1983 Determinants of ConcernRegarding Women’s Rights in the United StatesBy: Rebecca Dorn IntroductionInthe United States in 1848, a group of people met in Seneca Falls, NYVL1 to discuss women’s lack of civilrights. From there, the Women’s Rights movement began. This initial movementgranted women the opportunity to choose different careers, education, anddivorce. In 1920 women won the right to vote. After that, many people involvedtook a step back and the movement lost momentum. Subcategories of issues arosesurrounding women afterwards, including an attempt at birth control education.In 1936 the Supreme Court declassified birth control as obscene.
As littlestrides were being made, a second wave of activism began in the 1960s. Thiswave became known as the Women’s Liberation movement or the ‘Feminist’movement. During this time, thoughts surrounding gender roles became the focus,and further gains were made, such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963. The movementcontinued into the 1970s, expanding women’s rights by bringing issues to thesurface. By the end of the 1970s activism had begun to fizzle out and themovement became fragmented. In 1980 Ronald Raegan became president and womenrealized they would need to continue advocating if they wanted to uphold thegains made in the previous decades. It is interesting to note that during the1980’s many investigative reports by Susan Faludi publically exposed the defeat ofthe Equal Rights Amendment; the rise of the antiabortion movement, increasedincidences of on-the-job sexual harassment and discrimination, increasingdisparity between men and women’s income for comparable work, and the sense ofexhaustion by working mothers who were expected to “do it all.” VL2 This study focuses on data from theyear 1983.
The United States was 1 year post ERA ratification, 3 years intoRonald Raegan’s presidency, and in the midst of Susan Faludi’s popular reportson women’s issues. Literature surrounding women’s rightstends to focus on subgroups of concern rather than the overarching issue ofwomen’s rights in general. A majority of the studied issues of focus include: genderbased violence, female poverty, and work and family roles. In regards to workand family issues surrounding women, twelfth graders became more accepting ofworking mothers and equal roles for women in the workplace between the 1970sand the 2010s, with most change occurring between the 1970s and the late 1990s.
Adults’ attitudes toward working mothers became more egalitarian between the1970s and the early 1990s, showed a small ”backlash” in the late 1990s, andthen continued the trend toward increased egalitarianism in the 2000s and 2010sVL3 3. In regards to poverty, access to public welfare for women with childrenbecame more limited in the 1970s. Grants from Aid to Families with DependentChildren (AFDC) declined steadily from the 1970s and AFDC ended with thepassage of The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Actof 1996, also known as “welfare reform” 5. As far as gender based violence,new forms began to emerge in the United States after 1970 due to the influx ofimmigrants. Things like the threat of honor killings was now added to the listof women issues in regards to gender based violence in the US. Before themid-1970s, domestic violence was a private experience, and there was nocollective knowledge 5.
As the complexity of domestic violence became clear, itwas now seen as a social issue. With the ever increasing awareness of issuesspecific to women throughout history, it seems unusual that there haven’t beenmany studies of overall concern for women’s rights. This study aims to changethat by focusing on concern for women’s rights as a whole. Methods Data was collected from the 1983General Social Survey. The GSS is a nationally representative sample of U.
S.adults over 18 years old. Table 1 shows the percent of responses to eachvariable category. In order to study this topic, the dependent variable chosenmeasures respondents’ concern for women’s rights. Responses range on an ordinalscale from “Very Concerned,” to “Not Concerned at All.” The independentvariables chosen are: total family income of respondent, region of interview,political views, race, born in the United States, sex, and how often therespondent and their friends think about women’s rights. Income is measured onan ordinal scale from less than $1,000 to more than $25,000.
Region is measurednominally with categories being: Mid Atlantic, New England, East North Central,West North Central, South Atlantic, East South Central, West South Central,Mountain, and Pacific. Political Views are measured on a 1-10 scale from 1being “Left” to 10 being “Right.” Race is measured nominally as White, Black,or Other. ‘Born in the US’ is scalednominally and measures whether or not a respondent was born in the USA by usinga Yes or No response. Sex is measured nominally as male or female.
How often arespondent and their friends think about women’s rights is ordinally measured.It is reported on a scale from “very often,” to “almost never.” The hypotheses for each previouslymentioned variable are as follows:a. Income:Respondents with higher income will care less about women’s rightsb. Region:Respondents from the East and West South Central part of the US will care lessabout women’s rights than other regions.
c. PoliticalViews: Respondents who identify closer to the right will care less aboutwomen’s rights than those who identify as more liberal. d. Race:Race will not have an effect on whether or not someone cares about Women’srights. e.
Bornin US: Respondents who were born in the US will care more about women’s rightsthan those who weren’t. f. Sex:Female respondents will care more about women’s rights than male respondents. g. Thinkingof Women’s Rights: Respondents who report that they and their friends “think ofwomen’s rights very often or fairly often” will have more concern thanthose who report they think “occasionally or almost never.” A crosstab with chi-square test wasused for each independent variable to help determine how they are associatedwith caring about women’s rights.
