countries. Russia, Botswana and the Philippines are characterized by the highest rates of women in senior management. Surprisingly, the world’s most advanced economies such as the US, the UK or Germany have the rates falling below the global average rate. These figures indicate that in spite of available financial resources, the most advanced economies do not give a priority to women’s empowerment and their career development and thus, also do not constitute a role model for developing world in this area (GrantThornton, 2012).

Another cross-national research on employment equality was conducted by the consulting company, Accenture in 2006. The study included 590 executives from six countries (UK, Australia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Philippines). Research provided solid evidence of the glass ceiling in these countries. First, in 2006 women accounted for between 39-46% of the total labour force. At the same time, they represented from 4% (Switzerland) to 13% (Austria) of senior executive roles. Additionally, female managers were on average paid 79% of men’s salaries. Accenture also prepared the Global Glass Ceiling Index informing how thick the glass ceiling is with regard to three areas:

individual (professional competence and ambitions, career planning);
company (transparent promotion process, training programmes and mentoring);
society (equal career opportunities, government policy on women’s rights).

As Appendix 2 shows, the glass ceiling existed in all countries, but also in all three researched areas. Governments were mainly responsible for the thickness of the glass ceiling. The interviewees argued that government legislation did not support adequately women’s career development. The interviewees also admitted that corporate mentoring and coaching programmes were not designed to meet women’s needs and thus, did not facilitate women’s career development. Overall, employers were more committed to gender equality than national governments (Accenture, 2006).

Additional evidence of the glass ceiling can be gathered from the Corporate Gender Report 2010, prepared by the World Economic Forum. The research included 100 largest employers from the OECD countries and the BRIC countries. The research revealed that the majority of women in these companies performed entry- or middle-level roles, while on average 5% of female employees held the CEO-level positions. This report also identified general norms and culture in researched countries as well as masculine corporate culture as two key barriers to women’s advancement to senior leadership. Finally, the report informed that 18% of companies did not monitor salary differences between women and men, while other 15% established salary tracking policies but did not implement corrective measures. It suggests that a significant proportion of companies do not treat gender pay gap as a sign of women’s discrimination (Zahidi and Ibarra, 2010).

While the above-presented studies provide solid evidence of existing glass ceiling, it is crucial to briefly discuss a country-level analysis conducted by Ernst and Young. It is one of the most recent analyses of the glass ceiling (2012), which reveals new information on the phenomenon and adds value to this research. The survey included 1,000 adult women in the UK who jointly agreed that the glass ceiling was present on the British labour market face. More importantly, women argued that the concept of a single ceiling to enter the senior executive board was outdated, as they experienced multiple barriers throughout their career development. Ernst and Young defined four major challenges for women, namely motherhood, age, qualifications and experience as well as lack of role models. Not only can these barriers affect women at any time throughout their careers, but all of them (or a few of them) can appear at the same time. It proves again that women are constantly disadvantaged with regard to career advancement (Woods, 2012).

While the glass ceiling is confirmed by numerous analyses, some researchers come to very different conclusions on this phenomenon. This fact needs to be emphasized. For instance, the study of the US labour market conducted by Gayle (2009) revealed that women were more successful than men in terms of career development. Women were equally likely to be promoted as their male counterparts. Surprisingly, women were more likely to be promoted within the internal structures rather than by receiving an outside offer. Female executive tended to earn slightly higher wages than men. The authors explained visible gender inequalities in the executive market by “unobserved factors” (Gayle, 2009, p.28) such as tough unrewarding assignments, high competition, or indignities that are characterized for the senior management environment and that discourage women from climbing the career ladder. In case of women performing executive duties, these factors encouraged them to early retirement. Interesting findings also come from the aforementioned research conducted by Simpson and Altman (2001) on the British market. The glass ceiling affected elder women’s careers; however, it did not impact young women under 35. Young female generation was raised assuming that gender equality was their natural right, given at birth. Due to this perception and career-oriented minds, they are perceived by the employers as ‘high flyers’ (Simpson and Altman, 2001, p.195) rather than as women – they are treated equally to men in terms of career advancement. However, as women establish new priorities later in their lives (i.e. family), the employers see them again as women. Thus, their career promotion becomes more challenging at this later stage.


To conclude, the following research provided solid proofs that the gender glass ceiling still exists in employment across the globe. Not only women represent less than 20% of senior management roles globally, but they are also paid lower wages for performing executive duties compared to their male counterparts. The analyses conducted by Accenture and the World Economic Forum prove that the government policies seem to be significant obstacles to eliminating the glass ceiling in employment. The governments do not pay enough attention to equal career opportunities for men and women and they constantly fail to develop adequate policies to facilitate women’s advancement. Also companies seem to challenge women’s development in their workplace. The companies are typically characterized by a masculine corporate culture. They often fail to establish salary tracking systems and to correct wages disparities. Finally, the mentoring and coaching programmes offered by the companies are often inadequate to women’s individual needs and block their potential development. It is worth adding that the most recent analysis, conducted by Ernst and Young, reveals that currently women face multiple challenges in career advancement rather than a single ceiling. These multiple barriers often appear at the same time what seem to make women’s career progression more questionable.

In order to tackle the problem of the glass ceiling, the following policy recommendations were drawn:

The companies need to be forced to take equal career development issues seriously. Norway seems to be a good example to be followed. Norwegian companies are required to have 40% women in their management board. While such a percentage is quite challenging for most countries, setting lower but obligatory quotas is expected to work well.
The companies should also be encouraged to create own lists of good practice with a particular focus on women’s needs. Such companies can become role models, inspiring other companies to take similar actions, what is expected to result in improved working conditions for women.
Targeted actions should be implemented. Industrial and professional associations should actively challenge unfair practices and policies to provide better career opportunities for women (Purcell, 2006).

List of references

Accenture (2006). The anatomy of glass ceiling. [online] Available from: (Accessed on 28.11.2012).

Boyd K.S. (2012). Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity and Society: Glass Ceiling. Thousand Oaks: SAGE, pp. 549-552.

Cotter D.A., Hermsen J.M., Ovadia S. and Vanneman R. (2001). The Glass Ceiling Effect. Social Forces. 80(2), pp. 655-682.

Gayle G.L., Golan L. and Miller, R. (2009). Are there glass ceilings for female executivesPittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University.

Grant Thornton (2012). Grant Thornton International Business Report. Women in senior management: still not enough. London: Grant Thornton International Limited.

Purcell K., Elias P. and Wilton, N. (2006). Looking through the glass ceiling: a detailed investigation into the factors that contribute to gendered career inequalities. Coventry: Warwick Institute for Employment Research.

Simpson R. and Altman Y. (2000). The time bounded glass ceiling and young women managers: career progress and career success – evidence from the UK. Journal of European Industrial Training. 24(2). Pp. 190-198.

UNICEF (2012). Basic education and gender equality [online database] Available from: (Accessed on 28.11.2012).

Woods D. (2012). Glass ceiling is ‘outdated’, Ernst and Young survey of 1,000 women reveals. [online] Available from: (Accessed on 28.11.2012).

World Bank (2012). The World Development Indicators. [online database] Available from: (Accessed on 28.11.2012).

Zahidi S. and Ibbara H. (2010). The Corporate Gender Gap Report 2010. Geneva: World Economic Forum.

Free Essays

With particular regard to the Centered Leadership model developed by Joanna Barsch and her collaborators at McKinsey and Company, critically discuss the assertion that women in business require a different range of leadership skills from men


This paper focuses on the claim that women require a different set of leadership skills to men if in the business world. In seeking to answer this question we explore a number of relevant academic theories and models. In particular, we consider the Centered Leadership Model developed by Joanna Barsch and colleagues at McKinsey and Company. Drawing on this model, we provide a critical analysis of views on the leadership skills required for women in business.


Although there have been increasing numbers of women in MBA programmes since the 1970s, in 2011, only twelve of the Fortune 500 companies were run by women (CNN Money, 2011). The addition of women to leadership roles has flat lined (Helfat et al., 2006; Singh and Vinnicombe, 2006) and women are grossly under-represented in business as CEO’s, boards of directors and senior officers of public companies. Despite the fact that women are equally qualified and in many cases, outperform men (Francis and Case, 2006), women have a lower success rate of being promoted and the “glass ceiling” effect still prevails (Davies-Netzley, 2008). This under-representation of women in leadership positions has had severe consequences on performance pressures, lack of role models and attracting female talent (Furnham, 2005). Moreover, in today’s unstable and increasingly demanding business environment where traditional leadership styles are outdated (Werhane, 2007), there is an urgent need for more efficient and effective leaders. Topics on women and leadership have therefore experienced a resurgence of interest and new approaches on how to increase the number of women leaders have been proposed. Barsh, Cranston and Craske (2010) of McKinsey, for example, developed a model that focuses on the importance of cultivating women’s mindsets, values and tools and applying them as leadership skills in business contexts. This idea is known as the Centered Leadership Model.

This present essay aims to explore the Centered Leadership Model in regard to the assertion that women in business require a different set of leadership skills. The first of three sections will delve deeper into an understanding of the Centred Leadership Model, the second will critically review the assertion that women in business need to develop a different set of leadership skills and the third and concluding section will integrate findings across these sections to reach a tentative conclusion.


Rather than focusing on the glass ceilings facing women in business and organisational settings, the Centered Leadership model aims to increase the number of female leaders by pointing to the leadership skills that are advantageous. Specifically, the model revolves around the hypothesis that leaders can become more effective through a model of centered leadership. There are five interrelated dimensions that make up the centered leadership model (see Figure 1): finding meaning in work, managing and sustaining energy, positively framing emotions such as stress, connecting and building relationships with those who can help you grow and engaging in risks. Each of these will be discussed in further detail.

The idea of finding meaning in the workplace is closely linked with a number of positive outcomes. Studies have shown, for example, that meaning in work translates into higher productivity, lower turnover, and a greater job satisfaction. At a deeper level, satisfaction in the workplace also translates into an overall sense of well-being (Seligman, 2004). The second dimension of the model considers the importance of prioritising activities and achieving a work/life balance to reduce burnout. For instance, research has shown that those who experience “flow” (a sense of deep engagement in activities) actually derive greater energy in work than those who a not have flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1991).The way that individuals view the world and their experiences can dramatically shape their professional outcomes (Barsh, Cranston and Craske, 2008). However, studies have revealed that women are more prone to depression than men (Brizendine, 2006) and adopt different views of success and failure. Developmental research has found for example that when girls encounter failure, they are much more likely to lose their motivation than boys who can adapt more rapidly to failure circumstances (Dweck, 1986). Positive framing in women is therefore important. The fourth dimension refers to the importance of networks in the business environment. Granovetter (1973), for example, found that a network of “weak ties” (acquaintances) can build important connections between disparate groups and can bring about enormous benefits to individuals who are job-hunting. This idea is echoed by psychological research in which networks of board directors advantage men as they tend to build broader, shallower (i.e. weak tie) networks that give them a wider range of resources for gaining knowledge and professional opportunities (Baumeister and Bushman, 2010). Women’s networks on the other hand, tend to be considerably narrower and deeper than men’s networks (Barsh, Cranston & Craske, 2008). The centered leadership model highlights the importance of building strong networks and alliances.

The fifth and final dimension of centered leadership is engagement and the importance of risk-taking. Psychological research has linked a risk-taking approach to a greater sense of well-being compared to those who are risk-avoidant (Gilbert, 2006).Although this model has been shown to work equally for men, it was built to specifically meet the needs and experiences of women in business (Barsh, Cranston and Craske, 2010). In fact, it has enjoyed success in its applicability to leaders across the world. Barsh, Cranston and Lewis (2010) carried out a global survey and garnered responses from 2,498 executives. Respondents were required to indicate their level of agreement with a number of statements that represented different dimensions of the Centered Leadership Model. Their responses were then aggregated for each dimension. The results revealed that men and women were similar in the degree to which they practiced the dimensions of centered leadership and their life satisfaction. However, a greater number of women were found in the top percentile of the overall pool, supporting the idea that centered leadership is more geared towards women’s strengths.

The next section will draw on aspects of the centered leadership model as well as additional empirical data and critically discuss the assertion that women need a different set of leadership skills than men.


Before launching into a discussion on women and leadership, it is necessary to understand the changes that have occurred in leadership. Until recently, the role of leaders was traditionally defined as “individuals who significantly influence the thoughts, behaviors and/or feelings of others” (Gardner and Laskin, 1995, p. 6). Leadership research based itself on this definition, focusing on the ways that a leader directs individuals and/or groups. However, in the last two decades, a globalised and flat world has replaced traditional leadership patterns that value rationality and autonomy with new leadership practices that focus on communication, collaboration and creation of meaning (Werhane, 2007). Organisations are now on the search for leaders with these values. In light of these changes, women have a greater opportunity to fit into leadership positions with their distinctive range of leadership skill set (Billing and Alvesson, 1989). In Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime, Immanuel Kant posits that women’s philosophy “is not to reason, but to sense”. Research has similarly found that women are naturally predisposed to have a higher Empathising Quotient (EQ) in the understanding of feeling and emotion whereas men have a higher Systemising Quotient (SQ) in their understanding of mechanical relationships of non-social contexts (Baron-Cohen, 2003). It is this intuitive Kantian orientation towards sense and emotion that can make women imminently suitable for leadership positions. This idea forms part of the “special contribution” argument (Billing and Alvesson, 1989) that highlights how women’s inherent nature actually gives them distinctive leadership skills that add value to the workplace climate. Ibrahim and Angelidis (1994) for example, examined 348 male and female directors for gender differences in board directors’ corporate social responsiveness. Results showed that women directors were significantly more philanthropically driven whereas male directors were economically driven. This reflects the “Meaning” dimension of the Centered leadership model in which women leaders are more likely than men to go beyond daily tasks and focus on the meaning in their work.Moreover, unlike male leaders, women do not view their authority as a position of power, but are centered or “transactional” leaders who are able to manage their energy appropriately. Women adopt a power-sharing mindset that has actually been shown to dramatically reduce the likelihood of corporate and group think errors (Burton and Ryall, 1995; Grant, 1988) and can benefit in situations that require co-operation and the need for social support (Valentine, 1995). A example of the importance of a centered, distinctive leadership style in practice comes from Avon Products CEO Andrea Jung who described how the rejection of the male centered approach of delegation and control when the company needed restructuring an instead an emphasis on maintaining positive relations with employees (i.e. engaging with employees) led employees to feel they were been treated with respect and dignity. The company resumed growth in nineteen months (Barsh, Craske & Cranston, 2010). Another supporting argument for the need for a distinctive range of leadership skills for women in business builds on the “Connecting” dimension of the centered leadership model. Whilst men have a primarily “separateness” self-schema, women have a “connectedness” self-schema (Markus and Oyserman, 1989) and as a result, are much more likely to be moral and ethical leaders with a focus on empowering others. It is this type of ethical leadership that has been found to often be the most effective form of leadership (Billing and Alvesson, 1989) as it can create a productive work climate and even, increased profitability. Whilst men’s characteristics may excel as leaders in situations that require direction and control, female leadership skills provides a complementary balance to “the exaggerate male psychology of autonomy and separateness” (Grant, 1988, p. 62) that is greatly needed in businesses. However, although research has demonstrated the benefits of female leadership skills, a major difficulty with models such as the centered leadership model is that it is not always easy to implement these skills in businesses that have a long history of male organisational principles (Billing and Alvesson, 1989). A common perception among business people is that men are better leaders than women (Bass, Krusell and Alexander, 1971) and a result, women often adapt their leadership skills to be the same as men. Werhane et al (2006) for example, found that American women business leaders adopted a “Survive and Thrive” mentality so they could meet the demands of the competitive male-dominated environment. In addition, research has indicated that females can often underperform due to the threat of stereotyping (Maas, D’etolle and Cadinu, 2008) which provides further incentive for women to adopt the same range of leadership skills as men.


