Monday, April 28, 2008

The Double Standard Strikes Again

Today, I received a press release from an outfit called Part-Time Pro. Its core assertion: "Women should not have to sacrifice personal desires for professional aspirations."

What?!! Let's say two people aspire to be promoted. The first one doesn't "sacrifice personal desires for professional aspirations" while the other person rarely leaves early to watch their kid's soccer game, in fact often stays late so s/he can answer emails in a timely manner, who reads while on the exercise bike, chose to take difficult statistical modeling classes to improve their work skills, and accepted a transfer to some God-forsaken place so s/he could acquire important experience. In any world other than Alice's wonderland, shouldn't the latter person get the promotion?

Yet women's advocates constantly argue that people who choose to work less (what they term "work/life balance," which is a focus-group tested phrase designed to elicit maximum sympathy) should have an equal right to promotions. And when fewer women are then promoted, feminists blame it on a men-created glass ceiling rather than that women more often make choices to work less and in less demanding areas.

The feminists' intended trump card is to play the "Children need mommy at home" card. As I've stated in earlier posts, the data on that is equivocal and, logically, it is better for children to see a role model of mom who holds a job other than housewife. Too, the stay-at-home mom (cynics would say "play-at-home mom") is more likely to be a helicopter mom (hovering) thereby denying their child opportunities to develop self-efficacy.

Ironically, the people who attribute the low percentage of women in top positions to a glass ceiling are also likely to insist we do more to try to stop global warming. Well, environmentalists agree that the greatest threat to the earth is overpopulation, so should we be subsidizing the having of more children by telling women, "You shouldn't have to sacrifice your personal desires for professional aspirations?"

Can we please stop with the double standard and remember that, ultimately, the greatest cure for all that ails us is meritocracy, whether a person has an xy or xx chromosome.


Anonymous said...

My mother got a divorce when I was 5. She raised me and my 2 older sisters with practically no help from my father, who made more money.

She had a large family, so she had the emotional support she needed, but financially, she was on her own. She chose to put all of us in private schools, which I seriously doubt she could afford, because she didn't like the local public school system. She worked full-time, before and after her divorce. And for 7 years, she went to school part-time in the evenings, finishing near the top of her class.

She's now a kindergarten teacher because she CHOSE to work harder so that she might provide better for herself and her family in the future.

She did not give one damn about "work/life balance." I never saw her just sitting at home for no reason, then or now. And I don't feel at all deprived because she wasn't at home 24/7.

I don't have the same challenges my mother faced while raising me because I made a different choice. I'm currently single, and I chose not to have children. Because of this I have much more freedom with what to do with my time, so I suppose "work/life balance" wouldn't occur to me, either. If I want to work more, I do. If I want to work less, I do. It's a choice I make, and I don't need to make an excuse for what I choose. Sometimes the choice you make means "sacrificing personal desires."

I have a friend my age who's a stay-at-home father. He works at home as a music teacher so he can be with his daughter. And his wife works outside the home as a doctor. They made that choice together. They wouldn't have it any other way. They don't complain about "work/life balance" either.

Most people, male or female, don't get whiny and make excuses about their choices. They make their choices and live with them. The relative few that do complain about what amounts to nothing might learn something from the rest of us that don't complain.

Marty Nemko said...

he owner of that outfit I referred to in my initial post emailed me in response to that post. I publish that in full here, interspersing my responses to her statements. Mine are bracketed by **.

You state that women “choose” to work less. In fact, the United States has one of the highest employment rates among industrialized countries. Women make up almost 50% of the US workforce and around 66% of working-age women today have paid jobs.

