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Irish Cultural Identity Essay Prompts

As a society heavily influenced by Catholicism, the traditional role of mother and wife has dominated beliefs about women in Irish culture, and has been enshrined in the Constitution. Up until Ireland's accession to the European Community in 1973, women were obliged to resign from the civil service upon marriage. Since then, better education, declining fertility rates and an opportunity to earn higher wages have increased women's participation in the labour force. Married women, however, have a considerably lower participation rate compared to other European countries; the lack of childcare, and discriminatory tax policies are key factors. Occupational segregation is still very marked, and women are frequently found in low-paid, part-time, insecure and "low-skilled" occupations, with very few in senior management. The situation is changing, however, with the election of two women to the role of President within the last fifteen years. Compliance to European Union equal opportunity legislation has also promoted the status of women.

Catholicism has been a key factor shaping Irish society and culture. In recent years, however, the influence of the Catholic Church has begun to wane, and social values are beginning to converge with those of other European countries, particularly within the younger, urban and more educated population. Church scandals have contributed to this. Weekly Mass attendance still hovers around 60%, compared with the European average of 30%; many children also attend Catholic schools. There have been campaigns in recent years, however, to end the broadcast of the Angelus, a Catholic devotion, on RTE (the public broadcaster). Currently it is broadcast every night at 6.00 pm on RTE 1 (TV station), and on Radio 1 at noon and 6.00 pm.

Advances in the economic situation of Irish people in recent years have masked the impact of class. Social privilege in Ireland, in any case, is often dictated more by knowing whose back to scratch. In Dublin, many would say that you could tell a person's class by their postal code - the Dublin 4 or "D4" area being a prime example of one universally considered as well heeled.

Many people consider the Travelling People in Ireland as a distinct ethnic group. Similar to Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, Travellers have often experienced systemic discrimination, poverty and exclusion. Travelling People have a distinct dialect and follow a nomadic way of life. Since the advances in the Irish economy, Ireland has also become a magnet for immigrant workers from Eastern Europe and Africa. To facilitate the growing diversity of Ireland, in October 2005, the Government introduced the National Action Plan Against Racism, one of the most comprehensive anti-discrimination codes in Europe.

Despite still having a clause in the Irish Constitution stipulating that a woman's role is in the home, women tend to be on equal stance with men. However statistically, like in most Western nations, women are disproportionately paid and found in places of leadership. Additionally, abortion remains illegal in Ireland.  Attitudes to sexual orientation are somewhat conservative.  Differences are certainly tolerated but not exactly embraced.  

As stated earlier views towards religion are changing. As little as 15 years ago Ireland was a staunchly Roman Catholic nation. However, with a continued secularization throughout the West and scandal after scandal in Ireland, the Church has greatly declined.  While many may consider themselves Catholic they may not attend church and probably do not follow ideology. However, there still remains a large segment of the population, generally the young and old, that attend and follow ideology, you may say religiously! 

Despite Ireland's famous economic progress there remains a substantial segment of the population that has remained poor. This especially true of the Travelling community in Ireland, better known as Tinkers or Gypsies, who live outside mainstream Ireland in inadequate embarrassing conditions. However, all in all there does not exist a stigma towards class in Ireland as, for example, there is in England.  

This is a changing issue in Ireland. With economic success has come immigration to a nation so famous for emigration. Many different colours, languages, religions, and ethnicities are coming in to Ireland. This change has been hard to swallow for some of the Irish. Ignorance and scepticism towards immigrants and especially towards refugees remains rampant. However this does not mean the same for executive workers or travellers, who are well received and welcomed. The influx of the poor coming to Ireland seeking work has created new issues for the Emerald Isle, testing the tolerance of a nation so well received in the rest of the world.   

Equality, Sports, and Title IX by TED-Ed

In 1972, U.S. Congress passed Title IX, a law which prohibited discrimination against women in schools, colleges, and universities -- including school-sponsored sports. Before this law, female athletes were few and far between, and funding was even scarcer. Erin Buzuvis and Kristine Newhall explore the significance and complexity of Title IX.

Title IX at 40 by The Obama White House

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Hall of Fame Basketball Coach Pat Summitt, Professional Basketball Player and 2011 WNBA MVP Tamika Catchings and Author and Chief Sponsor of the Title IX legislation, former Senator Birch Bayh talk on the 40th Anniversary of Title IX and the monumental impact that piece of legislation had on furthering equal rights for women in America.

Playing Unfair: The Media Image of the Female Athlete (WSU Access ID & Password Required)

Playing Unfair is the first video to critically examine the post-Title IX media landscape in terms of the representation of female athletes. 

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