In the course of this essay, it has become evident that no single model or theory can be applied to understanding the complex situation of women and leadership skills in the business world. However, there is no doubt that models such as the Centred Leadership Model are on the right track to aiding women become more effective leaders in business. Future research must continue down this line and corresponding initiatives must be implemented to actively help women develop the leadership skills that tap into their natural tendencies, mindsets and values. A working example of success is Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management’s Center for Executive Women that helps women develop leadership styles and move ahead to board of director positions (Biddle, 2012). Secondly, a way must be found to raise awareness at a societal level among both men and women of gender stereotypes and their impact on women’s career progression.To conclude, in The Republic, Plato described women as equal and as capable as men, but he also upheld the principle that “different pursuits to different natures and the same to same”. In respect to this principle, there was certainly a time that the different natures of men and women and their leadership styles in business was seen as problematic. However, as a result of the radical changes that have occurred in leadership, the different range of leadership skills of women must be celebrated, not discouraged If women are to succeed as leaders, they need to remain true to their nature, their mindsets and their values. In so doing, women may develop a viable and applicable leadership style (e.g. centered leadership) that works well in their diverse business environment. The arrival of such a dawn may suggest the revision of Plato’s principle and a demonstration that different natures can operate and most importantly, excel in the same pursuits.


Baron-Cohen (2003). The essential difference. The truth about male and female brains. New York: Basic Books.

Bass, B. M., Krusell, M., & Alexander, R. A. (1971). Sex effects in evaluating leaders. Journal of Applied Psychology, 61, pp. 446-453.

Baumeister, R. F. and Bushman, B. J. (2010). Social Psychology and Human Nature. Wadsworth Publishing.

Biddle, T. Why aren’t there more women in leadership positionsRetrieved 26 March, 2012 from:

Billing, Y. D., and Alvesson, M. (1989). Four ways of looking at women and leadership. Scand. J. Mgmt, 5(1), pp. 63-80.

Barsh, J., Cranston, S. & Craske, R. (2008) Centered leadership: How Talented Women Thrive, McKinsey Quarterly.

Barsh, K., Cranston, S & Craske, R. (2010). The Value of Centered Leadership: McKinsey Global Survey results,

Brizendine, L. (2006). The Female Brain. New York: Morgan Road Books.

Burton, C., & Ryall, C. (1995). Managing for diversity. Canberra, ACT: Australian Government Publishing Service.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1991). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: HarperPerennial.

CNN (2011). Fortune 500: Our annual ranking of America’s largest corporations. Retrieved 30 April, 2012 from:

Davies-Netzley, S. (2008). Women above the Glass Ceiling: Perceptions on Corporate Mobility and Strategies for Success. Gender and Society, 12(3), pp. 340.

Dweck, C. S. (1986). Motivational processes affecting learning. American Psychologist, 41, pp. 1040-1048.

Francis, C. and Case, D. (eds.) The Chicago Network 2006 Census: Action Required! (The Chicago Network, Chicago)

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Gardner, H. and Laskin, E. (1995). Leading Minds, New York: Basic Books.

Gilbert, D. (2006). Stumbling on Happiness. HarperPress.

Grant, J. (1988), Women as managers: what they can offer to organizations. Organizational Dynamics, Winter, pp. 56-63.

Granovetter, M. (1973). The Strength of Weak Ties. The American Journal of Sociology, 78(6), pp. 1361-1380.

Helfat, C., Harris and P. J. Wolfson. (2006). The Pipeline to the Top Women and Men in the Top Executive Ranks of U.S. Corporations. Academy of Management Perspectives, 20, pp. 42-64.

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Werharne, P. H., Posign, N., Gundry, L., Powell, E., Carlson, J. and Ofstein, L. (2006). “Women Leaders in Corporate America: A Study of Leadership, Values and Methods”, in M. F. Karsten (ed.) Gender, Race, and Ethnicity in the Workplace (Praeger, Westport, CT), pp. 1-30.

Valentine, P. (1995). Women’s working worlds: A case study of a female organization. D. M. Dunlap, P. A. Schmuck, eds. Women Leading in Edu. State University of New York Press, Albany, NY pp. 340-357.

Free Essays

Factors affecting women working in the pharmaceutical sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


Thanks to its considerable oil resources, Saudi Arabia has evolved from a relatively poor country to become the world’s dominant oil producer and one of the wealthiest regions in the Middle East. There is international pressure on the rulers to embrace political and social reforms, including enhancing the participation of women within the national workforce.

Research Background

Interesting findings about working women in adjacent Jordan have been generated by the country’s National Centre for Human Resource Development, which has carried out research into the experience of women workers in the private sector, namely in the Communications, Internet and Pharmaceuticals industries. This research was prompted because of recognition that “women’s participation in the Jordanian labour market is growing and the fact that women’s participation is often hindered by social perceptions, practices and sometimes legislation” (Peebles, Darwazeh, Ghosheh and Sabbah, 2007). Given the size and scale of Jordan (population approximately 6.5 million) compared with Saudi Arabia (population approximately 27.1 million), it seems likely that some of these hindrances will also apply to Saudi Arabia.

The pharmaceuticals industry in Saudi Arabia is the richest in the Gulf region[1] and among the largest of all those in the Middle East: “Saudi Arabia represents 65%, or $1.7 billion of the pharmaceutical market in the member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)[2], which is currently valued at

$2.7 billion per year[3]” (Issa, Al-Ammar and Mostafa, 2009).


The research proposal is to examine the factors affecting women working in the pharmaceuticals industry, with particular reference to perceived advantages and barriers. It is anticipated that the issues arising will include those touching on human rights, equal opportunities and discrimination; religion and education; legislation, including family law; cultural norms; and also resistance to radical change within the community of Saudi Arabian females.

Academic Literature

Academic treatises on women in Muslim cultures include a synopsis of literature reviews produced by the Library of Congress (Offenhauer, 2005), which includes chapters on women’s roles in the productive economy as well as in the domestic setting.

Maryland University’s Professor in the Department of Business and Executive Programs, Dr. Dorothy Minkus-McKenna, researched entrepreneurship among Saudi Arabian women albeit on an exploratory basis and without the benefit of statistical data, and noted the different ways in which ‘success’ is measured and valued. This provides useful background information about women’s perceptions of their role in the workplace.

In a further look at entrepreneurship, another study (Sadi and Al-Ghazali, 2009) sought to establish what motivated women entrepreneurs and pinpointed barriers as being a lack of co-ordination and governmental support; limited competition due to market domination; a dearth of market studies; poor support from the internal community and the general restrictions imposed by society.

Whilst limited, the available literature serves to confirm that women in Saudi Arabia struggle to establish themselves in the workplace on an equal footing with men.

Overall Aim and Objectives

The aim of the research is to identify the key factors that act as obstacles to women working in the pharmaceuticals sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). To achieve this, the focus of the research will be on the pharmaceuticals company, Saudi Pharmaceutical Industries[4], one of the largest research-driven companies producing veterinary, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals products in KSA.

The objectives of the research will be to establish:

Whether societal and cultural norms in KSA act against women making progress in the workplace.
Whether the impact of legislation relating to the workplace has an adverse affect on women.
Whether childcare responsibilities interfere with women’s progress in their working lives.
Whether financial pressures, and related issues, have a bearing on working women.

In relation to the pharmaceuticals sector:

Whether there are perceptions that some jobs are more appropriate for women than others.
Whether gender bias, marital status, personal appearance and religious discrimination have a bearing on recruitment techniques and practices.
Whether there are perceived or real barriers to women achieving management positions.
Research Methodology and Methods

A number of methods will be used in order to achieve the objectives. Secondary research will establish the required information on cultural and societal norms, and legislation. Primary research will provide the quantitative and qualitative information pertaining to women in the workplace.

Participants will be invited to complete a questionnaire without disclosing their name. In this way their anonymity will be protected and it should ensure that they are able to be open and honest about their workplace experiences without any fear of reprisal.

Online questionnaires will enable participants with access to a computer to respond relatively quickly and easily, however paper questionnaires can also be issued if this is deemed more suitable for certain members of the sample population.

Primary Research

A questionnaire designed to elicit the required information will be prepared for workers at the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA). The Authority was established on 10th March 2033 and is charged with ensuring that drugs and foodstuffs manufactured for consumption by humans and animals are safe; this includes chemical and biological substances and also medical equipment. SFDA has been chosen because it has a relationship at some level with all the pharmaceuticals companies in Saudi Arabia, and it also sets the standards and regulations as to how they operate.

Questionnaire 1:

The survey will include a sample of both male and female workers at SFDA, based on the demographic of people of working age in Saudi Arabia. Current estimates indicate that the ratio of males to females aged 15–64 years is approximately 5:4, however it is not known exactly how many female workers are currently employed at SFDA. Ideally, a sample of 180 employees would include 100 men and 80 women.

The questionnaire will ask workers about their educational background prior to employment, to provide information on their current position at SFDA. Data will be gathered on their responsibilities in the workplace, and also those outside work relating to childcare and care of any other dependants. Questions about the impact the job makes on their financial situation will be included. Finally, the questionnaire will seek to establish the career plans of participants and their experiences of training and promotion.

Questionnaire 2:

Directed at Human Resources (HR) personnel, this questionnaire will ask about participants’ interview techniques when recruiting staff, including the extent to which personal questions about an applicant’s marital status, social status, place of residency and childbearing plans are discussed. Peebles, Darwazeh, Ghosheh and Sabbah (2007) found it was common practice among HR professionals in Jordan to ask personal questions at job interviews, which the staff justified on the basis that this was a way of obtaining information about the character of an applicant, and of determining their suitability for work-related travel or overtime.

The questionnaire will ask about the types of jobs, and the opportunities for training and promotion, that are available to men and women, with the intention of determining whether these are on an equal footing. Qualitative information on the perceived commitment levels of female and male employees will also be sought.

Other Methods

Data collection could also be achieved via a longitudinal study, that is where the researcher spends a considerable period of time embedded in the organisation in order to observe interrelationships and company operations on a day-to-day basis.

Structured or semi-structured interviews could be conducted with workers and HR personnel as an alternative to a survey.

One or more focus groups could be convened to discuss the findings of the survey, in order to provide enhanced qualitative information.

These methods have been considered and rejected as they are either too time-consuming and impracticable.

Secondary Research

Reports and articles by other researchers concerned with female workers in the Middle East and their work experiences in pharmaceuticals companies will be studied to obtain an overview of the sector and the key issues relating to women workers. Very basic statistical information about SFDA is also available on LinkedIn[5] where a few members of staff are also listed.

Data Analysis

Information from the questionnaires will be analysed to elicit clear information on the position of women working in pharmaceuticals in KSA – their educational background, experience of recruitment, training and promotion and any barriers they have encountered in terms of their advancement in the workplace. Qualitative information will provide the context for the statistics.

Planning and Critical Analysis

Permission will be needed from the SFDA Executive Management to conduct the survey among a sample of staff members, and the researcher’s contact person within the company could facilitate this.

If permission is not granted, it may still be possible for some members of staff to participate in a private capacity (for example, via LinkedIn) although participants may be hesitant and it may be difficult to attract 180 people by this method.

SFDA may wish to alter the wording or the questions in the survey to suit company needs, however any proposed changes will have to be carefully scrutinised by the researcher before any changes are agreed.

Alternatively, another pharmaceuticals company could be used, such as Merck Serono, which has a base in Saudi Arabia but company headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland and a UK office.


The surveys are limited to a selection of the working population in one specific organisation and although a degree of extrapolation is possible the findings will not represent a comprehensive and in-depth view of the country’s entire pharmaceuticals sector.


Obtaining permissions and approvals and distributing questionnaires will take up to five weeks, with

data analysis in week six and writing up of the findings in weeks seven – ten.


BBC (2012). Saudi Arabia profile. Online. 16th January. [available at:]

Issa, N.A., Al-Ammar, A.I. and Mostafa, S. (2009) Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Industries in Saudi Arabia. American Health Lawyers Association.

Minkus-McKenna, D. (2009). Women Entrepreneurs in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Working paper.

Offenhauer, P. (2005). Women in Islamic societies: a selected review of social scientific literature. Report. Library of Congress. Online. [available at:]

Peebles, D., Darwazeh, N., Ghosheh H. and Sabbah, A. (2007) Factors Affecting Women’s Participation in the Private Sector in Jordan. Research Report. National Center for Human Resources Development.

Sadi, M. A. and Al-Ghazali, B. M. (2010). ‘Doing business with impudence: A focus on women entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia. Research paper.’ African Journal of Business Management Vol. 4(1), pp.1-11, January. Online. [available at:].

Saudi Food and Drug Authority. [available at:]

Free Essays

The effect of Vitamin D3 supplementation on body fat mass in healthy, overweight and obese Saudi women

Research background

As observed in European and North American communities, levels of obesity in the Saudi Arabian population are on the increase. The epidemic of obesity has been described as the fastest-growing public health challenge in a number of countries. The cost implications alone from the treatment of people with obesity have put a strain on the medical services. One such example is published in an American study in 2008, which showed that that$147 billion needs to be spent every year in America for the management of obesity and obesity related disease. This figure was double of what it was a decade ago.

Obesity is a term used to indicate excessive deposition of fat in the body. As mentioned before, it is the most common nutritional disorder in developed countries, and is as well significantly rising in the developing countries such as Saudi Arabia. This can be evidenced from the data reported by the Saudi National Nutrition Survey published on WHO (Health Journal, 2007). Recent studies have found the insufficient level of vitamin D in obese people(Turner, 2013; Wortsman, 2000).Although the specific mechanism that results in this shortfall is not yet fully understood, but Turner, (2013) suggested that the deposition of vitamin D3 in body fat compartments results decreased bioavailability of vitaminD3 from cutaneous and dietary sources. In addition, it has been proposed that intestinal absorption of vitamin D is reduced in patients with obesity (Wortsman, 2000). Lack of absorption of vitamin D weakens the calcium metabolism in patients with obesity; this in turn, affects the function of the thyroid glands. Altered thyroid gland can no longer perform its physiological roles, one of which is to activate vitamin D in the body.

Moreover, studies have reported low level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations in obese adults and are linked to increased body fat mass, suggesting the association between low circulating concentrations of vitamin D metabolites and obesity. (Rock, 2012; Boqacka, 2011). Furthermore, it has also been reported that after absorption in the intestine, the storage of vitamin D occurs in adipose and muscle tissue, which then slowly releases into the blood stream. Defect in this storage system or pathway may result the deficiency of vitamin D and may have an impact in determining the level of body’s fat and adipose tissue (Salehpour, 2012). Hence, it is believed that the deficiency of vitamin D may induce obesity.

Research aims

Having reviewed the available literature in the subject, this research project is therefore aimed to:

Investigate the effect of vitamin D3 supplementation in healthy, overweight and obese women of Saudi Arabia
Investigate the effect of vitamin D3 supplementation on body composition in overweight and obese women of Saudi Arabia

These aims were targeted with the views to providing evidence regarding the association between vitamin D supplements and obesity. Saudi population were given the preference as the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, as well as of diabetes in Saudi Arabian population is very high (Ardawi,

Research methods

Female population between the ages of 18 and 50 will be studied. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 2 groups will be randomly given a vitamin D3 supplement or a placebo (control group) for 12 weeks. Comparison of the levels of vitamin D3 in three different groups of people, healthy, overweight and obese will be done with an aim to measure its implication in these people.After this, analysis will be done measuring different factors that are associated with obesity.

Inclusion and exclusion criteria

Old, healthy, overweight and obese Saudi women participants with BMI ?25 kg/ and ages between 18-50 years will be included for the study. Healthy participants will be free from metabolic bone disease, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, renal disease and will not be on anymedication, or vitamin supplements. , pregnant or lactating women will be excluded from the study. In addition, individuals with changes in body weight more than 3 kg within last three months prior to the experiment will also be excluded from the study. Finally, the participants who follow the weight-loss programs or are taking weight loss drugs and smoking will be excluded from the study.

Research intentions

To address the aims, this study is based upon the following research intentions. These will betested in the laboratory.

Assessment of body fat mass and fat free mass by bioelectrical impedance analysis at baseline and end of study
Assessment of energy and nutrient intakes by 24h food recall and validated food frequency questionnaires, which will then be analyzed for nutrient intake
Analysis of blood serum 25(OH)D and parathyroid hormone at baseline and end of study
Measurement of vitamin D level in the participants’ blood to determine the fluctuation in its level and its affect.
Measurement of vitamin D levels of obese and healthy weight participants to establish the difference in the level of vitamin D in these two groups of people.
Measurement of vitamin D post digestion to determine the amount of ingested vitamin D to show their fluctuationsbefore and after ingestion in the participants of different groups.

