An Italian company recently had to choose which workers to lay off in a cost-cutting effort. Solution: fire the women, because they should be taking care of their kids anyway.
According to the Guardian, electric fan company Ma-Vib fired 13 of its 30 employees in response to a drop in sales. All of the fired workers were women. Ma-Vib's explanation of this decision reads like a parody of sexist employment practice: "We are firing the women so they can stay at home and look after the children. In any case, what they bring in is a second income."
The Guardian's John Hooper points out that "there is a continuing and lively debate over the status of Italian women, which some international surveys suggest is abnormally low in comparison with the rest of Europe." The fact that the country's Prime Minister is known for his alleged enjoyment of underage girls and bunga bunga is only part of the story — says engineering union secretary Maria Sciancati, "In this country, at the government and company level, there is always the same old thinking –- that it is preferable that women stay at home." The idea that women's incomes –- and their jobs — were supplementary and thus unimportant used to be common in this country too. Though economic reality has made dual incomes a necessity for many, plenty of Americans still hold this view. The difference is that they often attempt to couch it in euphemism, or in faux-concern for women themselves. It's interesting (if disturbing) to see the devaluation of women's careers expressed so bluntly — it's also a reminder that beneath a lot of employment discrimination is the firm belief that as workers, women don't matter.