"Though no man can draw a stroke between the confines of day and night yet darkness and light are upon the whole tolerably distinguishable.
There is a large body of data about the sex differences between men and women. They fall into several classes. None of them is a neutral difference: each puts women at a disadvantage.
Political and Legal
These differences, of course, caused the most controversy before this century. They have become less glaring now, although they still do exist. There is an active group of women on the UN's Commission on Human Rights that seeks, among other reforms, to secure political and legal rights for women in all countries, so, internationally, discrepancies still loom large. It was only recently that Swiss women obtained voting rights. In Thailand, women revert to the legal status of minors once they become wives. British women have the right to equal pay for equal work in only one plant in their country. Here, however, women are allowed to
vote, have some equal rights in marriage, some equal property rights, and are covered by the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in Title VII on employment, though the coverage is not complete. of course, although American women have nearly equal rights with men, they do not yet have equal power. There are very few women in high Federal posts, women do not often run for or hold political office, women are not organized as an effective lobby for any cause, indeed, women do not vote as often as men.
Although this class of differences between sexes is still real and important, it is not the most controversial today, since it depends on even more fundamental discrepancies.
The economic positions of men and women differ enormously. This is true for all classes and independently of their level of education. In Male and Female, Margaret Mead points out that every society we know places a higher value on men's work than women's. Here, this fact turns in a vicious circle with the facts of rank and pay. As of 1966, women formed 36% of the national labor force and nearly half of all the white-collar workers. Most of them were at low rungs, in clerical jobs of all sorts. Only about one out of seven women were in professional and technical occupations in
1966; this is actually a smaller proportion than 25 years ago, despite the fact that the number of working women has nearly tripled. Less than one quarter of these work at other than traditional women's occupations: teaching, nursing, social work, and library work. Women are paid only about half as much as men. Average income for the white male is $6,704, for the white female, $3,991. Only 5% of the people who earn over $10,000 are women. The reasons for the large income disparities are partly that women are not in higher level jobs; partly because they work part-time, partly just because they are women. Discrimination against women in employment ranges from dual pay scales to pay ceilings for women, compulsory retirement ages, and refusal to let women work for overtime.
The set of differences between men and women in the working world is the main source of feminist concern today.
Everyone knows that men and women have a separate social status in our culture. There is no documentation needed, but the tally of books that talk a-bout it is long. Recently, there have been some popular accounts of the subject: Caroline Bird's Born Female and Mary Ellman's Thinking About Women. These are no more fascinating than eighteenth- and nineteenth-century tracts
by feminists, of which
there were many excellent and pioneering
Our culture, more
than any other in the world, has oriented
valuable supplement to thoughts about women's
What we have .
. . is a literary culture . . . in which
This is originally a
male writer's image, she says, but formed
In 1869, J. S.
Mill wrote, "Standing on the ground of common
a definitive view of women's nature, though not man's, for some reason. A century later than Mill, they have still not succeeded, but there have been many suggestions and, at least, a common thread, for as two commentators explain, "All orthodox psychoanalytic theorists believe that the awareness of anatomy plays a major role in differentiating" females from males. Behaviorists, too, have their theories, which also have an anatomical backdrop.
of course, there have been signs that the psychoanalysts and behaviorists started with the wrong assumption. As one article points out: "With regard to the sex-role stereotypes, the Trait Psychologists in the 1930's investigating psycho-social sex differences . . . found that more differences existed within a single sex than were found to exist between the sexes."
It does not suit the purposes of this report to list all the imputed psychological sex differences here. Not all of them relate to education, and the ones that do will come up later. At any rate, a full description would be unreasonably lengthy. What is provided here is annotation to guide the way into the field, and which the next chapter continues.