To conclude, the main aim of this study will be to investigate the effect of Vitamin D3 supplementation on body fat mass in healthy, overweight and obese Saudi women. The association between vitamin D deficiency and obesity is well established. Obesity still remains one of major health challenges. Despite of intense research, the exact cause of obesity still remains obscure. Both genetic and environmental factors have been reported to be associated with obesity, but none of them completely illustrate the mechanism behind it. But recently, the link between vitamin D3 and obesity has gained some interest. Since obesity is associated with many pathological conditions including cancer and cardiovascular disease, unraveling the potent cause and mechanism of obesity will provide insights into the development of promising therapeutics for obesity and obesity related diseases. Also, in the future,


Alqurashi Khalid A, Aljabri Khalid S, BokhariSamia A. (2011) Prevalence of diabetes mellitus in a Saudi community. Ann Saudi Med.;31:19–23.

Ardawi MS, Sibiany AM, Bakhsh TM, Qari MH, Maimani AA. (2012) ‘High prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among healthy Saudi Arabian men: relationship to bone mineral density, parathyroid hormone, bone turnover markers, and lifestyle factors’ Osteoporos Int. 23(2):675-86.

El Mouzan MI, Al Herbish AS, Al Salloum AA, Al Omar AA, Qurachi MM (2012) ‘Regional variation in prevalence of overweight and obesity in Saudi children and adolescents.’ Saudi J Gastroenterol, 18(2):129-32.

Rock, CL, Obesity. Weight loss is associated with increased serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D in overweight or obese women. 20(11), 2296-2301.

Salehpour A, Hosseinpanah F, Shidfar F, Vafa M, Razaghi M, Dehghani S, Hoshiarrad A, Gohari M. A (2012) ‘12-week double-blind randomized clinical trial of vitamin D? supplementation on body fat mass in healthy overweight and obese women.’ Nutr J. 22;11:78

Turer, CD, Lin, H and Flores, G. (2013).Pediatrics. Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among overweight and obese US children. 131(1), 152-161.

Wortsman, J, (2000). American Society for Clinical Nutrition. Decreased bioavailability of vitamin D in obesity. 72(3), 690-693.

Free Essays

Domestic violence in mature women in the United Kingdom A review of the literature


Domestic violence (DV) impacts considerably on the long-term health and emotional wellbeing of affected individuals. Although the literature offers some insight into the span and nature of domestic abuse amongst the mature population in the UK, at present there is little obtainable data concerning DV in mature women specifically. This gap in knowledge is increasingly being recognised as a major shortfall in knowledge and understanding in society, especially for those responsible for the support and care of victims.

Although the research in this area is limited, the work already done to date suggests that matured women’s experiences of DV are markedly different from those experienced by younger people and that these differences have not been sufficiently acknowledged. For example, mature women have different barriers that stop them reporting abuse, such as physical limitations due to older age. As the ageing population in the UK increases, national policy initiatives have started to recognise DV as a national issue for mature women. It is essential that healthcare professionals are able to identify DV and understand the exact experiences and needs of mature women that are affected by DV in order to prevent future incidents and better empower women in violent relationships.

The aim of this literature review therefore is threefold: (a) to present a complete review of the impact of DV on matured women mainly within the framework of health, (b) to explore particular barriers in recognizing and reporting DV and (c) to emphasize the gaps in our awareness and understanding from a policy and care provision viewpoint. A systematic approach to a review of the literature was used to identify key literature and available evidence relating to DV among mature women.


The Department of Health (2000) has defined DV as “a continuum of behaviour ranging from verbal abuse, through coercion and bullying, controlling behaviour, physical and sexual attack, to rape and even killing.”DV can take many forms. The most common of these include physical, sexual, verbal and financial abuse (Women’s Aid, 2007). Physical abuse typically involves any kind of physical harm such as pushing, kicking or the use of a weapon against another individual. Sexual abuse includes using force or threats to pressure a partner into unwanted sexual acts, whilst verbal abuse includes more psychological elements such as persistently attacking a partner’s self esteem through name calling. Financial abuse usually involves withholding money from a partner or forcibly taking over a partner’s assets or financial accounts (Women’s Aid, 2007).

In 2012, 1.2 million women suffered from DV (Home Office, 2013). However, fewer than 1 in 4 individuals who suffer from DV will report this (Home Office, 2013) and therefore the estimation of DV in the UK is likely to be grossly underestimated. Thirty-one percent of the funding to DV charities from local authorities was cut between 2010/11 to 2011/12, a reduction from ?7.8 million to ?5.4 million (data obtained using Freedom of Information Act requests by the False Economy project, and analysed by the research team). The National Violence against Women Survey (NVAWS) states that about 1.5 million women are raped or physically assaulted by an intimate partner yearly (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). The Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, which measured only physical assaults, concluded that “there were 691,710 nonfatal violent victimizations committed by current or former spouses, boyfriends, or girlfriends against victims during 2001(Rennison, and Planty, 2003). Of these cases, 85% were against women (Rennison and Planty, 2003). The NVAWS also found that 22.1% of women surveyed, compared to 7.4 percent of men, and reported being physically assaulted by a current or former partner in their lifetime (Rennison and Planty, 2003).

In the United Kingdom, national policy has started to identify DV as a concern for mature women. Subsequently, the Government has put policies in place so that healthcare and social professionals are able to identify cases of DV. For example, funding of nearly ?40 million has been allocated to specialist support services and help-lines until 2015 and the piloting of a domestic violence disclosure scheme that gives individuals the right to ask about any violent criminal offences carried out by a new partner (Home Office, 2013). An estimated 27,900 women have had to be turned away by the first refuge service that they approached in the last year because there was no space, according to new figures from Women’s Aid (2012). These figures demonstrate that services are under some strain to deal with the large amount of DV cases in the UK.

Prolonged episodes of DV can result in the development of mental health problems such as depression, panic attacks and mental breakdown (Roberts et al., 1998; Astbury et al., 2000). . Women often find it difficult and challenging to communicate about the psychological abuse they suffer during DV and often prefer to suffer in silence than complain about it (Home Office, 2013). This may have resulted in creating a barrier to finding data on mature victims of domestic violence. Abused women are three and a half times more likely to be suicidal than non-abused women (Golding, 1999). Furthermore, the World Health Organization (WHO, 2005) indicates that domestic violence puts women at risk from a range of negative health outcomes such as physical injury, mental health problems, sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and AIDS, unwanted pregnancies, depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, emotional distress, fatigue, sleeping and eating disorders and general fear.

There are a wide range of social factors thought to contribute the high occurrence of DV against women in the UK. These factors include some religious and political practices that undermine women (Walker, 1999). Factors such as financial hardship. a lack of resources, educational shortcomings, extreme alcohol consumption, high levels of jealousy, belonging to a large family and substance abuse have also all been linked with the rising risk of domestic violence (Martin et al., 1999). Furthermore, in comparison to their younger female counterparts, mature women may have a limited understanding of the term abuse as a result of their older generation (Zink et al., 2003). For example, DV may have not been considered as a criminal offence when they were growing up and feminist movements were generally unheard of.

Despite figures showing that DV against mature women is rising considerably the UK, the government is considering serious funding cuts for crime prevention programs as well as staff cutting plans including over 50, 000 job cuts in the ‘National Health Service’ (NHS) over the next 10 year period (Scripps, 2013). In light of these cuts, this research aims to study the relationship between DV and the prevention programs that have been designed to tackle this crime. In particular, a counsellors’ perspective will be adopted and the challenged that counsellors face in the light of budget constraints will also be explored. Using an extensive review of the literature, the following sections provide a brief overview of the various aspects pertaining to DV and its psychological influence. The review will conclude with a discussion of government interventions and policy recommendations.

This review will evaluate and critique the available literature pertaining to DV including an assessment of the historical evolution of DV as a general concern for mature women, theoretical explanations of DV and consideration of the significance of gender. This underpinning process will be used as a basis for examining the impact of DV against mature women (39 years old and above). It will also look at the value and effectiveness of current resources, initiatives, and support networks used to tackle DV and assist victims. This review will illustrate that DV in mature women is a complex and multifaceted subject.

Definition of Terms

For the purpose of this review, the following terms shall be defined as follows:

Domestic violence: The term domestic violence is defined as a physical type of abuse carried out by an individual directly towards their significant other previously or currently, through the use of violence. The intent of the abuse is to somewhat establish and maintain a sense of dominion and control over another person, and is depicted in a context of uneven authority or entitlement. This therefore increases the likelihood of inflicting harm to both the physical and emotional welfare of that individual.

Well-being: According to Ryan and Deci (2001), the term ‘well-being’ refers to the full spectrum of people’s emotional experiences and to their quality of life.

Mature women: Mature women would be defined as those persons aged 39 years and above.

Health: This is a state of physical and mental well-being, and thus not necessarily means the absence of symptoms, illness and morbidity (WHO, 2004b).

Quality of life: This is an ‘individuals’ understanding of his or her status in life, in relation to the culture and value system of society, viewed against their personal goals, standard, and expectations in life (The WHOQOL Group, 1995).

Qualitative Study: Qualitative studies are exploratory and are particularly well suited to social research. Cresswell (1998) defines a qualitative study as “an inquiry process of understanding a social or human problem, based on building a complex, holistic picture, formed with words, reporting detailed views of informants conducted in a natural setting.” Typical data gathering tools employed in a qualitative research design include observation, interviews, video documentaries, and focus groups.

Quantitative Study: Quantitative studies measure information in numbers using a set of pre-defined variables as the focus of the study. Using the definition given by Cresswell (1998), it “is an inquiry into a social or human problem, based on testing a theory composed of variables, measured with numbers, and analyzed with statistical procedures, in order to determine whether the predictive generalizations of the theory holds true.” Data collection methods typically include questionnaires, standardized tests and codified forms.

Scope and Objectives

The main objective of this research was to increase awareness of DV against mature women and to improve the standard and efficacy of the care that is provided to the victims. The researcher’s experience in looking after this group of victims has been challenging and may have been much improved if their experiences and needs were better understood.

This piece of research aimed to:

Carry out a literature review of DV in mature women.
Identify how the government and society in general support victims of domestic violence in recovery.
Identify the counsellor’s role while caring for victims of DV.
To provide an opportunity for mature women to speak of their experiences in order to highlight their experiences and to develop resources to support and inform mature women (Mears, 2002).
To explore the prevalence of physical and verbal abuse among the study population (Mouton at el, 2004).

This research will use a positivist approach, focusing on the dilemma a mature victim of DV often faces and the importance of the therapeutic relationship they hold with their counsellor. This approach focuses on gaining “positive” evidence from observable experience, rather than depending on intuition or assumptions on behalf of researchers. In particular, this approach believes that there are general patterns of cause-and-effect and that these can be used to predict natural phenomena such as DV.

Research Methodology

This dissertation will use review the literature and contain analysis of secondary data and the summarising of the literature’s findings on the topic of DV in mature women.


This piece of research used a literature review to gather data on the topic of DV amongst mature women in the UK and beyond.

The following key terms and words were used in various academic search engines including Web of Knowledge (, Science Direct ( and PubMed (

Domestic violence AND mature women.
Domestic abuse AND mature women.
Domestic violence AND women.

Due to a limit in the number of articles generated using these search terms, no exclusionary criteria were applied.

Literature review

This is a secondary review research project involving an extensive literature review on the topic of DV and its impact and effects on mature women. The material for this review was obtained from peer reviewed psychological and counselling journals, which were accessed through online journal databases such as PUBMED and CINAHL. Governmental reports such as those published by the Department of Health (2000), BACP (2000), World Health Organisation (WHO, 2004) and technical reports from scientific research groups and working papers from social welfare committees were also used within the research. This review adopted the “best evidence synthesis” method proposed by Franche et al. (2005). This method involves summarizing the literature and drawing up conclusions, based on the balance of evidence.

Epidemiology and Economic Impact

Domestic violence among mature women is a pressing national problem. As a recent report from the World Health Organisation (WHO, 2004) indicates, domestic violence against mature women has increased five-fold resulting in increased depression, physical ill health, psychological effects and other mental health disorders (Scripps, 2013).

In addition to the huge impact DV has on women, there is also a large economic cost. The Centre for Mental Health (2010) has reported an annual loss to the tune of ?30.3 billion due to mental health problems suffered by abused women, with over two thirds of this amount accounting for lost productivity within the workplace. Mental ill health which may be the result of DV has been identified as the primary reason for ‘incapacity benefit payment’ and over 43% of the 2.6 million individuals presently on long-term ‘health-related benefits’ present with psychosocial behavioural disorder as their primary condition (Department of Work and Pensions, 2010). DV can also have a direct negative impact on witnesses. Hewitt (2002) claims that almost 90% of DV occurrences are witnessed either directly or indirectly by children. Furthermore, the British government have stated that women can be distressed by witnessing DV carried out against other women (Hewitt, 2002).

The literature also reveals differences in the prevalence of DV between younger and older women. For example, mature women are two to three times more likely to report minor physical attacks such as been pushed grabbed roughly and shoving than men (Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998). It has also been found that women are 7 to 14 times more likely than men to report serious physical attacks of DV that include having been strangled, threatened with weapons or use of weapons (Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998).

Barriers to Accessing Care

The literature search highlighted a number of key differences between the experiences of younger and mature women when it comes to DV. For example, unlike younger women, older women may be even less aware of the services available to those experiencing DV. For example, Scott et al. (2004) reported that there is a widespread myth among service providers and women themselves that Women’s Aid and other DV services prioritise younger women and younger women with children.

Friedman et al. (1992) have postulated that abused mature women volunteer to share their uncertainties and concern to their health practitioners the majority of the time. Those women that do not share their concerns may not do so because of pride or shame. The other reason that mature women do not disclose DV is a fear of being judged by society and this has been challenged during the research as well as shortage of theoretical clarity concerning this matter since the majority of affected women were embarrassed to put across what they are facing and this has made data collection challenging.

Zink et al. (2003) investigated the reasons for staying in an abusive relationship in women aged over 55 years. It was found that reasons could be divided into three categories: cohort effects, which included reasons such as lacking education or job skills, period effects such as rejection from help services or difficulty accessing services, and aging effects, which related to the physical limitations that their age can cause. These results suggest that although mature women experience similar barriers to leaving abusive relationships such as a lack of faith in their ability to find employment and support themselves, there are also barriers unique to mature women such as worries regarding their physical strength. Therefore, health workers and counsellors must be privy to these differences in order to improve the level of care and support that mature victims of DV receive.

Theoretical Concepts

There are a number of different theories that make be used to explain how DV comes about and what motivates its perpetrators.. For example, the social exchange theory (Emerson, 1976) offers a foundation for law enforcement and the prosecution of offenders. Furthermore, this assists in helping to explain how children who observe abuse mostly grow up to be abusers themselves. In contrast, a feminist approach may provide support for interventions targeted at supporting perpetrators to improve their behaviour and helping to empower victims. However, looking at these theories they do not appear to provide an inclusive foundation and a comprehensive approach for dealing with the various underlying outcomes or scope of DV. The more integrated ecological framework theory (see for example, Heise, 1998) is the one that appears to provide the required basis for an inclusive approach. The ecological framework theory has been used to conceptualise DV as a multi-faceted and complex phenomenon that has its foundations in a multitude of different factors including those of a situational and socio-cultural foundation (Heise, 1998). Unlike other theories, this theory is not reductionist and acknowledges that DV can be the result of many different factors.


This researcher sought to increase knowledge and understanding regarding DV against older women by allowing older women themselves to speak out about how they define domestic violence; their views about causes, reporting, interventions, and consequences for perpetrators; factors that deter or prevent help-seeking from the justice system and community agencies; and elements of outreach and intervention strategies they see as acceptable and/or desirable. Results and Conclusions: Two important constructs that emerged were Domestic Abuse (DA), which encompasses emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, and Barriers to Help-Seeking (BHS), which appears to be closely related to the experience of victimization. In addition, eleven sub-concepts emerged from the data. Seven of these, Isolation, Jealousy, Intimidation, Protecting Family, Self-Blame, Powerlessness, and Spirituality, appeared to be related to both the experience of DA and BHS. An additional four factors defined as Secrecy, Hopelessness, Concern for Abuser, and Justice were identified.

