NYT: Why Gender Equality Stalled

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  • #140612
    asunshineasunshine
    Participant

    Why Gender Equality Stalled

    “So, especially when women are married to men who work long hours, it often seems to both partners that they have no choice. Female professionals are twice as likely to quit work as other married mothers when their husbands work 50 hours or more a week and more than three times more likely to quit when their husbands work 60 hours or more.

    The sociologist Pamela Stone studied a group of mothers who had made these decisions. Typically, she found, they phrased their decision in terms of a preference. But when they explained their “decision-making process,” it became clear that most had made the “choice” to quit work only as a last resort — when they could not get the flexible hours or part-time work they wanted, when their husbands would not or could not cut back their hours, and when they began to feel that their employers were hostile to their concerns. Under those conditions, Professor Stone notes, what was really a workplace problem for families became a private problem for women.

    This is where the political gets really personal. When people are forced to behave in ways that contradict their ideals, they often undergo what sociologists call a “values stretch” — watering down their original expectations and goals to accommodate the things they have to do to get by. This behavior is especially likely if holding on to the original values would exacerbate tensions in the relationships they depend on.”

    #140617
    G3PGY4G3PGY4
    Participant

    Thanks for this asunshine! I used all my personal time this morning on Beyonce’s documentary but I will read this later! I actually came on here to post about what she said about working motherhood, and womanhood in general.

    anyway, l look forward to reading this and seeing what everyone has to say.

    Have a good day ladies!

    #140618
    Doc201XDoc201X
    Participant

    Beyonce, with all the crotch thrusting she does, is part of the reason why gender equality will stay stalled! 😡

    Given that fact, what contribution could she possibly make to conversations about motherhood or womanhood?

    And don’t get me started on that nasty, tacky GQ cover and photos. 😡

    #140621
    G3PGY4G3PGY4
    Participant

    Our goal should be to develop work-life policies that enable people to put their gender values into practice. So let’s stop arguing about the hard choices women make and help more women and men avoid such hard choices. To do that, we must stop seeing work-family policy as a women’s issue and start seeing it as a human rights issue that affects parents, children, partners, singles and elders. Feminists should certainly support this campaign. But they don’t need to own it.

    That about says it.

    In defense of Beyonce: she is a talented singer and dancer, a phenomenal business woman, and a successful wife and mother. R&B music has always been about sensuality and love. Yes, in these times, sexuality is less of a private matter than it has been in the past. It goes both ways — a Trey Songz show is multiple times more explicit, and he is probably shirtless. But this is a woman singing about making love to her husband. The first time I heard Run the World (Girls) and she said we’re “strong enough to bear the children… then get back to business,” I cheered because I felt empowered as a working mother. And she speaks explicitly to womanhood and working motherhood in this documentary.

    “nobody knew I was pregnant [during the Billboard awards performance of Girls]… and i’m cool with that — I’m not interested in a free ride. But it absolutely proved to me that women have to work harder to make it in this world… money gives men the power to run the show… to define our values… at the end of the day it’s not about equal rights it’s about how we think…we have to step up as women and… reach as high as humanly possible…”

    anyway, that’s my perspective. The GQ shoot was hot. Like I said, she’s in the business of selling sex. At the end of the day she writes music about love and sex, and she does a great job of making people dance to it. I respect her hustle and the fact that she has successfully kept her family bond intact, which is also witnessed in beautiful moments on film.

    annnyway I’m clearly a little obsessed with Beyonce. But Stephanie Coontz is an interesting scholar. I like her work. Thanks for sharing!

    #140623
    Doc201XDoc201X
    Participant

    Trey Songz? Honey pul-eeze, who says HE speaks to human sexuality? I don’t even consider him true R&B, banging headboards? Really, dude?????

    However I agree, Beyonce has an AMAZING amount of talent. Which makes her photos in a men’s magazine with her drawz on all the more disturbing.

    Beyonce’s “obligation” isn’t just to herself, it’s too her RACE. And when she parades around half naked, giving labia majora shots to any one who wants one, she DIMINISHES ALL Black women! Talk about a gender AND a racial setback!!

    BTW, have you ever seen Diana Ross’ crotch? Or Barbara Streisand’s? And please don’t go the Madonna route, everyone knows her “reputation” is suspect!

    #140624
    G3PGY4G3PGY4
    Participant

    I don’t want to hijack this thread so I will start another one.

    #140633
    sahmdsahmd
    Participant

    Back to gender equality…I liked the end of the article, especially the paragraphs asunshine quoted. Pamela Stone wrote “Opting Out? Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home,” which is an excellent book about the reality of why women make the “choice” to stop working.

    #140635
    G3PGY4G3PGY4
    Participant

    So do you think that the “human rights” approach to work life balance that ms Coontz advocates is a feasible way to go?

    #140636
    sahmdsahmd
    Participant

    Anonymamanous, it is hard to say without some specifics. Would these policies have to be heavily subsidized by the taxpayers? I get the impression that that is what happens in Europe. Or would businesses find it advantageous in the long run to treat their employees better? What should our “rights” as employees be — ability to take time off as needed (short-term or long-term, paid or unpaid), equal hourly pay for part-time workers, equal benefits or pro-rated benefits for part-time workers, equal opportunity for promotion for part-time workers, company provision of childcare or eldercare, company provision of training upon re-entry? I think all of those things would be nice, but I am not sure if they would place undue burdens on businesses or taxpayers.

