Women and Poverty Term Paper

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women in poverty. The writer identifies the most significant independent variable as well as the dependant variable using several sources of research. There were five sources used to complete this paper.


Women in poverty has been a topic of study for many years. The women who live below the poverty level are often single parents and their children are suffering right along with them. There are several things that maintain the female gender as the poor gender in the world, some are controllable but must of the variables are not. Before one can understand the plight of the poverty stricken female one must first have an understanding of what things put them there and how they might be able to change other aspects to improve their situation.

The most important thing to understand in any research situation is the variable factor. In research there are independent variables as well as dependent variables. An independent variable is the variable whose value is specified first and can stand-alone. It is not derived from other variables. It is responsible of determining the value of one or more other variables in a function of expression. The dependent variable is one whose value is determined by one or more other variables in a function. In other words the independent variable often determines the value of the dependent variable but the dependent variable does not ever determine the value of the independent variable.

In the issue of women and poverty there are many variables involved. The plight of women in poverty is one that has been studied and conclusions indicate that there are several factors leading to their plight. (Meyers, 1995) One of the problems that keep women at the poverty level is their level of education. Many females drop out of school or do not complete as much as they wanted to because they begin families. They opt to stay home full time with their children while their husbands continue their education or begin lucrative careers based on the level of education that they received. Women all over the nation find themselves shortchanged when they suddenly find themselves divorced with several children to support and no education. The education in this situation is an independent variable. It is a variable that has a lot to do with the determination of the dependent variable, the wages the women earn in the workforce. With a limited education the women who are suddenly thrust into the workforce find that the only jobs they can attain are the poor paying positions. The dependent variable in this scenario is the low pay. Women live in poverty because they do not make enough money to rise above the poverty line.

Seven of every 10 people living in poverty around the world are women, the study said. It found that women spend much of their lives doing work that adds no money to the family purse. Two-thirds of the work done by women is unpaid - caring for children, keeping house, running errands - while only a third of a man's work is unpaid. The implication seems clear. Women who don't interrupt their education or career to raise children have a shot at being as well off as men in the economic arena. Those who do risk being left behind (Meyers, 1995). "

In John Maclonis book, The Basics, he addresses the issue of female poverty from a social context. Societal beliefs cause a female to interrupt her education or career climb more often than it causes the male to do so. Raising the family and putting her own needs and desires on hold for a decade or more is something that many women feel pressured to do by societal expectations (Maclonis, 2001). In addition the women who get divorced and give custody of the children to their ex-husbands are frowned upon in society as if they are bad mothers for what they have done. Social pressures cause women to remain in poverty, with little time to go to school or pursue careers because they are trying to put food in to the mouths of their children. It is a vicious circle that is addressed by Maclonis.

Among the literature available to provide an understanding of the way women end up in poverty and stay there is the book, Analyzing Contemporary Social Issues: A Workbook with Student CHIP Software, by Gregg Lee Carter. This work provides empirical data regarding social issues including the women in poverty topic that is so engaging currently. In this literature piece Carter reminds the reader that contemporary social problems do not become problems until society deems them to be a problem (Carter, 2000). An example used in the book is smoking. Until the world was made aware of the dangers of smoking it was not a social issue. The same can be said for females in poverty (Carter, 2000). It took time for the group to grow and the world to see the numbers amount of women that are living at or below poverty. Just as important has been there recent discovery of how that poverty filled life fills their children's lives and causes them to make the choices that they make as they become adults. It is now evident from the empirical evidence that lack of education cause women to fail to rise above poverty, and that choice often leads their children to make the same choices therefore continuing the cycle of poverty and the inability to rise above it (Carter, 2000).

If women on welfare can receive child care and health benefits, they can break the cycle of poverty, a study authored by two University of Massachusetts professors concludes (Thorpe, 1994). " In the same study it was concluded that there is a vicious cycle that is fed by women living in poverty that causes them to remain poor. "The primary reason single-mother families are poor is that one female adult is responsible for supporting a family," said Albelda (Thorpe, 1994). "Women must do unpaid work, which naturally limits their time to do paid work, and when they are paid significantly less than men... Women can live fine by themselves but children make it nearly impossible to have economic stability to lift them out of poverty (Thorpe, 1994). Albelda said that women receiving government assistance should be entitled to save more than the $50 per month that government transfer programs like welfare and Aid to Families with Dependent Children allow. Women and their children on welfare should also be allotted more than the $587 monthly that is currently allowed. The system keeps women and families in poverty by not allowing them to keep day care and health care benefits once a woman gains employment, she said (Thorpe, 1994). "

Another variable that has been substantiated in research is that there is a large disparity in wages between men and women in the workforce. Sometimes this is because women are doing a lower paying job, due to their lack of education, and other times it is that they are doing the same job as men, but the glass ceiling is keeping them from making the same wage as their male counterparts are making.

A recent Mass. Study confirmed what research around the nation has been concluding for years. " Nearly 12% of all women in Massachusetts are poor, compared to 7.1% of men. Among African-Americans, the figures are more alarming, as 36.6% of blacks in the state live in poverty. More than 46% of all Hispanics statewide are poor (Meyers, 1995).

The problem of poverty among women is also more urban than rural, as 11.4% of women living in the city are poor, compared to only 9.1% of suburban women and 9.6% of rural women. In addition, more than 50% of…

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