This review has highlighted that violence amongst mature women has reached endemic proportions in most parts of the world. It also finds that no ethnic, racial, or socio-economic group is resistant from DV. Nonetheless, the review emphasized considerable heterogeneity in methodologies, sampling periods, sample sizes and the population studied. In some studies, ethnicity, age, and socio-economic status were not reliably recorded, resulting in difficulties in comparisons and evaluations. However, it must be emphasised that the WHO multi-country study was a significant effort to amass globally similar statistics by the use of identical study approaches.

There were a number of key methodological issues identified in the studies included in this literature review.

A key weakness of surveys is that they may not measure the real figures of abused women, especially as some abused women will be unwilling to reveal and report DV against them. In view of problems associated with self-reports, it is likely that results are biased by both over-reporting and under-reporting (Koss, 1993).

According to Krauss (2006) DV differs from nation to nation, and occasionally within the same culture. Therefore, there are cultural factors to take into account when comparing research. For example, in Asian cultures women are brought up with the belief that family needs are superior to individual members’ needs (Rydstrom, 2003). Though women from poor countries are possibly most pre-disposed to believe that men have a right to beat their wives, it has been found that women in developing and developed countries can also be inclined to beliefs which vindicate violence against them (Fagan and Browne 1994). Furthermore, there are cultural differences in the societal view of DV. For example, the review has shown that not every woman who suffers abuse identifies themselves as ‘battered’ women (Mahoney 1991). For example, Islamic nations do not view domestic violence a major issue, despite its increasing incidence and serious consequences. Extracts from religious tracts have been improperly used to validate violence against women, although abuse may also be the result because of culture as well as religion (Douki et al. 2003). Nonetheless, power issues and gender (Caetano et al. 2000), rather than race and ethnicity (Anderson 1997), are likely to be more significant in building and preserving male supremacy and the inequality of power between wives and husbands (Harris et al. 2005). Furthermore, various ethnic groupings are frequently distorted into one single class, for example Asians (Mobell et al. 1997). Due to this, statistics collected on violence amongst minority populations are regularly inadequate, thereby preventing meaningful generalizations.

Waltermaurer (2005) argues that the choice of measuring and the practice used to establish the occurrence of domestic violence have important bearings on the occurrence rates being reported. The majority of television and film images, as well as the images in magazines, often display images of abused younger women who have children and this may give a false impression that domestic violence is not something that may occur later on in life. This literature review has found that in comparison to younger women, older women throughout their lives have been less aware of all services and treatments readily available for those going through DV. The previous Government legislated in the Crime and Security Act 2010 for the introduction of Domestic Violence Protection Notices (DVPN) and Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs). On the 30th of June 2012 the domestic violence protection notices and orders (DVPO) were introduced in West Mercia, Wiltshire and Greater Manchester through three police forces. The operations will continue for another year while the Home Office works hand in hand to assess the pilot and decide whether or not a permanent change in the law system is required.. The scheme gives victims who might or may have fled their homes the kind of support they may need. There was a gap in protection in DV before the scheme was founded in 2012. Previously, police were unable to charge perpetrators because of lack of evidence and also because the process of granting injunctions to the perpetrators took time. The (DVPO) scheme closes the gap between then and now and gives the police and the magistrate the power to protect a victim after the attack as soon as they possibly can and try to stop the perpetrator form getting in contact with the victim or returning home for up 28 days. Disclosure of being abused itself is insufficient to reduce the risk of adverse mental health outcomes for mature women who have been victims of DV unless the listener’s response to the disclosure was repeatedly supportive (Coker et al. 2002). Mature women report key characteristics of helpful encounters with health-care providers as non-judgemental, sympathetic and caring response (Gerbert et al. 1999).

Public and private organizations have kept on enhancing their contributions in fighting DV. In the United Kingdom, The Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act (2004) furnishes superior power to police and the courts in dealing with cases of DV and in providing security to victims. Furthermore the British government has recently issued a national domestic violence action plan which sets fourth ambitious goals:

– Reduction in the occurrence of domestic violence

– Increase in the rate that domestic violence is reported

– increase the rate of domestic violence offences that are brought to justice

– Ensure victims of domestic violence are satisfactorily protected and supported nationwide

– Reduce the number of domestic violence related homicides.

The review has shown that despite all Government initiatives towards domestic violence, healthcare agencies are still under-represented (Hague et al., 1996). It was not until the year 2000 that the Department of Health (DoH) started to take steps to implement front-line interventions from health professionals by publishing two documents known as ‘Domestic Violence: A Resource Manual for Health Care Professionals’ and ‘Principles of Conduct for Health Professionals’ (Department of Health, 2000a, 2000b). The aim of these documents was to integrate best practices recommended by the various governing bodies of differing health professionals. This documentation aims to provide guidance for healthcare professionals in their practice and daily interactions with women experiencing DV. After the publication of these documents, DV was seen for the first time as a health care issue as opposed to a mainly social care problem.

The police and the criminal justice system cannot address the issue of domestic violence alone. The cost of protection for those women who experience domestic violence is of such a scale that it should be considered a major public health issue (Department of Health, 2000a: 2).

Validity and Reliability

As most of the literature referred to in this research was phenomenological, there are some key methodological limitations. For example, phenenological research is often open to interpretation. In particular, the same words may have different meanings for different people (Beck, 1994). This may be of particular importance for the topic of DV as some women who are included as participants may report that they are abused but may not attach the same negative connotations that the researchers do. The most reliable estimates of the extent of domestic violence in England and Wales come from the Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW; formerly known as the British Crime Survey). The CSEW asks people about their experience as victims. Being a household survey, it picks up more crime than the official police figures, as not all crimes are reported to the police, let alone recorded by them. Two sets of figures are available from the CSEW: the first, collected from the survey’s inception in 1981, come from the results of face-to-face interviews; the second, available from 2004/05, come from confidential self-completion modules, which respondents complete in private by responding to questions on a computer. The unwillingness of respondents to reveal experience of domestic violence to an interviewer means that the first measure significantly underestimates the extent of domestic violence.


The high occurrence ofDV experienced by mature women suggests that doctors and other healthcare professionals working in all areas of medicine must identify and explore the potential significance of DV when considering reasons why mature women present with ill health. The issue of DV against mature women should be integrated into medical training, therapist training and also into governmental policy. Heterogeneity within the methodology of the different studies discussed in this review has highlighted the significance of developing stronger definitions to improve coherence across findings during a literature search. Future research work must try to recognize cultural differences when working with families and women of ethnic minorities.

Contrary to previous assumptions that mature women may consider DV as acceptable, results of a study found that mature women were able to identify abuse and actions seen as abusive, which demonstrates suggesting that care workers may be misinterpreting victims’ feelings. The study also demonstrates how the attitude of mature women has been altered over time, from something acceptable to something that must be dealt with.

Society must stop viewing domestic violence against mature women as a problem which only affects women, as the issue is overall a public health issue. All forms of violence against mature women are abhorrent and support for those who have been abused in any form should be readily available. We need a clear and decisive answer for calls for help from the health sector, in collaboration with women’s organizations and other related public powers. As observed by Hamberger et al. (1992), future research is essential in order to help determine the reason behind some re-occurring factors that are prevalent in contributing toward cases of DV against mature women.

A collective societal intervention is necessary to address the social determinants of DV. Counsellors, as frontline care providers, have an essential role to play in controlling the negative impacts of DV amongst mature women. Counsellors can be proactive in their approach and target vulnerable individuals and groups based on initial assessment or treatment programs. Counsellors and healthcare providers should effectively liaise with various governmental and non governmental agencies that participate in delivering individual treatment plans for mature victims of DV.By improving the coordination between these participating agencies and the women that need intervention, healthcare providers can promote greater access to and utilization of these services.

Future Work

The researcher discovered that there is not much data available on the topic of DV in mature women from previous researchers. In future the researcher will conduct research herself when qualified enough to conduct research using questionnaires and interviews to collect qualitative data.


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Department of Health (2000) Domestic Violence: A Resource Manual for Health Care Professionals. Department of Health: London.

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Douki, S., Nacef, F., Belhadje, A., Bouasker, A., & Ghachem, R. (2003). Violence against women in Arab and Islamic countries. Archives of Women Mental Health, 6, 165–171.

Diaz-Olavarrieta, C., Paz, F., De la Cadena, C. G., & Campbell, J. (2001). Prevalence of intimate partner abuse among nurses and nurses’ aides in Mexico. Archives of Medical Research, 32, 79_87.

Emerson, R.M. (1976) Social exchange theory. Annual Review of Sociology, 2, pp. 335-362.

Fagan, J. and Browne, A. (1994). Violence between spouses and intimates: Physical aggression between men and women in intimate relationships. In A. Reiss & J. Roth (Eds.), Understanding and preventing violence: Social influences, Vol. 3 (pp. 115–292). Washington, DC: National Academy.

Friedman, L.S., Samet, J.H., Roberts, M.S., Hudlin, M. and Hans, P. (1992) Inquiry about victimisation experiences: a survey of patient preferenccecs and physician practices. Archives of Internal Medicine, 152(6), pp. 1186.

Gerbert, B., Abercrombie, P., Caspers, N., Love, C. and Bronstone, A. (1999) How Health Care Providers Help Battered Women: The Survivors’ Perspective. Women and Health, 29, 115-135.

Golding, J. M. (1999) Intimate Partner Violence as a Risk Factor for Mental Disorders: A Meta Analysis. Journal of Family Violence, 14, 99-132.

Heise, L.L. (1998) Violence against women: An integrated, ecological framework. Violence Against Women, 4, pp. 262-290.

Hewitt, Kim (2002), Silent victims of violence in home. The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), September 14, 2002

Home Office (2013) Ending violence against women and girls in the UK. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed 19 August 2013].

Harris, R. J., Firestone, J. M., & Vega, W. A. (2005). The interaction of country of origin, acculturation, and gender role ideology on wife abuse. Social Science Quarterly, 86(2), 463–483.

Koss, M. P. (1993). Detecting the scope of rape: a review of prevalence research methods. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 8(2), pp. 198-222.

Krauss, H. (2006). Perspectives on violence. Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 108, 4–21.

Mahoney, M. (1991). Legal images of battered women: redefining the issues of separation. Michigan Law Review, 90, 165–194.

Martin, S.L., Tsui, A.O., Maitra, K. and Marinshaw, R. (1999) Domestic violence in northern India. American Journal of Epidemiology, 150(4), pp. 417-426.

Rennison, C. and Planty, M. (2003) Non-lethal intimate partner violence: Examining race, gender, and income patterns. Violence and Victims, 18(4), pp. 433-443.

Roberts, G.L., Lawrence, J.M., Williams, G.M. and Raphael, B. (1998) The impact of domestic violence on women’s mental health. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 22(7), pp. 796-801.

Rydstrom, H. (2003). Encounting “hot” anger: domestic violence in contemporary Vietnam. Violence Against Women, 9, 676–697.

Tjaden, P. and Thoennes, N. (2000) Prevalence and consequences of male-to-female and female-to-male intimate partner violence as measured by the National Violence Against Women Survey. Violence Against Women, 6, pp. 142-161.

Walker, L.E. (1999) Psychology and domestic violence around the world. American Psychologist, 54(1), pp. 21.

Waltermaurer, E. (2005). Measuring intimate partner violence (IPV); you may only get what you ask for. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 20(4), 501–506.

World Health Organisation (2005) WHO Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 19 August 2013].

Women’s Aid (2007) What is domestic violence[Online] Available at: [Accessed 23 August 2013].

Women’s Aid Press Release (2012) Cuts in refuge services putting vulnerable women and children at risk.[Online] Available at: [Accessed 19 August 2013].

Zink, T., Regan, S., Jacobson, C.J. and Pabst, S. (2003) Cohort, period and aging effects – a qualitative study of older women’s reasons for remaining in abusive relationships. Violence Against Women, 9(12), pp. 1429-1441.

Free Essays

Employment Law: Equal Pay for women in the workplace

Research Question

Has the Equality Act 2010 improved the way women are treated within the workplace with respect to equal pay?

Hypothesis Statement

The pre-existing struggles that women have been faced with in regards to equal pay have not been addressed by the recent reforms within this area. This is because, although the Equality Act 2010 was welcomed as a vehicle for the radical reform of equal pay, women are still treated less favourable than men. Accordingly, the problems that arose from the Equal Pay Act 1970 are still in existence and so further reform is needed if inequality is to be eradicated.

Case Law

Abdulla and others v Birmingham City Council [2013] 1 All ER 649

Allen v GMB [2008] EWCA Civ 810

Bates van Winkelhof v Clyde & Co LLP and another [2013] 1 All ER 844

Blackburn v West Midlands Police [2008] All ER (D) 50 (Nov)

Defrenne v Sabena (No 2) Case C-t3/75 [1976] ECR 455

Eaton Ltd v Nuttall [1977] ICR 272

Enderby v Frenchay Health Authority Case Case C-127/92 [1993] ECR I – 5535

Redcar & Cleveland BC v Bainbridge; Surtees v Middlesbrough BC [2008] All ER (D) 386 (Jul)

Ideas for Methodology Approach

In undertaking the research for this study, both a quantitative and qualitative approach will be undertaken so that a comprehensive analysis can be made. Both primary and secondary research will therefore be adopted by looking at various academic opinions, relevant legal rules, theories and principles. This will be done by accessing text books, journal articles, online legal databases and governmental reports. These can be accessed by undertaking a library search as well online databases such as Lexis Nexis and Westlaw.

Reference to Relevant Legal Theory and Social Policy Implications

The rights of women and men to receive equal pay has been subject to continuous debate for some time and the fact that women are still being discriminated against in the workplace suggests that the law cannot “effect genuine equality” (Smart, 1989, p. 3). This has serious social policy implications since it is made clear under s. 11 of the 2010 Act that discrimination on the grounds of a person’s sex is a protected characteristic and is therefore prohibited. Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights 1951, as incorporated by the Human Rights Act 1998, also protects women from being discriminated against within the workplace. Nevertheless, the fact that many organisations fail to treat men and women the same when it comes to equal pay suggests that the law is unable to protect women from discriminatory treatment within the workplace. As put by Rhode (1990, p. 617); “gender equality cannot be obtained under existing ideological institutional structures.” This causes legal implications in respect of equal pay and fails to allow equality for all to be attained (Wacks, 2012, p. 305).

Relevant Books, Journals and Reports

Baker, N. The Equality Act 2010. Company Secretary’s Review, Tolley’s Practical Business Fortnightly for Companies. 34 CSR 13, 102, Issue 13, (2010).

Bamforth, N. Malik, M. and Cinneide, O. Discrimination Law: Theory and Context, Text and Materials, Sweet & Maxwell Ltd, 1st Edition, (2008).

Connolly, M. Discrimination Law: Victimisation, Industrial Law Journal, ILJ 2002 31 (156) (2), Issue 2, (01 June, 2002).

European Industrial Relations Review. Report on Gender Pay Gap, 388 European Industrial Relations Review 28, (2006).

Equality and Human Rights Commission,.Equal Pay’ Creating a Fairer Britain, (2010), [available] from accessed 06 May, 2013.

Pigott, C. Employment: A Step Change for Equality, New Law Journal, 160 NLJ 749, Issue 7419, (28 May, 2010).

Pigott, C. Employment: Justifying Unequal Pay, New Law Journal, 159 NLJ 55, Issue 7352, (16 January, 2009).

Wilson, D. Playing Fair, Pay & Benefits, 38. Issue 7, (2010). Rowbottom, D. Re-Inventing the Collective Approach to Equal Pay, 155 New Law Journal 1701. Issue 7200, (2005).

Smart, C. (1989) Feminism and the Power of the Law, London, Routledge.

Smith, I. and Baker, A. Smith & Wood’s Employment Law. OUP Oxford. 10th Edition, (2010).

TUC. ‘The Union Makes Us Strong: TUC History Online’ [available] from <> accessed 05 May, 2013.

Wacks, R., (2012) Understanding Jurisprudence: An Introduction to Legal Theory, OUP Oxford, 3rd Edition.

