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The Bias Against Women

August 22, 1987

Good thing I'm an optimist; otherwise last Sunday's edition of The Times might have done me in. First, several pages of the front section were devoted to informing me that as a Catholic woman I'm an object of discrimination in my own church. Next I turned to the Editorial Page and read that I'm discriminated against in the marketplace and that my bachelor's degree in business administration (earned at not inconsiderable effort at the age of 47 after raising five children) entitles me to the same salary as a male high school dropout. These two examples of discrimination might appear to be equally disastrous but in fact are not.

While it must fuel the climb up the corporate ladder, ambition seems to me to be the antithesis of religion. I'm not as upset by the intransigence of the Roman Catholic hierarchy as are some of the women I read about in your articles. A quest for power in the church by members of either sex leaves me cold, particularly in view of Christ's admonition that many who are first shall be last and vice versa. Not so in the secular world, however.

Why should not the "typically female" roles of teacher and nurse and mother merit as much pay as those of construction worker and plumber? What does it say about our priorities when building character and restoring health are viewed as less worthy of compensation than building garages and fixing leaky pipes?

Those of us who worked long hours and long years outside our homes to help provide for our families and who found the task immensely difficult even with the support of caring husbands, can only feel pain for other women who shoulder the responsibility of raising children alone, often with inadequate resources. That they do not throw their hands up in despair is a tribute to their courage and love.

Those women who work outside the home deserve fair salaries. Those who stay home to care for young children should be compensated in the form of tax breaks or financial aid. It would be impossible to adequately repay them for the indispensable contributions they make to their families and to society.

GAIL FUNARO

Cerritos

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