A logistic regression was used to support thehypotheses for each of the independent variables and was also used to shed somelight on which independent variables have impacted feelings towards women’srights. Response Percentage to each Variable Variable % Income Less than $1,000 1.4 $1,000 to $2,999 2.5 $3,000 to $3,999 2.5 $4,000 to $4,999 2.3 $5,000 to $9,999 11.
6 $10,000 to $14,999 12.3 $15,000 to $19,999 9.6 $20,000 to $24,999 9.
5 $25,000 or more 48.2 Region NEW ENGLAND 4.7 MIDDLE ATLANTIC 14.9 E. NOR. CENTRAL 18.6 W. NOR.
CENTRAL 7.5 SOUTH ATLANTIC 19.1 E. SOU.
CENTRAL 6.6 W. SOU. CENTRAL 9.4 MOUNTAIN 5.9 PACIFIC 13.3 Political views LEFT 2.
2 SLIGHTLY LEFT 19.1 MODERATE 56.5 SLGHTLY RIGHT 19.5 RIGHT 2.
6 Race WHITE 81.5 BLACK 13.8 OTHER 4.7 Born in US YES 91.6 NO 8.4 Sex MALE 44 FEMALE 56 Thinks about Women’s Rights VERY OFTEN 12.2 FAIRLY OFTEN 18.9 OCCASIONALLY 43.
8 ALMOST NEVER 25.1 DV: Concern for Women’s Rights VERY CONCERNED 22 SOMEWHAT CONCERNED 48.4 NOT VERY CONCERNED 20.8 NOT CONCERNED AT ALL 8.
9 Table 1: Sample data from 1983 GSS Findings Crosstabstables with Chi-Square tests were used to help determine how each independentvariable is associated with caring about women’s rights. The bivariate analyseswere first run against each independent variable using the dependent variablemeasuring “Concern for Women’s Rights.” This analysis showed p<.001significance in reference to all independent variables except for Region.Region did not show to be significant. However, once recoded into groupedsections within the variable, the Atlantic regions showed to be significant inthe regression model. (See Table 2) Considering that females made up a largerportion of the gender variable, concern for women's rights was pretty evenlyspread between men and women.
A similar distribution was shown for the variablewhich asked respondents if they were born in the United States. Whether bornhere or not, most respondents stated they were either very concerned orsomewhat concerned. And the same goes for Race. Whether white, black or other,most respondents identified as being very or somewhat concerned.
Frequency ofthought about women’s rights showed what you’d expect. Most people who reportedbeing very or somewhat concerned about women’s rights also reported that theyand their friends think very or fairly often about women’s rights. However,there were some interesting outliers. Five people who responded they weren’tconcerned with women’s rights at all or were not very concerned, actuallyreported that they and their friends think about women’s rights very often. Forpolitical views, trends showed as expected. As a respondent identified as moreconservative, their concern for women’s rights was less. However, consideringthat the majority of the sample identified as being politically moderate, thelargest amount of responses were somewhere in the middle.
For income, peoplewho had a family income of less than $1000 reported the highest amount ofconcern for women’s rights. 85.8% of respondents whose family income was lessthan $1,000 reported either being very concerned or somewhat concerned. Therest of the distribution for income was pretty evenly spread ranging from veryconcerned to not concerned at all. A second bivariate analysis was runwith each independent variable against a recoded dependent variable to reflecta focus on ‘little to no concern’ for women’s rights. The variables whichshowed to be significant when run against the recoded dependent variable were:How often respondent and friends thinks about women’s rights, Total familyincome, and Race. For frequency of thought about women’s rights, respondentswith little to no concern about women’s rights also reported only thinkingabout women’s rights occasionally or almost never.
93.4% of respondents withlittle to no concern for women’s rights reported occasionally or never thinkingabout women’s rights. For race, white people showed the highest lack of concernfor women’s rights as compared to black and other respondents. However, whitepeople also made up the majority of the sample for that category, as previouslymentioned. For family income, respondents who made between $6,000 and $6,999had the highest lack of concern for women’s rights. Interestingly, once piecedout into more focused categories within the family income independent variable,this income amount when placed into a grouped income bracket, also showed to besignificant in the regression model (See Table 2). Frequency of thought on women’s rightsremained significant in the regression model, while, once recoded to omit thecategory ‘white,’ race did not. Based on findings from thebivariate analyses, each independent variable was recoded into the regressionmodel to focus on a particular effect for that variable.
For the demographicvariables in the regression model, gender was recoded to female, race wasrecoded into white race, and whether or not a respondent was born in the UnitedStates was recoded into Not Born in the US. After 1970, the immigrantpopulation of the country quadrupled 5 so it seemed important to focus onrespondents not born in the United States considering the data was collected only13 years later in 1983. For family income, income ranges were grouped intobrackets which include: Less than $1k, $1k to $6k, $6k to $10k, and $10k to$20k. Political views were measured on a scale from 1 to 10 with 1 beingfurthest left and 10 being furthest right.
The variable was then recoded into’left leaning,’ and ‘right leaning.’ The recode of ‘left leaning’ includesresponses from 1(left) to a slightly moderate level of 4. The recode of ‘rightleaning’ starts at a moderate level of 7 all the way to right (10).