Free Essays

Women In Leadership: The Place Of Assertiveness And Recognition Of Human Rights


The assumption that women leaders tend to be aggressive has been largely upheld, in Africa. That is not to say that all women leaders in Africa are aggressive; arguably, however, most women leaders tend to exhibit aggressive behaviour creating an impression of aggression within women leaders regardless of the reality. Assertiveness is a key quality expected from leaders or managers (Philips, 2002; Ames and Flynn, 2007) particularly those who have a lot of responsibilities. Those who aspire or are appointed as leaders are expected to posses and exhibit such qualities creating a self fulfilling prophecy. Assertiveness is, therefore, viewed as a dimension describing the tendency by people to speak for, defend, and act in their interest, values, and goals (in Ames and Flynn, 2006). A leader therefore, should be capable of planning, strategically; communicating clearly to other members of staff and rendering support to staff for effectiveness and success, but that is not always the case, particularly when it comes to female leaders.

The questions, therefore, are; what are the factors responsible for lack of assertiveness among women leaders, in Nigeria and why this often manifests itself as aggression rather than effective assertivenessA further question Is raised as to whether it is only seen as an issue for Nigerian women leaders, or is it a general disposition of the female genderThis essay, therefore, will give a brief chronological account of my career, identify the problems encountered that informed the choice of assertiveness and recognition of human rights (which are interconnected) and will therefore be discussed as part of one concept, namely, assertiveness. Related literature on assertiveness will be discussed and the factors responsible for its absence in women leaders. The importance of assertiveness for women in leadership positions will be reiterated. An action plan for my career will be highlighted and then concluded. It is worth stating, at this point, that the entire essay is going to be based on my personal experience and my context, except where otherwise mentioned. The essay will refer to females as women and males as men, because the essay is gender related.

My career

I started my teaching career at the age of twenty three, in a nursery and primary school, in Kaduna state of Nigeria. I had just finished a diploma course in Special Education at the University of Jos, in Nigeria, and was enthusiastic about joining the teaching profession. Although the school where I was employed to teach was neither a special nor a mainstream school, I was eager to put my teaching skills to good use. It was an unpleasant start, as I had to write and teach thirty-six lessons every week; the lesson notes must be ready by the end of Friday, because the head teacher will mark them over the weekend and then give them back to teachers, on Monday morning. Although the work was demanding, my major problem was the relationship between the head teacher and staff. I eventually left on health grounds.

My second experience was after my undergraduate studies at the same University. After my undergraduate studies, I went through the one year compulsory National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) which I completed in Kaduna Polytechnic and was offered employment a year after the exercise. I served under a male Head of Department (HOD), during my NYSC, but met a woman head when I was employed as a staff member. I had a heavier work load than most senior teachers, which the HOD attributed to my level and the fact that I did not have other responsibilities. This alerted me to the notion that leaders were often perceived t ho ave ‘different’ responsibilities In short, while the HOD made me the departmental secretary, welfare committee secretary, assistant registration officer and assistant exams’ officer, the work load did not change showing a lack of leader understanding of the precise role. She eventually finished her tenure and another woman was elected.

The third experience I had was another woman HOD who was elected into the position by other members of staff of the department, in conformation with the new rule in the institution; previously, headship was by appointment by the school management team. I had thought, at this point, that I would be relieved of some of my responsibilities, if not all. However, when the new head assumed duty, instead, my duties increased as she would call me to do just about anything, if was within sight and would then show no appreciation for the work done. This raised issues of how work was attributed to staff and how leaders look towards achieving a balanced workload for all staff, something which had been lacking in my experience.

Problems identified

The previous paragraphs have given a brief account of my career; this paragraph will focus on issues I consider problematic in staff relationships with women leaders. I have observed, from a distance, that the behaviour of women leaders, across the board, (e.g. church, unions, societies, etc.), in combination with my personal experience and have come to the conclusion that most women leaders are unnecessarily difficult to work with and often aggressive. I have heard some men endorse that opinion, as well. The three women I have worked with have a striking similarity in their behaviours all ultimately leading to aggression, which is characterised by being domineering, sarcastic, hard-edged, strident, impatient and blaming others. Furthermore, they were not assertive in their relationship with staff; they had no respect for staff, although they demanded respect from the staff, in turn. They acted as if they were superior beings who wanted to be revered; they were, in my opinion, ruthless to other colleagues and staff, generally. They were aware of their powers and exercised them to the fullest. Such women leaders tend to favour those they liked and victimise others. My first head teacher would tell staff members to report her, if they had the nerve; she knew nothing would be done about it; she always had things her way. These leaders make derogatory statements to staff, oblivious to who is listening; it was a common occurrence. Sometimes it happened right before the students; which could engender disrespect for teachers by their students, a situation that is avoidable. This was seen as a consistent way of operating by female leaders.

I recall my first day at work with amazement; I was disappointed at the way in which I was handed some necessary items I needed and a list of dos and don’ts by the stern looking head teacher. It felt as though it was purely an exercise of power, although I had thought that the head teacher might have problems at home, but came to realise that that was how she operated, in general. With my second employment, the HOD just collected my letter of employment and acknowledged it and that was all. I was not assigned an office, nor was there an orientation of any kind; I had to learn by trial and error or by asking other members of staff. I felt, from inception, that there was an enormous problem regarding leadership. This is because there was a lot of manipulation and no room for collaboration. In one of the cases, there was an outburst from the teachers when the HOD’s attitudes became unbearable; almost all staff members passed a vote of no confidence in the HOD and forwarded it to the school management. Although they had their good sides, it was however outweighed by their aggression. These kinds of dispositions seem to make staff members become emotionally exhausted and stressed, especially those who are passive, which affects the productivity of staff as a whole and does not create a team mentality.

Literature Review

Having given a brief history of my career and also identified what posed as challenges for me and other staff members, because of the disposition of the head teachers, it becomes imperative to look at what literature says about the assertiveness of women in leadership. Assertiveness is a critical issue, in Nigeria’s leaders; however, there is little or no literature in that regard concerning the concept, generally, and in regards to women, specifically. Assertiveness is a concept that are hardly mentioned and likewise the need for well managed assertiveness and the ignorance exhibited in this regard seems to affect the majority of the people, to a large extent, which leaders use to their advantage. These two concepts of assertiveness and human rights, as mentioned in the introduction are interconnected and inseparable, because assertiveness is all about knowing one’s rights and acknowledging the rights of others. It is this latter factor that is particularly relevant in the discussion. For instance, Back and Back in Armstrong (1991) stated that assertiveness is “standing up your for own rights” and, at the same time, taking into account the rights of others. In other words, know your rights and your limits, in order not to violate another person’s rights. The two concepts will therefore be discussed as one, namely assertiveness.

Assertiveness is the ability of an individual to act clearly, honestly, and to communicate directly (Dickson, 2012) and is considered a critical component of leadership effectiveness (Ames and Flynn, 2006). In other words, for leaders to succeed and advance in their leadership roles, they must be assertive. As stated earlier, one outstanding quality of assertiveness, I believe, is being aware of one’s rights and respecting the rights of other people; its importance in the work place and in life generally cannot be over emphasized. Despite this there are difference between assertiveness and aggression which needs to be recognised in this discussion.

Assertiveness can be proactive (acting rather than reacting) and reactive (responding rather initiating), both verbal and non-verbal (by means of words and action) (Ames and Flynn, 2006; Ames, 2009), depending on the situation or circumstance. Ames and Flynn (2006), in research which they carried out (not specifically on women) tried to establish the relationship between assertiveness and leadership and came up with some interesting concepts; high and low assertiveness. High assertiveness, they opine, results in what they term instrumental reward, meaning that leaders compromise their relationship with colleagues and subordinates in order to attain goals. Low assertiveness, on the other hand, results in social reward, which involves compromising attainment of goals in the quest of maintaining a good relationship with staff. Belonging to either of these two levels of assertiveness is already a challenge, as the leader in question would have to compromise one thing, in other to achieve the other; presumably the two are of utmost importance. The question is, if being assertive is a positive quality that leaders should possess, what are the factors or barriers that prevent leaders from exhibiting assertive behaviours?

Factors responsible for women’s lack of assertiveness

Internal and external stimuli (Oplatka and Tamir, 2009) are words used in describing reasons for women leaders’ lack of assertiveness, according to research carried out by Oplatka and Tamir. They posit that women who aspire for leadership positions (internal stimulus) are more likely to exhibit assertiveness and display more confidence than those who have waited for the positions to be offered, or were asked to apply (external stimulus). One factor, according to these researchers, that stands in the way between women and assertiveness is their unwillingness or unpreparedness to be leaders or school heads. Furthermore a lack of understanding of the role of a head may also create difficulties in harnessing natural leadership skills towards creating an efficient team working environment.

Another factor, as suggested by Coleman (2002), is family responsibilities. Married women have enormous family responsibilities; leadership in the work place adds to it and seems to affect their advancement in the office in a way that a male counterpart may not experience. It would not be strange for a woman to walk into the office and pick on the first person she sees, not because of anything they have done wrong, but possibly as a result of a pending issue with spouse, children or any family member; it happens frequently in my context. Contrary to Coleman’s suggestion, Hall (1996) in a study of six women head teachers, in the U.S, found women leaders (American) to be effective in their roles as leaders. Hall discovered that these women, although in different schools, showed some similarities in their leadership styles, which he attributes to family experiences from childhood, especially roles they played as girls who were taught by their mothers. These school heads had a smooth working relationship with their staff; there was collaboration, openness, and shared decision-making, with no attempt made to dominate; they use this strategy, only when other means have failed (Hall, 1996). This distinction between the US experiences and the experiences in Nigeria could be due to the fact that the US is generally more accepting of women in powerful positions and society supports full time female workers in the US in a way that is not as available in Nigeria.

Fear of failure and insecurity, according to Oplatka and Tamir (2009), is another impediment to women leaders’ advancement and exhibiting qualities considered to be assertive. What are they afraid of or insecure aboutGender related insecurities, because of male dominance, ( Oplatka and Tamir, 2009), gender stereotype, hostility towards women (Bickel, 2001) were identified as possible reasons responsible for the non-assertive behaviour women leaders exhibit. Poor self-image was suggested as affecting women’s attitude and effectiveness as self-confidence is largely linked with the developmental process and experiences an individual encounters, is exposed to, has interacted or associated with (Morgan et al, (1981); Mathipa and Tsoka, 2001); which Mathipa and Tsoka argue is, to a large extent, dependent on the type of education women receive. The type of education either builds an individual’s confidence or creates a lack of confidence, which heightens fears and insecurities among women. Creating a greater general acceptance of women in management roles would reduce the need to be overly aggressive when asserting the management position. Mathipa and Tsoka (2001) reiterated that women are not born with a poor self-image, but are culturally educated to respect and uphold others. This is especially true in Africa, where a woman is supposed to be ‘seen and not heard’. However, those who live in urban areas exhibit more confident behaviour than those in rural areas. In consonance with this, Mathipa and Tsoka, Milgram (1970 in Ames 2009) stated that assertive behaviour differs between those in urban and rural settings and within regions of a country depending on their experiences within society (Cohen and Nisbett, 1994, in Ames, 2009). This is a clear pointer to the role culture plays in the issue of women leaders’ assertiveness.

Discussion of issues

The amount of literature available on the issue of assertiveness of women leaders is an indication of the challenges faced by women leaders. The discussion will, therefore, be centred on the themes revealed in the literature. Women leaders have two main issues to contend with; the fact that they are women and also the need to be accepted as effective leaders. The world is a man’s world, as is the common belief, in certain regions, which is why the disposition of a woman in leadership is crucial. In an article based on South African women, lack of assertiveness was mentioned as a barrier to women’s advancement to leadership positions, particularly in the education profession (Mathipa and Tsoka, 2001). In my opinion, the same is applicable to Nigeria.

Women would naturally not prepare and plan for leadership, in Nigeria; however that is not to say that some women do not aspire to leadership roles. There is a perception that a ‘woman’s place is in the home’; most women were brought up with that belief, with the constant reminder that the man is the head (natural leader) of the family. The underlying fact is that they do not plan nor prepare for leadership (Oplatka and Tamir, 2009). I would argue, therefore, that men do not go through any formal training or even plan (sometimes) to be leaders, but their approach to leadership is different; again, that is not in any way saying that all men are good leaders or heads. A male head, for example, would hardly come to the office in the morning with an attitude, because of an incident that happened in the home. The male leader is also more comfortable in their position as it is perceived to be more ‘normal’ and there isn’t the same desire to prove themselves as the leader from the outset. My course mate shared with me her experience about her encounter with a head teacher in one of the schools, who shouted at her because she went to get the keys to a particular room, to pick a musical instrument which she was supposed to play for the children (she was not told until that morning). Women appear to be very emotional, which may be responsible for the way they behave at times. For instance, my HOD summoned me, on one occasion, and was abusive in her words, only to discover that she was wrong because she accused me, wrongly; however, she did not apologise; she was the head. My rights were trampled upon, but being a passive person, it was impossible to respond. Being prepared for leadership is necessary, which I suppose is responsible for the creation of the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) in England, in 1997, which is a mandatory requirement for headship (Bush and Oduro, 2006).

Assigning responsibilities to teachers was also suggested (Mangin, 2009), in order to begin to prepare teachers for future headship responsibilities. This may not fit well, in my context, as most of those in leadership have held other responsibilities in lesser capacities, before becoming head teachers. All these strategies are helpful; however, in my opinion, assertiveness is not just to be taught, but is a skill to be learned. Furthermore it is contended that having greater confidence in themselves will reduce instances of unecesary aggression as they will be content in their role without the need to trample others.

Family responsibility is another factor responsible for women’s lack of assertiveness and can be highly influential to their role in the workplace. From my experience, acknowledging that it is not easy for a woman to be a leader, yet if she has a family, is necessary as it is an important part of how she has developed as a leader. The woman is typically responsible for everything that happens on the home front, in addition to other responsibilities outside the home. The experience of this head teacher is to buttress this assertion. This head teacher leaves her house as early as 5.00am, in order to beat the traffic, that is, after she has prepared breakfast for her husband (no children yet). She leaves the office and arrives home around 7.00pm, because of the traffic. Her husband faithfully waits for her return, to cook his meals (he has no job) which involves her working within the home as well as at work; this she does everyday. She pays all the bills and provides food; her husband does nothing and would not help even with house chores (he is the head of the family). This social limitation places greater pressures on the female leaders I went to see one head one morning; immediately she saw me she broke down and wept. This is one scenario out of so many that women go through. This may be an extreme scenario, but there are a lot of women heads who do not experience up to a fraction of this and yet lose control in the office, resulting in unnecessary conflict; surprisingly, the head teacher in the story above is not aggressive, neither is she passive; one would not even have the slightest inclination that she had a problem, if she had not opened up to discuss it. This behaviour is unique to her, as not every woman can tolerate that without reacting; this, I would argue is the result of individual differences in people. Individual differences in assertiveness are also crucial in how leaders are perceived and their success as a leader (Ames and Flynn, 2000).

The notion about the upbringing of the girl child that translates into assertive behaviour is also worth mentioning. There was a practice, in earlier times, that is still being practised by some families, in Nigeria. When a boy wants to get married, his parents secretly inquire about the girl’s family; the purpose is to find out the norms and values of her family; this they believe will tell them the kind of behaviour the girl is likely to exhibit. That will inform their decision on whether the boy should marry the girl, or not. Although the research was carried out on American head teachers, the girl’s childhood upbringing is also taken seriously, in Nigeria. However, it does not always follow; as parents would do everything possible and children will grow and choose their own path. That is not in any way implying that the girl child’s upbringing has no influence in adulthood. Having such a strong parental influence is relevant as this may impact on the way that a woman perceives herself and a female that has not been encouraged to carve a career for herself may face increased personal barriers to showing well placed assertiveness.

Lack of assertiveness in women heads tend to create fear and make them insecure in their role. It could be because they feel intimidated by other colleagues, or lack confidence in their ability to carry out their responsibilities. Although leaders tend to put on a good front, they become emotionally exhausted in trying to stay on top of their game, something which is exacerbated when they also have family pressures. I recall with disdain how my head would add her workload to mine and demand I meet the deadline; with authority of course. Other staff members claimed that she saw me as a threat and was trying to frustrate me; it was almost the same experience with the other three women heads I worked with. The question is, if one is insecure, why take out their frustrations on other peopleAlthough the heads behave almost in the same way to all staff, men find it extremely difficult to tolerate such behaviours from female leaders. In the African culture, it is natural for men to be leaders and awkward or strange for a woman to be leaders, where there are men; culture has placed the woman below the man. Unassertive behaviours by women leaders only strengthen the assumption that women do not posses leadership qualities. However, there are women who are outstanding in their leadership roles. According to Dickson (2012), the issue of equality is one of the most important characteristic of assertiveness.

