Sunday, September 27, 2009

The untold truth about women and work

Margaret Wente:

Catherine Hakim, a senior research fellow at the London School of Economics, has been studying gender and work trends for decades. “The most misleading feminist myth is that women are united in their goals and priorities,” she wrote in the journal Public Policy Review. “The myth that all or most women would be just as careerist as men, if only they were given the opportunity, has been exploded.”

In other words, it's pointless to try to get women to make up 50% of the paid workforce of every profession. Women will never make up 50% of CEO's.

The research flatly contradicts the prevailing notion that part-time jobs (which are mostly held by women) are a bad thing. The truth is that part-time work suits many women's family needs. It debunks the so-called wage gap between the sexes, which results from different work choices, not discrimination.

Did feminists ever bother asking women what they wanted? And by that, I mean all kinds of women, not just kindred spirits?

When women enter a male profession en masse, they don't become more like men. It's the profession that changes. Take medicine, where gruelling hours have always been the norm. At first, it was simply assumed that women (who now form the majority in medical schools) would practise just like men. They don't. They scale back their hours when they have families, which means we need to train a lot more doctors than we thought we did.

And that has an effect on salaries/profit. And men decide to go into another profession that is more profitable. That's one reason why becoming a family doctor isn't as appealing as it once was.

I never really set out to be a stay-at-home mom. But once I understood what raising children really required, and the consequences of having a stranger raise them, I decided I was going to do it myself.

I think that's the same with a lot of women. They go to university not really sure what the future will bring, using their degree as a safety net, but once marriage and children come along, they prefer to make that the priority in their lives.

H/T: Choice for Childcare