Region wasrecoded into New England, North Central US, Atlantic, and Pacific Mountain. NewEngland remained as originally categorized while North Central combined theoriginal categories of West North Central and East North Central. Atlantic wasa combination of Middle Atlantic and South Atlantic. Pacific Mountain was acombination of the Mountain and Pacific regions. Table2-Model 1: Logistic Regression (unweighted) Odds of Being Concerned About Women’s Rights VARIABLE OR Demographics Female 1.325 White Race 2.068 Not Born in US **2.
722 Family Income Less than 1k 0.885 $1k to $6k 1.670 $6k to $10k *3.993 $10k to $20k **2.27 Political Views Left leaning 0.634 Right leaning 0.873 Region New England 0.251 North Central 0.
476 Atlantic **-0.327 Pacific Mountain 0.481 Individualistic Variable Doesn’t often think of WR *24.41 *p<.001, **p<.05 Logistic Regression Estimates Table 2shows the logistic regression estimates of concern for women's rights and thelikelihood that one would have more or less concern by demographic andindividual information.
The model was significant overall at the .001 level andcorrectly predicted 72.7% of responses. Variables which showed to besignificant were: thinking about women’s rights, being born in the US, incomeof $6,000 to $10,000, income of $10k to $20k, and being from the Atlanticregion of the United States. The independent variable measuring the frequencyat which a respondent and his/her friends think of women’s rights wassignificant at the .001 level.
The model showed that when respondents and theirfriends don’t often think about women’s rights, the odds that they also won’thave much concern for women’s rights increases by a factor of 24.42. This is anincrease of 2,342%. Being foreign born increases the odds of having little tono concern for women’s rights by 2.722. This is a 172% increase. Having afamily income of $6k to $10k increases the odds a respondent will have littleto no concern for women’s rights by 3.993.
This is a 299% increase. Having afamily income of $10k to $20k increases the odds that the respondent will haveconcern for women’s rights by 2.27. This is an increase of 127%.
Being from theAtlantic region of the United States decreases the odds of having little to noconcern for women’s rights by 0.327. This is a 67% decrease. Thehypothesis for income- Respondents with higher income will careless about women’s rights-wassupported in the bivariate analyses but in the regression model was notsupported. The regression showed that respondents with a middle range familyincome actually care less about women’s rights. The hypothesis for politicalviews was supported in the first bivariate analysis only. The hypothesis forrace is difficult to show given the distribution of the sample is so ‘white’heavy. However, based on the sample available, the hypothesis that race wouldhave no effect was not supported.
In the bivariate analyses race actuallyshowed that white people had less concern for women’s rights than other races.The hypothesis for being born in the United States was supported throughout. Inall analyses, people who were foreign born were less likely to have concern forwomen’s rights. The hypothesis for gender was supported in the first bivariateanalysis only.
As mentioned previously, considering females made up a largerportion of the sample, gender seemed to have little to no effect on concern forwomen’s rights. The hypothesis for how often respondents and their friendsthink of women’s rights was supported throughout. Each model showed thatrespondents who report that they and their friends “think of women’s rightsvery often or fairly often” showed to have more concern than those whoreported they think “occasionally or almost never.”Discussion Race and being female showed no effect in theregression model, while certain components of income and region did. Whilethinking of women’s rights, being born in the United States, and middle income(approximately $6,000 to $20,000) showed an increase in likelihood of little tono concern for women’s rights, being from the Middle and South Atlantic part ofthe US showed a decrease.
Comfort can be taken in the implication that peopleborn and people from the Atlantic region of the United States are more likelyto be concerned about women’s rights. We can also imply from the model that asa respondent and his/her friends thinks about women’s rights, there is an increasedlikelihood that their concern for women’s rights will also increase. As far aslimitations, the variable “Not born in the US” is a small sample size. 91.6% ofrespondents said that they were born in the US while only 8.
4% of respondentssaid they were not born here. Of those 8.4%, it is possible many may not haveanswered the questions regarding concern for women’s rights. Race may have hada similar effect after recoding for ‘white,’ since more than half ofrespondents identified as white.
44,873 respondents identified as white while10,214 people identified as black or other. In terms of gender, identifying asmale was omitted from the model to focus on females. However, male respondentsmade up almost half of the gender category so the sample size for that variablewas basically cut in half after recoding for female. ConclusionCurrent literature shows a major focus on domesticviolence in regards to women’s rights. Studies in 2004 and 2008 found thatadvocates in domestic violence organizations often lack a political analysis ofthe issue or have difficulty integrating such an analysis with the realities ofproviding service in an agency 5. A recent study of domestic violencecoalitions in the United States found that, “only 5 (9.8%) of the 51 coalitionsself-identified as feminist organizations or explicitly indicated that theirservices were informed by feminist values, theories, or politics” 5. With all of the recent METOO hashtags from womenacross the US trending on the topic of sexual harassment and assault, Irecommend that the question of concern for women’s rights be asked again in thenear future.
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