My action plan

Having discussed the findings based on the available literature, it becomes imperative to map out a plan, based on my reflections of the module, especially regarding the aspect of assertiveness and training of potential female leaders. Although I do not like taking on the role of a leader, I am, most of the time, assigned responsibilities. As a passive person, I need to prepare myself for the future, especially in the aspect of assertiveness if this is not to create insecurities within myself.


Assertiveness seems to be a significant aspect of leadership; however, it would appear that little or no attention is accorded to the concept or acquiring skills associated with . It is one thing to be a leader and another to be an effective leader. Women in leadership positions have considerable challenges for the singular reason of being women. Exhibiting aggressive, passive or manipulative behaviour will only add to their challenges and the suppression of the male dominant figure of authority. The woman is known to possess a naturally soft, accommodating, friendly and gentle nature. Where a woman leader decides to be domineering, in order to command respect like men, she meets with conflict which is responsible for the unnecessary emotional stress and exhaustion leaders and their staff experience, which can be avoided. If women leaders can express strong feelings, without being aggressive, accept that they are not omnipotent, and compromise, sometimes without insisting on winning all the time, respect the feelings, privacy, and opinions of others, it is most likely that they will have a serene environment to work in, with full support from staff. Whenever people feel supported or acknowledged, there is likely to be advancement and also an indication that a situation has been handled assertively. The power of women, therefore, does not lie in the offices they occupy, nor their aggression, but in their ability to stay on top of the game by being assertive.


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for the gander: The benefits of self-monitoring for men and women in task groups and

dyadic conflicts. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91, 272-281

Ames, D. and Flynn, F. (2007). What breaks a leader: The curvilinear relation

between assertiveness and leadership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 307-324

Ames, D (2009) Pushing up to a point: Assertiveness and effectiveness in leadership and interpersonal dynamics. Research in Organisational Behaviour 29 (2009) 111 – 133

Astrong M (1991). How to be an even better Manager. London: Biddles Limited. P.27

Bush, T. and Oduro, G.K.T. (2006). New principals in Africa: Preparation, induction and practice. Journal of Educational Administration, 4(4), pp.359–75

Coleman, M. (2002) Women as headteachers: striking the balance, Stoke on Trent, Trentham Books.

Dickinson, A (2012) A Woman in Your Own Right Assertiveness and You Quartet Books

Hall, V. (1996) Dancing on the Ceiling: A study of women managers in education, London, Paul Chapman

Mangin D. (2009) Promotion, professional practice and patient trust. In: Understanding and Responding to Pharmaceutical Promotion – a practical guide. Eds Mintzes B, Mangin DA, Hayes L. World Health Organisation / Health Action International 2009

Mathipa E. M. and Tsoka E. R. (2001) ‘Possible barriers to the advancement of women in positions of leadership in the education profession’, South African Journal of Education 21: 324-330

Oplatka, I, & Tamir, V. (2009). I don’t want to be a school head: women deputy heads’ insightful constructions of career advancement and retention, Educational Management Administration Leadership, 37, pp. 216-230.

Philips, A. (2002) Assertiveness and the Manager’s Job, Radcliffe Publishing.

Free Essays

There are far too many (women) who are discriminated against and far too many employers who are using every single legal argument and loophole to dodge their obligations under equal pay law


The Equality Act 2010 (EqA)[1] came into force on the 1st October 2010, replacing the earlier Equal Pay Act 1970[2], with the aim of offering greater certainty. Despite this, there is largely a replication of the terms of the 1970 Act and there remain difficulties in enforcing the fundamental rule of equal pay for equal work, which is set out in Article 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union[3] (TFEU). This has several elements which can potentially be argued by employers looking to discriminate against women, two of which areas will be looked at here, in order to confirm or deny the statement made at the outset that employers are using the legal argument to dodge their obligations. For the purposes of arguing this point, two issues will be considered, in more detail: the need for a comparator and the material justification defence.


The sex equality requirement prohibits pay discrimination based on sex and therefore a woman looking to bring a claim of this nature will need to be able to compare her contractual terms with a comparable or sufficiently similar male comparator. This notion of a comparator is used across the whole area of discrimination however it is treated somewhat more stringently in the case of equal pay. In accordance with the EqA, it is necessary for the comparator to be actual. Unlike other areas of discrimination where the comparator can be hypothetical, it is necessary for the woman in this situation to find an actual comparator. It is also necessary for the comparator to be in the same employment, i.e. employed by the same employer or at least an associated employer. The comparator must also be a current or former employee, but cannot be a successor and the comparator is fundamentally the claimant’s choice. Bearing in mind all of these requirements, it is possible to see that there are several options available to the employer, when it comes to arguing the validity of a comparator.

In the case of Macarthys in 1980, it was held that there needed to be an actual comparator with the judge stating: “Comparisons are confined to parallels which may be drawn on the basis of concrete appraisals of the work actually performed by employees of different sex within the same establishment or service”[4]. It is noted that this is not the case with a direct pay discrimination claim, where a hypothetical comparator may be allowed for the purposes of evidencing sex discrimination and less pay for the same work.

A similar difficulty emerges in the area of working in the same establishment. In the case of the City of Edinburgh Council, 2012[5], where the Inner House of the Court overturned the previous decision of the EAT that had previously argued that the terminology “establishment” could have a broad meaning. Instead, the Inner House restricted this substantially by saying that the comparator had to work at an establishment that was largely in the same geographical area. An employee looking to claim that they are being paid less will also need to find a comparator who is broadly employed on common terms (as stated in Section 1(6) of the 1970 Act and restated in EqA). For example, in the case of Leverton (1989)[6], it was possible for female nursery nurses to argue that they were being paid less than their comparators who were male clerical staff. All staff had a “purple book” of terms and conditions and this was sufficient to argue that they had common terms.

Finally, there is the time frame over which the comparator has worked, with the ability of the claimant to look at a predecessor but not a successor. This was supported by the case of Walton, 2008[7], where it was held that a successor could not be used, as this would require the courts to hypothesise as to whether the comparator would have been treated differently, had they been employed at the same time. This is based on the argument that by looking into the future this would be hypothetical situation and impossible to consider how the employer would act in the future. It can therefore be seen that there are multiple issues involved in locating a comparator, which can potentially make it easier for an employer to escape their obligations and to allow them to look at ways of paying female employees less, either directly or indirectly, or at the very least making the matter difficult for an employee to prove, in the absence of an obvious and exact comparator.

Material Justification

Another area which presents a real opportunity for the employer to look at escaping liability is the use of the material factor defence contained in both the EqA and the 1970 Act. This defence allows an employer to pay an employee less than a comparator for whom they would otherwise be required to ensure equal pay, due to some non-discriminatory reason. There is non- specific requirement to deal with the notion of material defence, after the issue of equal pay has been discussed and it may be that the tribunal will in fact consider the material justification defence, at the outset, when looking at whether the jobs were of equal value[8].

The material factor defence is dealt with in Section 1(3) of the 1970 Act, where it is stated that the employer would have a defence, if they could show that the difference in salary “is genuinely due to a material factor which is not the difference of sex”. This is a genuine requirement and allows for employers to have a distinction between pay where it is required for the business need.

An employer can show that they have a material factor defence where they can prove the following. Firstly that the explanation is genuine, secondly that the reason for less favourable treatment was down to that explanation, thirdly that the reason was not considered to be the difference of sex and finally that the reason is a significant and relevant difference between the man and woman in the instance[9]. When looking at the genuineness of the situation, the House of Lords stated in Bury Metropolitan Council that tribunals should not become too concerned over the issue of genuineness and should instead simply look at the facts surrounding the situation[10]. In this case, it was also stated that the difference will only be a sham, if it “has been deliberately fabricated in order to present things otherwise than as they are”.

Crucially, it is also necessary for the factor to be material meaning, in accordance with Rainey, 1987, where the difference is significant and relevant, but this could be with reference to external factors, such as the market and not necessarily simply down to the skills and knowledge of the individuals in question[11]. When it comes to material justification, the burden of proof shifts from party to party in such a way that offers a real opportunity for the employer to escape liability. Once the employee has shown that there is a prima facie case for an equal pay claim, the employer then has the burden of showing a material factor defence, before the burden then travelling back to the employee to show that this was not genuine or in error in some way.

For example, it may be argued, as was the case in Cooksey and Others (2011)[12], that the use of an on call allowance had the impact of men getting paid more than women, due to men being typically more available to undertake such work; this was sufficient to constitute a material factor defence and the case was allowed, with the employer being culpable.


It is concluded here that the original statement made that employers have been able to use legal argument and loopholes as a key way of escaping liability under the equal pay legislation is not merely a theoretical argument, but one that is supported and shown time and time again through the tribunals and court system. It is argued here that by just looking at the area of identifying a comparator and the area of a material factor defence, there is a multitude of complexities that can be used by the employer to evade liability. This area needs to be revisited carefully, if there is to be sufficient protection offered to women, in the future. As it stands, all but the most obvious of discriminatory scenarios are likely to evade the full extent of the legislation and this matter requires review, as a matter of urgency. Practicality is such that there are a variety of factors which may lead to a discrepancy of pay yet this needs to be addressed to ensure that any differences are materially justifiable and are appropriate in all circumstances so as to reduce the overall pay gap as far as possible.


Bury Metropolitan Borough Council v Hamilton and other cases [2011] IRLR 358

City of Edinburgh Council v Wilkinson and others [2012] IRLR 202,

Cooksey and Others v Trafford Borough Council and others UKEAT/0255/11

Equality Act 2010

Equal Pay Act 1970

Forex Neptune (Overseas) Ltd v Miller [1987] ICR 170,

Glasgow City Council v Marshall [2000] ICR 196 (HL)

Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

Leverton v Clwyd County Council [1989] IRLR 28 (HL).

Macarthys Ltd v Smith [1980] IRLR 210

Prentis D, Unison. 2013. commenting on North and ors v Dumfries and Galloway Council 2013 SC 45

Rainey v Greater Glasgow Health Board [1987] ICR 129

Walton Centre for Neurology & Neuro Surgery NHS Trust v Bewley [2008] IRLR 588

Free Essays

Impact of Recent Changes in Capitalism on Social and Economic Status of Women


The history of women and their oppression has been well documented in literature. Several authors have explored the origin of women oppression. Women’s oppression has its roots in capitalism which has existed for many centuries (Stuart & Martin 1989). Their oppression is of course not unique to capitalism as it has been there since the colonial times and through the 19th century and 20th. However, over the past few decades, we have observed significant changes in capitalism which has impacted on the status of women. Many changes have been observed some of which are positive and others which take a more gloomy view.
In this respect, this paper explores how the recent changes in capitalism have affected the social and economic status of women. In particular, the paper considers how post-Fordism and neoliberalism have altered women’s socio-economic position. Changes such as industrialization, urbanization, internationalization, globalization and modernization will be discussed in detail. The paper will examine how the concurrent cultural shifts have interacted with these socio-economic transformations and determine what the overall impact of these different factors has been. An exploration of this topic will be incomplete without examining the origin of capitalism and the rise of post fordism and neoliberalism.

History of capitalism and crisis of fordism

The origin of capitalism remains shrouded in the mists of history. Its exact birth date is speculated to be anywhere between the 14th century and the 17th century (Stuart & Martin 1989). Capitalism emerged from a feudal society and is linked to Europe’s economic system of the late 1700s (Price 2005). It is argued to have begun with the enclosure of common land used by peasants, and development of merchant capital and slave trade in western Europe (Price 2005). Rich landowners appropriated public land and made it their own private land, thereby creating a landless working class which provided the needed labour to develop industries (Harvey 1989).
Fordism, a regime characterized by mass production, emerged in the early 20th century. It became dominant in the advanced capitalism during the postwar reconstruction. It was characterized by the mass production of homogenous consumer products, use of rigid technology, increased productivity, rising income which is dependent on productivity, increased profitability and investments, and homogenization and intensification of labour (Clarke 1990). Fordism gave birth to the current phenomenon of ‘mass worker’.
The fordist regime adopted a set of cultural norms and values which continued to oppress women. The regime supported the male breadwinner model where women were seen as mothers and house wives while men worked in paid labour (Castell 1996). Gender relations under this regime required women to work without pay while the male subject was remunerated. However, fordist regime had its limits which were technical, social and economic in nature. Technical limits were mainly the exhaustion and the intensification of labour (Clarke 1990). The economic limits included decrease in profitability which was a result of the rising wages and declining productivity. Social limits were related to the growing demands of mass worker.

Post-fordism and neoliberalism

Given the crisis of fordism, a new form of ‘post-fordist regime’ emerged which was characterized by the growing differentiation of products, new technologies, more flexible production methods, and greater skill and flexibility, and increased involvement of women in paid labour (Burrow & Loader 2003). Post-fordism emerged primarily due to three main driving forces: internationalization, technology revolution, and as a result of the paradigm shift from fordism to post-fordism (Broomhill 2001). Introduction of the welfare system and the rise of women movement in the post-fordist regime led to the abandonment of the male breadwinner model and women’s financial independence (Broomhill 2001).
Several historical events have transformed the social landscape including technological revolution, demise of international communist movement and the collapse of Soviet statism (Castell 1996). Proliferation of technologies centred on information systems have reshaped the social landscape and accelerated the pace of development of the society. Moreover, the rise of globalization has led to a new form of relationship between states and economies (Castell 1996). All these changes have been driven and shaped by the neo-liberal thought.
Neoliberalism has led to the increasing globalization, decentralization, de-regulation of the market, organizational restructuring, growth and consolidation of transnational corporations, and ‘free marketization’ which has reduced the old state and contractual controls (Acker 2004). Furthermore, new forms of flexibility in employment relations including part-time and online forms of working have emerged, changing the working environment. Post-fordism and neoliberal policies have resulted in the feminization of labour and made men and women both similar in the public sphere (Broomhill 2001).

Impact on women’s economic and social status

These changes in capitalism have had profound yet contradictory impact on the economic and social status of women. While it has to a large extent improved women’s socio-economic status by undermining older forms of male dominance, it has to some extent worsened their life conditions (Beck et al. 2001). On the positive side, post-Fordism and neoliberalism have altered women’s socio-economic position and disrupted the settled economies that supported patriarchy structures.
Post-fordist relations of production have resulted in the inclusion of women in paid labour force. Neoliberal policies have increased flexibility in employment. These changes have changed the way women view themselves and challenged the patriarchic view of domination of women by the men (McRobbie 2008). And since domination essentially occurs through construction of reality, if the women subjects do not internalize patriarchalism, then its demise is just a matter of time. While some religion in some countries, especially Islam, continue to re-state the sanctity of the patriarchal family, its disintegrations is evident in many countries.
Women in many countries have joined the paid workforce and even conquered legal parity at work. However, their inclusion in the paid labour force does not necessarily imply that they were relieved of the burden of Partriachalism. It might be that despite working for pay, women still continue with their role of providing domestic and caring labour at home. Nonetheless, their liberation from oppression is clearly evident across the globe. The number of women in paid workforce has been increasing gradually over the years. Estimates indicate that women currently account for about 42% of the global workforce with majority of them employed in the health sector (75%) (WHO 2008).
Not only has their economic status improved, their social status has improved as well. Women are increasingly being seen as equals to men including in politics where they were essentially absent. The political system in many countries has opened up to female leadership. The participation of women in leadership positions and politics is clearly evident in the recent presidential elections in the US where Hillary Clinton contested against President Barack Obama. Many more women leaders have emerged all over the world with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia being the most popularly known in Africa, having won as the first ever female president in Africa. Others include the German chancellor Angela Merkel, President Cristina Fernandez of Argentina, Prime minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil and many more (Aguirre et al. 2012). The list is certainly endless.
In addition, the education system has become more open to the girl child including in fundamentalist countries such as Iran which have seen a growing number of women graduates (Castell 1996). The affirmation and recognition of women’s values, the growing women movements and critique of patriarchalism are some of the most important transformations that have contributed to the new status of women.