** As in your press release, you mislead with statistics. The fair statistic is "the average number of hours that men vs. women work, also factoring in the difficulty of that work." It's dramatically higher for men. You no doubt, will counter, with the "second shift" argument--that women do more of the housework. Fact is, men are--despite working many more hours in the stresses of the work world, doing a much higher percentage of the housework. In addition, much of that housework is discretionary--e.g., cooking a time-consuming meal vs broiling a salmon and steaming vegetables, or a perfectly picked-up house. Most men, for example, don't care much if the beds are made and the house dusted and vacuumed every few days--many more women choose, yes, choose to do that to accommodate to their own values. Finally, housework is far less stressful on average than most of the jobs men must do: commission-driven sales, competitive, high-pressure work in corporations, not to mention the physically dangerous and debilitating work many men must do to support their family: construction, fire fighting, police work, etc.**

Women are outperforming men at almost every level of education. 58% of college students are women. Women have earned more bachelor’s degrees than men every year since 1982; more master’s degrees since 1986. By 2011 it is projected that women will outnumber men in both undergraduate and graduate degree programs by 10.2 million to 7.4 million.

** Precisely. And that is perhaps the most obscene unfairness of all. They take up slots in school, a valuable societal resource bestowed upon them (Tuition minus financial aid only covers a small percentage of the actual cost of education) in expectation they will repay that largesse by assuming important positions in the work world. Yet, on average, they do so far less often than men do. For example, half of medical students are women, yet the majority of female doctors do not practice full-time. Many, after a few years, stop practicing altogether, forever. The result is more deaths--in urban and rural areas, there's a shortage of doctors. So, if such a person takes up a slot in medical school, people die and stay ill longer as a result. **

Despite the fact that women are outpacing men in educational achievements, they still earn less. According to a 2004 report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, women with graduate degrees earn only slightly more than men with only a high school diploma, $41,995 compared to $40.822. And women with bachelor’s degrees actually earn less than men with only a high school diploma .

** Of course. Because, women, on average, choose not only to work far fewer hours, but as demonstrated in the authoritative book on the subject, Why Men Earn More, women--far more often than men--make 25 career choices that ensure they earn less: for example, they're more likely to major in art history or English than computer science or engineering. They avoid lucrative, high-pressure careers that require long hours: investment banking, management consulting, trial lawyering. They avoid work that would require high risk: physical risk such as coal miners, sewer repairers, ice fishermen, etc., in favor of low-risk and therefore lower paying jobs such as teacher, librarian, and nurse. They disproportionately opt for security rather than the riskier but often more remunerative options such as commission-based sales. They refuse to move across the country to accept a promotion, etc., etc., etc. **

The reality is that highly-educated and high-achieving women are not “choosing” to leave the workforce; we are being forced out.

** That is an evidence-free statement. The evidence is precisely the opposite: there are endless efforts to treat women more generously in the workplace: mentorships, work/life balance managers, special women's caucuses at work, etc., etc., etc. **

But we are not sitting by idly, we are creating vibrant, successful businesses that provide us with a fair wage and favorable work conditions – two aspects that the current US employment do not provide.

** How ironic, women indeed are putting a lot of work into demanding yet more unfair-to-men treatment, yet are unwilling to do the hard work that is required to--on the merits--rise in the workplace, as listed above and in my initial post. **

Interestingly, those who have responded to your blog before my posting are all men.

** Again, utterly untrue. Look again. **

I’m sure it is because you are home tending to the children, washing laundry and icing cakes while your wives are at work.

** You conclude your comment as shallowly as you began your press release, when you said that women should be allowed to pursue their personal pursuits without it affecting their professional ones. The worthy response to a carefully derived post is filled with rigorous thought and solid, not-misleading data, not silly sarcastic put-downs and misleading statistics. After you've read the authoritative, scholarly research on the issue that I have, I welcome you to make additional comments. The following books are among the most authoritative:
--Spreading Misandry
-- Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systematic Discrimination Against Men
--Why Men Earn More
-- The Myth of Male Power
--The Woman Racket (hyperbolic title and occasionally hyperbolic rhetoric, but en toto well-researched, solid yet bold.)

Anonymous said...

Wow! Did she really write that?

I don't like it when people that try to prove a point have to resort to insults or name calling. A "highly-educated and high-achieving" woman (or man) should not have to do that, and I'm less likely to take them seriously when they do. This response just added up to an "I'm better than you are" taunt.

Also, as a woman myself, I've never been too pleased with those that act like they're speaking for me. This woman does not represent me.

She seems to want to break stereotypes about women. I think she unintentionally reinforced some of them.


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