Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - August 8, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
Thursday, August LETHBRIDGE Women and economic discrimination By Dian Cohen, syndicated commentator People buy insurance to allay their worries about tomorrow. Sometimes it is difficult to get insured: your age, health and budget may each present their own problems. If you are a woman, you will have to cope with another problem dis- crimination because of your sex. This is no big secret, even to people in the insurance business, although they generally deny it officially. Privately, many insurance agents agree that a woman is discriminated against not only in some of the kinds of in- surance she can get, and the higher rates she may have to pay, but in the sex prejudice harbored by some agents who sell insurance. The basis of the sex dis- crimination is, according to one industry spokesman, that "the insurance business is still writing policies as if the family unit is a husband work- ing and the wife staying home to take care of the kids." Insurance companies cling to a number of myths. One of them is that the man is the family breadwinner. Federal department of labor statistics show that there are more than three million women in the labor force, representing 33 per cent of all the people who work in this country. Of these working women, well over half are married. According to American figures, a single woman works an average of 45 years, a man, 43 years. A married woman with children works 25 years. Despite this, very little attempt is made to sell in- surance to women. The predominantly male sales force apparently does not take women seriously about in- surance. There are many different kinds of insurance. The ones that affect women most directly are disability, life, and car insurance. DISABILITY INSURANCE A woman who supports herself, or her children, or whose income is necessary to her family's standard of living, faces financial disaster if a disabling illness or acci- dent prevents her from working. The gap between what men and women may ob- tain, and what premiums they pay, is widest here. The Lethbridge Herald recently shopped a number of large insurance companies for a married couple, both aged 37. both professional economists. In each case, we asked for a policy that would pay a month to age 65 in case of sickness or accident. Here are the replies. (Elimination period means the length of time of disable- ment before the company starts Crown Life: 30 day elimina- tion period, sickness and acci- dent to age 65. The man would pay the woman, CNA Insurance: Would pay a maximum of a month to the woman, although a month to the man. Manufacturers' Life: Would give maximum coverage of five years to the woman, although would cover the man to age 65. Paul Revere: 30 day elimination, sickness and ac- cident to age 65. Male premium, female, Unionmutual Life: 30 day elimination, sickness and ac- cident to age 65. Male premium. female 00. Occidental Life: 30 day elimination, sickness and ac- cident to age 65. Premium for the woman would be lifetime coverage for the man. Other companies, such as Sun Life, would quote no longer than two years of sickness benefits. Pregnancy is excluded as a cause of disability. In ad- dition, at least two com- panies. Crown and Travellers. say if an insured female is not gainfully employed on a full- time basis away from her place of residence at the com- mencement of total disability, the monthly indemnity rate is automatically reduced by 50 per cent. In other words, a free-lance male journalist could become disabled at home, but a woman had better get sick on an outside job. Most Canadian companies will not even consider for disabili- ty insurance women who work at home, although they will consider a man. The industry justifies its inequities with probably the favorite of its myths. One spokesman, Unionmutual's Gordon Donas, puts it this way: "The statistics show, beyond doubt, that women are greater insurance risks than men." Other insurance spokesmen insist that women are more likely to fake an illness since "they don't need the money." and "have someone else to take care of them." Sylva Gelber, director of the Womens' Bureau of the federal department of labor, says the statistics show no such thing. "There is an insignificant difference in the amount of time, or the number of men and women in the full-time labor force who are off work because of illness. In the latest survey, women ill for a whole week represented 1.76 per cent of the work force. Men ill for a whole week represented 1.95 per cent. In the federal public service, which employs women, the women averaged 4.4! days of certified sick leave (that means they had a doctor's cer- men averaged 4.09 days." That means that women are off work because of illness about ten hours more a year than men. Book review In addition, men suffer a far higher rate of many serious illnesses than women. Gel- ber quoted official hospital statistics which show the fre- quency with which men and women have been hospitalized with specific diseases: degenerative heart diseases: male patients exceed female by 54 per cent; pneumonia: male patients exceed female by 28 per cent; bronchitis: male patients exceed female by 42 per cent; cirrohsis and other diseases of the liver: male patients exceed female by 52 per cent; ulcer of stomach: male patients ex- ceed female by 144 per cent; disorders of behavior: male patients exceed female by 141 per cent. Gelber suggests that this last statistic disorders of behavior may account for the discriminatory rates charged by insurance com- panies. "The statistics cer- tainly don't account for it" she says emphatically. LIFE INSURANCE Here, the insurance in- dustry is quick to point out that women get a break. Women are not sure how much of a break it is. Women are considered a better insurance risk because they live an average of six to seven years longer than men. But