Alternative National Goals and Women's Employment

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Science  16 Feb 1973:
Vol. 179, Issue 4074, pp. 656-660
DOI: 10.1126/science.179.4074.656


I have stressed the importance of economic growth and employment policies for the furtherance of women's career objectives. Legal action to remove discrimination, as well as transformation of attitudes and expectations, will prove but hollow successes if adequate career opportunities do not become available. For this reason, the employment outlook for professional women in the 1970's has been examined on the basis of three alternative views of the future. All three involve elements of uncertainty and would require adjustments in the labor market. In the first alternative, although the BLS projected an overall balance in the labor market, supply and demand were expected to be ill-matched in several professional sectors, entailing burdensome retraining for those finding themselves in the areas of excess supply. The more pessimistic variant, based either on failure to reach growth and employment goals or on deliberate pursuit of reduced growth goals—combined with population stabilization and increased productivity—would require such fundamental adjustments in the labor market as work-sharing and early retirement or deemphasis of career objectives. The optimistic variant posits economic and social needs great enough to warrant high growth rates and views an expanded labor supply as a factor enabling the economy to attain such growth rates and to extend the utilization of professional personnel in new as well as in established areas (31). The major burden posed by the optimistic variant involves the need to achieve social consensus on the goals of society and to maintain the commitment to those goals with energy and intelligence.