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Equal Opportunity = Equal Outcome?

December 5, 2010

In 1869 Mill wrote “The Subjection of Women” in attempt to expose the inequality between the sexes and hopefully end the norms and stereotypes associated with women. Over 140 years later how much has changed?

In this work Mill writes how women are naturally worse at certain things in comparison to men and therefore should be discouraged from doing certain activities but I think this has greatly changed in the last 141 years. I think it is important to note that women should never be stopped from doing anything they want to do. The only way to achieve true gender equality is through the achievements of women. Yes it is true there are a lot more male CEOs compared to female ones but this is going to change as time goes on. My question is, how much time will it be until children growing up cannot even tell there is this rift between men and women? Will it be in the next decade, or century? Will there be noticeable changes in our lifetime or no?


When I was younger in high school my teacher assigned us with a project after reading Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. I’m sure most of you have read the book and if you have not it is basically about a group of British boys who are stranded on an island and attempt to govern themselves. There are only boys in the book and once we finished reading my teacher assigned everyone in the class to create our own version of the story called “Lady of the Flies” scripted with only girls. She wanted to examine how the tone and plot would change when only females were introduced.

Mill writes that women have intuition and if you put it with mens experiences you have the best of both worlds. If that is the gender stereotype along with ideas such as men are supposed to be strong and women are supposed to be caring then when are girls going to get a break? We spoke in discussion about how if a female politician is very strong and intense they come off as a b**** (you know the word), whereas if that is a man then he comes off as assertive, that he knows what he wants, and that he will represent the people with a strong fist. This thought alone is wrong because I think women should be given more than the name some people give them. Mill writes “no production in philosophy, science, or art, entitled to the first rank, has been the work of a woman” even though this idea has changed so much in the last 141 years. So is the maternal caring stereotype of women ever going to go away? Will this men ever be labeled as the ones with a natural intuitive sense? Are fathers going to start taking paternity leave after a child birth? In terms of social justice and equal opportunity I think as long as more and more girls are going to colleges there is going to be drastic change in the near future. Someday there will be equal outcome, and who knows maybe the drastic change is one that we are experiencing right now.


  1. Sara Mitchell permalink
    December 5, 2010 10:22 PM

    This is a very interesting post. I also think that Mill’s opinion about women being naturally worse at certain things comparably to men his drastically changed. I think that the rift between men and women is less apparent today and will only continue to disappear over time, but this will probably take longer than people would like. I strongly believe there will be a noticeable change in our lifetime because so much progress has been made and our generation will keep that progress going at a faster rate than it has been. I think the assignment with changing Lord of the Flies to Lady and the Flies is very intriguing. I’m curious as to how people changed the plot when only females were involved. I completely agree that it is unfair for assertive confident female politicians to come off as being rude and obnoxious while men acting the same way are taken more positively. That has to change and I think it will change in time.

  2. tanoodle permalink
    December 6, 2010 9:42 PM

    You say in your post, “Mill writes how women are naturally worse at certain things in comparison to men and therefore should be discouraged from doing certain activities.” However, Mill is in fact arguing against the idea that women should be discouraged from participating in certain activities. He wants them to have equal opportunity because without that opportunity, we may never know just how skilled women can be. He even says, “What women by nature cannot do, is quite superfluous to forbid them from doing.”

    That being said, however, I, like you wish to see a day when the first part of that quote changes. I agree with poster above me that there will probably be a lot of change within our lifetimes, and I really appreciated the image of children not even being able to tell there is a rift or a difference. But, I am not optimistic enough to believe there will be complete equality anytime soon. Gender stereotypes, even though they will change, will continue to exist for a long time. I like the idea that people of opposite genders will take on the “opposite” roles, but I still think women will be stereotyped as weak, docile, etc. No matter how many counterexamples exist, stereotypes often persist.

    What do you guys think about the idea that some women like to play in to their stereotype? I think a lot of them are out there. Does this go against the movement for change? Would you consider these women as opposing the “right” direction?

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