many insurance com- oanies base their female rates on a percentage discount off the male rate, which turns out to be far less than a six year age difference. For example, a woman of thirty applying for life insurance, will be charged 4 or 5 per cent less than a man of thirty. Translated into age, she will be charged the same rate as a man of 28, not that of a man of 23 or 24. CAR INSURANCE Here again, women get breaks because they have been proven safer drivers. It is not clear, however, whether this is based on sex or on fre- quency of use of the car. One insurance broker told us, "If women become even more liberated and start picking up men for dates in their own cars, then their rates might go up accordingly." Car in- surance policies definitely im- ply that "to be married is better" rates are lower. In the United States, legislation has recently been tabled to prevent companies from rais- ing premiums for divorced or separated women, thus deal- ing with the widespread pre- judice that a single woman is not as responsible as a married one who is (presumably) at home with the children at night. There are dozens of com- panies selling insurance in Canada. Rates vary enor- mously. This means, if you need insurance, you will have to do a lot of homework and even more shopping around. In addition, you can com- plain if you think you've been discriminated against. Federally, write to Box 99 of the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Ot- tawa. Provincially, write to your consumer protection department. Complain to both your federal and provincial members of Parliament. Study of Plains Indians "Dog Soldiers, Bear Men and Buffalo Women" by Thomas E. Mails, (Prentice- Hall, 388 Every once in a long while a book of this magnitude comes along and gives one reassurance in the continuance of high quality literature. Impressive in size alone (12" high, 9" wide and once the reader opens this book and sees the 171 realistic, dramatic pen and ink sketches he will R6V6LSTOK6 TRunsir mm LETHBRIDGE TRANSIT MIX 12th Street 2nd Avenue North Call: E. H. Buck 327-7262 Equipped to serve all parts of the industry, summer and winter. Maximum Quality Control. Prompt Delivery. No job too large or too small. Efficient and Courteous Service. iMVOSTMK Budget Plan R6V6LSTOK6 realize this book is inexpensive at twice the price. Included in the sketches are eight color paintings, but they don't quite compare to the black and white drawings. Mails, responsible for the art work as well as the writing, has put together one of the most encompassing studies available concerning the societies and cults of the Plains Indian. This book will rank among the best available dealing with the Indian and his religion. The book explores what the white man has always considered, at the best mysterious, and at the worst hokum the warrior and civil societies of the Indian. He tells of the origin, the regalia worn, the meaning and the rites of each cult and society. But best of all are the sketches, each one a master- ful work, capturing the pride and the majesty of the Plains Indian. The Indian looked at things through different eyes than the white man who invaded land. He judged with a different set of values. The most meaningful line in the book, the line which best sums up the difference between the Plains Indian and the white trespassers into their land and into their cultures: "You measure time, we enjoyed it." GARRY ALLISON Books in brief "The Summer Meadows" by Robert Nathan (Fitzhenry Whiteside, Bobbie and Cordelia are surprised to receive a visit from an old friend who is supposed to be dying. They reminisce about past experiences and then go for a stroll which becomes a journey both magical and mysterious. They meet an antiquarian whose van is full of remarkable treasures, Lucifer the circus clown, and people from the present and the past. The journey (or is it a comes to its inevitable end and Bobbie and Cordelia are back home. A very lovely story written with great delicacy and simplicity. TERRY MORRIS "The Runaway Roller Skate" by John Vernon Lord (Jonathon Cape, distributed by Clarke, Irwin Company Limited, 28 A fun story for children. The text is done in verse to accompany the bright, colored illustrations that have enough details to boggle the mind and tickle the funny bone. ELSPETH WALKER Ideas are like leaves: they may flourish for a time then wither and die, but in doing so become compost in which other ideas may grow. Photo and text by David Ely. Herald staff writer Rut prevention By Gregory Hales, local writer Lethbridge School District No. 51 has adopted a policy which should result in sub- stantial benefits for the public schools. I refer to the policy of rotating vice principals throughout the system The benefit to the vice-principals is ap- parent. They will gain a wide background of experience through tenure at a number of schools, which should hold them in better stead once they become principals. As well, there is much benefit inherent for the system as a whole Not only will the vice- principals be exposed to a variety of teaching methods, organizational structures, and philosophies, but they will bring to each new school that background of exposure as well as their own developing ideas on administration and school organization. Each school will still be able to develop its unique approaches to learning, while at the same time integrating with other schools on more general lines, allowing for greater ar- ticulation throughout the school system. While it may be more important that a variety of experiences be gained by ad- ministrators than teachers, it would still be valuable for teachers to broaden their ex- periential base by teaching at more than one school. They could gain fresh insights into children, learning and teaching strategies, curricular modifications, and school organization It is important, too. that actual first hand experience at another school be gained, rather than just