As women movements continue to fight for their autonomy and recognition of women’s values, the more has feminism diversified. A new frontier has emerged based on the notion of ‘degendering’ of the society which implies a society free from gender associations or rather one that moves beyond gender (Murphy 2011). This new frontier in feminism has superseded the old battles that existed between equality feminism and difference feminism. By mobilizing women to oppose patriarchalism and to defend their rights, feminism has transformed to the point of canceling the distinction between men and women (Sulivan 2007).
Men and women are now largely viewed as individuals with meaningful existence, liberating them from the patriarchic burden of responsibilities. This has certainly been very helpful in achieving a more equal society. Women’s role in the development of the economy is increasingly being recognized. Available evidence indicates women to be powerful drivers of economic growth. A study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found the high rate of women employment to be the driving force of the US economy. The study found that, if women had not entered the workforce over the last 30 years, the economy would have been 11% less.
Today, we see several institutions including the World Bank and the Department for International Development (DFID) campaigning for more involvement of women in economic development (Aguirre et al. 2012). According to the World Bank, encouraging the growth of women entrepreneurs is as sure way of fighting poverty. Women are poised to drive the global economy in the next coming decades. Estimates indicate that nearly 1 billion of women across the world might join paid labour over the coming decade (Aguirre et al. 2012).


While there seems to be a progress in women’s socio-economic status driven by post-fordist relations and the neoliberal policies pursued by the several states, some countries continue to follow partriarchalism. Despite its inevitable demise, some countries tend to still follow partriarchal lines which subordinate women under men’s dominance. A good example can be seen with Saudi Arabia. A woman’s place in Saudi Arabia is still in the home. Saudi women continue to walk in the shadow of their men. For example, despite their obvious presence, they are not allowed to participate in the public sphere (Hamdan 2005). They are viewed as non-existing in the public sphere and are silenced in public life. They continue to be subordinated to male individuals in both private and public sectors despite their qualifications.
While a progress seems to have been made with respect to their education, at the core of women’s education is sex segregation. Education in Saudi continues to support the prevailing gender structures, implying lower social status of Saudi women (Hamdan 2005). Perhaps more shocking news is the fact that Saudi Women are not allowed to drive. While religious reasons are generally given for denying women the right to drive, it is clear that their place is still in the home.
Also, even though many women have progressed economically due to their inclusion in workforce, only a few of them work in the management positions. In spite of the increasing number of women in workplace, many of them are concentrated in the lower-status occupations. For example, while the health sector comprise of 75% of the women workforce, they are concentrated n the lower status working either as nurses and midwifery personnel or as ‘caring’ cadres (WHO 2008). They are largely underrepresented at the managerial level and specialist categories such as dentists, pharmacists, and physicians.
Feminist critique of sexism seems to have given justification to new forms of exploitation and oppression. With more women joining the paid workforce, the ‘family wage’ model central to state-organized capitalism which viewed men as the ‘breadwinners’ and women as ‘home makers’ has now been replaced by the newer, more modern norm of ‘two-earner’ family (Fraser 2013). While this may sound like good news, the reality is that post-fordism and neoliberal ideas have resulted in depressed wage levels, increased job insecurity, exacerbation of double shifts and the increase in the number of working hours (Fraser 2013).
What was once the ‘family wage’ in capitalism has now been replaced by a low-waged work. Majority of their work has not really brought liberation rather a ‘tedious reality’ far from the perceived image of a working woman (Frank 1999). They remain relegated to lower positions at work. Even with many women being employed either in full or part-time positions, they are not getting to the ‘top’.
Also, where their role is clearly evident, women continue to suffer from some level of hostility and public disapproval. For example, when it comes to journalism, women have proved flexible and able to forge new approaches. Their adaptability to new approaches is clearly evident with their news coverage of the September 11 events, the overthrow of Taliban forces and the bombing of Afghanistan (Chambers 2004). Women journalists developed different angles in their approach to war journalism, thereby attracting more news audiences. Yet despite the critical role that they played, a heated public debate emerged about the risks of reporting in war zones. It is clear that despite their liberation from oppression, women are still defined in terms of men. As wives and mothers, women clearly continue to suffer from some level of hostility and public disapproval that men with families do not ( Chambers 2004 p.13)
In addition, some recent events have pointed to the renewed crisis of capitalism. There is currently a crisis of profitability which is facing capitalism. The profit rates are falling and many firms have been laying off workers. British capitalism is particularly in a crisis given its relatively weak position compared to other imperialist nations (FRFI 2013). The current focus on the growth of the private sector implies that priority has been placed on industrial development over social objectives. Workers wages have been cut to a massive extent and unemployment seems to be growing. Given this crisis, capitalism is now insisting on women returning to their traditional roles as domestic workers (FRFI 2013).

Neoliberal ideas contributing to sexism

While the recent changes experienced by capitalism seem to have contributed to the recognition of women as gender equals, recent developments continue to enact sexism. For example, many advertisements of today show nude pictures of women. What this means is that the male gaze is invited and encouraged as women continue to become objects of the gaze. Moreover, many clubs continue to feature young women stripping, lap-dancing and flashing out their breasts in public (McRobbie 2009). A hyper-culture of commercial sexuality seem to be growing, an aspect that is clearly a repudiation of feminism.
Even the young women journalists who through their education are ‘gender aware’ refuse to condemn such acts of commercial sexuality. It seems like the new female Subject is called upon by the society to withhold critique and to remain silent despite her freedom. Consumer and popular culture seem to be introducing invidious forms of gender re-stabilization by pretending to support female success yet tying the female subject to new post-feminist neurotic dependencies (McRobbie 2009). In order to be considered a modern sophisticated girl, the female subjects choose to withhold their critique despite their obvious image as sexual objects of men’s gaze.
With the progress seen with women’s socio-economic status, one might think that the feminists are happy to see the things they fought so hard to have come true. However, what has emerged is different from what was desired (Cornwall et al 2008). Neoliberal values seem to have created space under which women can be further oppressed and their core values undermined. The culture of neoliberalism has led to the idea of self-sufficiency and free choice. All that one has to do is to compete in the market place.
Some women have even gone to great lengths to make themselves acceptable to the world of work by performing cosmetic surgery under the illusion of having freedom choice to make their own decisions (Gupta 2012). Yet some of their work goes against their core values. Many women have ventured into the sex industry under the illusion of having control over their lives. They have chosen this kind of work in the spirit of freedom of expression of their sexuality and believe that the work is liberation from the drudgery of cleaning jobs (Gupta 2012). However, the so called freedom of expression is actually reducing them to the status of ‘commodity’ and as objects of ‘men gaze’.
Feminism which once fought for the liberation of women from oppression has become entangled in a dangerous liaison with neoliberal efforts to build a free market society (Fraser 2013). It has led to the notion of ‘freedom of choice’ which ultimately has given rise to prostitution. Feminists’ perspective on prostitution, however, is an interesting one. Feminists argue that prostitutes are social workers and have in fact used their social concepts to contend for decriminalization of prostitution (Sullivan 2007). Feminists have formed strong links with prostitutes resulting in advances in the area of prostitution law reform. The feminist position of the sex industry is one that empowers women as long as they choose to participate.
But what is progressive about women’s participation in prostitutionCan women really progress by becoming sexual objects and objects of male gazeWhat is revolutionary about legalizing prostitutionIn fact, legalizing prostitution just makes women to become sexual commodities. The fight against sexism that has long been fought for by feminists seems to have ended up again to encouraging it. The progress in women that we have seen so far will not continue if women continue to follow neoliberal ideology that values individual ‘choice’ and ‘freedom’ over emancipation. Selling their bodies will not provide them with independence and empowerment that they seek but rather it will just reinforce male power and privilege.

Trafficking of women and children

Further, neoliberal ideology has led to the growing trafficking of women and children. This is particularly evident in Asia and the pacific region where human trafficking has grown to become a booming business. Millions of children in the pacific region are traded to work in brothels or sweatshops. Human trafficking has not grown by accident but as a result of free trade and structural adjustments brought about by neo-liberalism. Sex trafficking is currently a growing market in some parts of Eastern Europe, most notably Romania and Albania (FRFI 2013)


There is no doubt that the socio-economic status of women has improved following the recent changes in capitalism. This is evident in their inclusion in the paid workforce, their enrollment in eductation and increased participation in the public sphere including in politics. However, to some extent, these changes have painted a gloomy picture with regard to the status of women. A vast majority of them continue to occupy positions at the low levels of the organization. Also they continue to suffer from some level of hostility and public disapproval. Neoliberal ideology has led to their increasing commodification and increased trafficking of women and children. A hyper-culture of commercial sexuality seem to be growing, an aspect that is clearly a repudiation of feminism.
Nonetheless, a huge progress has been made. Today, there are many successful women in the capitalist society. In fact, many women seem to have embraced the capitalism and showed support of it due to their improved social and economic status. If their status is to be further improved in post-fordist employment, policy initiatives must address the issues of women’s employment, skills and training (Burrows & Loader 2003). Furthermore, there is need for public policy to challenge the polarized labour market that has emerged from post-fordism. Neo-liberal policies which support the development of a polarized market are socially divisive. Also, feminist scholars need to caution Women against prostitution. Selling their bodies will not provide them with independence and empowerment that they seek but rather it will just reinforce male power and privilege


Acker, J., 2004. ‘Gender, capitalism and globalization’. Critical Sociology, vol. 30 (1), pp.17-41

Aguirre, D., Hoteit, L., Rupp, C. and Sabbagh, K., 2012. Empowering the third billion women and the world of work in 2012. Booz & Company

McRobbie, A., 2008. The Aftermath of Feminism: Gender, culture and social change, pp. 1-95.

Zygmunt, B., 2001. The Individualized Society. Polity press.

Beck, Ulrich & Elizabeth Beck-Gernsheim, 2001. Individualization: institutionalized individualism and its social and political consequences. Sage publishers.

Broomhill, R., 2001. ‘Neoliberal globalism and the local state: a regulation approach’. Journal of Australian Political Economy , No.48

Burrow, R. and Loader, B.D., 2003. Towards a post-fordist welfare stateLondon: Routledge

Castells, M., 1996. The Power of Identity. Blackwell

Castells, M., 1996. The Rise of the Network Society. Blackwell

Chambers, D., Steiner, L and Fleming, C., 2004. Women and journalism. Routledge

Clarke, S., 1990. The crisis of Fordism and the crisis of capitalism. University of Warwick.

Cornwall, A., Gideon, J. and Wilson, K., 2008. ‘Introduction: reclaiming feminism: gender and neoliberalism’. IDS Bulletin, vol. 39 (6)

Franks, S., 1999. Having None of It: Men, Women and the Future of Work, Granta.

FRFI, 2013. Women’s oppression under capitalism. Revolutionary Communist Group [viewed on 3rd May 2014] available from

Gupta, R., 2012. Has neoliberalism knocked feminism sideways[viewed on 3rd May 2014] available from

Hamdan, A., 2005. ‘Women and education in Saudi Arabia: challenges and achievements’. International Education Journal, vol.6 (1), pp.42-64

Harvey, Da., 1989. The Condition of Postmodernity. Blackwell.

Jessop, B., 2008. Post-fordism and the state, UK, Lancaster

Murphy, M., 2011. A progressive dialogue: building a progressive feminist movement in neo-liberal times. [viewed on 3rd May 2014] available from

Price, R.G., 2005. Understanding capitalism part IV: Capitalism, culture and society. [Viewed on 2nd May 2014] available from
Stuart, H and Martin J, 1989. New Times: The Changing Face of Politics in the 1990s.

Lawrence & Wishart Whelan, Imelda, 2000. Overloaded: Popular Culture and the Future of Feminism, The Women’s Press.

Sullivan, B., 2007. Feminist approaches to the sex industry. Australia: University of Queensland
World Health Organization (WHO), 2008. Gender and health workforce statistics. World Health Organization.

Free Essays

Patriarchal (sexist) society oppresses women: Women sexuality is marginalized


The Oedipus complex is a name coined from the notorious Kind Oedipus, a Greek legend, who kills his father so that he can marry his mother. The term denotes the notions and emotions that the mind keeps in the unconscious condition, through the dynamic repression that concentrates on the desire of a child to sexually possess the parent. This paper describes the Oedipus complex in detail and discusses how the beliefs influence women by discussing how the sexist society oppresses women. A summative paragraph is then provided to offer an overview of the discussions.


The Oedipus complex gets its name from notorious Kind Oedipus, a Greek legend, who terminates the life of his father so that he can marry his mother. This is an act of incestuous ferocity that is predicted that he would commit by an oracle early in his life. Frightened, he tries to use everything at his disposal to run away from his destiny, but he unavoidable fails and consequently tears his eyes out, and then blinds himself the despicable actions he had committed. Freud adopts the Kind Oedipus’ Greek Legend to illustrate the perverse bond that children of opposite sex and their parents take part. Fortifying the early children’s developmental years, positive passage through the period can be determined by whether the risk of castration encourages or enhances the formation of the conscience of a child and hence entrance into the consequent ‘period of latency.’ All these stages of development have varying and inexplicable effects on the psychological development of a person. A critical point of view consists just in perceiving the Oedipus Complex as the focal point or hinge of humanization, as a change or development from the natural life register to a cultural one of group exchange and thus of legislations, organizations and symbols. However, Freud brings about the irony that due to the lack of penis, the risk of castration does not hurt a young girl to the same level as a male child and hence the formation of the conscience is frail (Bloom, 2003).