    You would think that retaining good employees who are already trained is better than having to replace people who need more flexibility than a company is willing to provide. I am happy to have flexibility in my job, but I can recognize that it is more complicated for my employer.

    #140641
    clee03mclee03m
    Participant

    One of my friends was hired by a law firm who paid a head hunter to get her. She got pregnant in 6 months of working there, and the company paid 3 months of paid leave when she had her baby. When she came back from her maternity leave, they refused to allow her a place to pump even though it would’ve been as easy as putting a lock on her office door. Her baby was not adjusting to daycare at all, and she begged for just a few more weeks unpaid leave for her to find a nanny. They refused. So she quit. I can tell you that she is a hard worker and very good at what she does. Law review, federal clerkship, very specialized in what she does, so good that despite this stunt she pulled, she got another job in a very prestigious firm elsewhere. A little flexibility and the firm would have been able to keep her.

    #140682
    G3PGY4G3PGY4
    Participant

    [quote=sahmd]Anonymamanous, it is hard to say without some specifics. Would these policies have to be heavily subsidized by the taxpayers? I get the impression that that is what happens in Europe. Or would businesses find it advantageous in the long run to treat their employees better? What should our “rights” as employees be — ability to take time off as needed (short-term or long-term, paid or unpaid), equal hourly pay for part-time workers, equal benefits or pro-rated benefits for part-time workers, equal opportunity for promotion for part-time workers, company provision of childcare or eldercare, company provision of training upon re-entry? I think all of those things would be nice, but I am not sure if they would place undue burdens on businesses or taxpayers.

    You would think that retaining good employees who are already trained is better than having to replace people who need more flexibility than a company is willing to provide. I am happy to have flexibility in my job, but I can recognize that it is more complicated for my employer. [/quote]

    you raise interesting points. I think it has to come from government and private companies. The culture of business has to become more friendly to families, and the government has to work to make that easier on businesses. I liked the ideas you had, and I think that perhaps this is something we need to take on as a culture so that all people support and benefit from it, without feeling like we are “paying for other people’s way” or something like that.

    I think it starts though with a change in mentality that brings the pendulum back into balance. Betty Friedan had us ( or our parents) thinking home and family life were a prison. Women now are re-realizing the importance of home and fulfillment that a balanced family life can bring. My mother’s generation had to act like they were no different from men so that they could have the same opportunities as men. Now that we (mostly) have those opportunities, can we turn our fight to making sure that the family, the fundamental unit of society, is supported by our business and government culture? Sure, some professions will be easier to work with than others. But instead of using taxpayer money to subsidize daycare, housing, and food for mothers who don’t work (and I do see this, often), why don’t we help women who do work be more effective by helping them balance their lives with institutional support?

    #140703
    AmmaMDAmmaMD
    Participant

    I think there’s a fundamental problem going on here. I remember worrying a number of years ago that really, honestly, the most efficient way to make most of society – business as well as all major service functions, such as doctors, teachers, scientists, anything – was to skim off the people who were the very best at what you need done, put a bunch of resources into training them great, and then somehow convince them to work a gazillion hours. Because once you’ve picked the best person, trained them, and gotten them all set up with benefits and a bunch of information in their head and such, it’s always more efficient to just have them work more than to hire someone else as well.

    Then I decided no, no, there are tons of advantages to people working less that will outweigh this – they’re more balanced people, more productive, whatever if they don’t work ALL the time. Surely that will save us.

    And then I read a book that actually looked at the data of what’s happened to work hours in various professions over the past 30 years, and it’s really alarming – professional jobs’ hours have gone WAY WAY up since the 1970s. Most of the recenly groundbreaking women in our profession? They got where they are in a time when the job was just completely different. It’s true for everything with lots of training, including law, business, whathaveyou. And then of course the opposite types of jobs are collapsing the other way – few hours, moved around all the time, because you’re basically a replaceable interchangeable widget.

    The problem, then, is that for any given business, they’re better off working you to the bone and saying to heck with your family life / ability to even have a family. Yes, there’s some point at which they lose good people – but if they can convince you that you’re doing such important things and the only way to do such amazing work is to put off having kids for an extra decade and then hire out most of the work, they’ll do that. That’s their incentive. Is that best for society, though? Well, it depends on how you calculate it.

    Point being, though: I worry that there IS no free market solution to this.

    #140707
    annie501annie501
    Participant

    Amma, what book is this? I’m interested. Maybe it will make me feel better about myself and my somewhat stunted career 🙂

    #140720
    AmmaMDAmmaMD
    Participant

    It was Mothers on the Fast Track:

    That’s by no means the main thing it’s about, but it’s the biggest thing I took away from it!

    #140723
    Doc201XDoc201X
    Participant

    Gender equality stalled due to the combination of women entering the workforce with “entitled” attitudes combined with a workplace that treats employees as disposable entities.

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