With the demise of the patriarchal family, Italian women have increased their power and status. Until the late 1960s, it was illegal for women -- but not men -- to have an extramarital affair. Abortion and divorce were also illegal.
In the 1970s, Italy legalized divorce and women received the right to get alimony and child support from their former husbands. Despite its legalization, divorce rates did not rise significantly.
With one salary insufficient to raise a family, many women take a job outside the home, and women now make up a substantial part of the Italian workforce.
Women also received in 1970s equal rights in the workplace, including the right to equal pay with men. Women can now get five months paid childbirth leave and six months unpaid leave plus a guarantee of being able to return to the same job.
In the late 1970s, despite being a Catholic country, Italy legalized abortion. Women can also get government funds for an abortion.
While the legislature has established the equality of women, Italian society still tilts toward the male. Conservative men tend to see women as angelo del focolare -- angels of the hearth, meaning their responsibilities lie with church, children and kitchen.
The business world tends to be male dominated, and only a few women are found in the professions or hold managerial positions. Those that do are typically found in family-owned companies.
One survey conducted in Italy reveals much about the…