Influence on women

There is no doubt that Freud is the most popular individual in the history of psychology. The theories that he created have influenced the field of psychology and are still influential even at present. Despite his several influential and important contributions to the field of psychology, his theories have faced several criticisms. One of the major criticisms is his views on women, or, more accurately, the huge gap in his theories about women (Gregory, 2005, p.68). In Freud’s early theories, he extended his beliefs of male sexuality to the women, regarding women as just men who lack penises. His male view of sexuality is comprehensible, even though problematic, since it marginalizes female sexuality.
According to the theory, female sexuality is exactly the same as the male sexuality until they reach the phallic phase of psychological development, as the women do not have penis. However, they experience the envy of penis, which is the possessiveness that young girls feel towards their male counterparts and the hatred towards their mothers, to whom they lay their blame for lack of penis (Gregory, 2005, p.74). Although he did not suggest the ‘Electra complex,’ it is possible to infer it from his theories that young girls shift their attractions to their fathers from their mothers in trying to obtain a penis. Since they are female, they are not in a position of identifying with their father, and then they come to the realization that gaining a penis is an impossibility, they decide to have children.
Freud, just as the early sexologists regarded women as sexually passive, where they only have sex for the purposes of having children. Since they lack a penis, they come to assume that they lost theirs, and then have male children in trying to obtain a penis. In women, penis envy is an issue that Freud thought could never be resolved completely, hence condemning all of them to the underdeveloped conscience, meaning that they will always be inferior to men morally (Gregory, 2005, p.76). According to Freud, men are able to have conscience that is fully developed. For an individual who has his theories focused on the subject of sex, he appeared satisfied to remain deliberately ignorant of the female sexuality and the way it might differ from that of the males.
The views of Freud on female sexuality and women were plainly phallic-focuses, which made his research and exploration into the sexuality of females very limited. It is very interesting to note that despite the fact that he worked with is theories on the sexuality of females remained limited and focused on males. He was also not left out by the general sexism of the period, stating that the sexual life, in men alone is accessible to investigation, while it is veiled in the impermeable darkness, in the women, partly as a result of the cultural stunting and on the traditional reticence and untruthfulness of women’s account (Gregory, 2005, p.79). It appears troublesome to dismiss the women together with their sexuality in such a manner not only because Freud treated several women, but because his beliefs still exist today, and continue to influence sexologists and psychologists in the same way.
Freud creates a paradigm in which the lack of a penis and the discovery of this fact plague a little girl in her youth, who views this absence as a weakness to the opposite sex. Freud, (3) explains that in trying to justify this absence, a little girl clarifies it by having an assumption that at one time she was having an equally large organ on her body, which she lost through castration. She goes further to claim that she will be able to acquire just as big organ as the one possessed by the boys when she grows older. She eventually adopts the mother’s attributes and ends a strong desire and lust for her father, with the hope of having her own child ne day to compensate for lack of a large organ as the one that boys possess (Glen, 2010, p. 66). In addition, Freud argues that a little girl is spared the cruel awakening, since it is not a social taboo for a girl to have a flirtatious yet less harmful connection with the father. Similarly, being the father’s favorite girl can be a long lasting relationship, as it is not necessarily regarded as improper. Due to the benevolent and kind nature of this experience, she is starved of the reconciliation with the social taboo and as a result renders the woman morally weaker as her conscience will never be as strong as that of a man (Anouchka, 2010, p.123).
In cases where mutual idealization and insensible shame have played a significant role in a marriage relationship, if it ends, the couples usually appear to fight each other to find who will win or lose the battle. They usually enlist their children’s loyalty against each other. The one that will succeed in turning the children against the other will always proclaim victory over the former partner. This is a heartbreaking case of the narcissistic requirements of that particular parent overriding their concern for the wellbeing of the children; that is the wish to revenge on the former partner forces them to sacrifice the fundamental needs of the children for a good and smooth relationship with both of them.
This is a dynamic that usually damage the children, even though it can be particularly harmful when it is added to the dynamic of Oedipus complex; this complex in such situations mostly influences women. For instance, here is a case that may be common to many individuals. It will be described in relation to the mothers who are divorced and their male children. In instances where the infidelity of the father caused the separation, the former wife might always have formal grounds or reasons to be angry, however, that would not be a justification to the type of tragic narcissistic behavior that is sometimes experienced (Glen, 2010, p. 67).
`The claim that Oedipus complex as it is perceived classically and applied in the practice of psychoanalysis comes from the situation of males both in the mythic expression and in its clinical extensions. However, it is a critical flow from the female experience’s point of view. When the Oedipus complex is applied to females, male desire and rivalry mediate it, and then clumsily appended to the development of female. The phallocentrism that is most clearly expressed by the declaration by Freud that the young girl is a young man (p118) has left its traces all through the vocabulary of the theories of psychoanalysis of development and no other place as evident as in the discussions about the female Oedipus complex.
Expectations and perceptions are shaped by language; that is, it organizes reasoning. When thinking about Oedipus, people think about ‘penis envy’ and ‘castration,’ but not about vagina or pregnancy. When talking about the stage of ‘phallic-Oedipal’ in the young girls, people distract themselves from the critical development need of the young girls to identify with the mother. The female triadic condition does not have its individual name, but rather floats like an incomprehensible ‘something that is not nothing’s’ signifier (Rosman, Paula, Rubel, and Maxine, 2009, p.152).
If a father gives a loving affection to the daughter, the little girl will be able to grow up more smarter and successful. She will also be les nervous, less immoral and also less likely to be a user of drugs. From the girl’s early years, they expect their fathers to provide love, reassurance and admiration. The response of a father greatly influences the ability of the daughter to have positive relationships and trust other men. The level of self-esteem of a girl is influenced to a great deal by the relationship with her father. So, what happens when there are no fathersOr even they become too busy to have time for their daughtersBetween the ages of three and eight, the young girl naturally abandons their attachment to their mothers and turn to the father. This is comparable to the Oedipus complex, which is used in the description of the competition between a girl and a mother to have the affection and love of the father (Butler, 2014, p.35-90).
It is part of a normal phase in the development of a girl. The changing of family configurations, where there are more relationship or marriage breakups than ever experienced before, has hampered normal development of a girl. About forty to fifty percent of first marriages break up after a short period of stay, which leads to more single parents. Whether the Oedipus complex actually exists or not is a subject to debate among academicians, but what appears to be clear is that the attachment of the girl to her father or mother is determined by the situational or cultural factors. The quality of attachments as such shapes the personality and results of the girl. Characteristically, the girl should have been given a clear directive by the father such as she should not order her father around or that she is supposed to shoe kindness to her mother and even love her (Lacan, 2012, p.97).
Without having to force the situation too much, it is apparent that there would have been restoration of the ‘order’ and the young girl could have known that the parents work together in a learning enterprise that includes boundaries and respect. Some men wrongly think that their wives are supposed to treat them just like their daughters, as ‘perfect heroes.’ They please and obey their daughters so that they cannot lose their respect. Early experiences shape the lives of individuals. Denial, abandonment and rejection in the people’s childhood might force them into a long lasting quest for healing their wounds. However, deficiencies in parenting also make a big score.


Freud’s beliefs in the psychoanalysis are greatly biased towards women as it views women as sexually passive, who just engage in it to have children. His view in Oedipus complex greatly influences the development of females in the way they live, as when it is applied to females, male desire and rivalry mediate it, and then clumsily appended to their development. Even the young girl is not fair to her mother whom she blames for her lack of a penis, thus the hatred. The beliefs are centered on males where it is believed the development of a female to a responsible and respectable person is associated with the father, as that is where they draw their inspiration, and that is why a young girl tends to fight off her mother in order to take her position as the father’s favorite. The changing of family configurations, where there are more divorces than ever experienced before, has hampers normal development of a girl.


Anouchka G, 2010, No More Silly Love Songs. London, p. 123

Bloom H, 2003, Sophocles. New York: Chelsea House.

Butler, J. 2014, Undoing Gender. London, England: Routledge: p 35-90.

Glen O. G, 2010, Long-Term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, London. p. 67.

Gregory, J, 2005, A Companion to Greek Tragedy, Oxford.

Lacan, J. 2012, Ecrits: A Selection, trans. Bruce Fink. New York: Northon: p 97.

Rosman, Paula G. Rubel, Maxine W, 2009, The Tapestry of Culture: An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Ninth Edition, Abraham, AltaMira Press, p. 101.

Freud S, 1965, The Interpretation of Dreams Chapter V “The Material and Sources of Dreams” New York: Avon Books.

Ian C, and Allen, A, 2005, A Guide to Greek Drama. London: Blackwell.

Free Essays

Violence against Women


The United Nations defines violence against women as any gender based violence that leads to or is likely to result in sexual harm, mental harm or any other kind of suffering to women. This includes threats, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty either in private or public life (The UN Declaration on Violence Against Women 1992). Bardwell (2010) describes violence against women as the most pervasive violation of human rights in the world. Violence against women bears significant costs for the society, individuals, public services and the economy as a whole. The prevalence of violence against women and girls in England is more than that of diabetes, stroke and heart diseases (Adams 2010).). The figures published by the Office for National Statistics from 2012 to 2013 estimated that approximately 1.2 million women suffered from domestic abuse and other 330,000 were sexually assaulted. Sexual violence and domestic violence are in most cases hidden because the victims choose to suffer in silence or are afraid to come out and report (Riecher-Ro?ssler & Garci?a-Moreno 2013).).

Violence against women and girls is recognised globally as a violation of fundamental human rights that include the right to non-discrimination based on sex, right to not be treated inhumanly and degradingly, right to respect for private and family life and right to life (Bird & Westley 2011). The 1995 Beijing Platform for Action to which the United Kingdom is committed, states that violence against women is one of the major hindrances to the achievement of gender equality. Although the United Kingdom. The United Nations Committee and the European Court of Human Rights on the elimination of discrimination against women recognises violence against women as a form of discrimination. The United Kingdom has an obligation to exercise due diligence to prevent violence against women under the European Convention on Human Rights. Under the Beijing Platform and the Convention, the country has an obligation to change stereotypes, cultures and attitudes that perpetuate gender inequality. In the UK the new public sector equality duty under the Equality Act of 2010 requires all public bodies to consider equality, discrimination and good relations between groups in the way they formulate policy, employ people, buy goods and services and deliver services. This means that all the public bodies have an obligation to prevent violence against women.

Violence against women voluntary sector

The voluntary sector provides important services to support and protect the victims of violence against women. The organisations in the voluntary sector working to end the violence directed towards women in the United Kingdom challenge the system that allows for violence and abuse to continue in the country and at the same time celebrate the women who have survived such violent. The voluntary sector mostly pursues proactive prevention measures that can be categorised into three major groups depending on the target population (Stark & Buzawa 2009). The first group consists of the general measures directed at certain population groups or the whole population. For instance some of the voluntary groups use study courses in preventing violence against women for students and media campaigns targeting specific groups of children. The second category comprises of targeted measures directed at specific high risk groups for instance educating the armed forces on the importance of respecting the rights of women and all other human beings. The last category consists of the measures directed at the individuals who have already been subjected to violence before with an intention of preventing them from committing the violence again. For example they provide rehabilitation programs for the perpetrators of violence to educate them on the importance of respecting the rights of women and human rights in general.

Educational institutions and schools have been supportive of the voluntary sector as they allow them to access the students and educate them on the adverse effects of violence against women. In addition to that, these institutions also pay special attention to violent behaviour as far as the welfare of the students is concerned. The voluntary sector organises awareness campaigns targeting women to inform them that men are responsible for all their acts of violence and that such violence is illegal and as such should be reported and punished. Such initiatives are aimed at encouraging more women to come out and report the violence that they suffer privately at home in order to protect them from repeated assaults which can end up costing their lives in the long run. The campaigns also encourage the men to examine and challenge any cultural orientations that perpetuate violence against women. The programs directed at the young people have particularly been rewarding as it has reduced violence in learning institutions although there is still need to do more (Hughes & Owen 2009). The voluntary organisations often target providing education to the young people to correct the system. Most of these organisations believe that it is the system to blame for the high rates of violence against women because the society is not sufficiently educated on the need for respecting the basic human rights thus leading to the violation of the rights of women through battery and sexual violence (Harne & Radford 2008). As such they direct a lot of their effort in educating the young people at an age where the identity of their gender is just starting to take shape and can easily be influenced. For example the 16-20 age groups are often persuaded to stay in love and respect their partners in order to reduce violent behaviour in partnerships. The emphasis is that if they really love their partners then they should always strive to make them happy and not engage in any acts that would harm them. Such programs are often conducted in different communities including youth associations, schools and sports clubs.

In terms of protecting the immigrant community, the voluntary organisations often pursue comprehensive integration as the best strategy for preventing them against violence. The aim of comprehensive integration is not just to help them find jobs and settle but to help them restore their sense of life control. One way of helping the immigrants achieve this is by giving them information, support and guidance in the early stages of integration. The voluntary organisations often do this with respect to their cultural backgrounds in order to ensure that they do not perceive the process as one designed to force them abandon their cultures. The intervention programs targeting the immigrant groups are normally well constructed in order to consider their cultural backgrounds as well as the different challenges that come with the process of immigration and integration. Some of the immigrants coming into the country are from countries with patriarchal and hierarchic social structures where the right of women with regard to equality is something that has never existed both in theory and practice. For instance the girls who come to the country from cultures that do not proscribe violence against women often live under several restrictions (DeKeseredy 2011). Such restrictions make the integration process very difficult let alone access to information on physical and sexual violence. In these groups some parents at times prohibit their daughters from using the internet, engaging in leisure activities, meeting boys or doing any other things that their peers are doing and they may also wish to participate in.

The voluntary organisations often dissuade the immigrant communities with such cultures from sending their girls to other countries in order to defend their sexual reputation. Although the gendered phenomenon is inculcated deep into their culture, these organisations target the parents from this group with an aim of informing them on the dangers they expose their daughters to by forcing them to move to the other countries. Incidences of forced or early marriages are also common among these people and this increases the risk of the women and girls being exposed to violence because they do not have free will since all decisions are made for them by other people. In order to stop such behaviour and protect the women and the young girls, the voluntary organisations often offer low threshold services and activities as well as peer support groups to inform the population on the availability of such services so that they know where to turn to whenever they need any kind of assistance. Marriage is a voluntary union under the UK legislation and all the marriage procedures are supposed to protect the freedom of choice of all the individuals involved. The voluntary organisations often give the immigrants information regarding gender equality, consequences of domestic violence and rape, and where to report such incidences whenever they are perpetrated.
Peer groups are one effective channel that the voluntary organisations utilise in passing information regarding aspects like welfare, wellbeing, life control and prevention of violence against women. These groups are efficient in that the members are in most cases free to discuss their personal challenges with their colleagues making it easy for the voluntary organisations to offer help and assistance to the victims of violence against women.
To the victims of violence, the voluntary organisations normally offer them support as well as therapy to help them recover from the trauma caused by the violence. The support is normally offered jointly with other health services in selected environments to help the victims recover in the shortest time possible and resume their normal life activities (Thiara et al 2012). In addition to this, the voluntary organisations also help the victims to make use of the legal system by reporting the offenders to the authorities so they can face the law and pay for the consequences of their unlawful actions. For instance they offer financial assistance to the women who are unable to raise the legal fees, file for divorce, social security, and negotiate for child custody among other things. Owing to the fact that child custody and visiting arrangements exposes the victims to the risk of further violence in the form of blackmail, threats or direct violence the voluntary organisations normally help the women with security arrangements like insisting that whenever such visits are made it should never be in private.

The voluntary organisations have managed to achieve this level of success because they devised strategies of reaching out to the women and men differently. Once they identified that the issue lies with the system, they embarked on educating the young people on the importance of respecting human rights and upholding high moral values. To the women who are currently at the risk of being exposed to violence, the voluntary organisations have made measures to encourage them to come out and report so that they can be assisted. They inform the women that the men should take responsibility for their actions and as such they should come out and report any incidences of violence early before they escalate to the level of interfering with the quality of their lives (Lombard & McMillan 2013). The men are encouraged to resort to other measures of conflict resolution without resorting to violence because violence is itself a problem and does not provide a solution to anything. This shows that different categories require different intervention mechanisms but all these efforts are aimed at achieving the major objective which is to protect women against gender based violence.

The response of the voluntary sector to the issue at hand is directed by both proactive and reactive approaches. These strategies are important as they are useful in helping the voluntary organisations achieve their objectives in the short and long run. The proactive approaches are used on the young populations with an objective of educating them on the need to uphold high moral values and respect human rights (Hughes & Owen 2009). They are encouraged to solve their differences in relationships amicably without resorting to violence because violence only leads to more problems. The reactive approach on the other hand is intended to help both the perpetrators and victims of gender violence. The victims are encouraged to report the perpetrators to the authorities, seek counselling and get out of the abusive marriages. The perpetrators are also offered counselling and educative services to ensure that they do not repeat the crimes again.

The response of the voluntary sector differs slightly from those of the statutory agencies because the latter mostly pursues the reactive approach while the former pursues both (True 2012). The statutory agencies help the victims by offering different services like healthcare, counselling, encouraging the victims to report, and helping the victims with the legal procedures among others. Their emphasis is twofold, one is to help the victims and the other one is to deter the behaviour. The sectors response presents a holistic approach as it aims to provide both short term and long term solutions. There is no evidence that the measures taken to control violence against women are working because the number of violence victims is still high in the country as already indicated in the country. There is also a possibility that the figures provided are still an underestimation given that many women still fear coming out to report that they are in abusive relationships (DeKeseredy 2011).
External factors particularly funding has affected the response of the voluntary sector because they have limited resources at their disposal. The devolution of funding for the voluntary sector from the central government to the local authorities has resulted into many inconsistencies in levels and types of funding. For example many local authorities in the country have stopped giving the grant aid and now prefer commissioning of services through tendering and other contract funding. This has led to instability within the voluntary sector and loss of essential services (True 2012). A perfect example is refuge accommodation where the authorities have resorted to support few large organisations providing services to communities that they do not have any previous connections or knowledge at the expense of strengthening the smaller local organisations that are well placed to cater for the needs of the local people. In other cases the housing associations and other providers are taking over the specialist services offered for the victims leading to loss of expertise and independence of the voluntary sector (Thiara et al 2012). With the limited funds the voluntary sector cannot do much and as such they should focus their energy and resources on services not offered by the statutory bodies. There is need for them to focus on the key areas that they can achieve maximum returns with the limited funds while exploring other means of raising more money to support their activities.

Summary and the key issues

The prevalence of violence against women is still high in the United Kingdom despite all the efforts made by the government to reduce the problem. The voluntary organisations present a good avenue of mitigating the problem although they face many challenges that hamper the effective execution of their services. These challenges range from inadequate financing to additional roles like caring for men too have destabilised the organisations. The national government should therefore help these voluntary organisations with adequate funds and support to help them reduce violence against women in the United Kingdom.


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