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Women have been entering the job market at a slower pace in the past few years prompting speculation that a demographic revolution in the work force may be over.

While observers are not sure what it all means, statistics indicate that women have slowed their quest for the paycheck.

In the past two years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, the percentage of women in the job market has leveled off at 57.7 percent. This is in contrast to steadily increasing percentages since the early 1970s.

The decline actually began almost five years ago when the growth rate of women in the work force was calculated at about 5 percent compared to rates that went close to 16 percent in the previous decade.

The greatest changes are being noted in the participation of young women, those between the ages of 25 and 34. They accounted for the greatest female surge in the job market during the 1970s. In the early years of that decade they posted increases in employment growth of up to 22 percent. In the past five years the growth rate for this group has dropped to about 3 percent compared to a 5 percent growth in the number of women over 35 in the job market.

The recession may be forcing some women out of the job market since its impact has been most heavily felt in the service industry in contrast to previous recessions which saw the elimination of manufacturing jobs held by men.

Depressed wages may also be discouraging women. Even in moving into jobs traditionally held by men, women have failed to reduce the wage gap, according to a new study of 30 occupations previously dominated by men. When men moved out of these job, they took the high salaries with them leaving women at the lower-paying, dead end.

A rising birth rate is seen as another force keeping women out of the job market. Young women are choosing to start a family before beginning careers and their older sisters, who chose careers first, are interrupting them to have families.

The difficulty of "having it all" is forcing many women to make choices and, in the absence of adequate child care alternatives, many are choosing to stay home.

While observers are calling it a plateau, no one is suggesting the trend will continue indefinitely. The need for two incomes to sustain families may dictate the duration and the pressure on business and industry facing labor shortages may create a more hospitable work environment, not to mention better pay, to lure more women back to jobs.

Women finally have been admitted to the ranks of the intelligentsia -- at least four of them have. Jane Austen, Willa Cather, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf are included in the newly revised "Great Books of the Western World," a compilation of the seminal works of Western civilization published by Encyclopaedia Britannica.

The 1990 version is the first revision of "Great Books" since it was published in 1952 and the first time a woman author has been included. Black authors have yet to break the barrier.

Critics of "Great Books" argue that selections reflect a cultural bias by and in behalf of white males. The editorial board of the new edition is all white male but the advisory board includes a woman and an African.

An experimental emergency child care program instituted in New York City by seven large companies has been judged a success after its first year and has attracted seven more businesses.

The program provides in home care for children under the age of 13 in emergency situations such as when a child is ill and can't go to school or a regular baby sitter is unable to work. The system provides a child care worker from a licensed home health care agency in situations where a parent might otherwise be forced to stay home from work.

Employees can use the program up to three days at a time and for a total of six days a year. Employers pick up the entire costs for the first three days and pay 50 percent of the cost for the next three days.

The comedy group Ladies of the Lake will entertain at the second anniversary celebration of Pro-Choice Network of Western New York Friday at 8 p.m. in International Institute.

A cooperative action plan for acquiring funds and implementing programs to provide more equitable access to education and employment will be developed at a forum to be sponsored by Western New York Council for Educational and Employment Equity Dec. 11 from 9 to 11 a.m. in Everywoman Opportunity Center's Tonawanda office at 205 Yorkshire Road.

Carborundum Co. has renewed its contribution to a women's scholarship fund at the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations run by Cornell University, Western District. The fund assists women qualified for the school's Supervisory Studies Certificate program who are not eligible for tuition reimbursement from their employers. Classes providing college credits will begin in January at Buffalo State College and in the Maryvale Schools. Call 842-6180.

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