In writing this blog, I must make it very clear I am discussing the historic implementation of the sick role on an academic level rather than making any sexist remark, although highlighting the sexism that existed in the sick role. I am also not suggested women will never ‘ill’ but that society did not see them as ‘sick’. The reason for this is sickness has been very much related to employment and the inability perform your paid job.
Since the old fashion make-up of families meant the husband went to work while the wife stayed at home looking after the home and children, whether this was fair or not. This meant men were able to be sick and have time off work while woman, who did often the more essential role, often could not have time off from her work unless she was seriously unable to. Therefore women had to fit in being ill around her work which was made slightly easier by the fact she had a lot of flexibility in her role which was outcome based e.g. dinner on table etc.
As women entered the workforce, they have also entered the realms of sickness and disability, where they are claiming rights they feel were previously denied to them. Whether this is a good thing or whether we are losing the ability to manage illness as a normal part of life, is something only time will tell.