martedì 16 novembre 2010

machismo and the Italian high school student

Last week, in one of my fifth year classes at the technical institute, I presented an article about machismo in southern Europe (Spain, Italy, Greece, and to a lesser extent Portugal) and its ill-effects. The article basically argued that southern Europe's economic woes--such as lagging productivity, enormous debt, an aging population and low birthrate, and a shrinking workforce--could be helped by courting women into the labor market. (In Italy the employment gap between the genders is 22%).

I picked this article because I wanted to start some debate about women's rights and childcare. The article ended up being very difficult for them (gah why you so erudite NYTimes?) and so we didn't get to discuss the issue as much as I had hoped. So I assigned them some homework, a couple of comprehension questions and then an opinion question: What do you think about women working?

Most of the answers were almost identical, little robot responses that said women working is a good thing for the economy. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy the robots are leaning towards feminism. But my favorite response was this one, from a boy R:

"In the workplace I think that women should be treated like men and have the same rights because they work as hard as men.
I'd prefer that my wife, Valentina (his unmarried deskmate), stays at home to look after the children and I would work harder to sustain my family.
Perhaps it is machismo!"

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