Gender bias against Caribbean women during the 1900's.

Essay by Of_wings_and_finsA-, October 2003

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Planters did not really wish to have female labourers. Even though they had used so many African women as field labourers under slavery, they changed their views in the post-slavery period. They now argued that women were less efficient labourers than men and that if they hired women, they would have to meet the cost of rearing their children. They reasoned that female labourers would be constantly absent from work because of pregnancy and did not want the added expense of childrearing. Planters believed that only men were 'able-bodied' labourers. Planters and recruiters felt that insisting on a higher female-male ratio would only increase the likelihood of more prostitutes emigrating. Men did not want their young wives to travel. On the whole there was great resistance to female emigration in the patriarchal society of Indians. Some agents were reluctant to take on single women.

They accused them of being prostitutes and undesirables and carriers of veneral diseases.

This was the period in which the Caribbean, aided by conservative missionaries, was influenced by the Victorian ideas that women were to stay at home and be housewives and men should go out to work and bring home the income. This belief had been applied to working-class women in the Caribbean. This led to the labour force in the Caribbean becoming male-dominated as many proprietors discriminated against women in the allocation of work.

Society held the view that there were certain occupations that women should not pursue. Up to the Second World War, women had access to a very narrow range of occupations compared with men and there was little demand for female workers outside strictly defined categories. This trend of gender-specific occupations was temporarily reversed during the First and...