Gender Roles in Economics

In some ways the economic position of women in Hungary today is stronger than that of Hungarian men (Frey, 1996; Koncz, 1995) and than that of women in most of post-socialist Eastern and Central Europe (van der Lippe & Fodor, 1998). In 1998, unemployment was 7% for Hungarian women and 8.5% for men (Pongracz & Toth, 1999). There are many reasons for this difference. First, because of their dominance in the fields of heavy industry during the socialist era, men more than women have lost their jobs due to factory closures. Second, because their earnings have always been seen as secondary, women have been much more willing than men to take advantage of the part-time, temporary, and home-based work opportunities that have opened up since 1990 (Szalai, 1998). Third, traditional gender roles in Hungary have also allowed far more women than men to exit the labor force and yet remain economically active as the recipients of childcare and maternity benefits, "nursing fees" to care for elderly parents and in-laws, and early retirement (Szalai, 1998). Fourth, women in Hungary have been more willing to take advantage of retraining programs (Szalai, 1999). Fifth, Hungarian women began more than 40% of the small private businesses started in Hungary between 1990 and 1998 (Frey, 1999). Finally, many women have been able to combine one or more of these kinds of "supplementary" incomes to support their entire families (Szalai, 1998); 44% of women and 41% of men have other sources of income besides their primary employment (Nagy, 1995). The result of all these factors is that women generally are more likely than their male counterparts to retain the occupational class attained by their fathers (Pongracz & Toth, 1999).

At the same time, despite 45 years of de jure gender equality, Hungarian women earn only around 80% of the salaries of men (Pongracz & Toth, 1999), leaving women more vulnerable if they divorce (Utasi, 1997) or, as only rarely happens, they remain single. Younger women and women with children suffer much more discrimination with regard to their access to well-paying jobs and prestige (International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, 2000). During the socialist era, women had much less access to private economy work opportunities, usually because of their responsibilities at home, leaving them with fewer skills and less access to private work today. As a result, women constitute nearly three quarters of the state sector and only one third of the much more lucrative private sector (Koncz, 1994). Women are also less likely than men to move in order to take a higher-paying job (Wong, 1995). Finally, women managers have much less access to top positions. While almost all successful male managers have wives at home to support their efforts, women who are able to engage in the work activities necessary to rise to that level are often divorced or single. In addition, since nearly all Hungarian women want at least one child, they must rely upon mothers and day-care providers for childcare (Nagy, 1997).

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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