hearing or reading about its differences. Visualizing what it might be like to teach under certain conditions cannot approximate actually teaching there Some understanding could be gained in that way. but it would be neither complete nor totally accurate Another reason the new policy is encourag- ing is that it contains a kind of built-in rut prevention But ruts are not the special do- main of administrators (although they do receive the brunt of the criticism in this However, the superintendent's of- lice is not likely to institute a policy of rotating teachers. It will be up to the teachers themselves to ensure that they do not get into ruts. The opportunity is there for any teachers who wish to transfer schools in order to broaden their teaching experience The superintendent's office has made it clear that it recognizes the value of a broad base of ex- perience for school personnel It is reasonable to expect then, that teacher re- quests for transfers will be viewed favorably m the future. The onus now rests with teachers If. in their professional judgments, teachers see value to their pupils and themselves from having a number of teaching experiences rather than just one, they should request a move to a different school. With its new policy, the superintendent's of- fice is leading in a good direction. It is now up to teachers to recognize that lead, and follow it. ANDY RUSSELL Backfire WATERTON LAKES PARK Practical jokers are too often gleefully vociferous upon contemplating the discomfiture of their vic- tims, but short on ability to join in the laugh when a joke is played on them. Fate sometimes decrees that the practical joker becomes the victim of his own prank and when this happens, usually nobody feels very sympathetic. Away back in the hungry thirties I recall an incident illustrating the point. There was a couple living on a neighboring ranch, and like most people working the land in those days, they were hard pressed to make ends meet. Jim and Samantha weren't their names, but they will do for this account. Jim was a very hard working little man not ordinarily given to playing pranks. His wife was bigger than he. a woman given to substitute a great preoccupation with religion for good housekeeping. Her concern for her salvation was not selfish, for it included much freelance missionary work concerned with Jim. her neighbors and anybody else who came along The recipients of her ministrations were lor the most part good natured enough about it. even though their responses were not always completely acquiescent. Most of the time, Jim endured it. although sometimes he was inclined to kick over the traces in attempt to establish a more suitable pecking order in their household. At times Samantha's zeal went beyond their limited means and this sometimes sparked a fierce row. Once she invited in a visitor, who delighted her by waxing most eloquent in his acceptance of God, mostly because he was enjoying the regular meals. Jim was upset, but his attempts to oust the visitor were fruitless, so he determined by one means or another to make Samantha see the light by scaring her into some semblance of common sense. He would play a joke on her somewhat rare and unusual joke and so he lay sleepless and savored it. Rising early the following morning he sallied forth to the barn to start milking the cows ahead of his wife, but first he set the stage In the dim light of a coal-oil lantern he tied one end of a rope around his neck, threw the other over a rafter and waited till he heard Samantha's footsteps approaching. Then he hauled himself up on tiptoes and quickly tied the other end around a convenient stanchion. When she looked in it was to see Jim writhing and gargling in the flickering shadows at the end of the rope Completely panicked, she began to scream loud and long for help, whereupon their visitor came running to find Samantha yell- ing bloody murder and do something quick Jim's erstwhile savior was not noted fordo- ing the right thing and instead of untying the end of the rope, he seized a big. old. very dull axe ordinarily used for chipping ice out 01 the water trough. With a wild swing he attempted to cut the rope about half way between Jim and the rafter. The fact that Jim was a man weighing a good deal less than average probably saved his life. As it was. he almost kicked himself in the face and was instantly rendered the next thing to unconscious. When they finally contrived to release him. he was dazed and not a little put out. Samantha was scared enough, to be sure, but he had a most painful kink in his neck. A few days later, he was helping my father move some hay and was still unable to move his head Upon being queried about it. he told us his story, and knowing Samantha we could not help being sympathetic. But Jim didn't join us when we laughed. ON THE USE OF WORDS By Theodore M. Bernstein Okay? Oh kay? A phone company ad, observing that an obscene call is an upsetting experience, remarked, "But if you know how to handle it, it can turn out alright." That last word is frowned upon by just about every authority, the characterizations ranging from "a common misspelling" to "a vulgarism." Defender of alright point to such compounds as already and altogether as if they were per- tinent precedents. But a moment's thought will disclose that already and all ready mean quite different things, as do altogether and all together. The only occasion on whlth alright and all right could have different meanings would be the relatively rare one exemplified by this sentence: "His answers to the five questions were all right." On other occasions the two versions would have the same sense. And that raises the question, who needs alright? Forget it. Parenthetically, this writer, in breaking in a new secretary, had brought home to him the distinction between almost and all most. A dictated letter was supposed to say, "Your comments are all most heartening." Guess how the secretary typed it.