Political, Legal, Economic, Social
A good over-all account of the differing positions of men and women is American Women, Report of the President's Commission on the Status of Women. Written in 1963, it is somewhat outdated but still useful. I have drawn much of my discussion and figures on political, legal, and economic differences from it. More detailed data on women's income, education, employment, occupations, and legal status is found in The 1965 Handbook on Women Workers, U.S. Department of Labor, Women's Bureau. Caroline Bird's Born Female (New York: David McKay, 1968) also has much useful information. And I will refer often to a collection of essays, The Woman in America, ed. Robert J. Lifton (Cambridge, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin, 1965).
Carl Degler, "Revolution Without Ideology: The Changing Place of Women in America, The Woman in America, op. cit., p. 204, points out that women's lack of political activity in this country is "an American and not simply a sexual phenomenon." He notes the much greater political success of women in other countries.
The forms that discrimination takes are discussed in Born Female, Chapters 4 and 9; Esther Peterson's "Working Women," The Woman in America, op. cit.; and in American Women, op. cit.,
"Labor Standards." The latter particularly points out that women have not done effective labor organization.
Thinking About Women (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1968) contains less information, more anecdote than Born Female. Its concern is more with sex-role stereotypes than social realities, with the images and adjectives conventionally used in thinking about women. It contains, therefore, a great many references from literature and advertising and pokes fun at all. Diana Trilling's comments come from The Woman in America, op. cit., p. 64.
An accessible text of Mill's essay, The Subjection of Women, is in an Everyman edition, along with A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1929). The sentence quoted is on p. 238.
Ellen and Kenneth Keniston, "The Right to Be Equally Different," revision of a paper read at the University of Kentucky Centennial Conference, "Women: Equal but Different," Lexington, Ky., October, 1965, p. 6.
The dissenters are noted in Bettina Weary, "A New Focus on Counseling Girls, Women's Education, VII, 2 (June 1968), p. 2.
The psychology bibliography on sex differences is extremely lengthy, some of obviously good or bad, even to the layman, some
of it hard for the layman to judge. Summaries of research are Eleanor E. Maccoby, Women's Intellect," The Potential of Women, eds. S. M. Farber and R. H. L. Wilson (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963 Jerome Kagan, "Acquisition and Significance of Sex Typing and Sex Role Identity," Review of Child Development Research, eds. L. W. Hoffman and M. L. Hoffman (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1964 Wesley C. Becker, "Consequences of Different Kinds of Parental Discipline," ibid.; David C. McClelland, "Wanted: A New Self-Image for Women," The Woman in America, op. cit.; and Robert Oetzel, Selected Bibliography on Sex Differences, Social Science Research Council, Stanford University, 1962 (mimeograph). In order to know what to look for in these, and also for perspective on their bias, one should read Ellen and Kenneth Keniston, op. cit ., a discussion of which is in the next chapter of this report. Their footnotes give a full range of valuable references. Also, at the end of their paper there is a chart of sex differences that is simple and direct, though misleading, since other psychologists might draw up completely different lists, and have.
Erik Erickson's research has gained a great deal of attention, although it is more limited than some others: he describes it in "Inner and Outer Space: Reflections on Womanhood," The Woman in America, op. cit. As his essay is first in the book, it becomes
the focus for the whole work. Articles that should be added to the summaries include Mabel Cohen Blake, "Personal Identity and Sexual Identity," Psychiatry, XXIX (1966), pp. 1-14; Ravenna Helson, "Personality Characteristics and Developmental History of Creative College Women," Genetic Psychology Monographs, LXXVI (1967), pp. 205-256; Ravenna Helson, "Generality of Sex Differences in Creative Style," Journal of Personality, XXXVI, 1 (March, 1968); Karem Monsour, "Women Are Not the Same As . . .", Women's Education, 11, 1 (March, 1963). In addition, some important books have been published since the above summaries appeared. Two are: Robert J. Stoller, Sex and Gender (New York: Science House, 1968); and W. H. Masters and V. E. Johnson, Human Sexual Response (Boston: Little Brown, 1966).
[END OF CHAPTER 3]