Friday, July 16, 2010

Women in the Workplace

My thoughts are not organizing well today, so this may be a little disjointed. I hope you will understand, since there are many angles from which one might approach the topic.

First, let us consider the wage gap. I am also feeling a bit unmotivated today, so I shall just direct you here to read a thorough yet concise, fact driven, examination of the issue. Having grown up around the supergirls of my generation, I have no doubt that there is no inherent reason women, on average, should be less qualified for any but some of the most physically taxing jobs than men are on average. Thus the fact that there is a gender wage gap seems like a grave injustice.

Although the above article mentions it, I believe it is worth addressing the issue of "women's work." Society normalizes men holding jobs in the public sector while women do domestic work. While this can be disheartening to women desiring traditional jobs, or emasculating to men feeling more comfortable in a domestic role, I think the greatest problem with this state of affairs is the difference in value that these roles receive. An obvious way to recognize this difference is to examine the wages of those in the different roles. Professional domestic workers are not the best compensated laborers, and the difference is even more marked when a women does the domestic work for her own family, usually earning no pay at all.

I think that good goals for a just society are, elimination of statistically significant pay gaps between genders in most professions, elimination of gender based association with the public/private workforce, a more equal valuation of work done in the two sectors (public and private). Due to our cultural conditioning it may seem odd to consider private work valuable, but consider which creates more human pleasure overall, two hours of a stockbroker trading and advising clients, or two hours spent preparing a warm meal for a family. I submit that, were both two be neglected, we would miss the meal more than the stock advice.

As mentioned, I am feeling unmotivated, and now very tired, so I am going to skip my customary editing read through. Please excuse the lack of polish on this, I'll delete this paragraph if I get around to revisions later.


Frank said...

When Jayne left her job in WI the guy who replaced her was given $10,000 more, despite the fact that he had less experience. As far as missing the dinner over the stiock advice. Duh!

Cameo said...

I feel like playing devil's advocate a little bit, mostly because I can... (But to do so I feel a burning need to first preface what I will be saying with this: I firmly and adamantly believe that disparities between the wages of men and women are ludicrous. And I agree that there should be some policy enacted at the federal level that eliminates this gap. With that...)

Do you have any thoughts on some of the evolutionary differences between men and women? For instance, at least in Western cultures, men and women tend to interact with one another very differently. Women tend to be more apparently social, talking and chatting with one another, whether or not they have anything to say. This manner of layering their conversations over one another is a means of connecting and indicating to the other person that they are actively involved in the conversation. Men on the other hand tend to have more stilted conversations, waiting for the other person to finish speaking before responding. This halted manner of conversing reflects a competition for status, where interrupting is a sign of disrespect. Though this is only laterally related to the subject of work...

Do you have any thoughts on the idea that men and women are evolutionarily suited to different kinds of work? (I'm not sure it applies, the evolutionary developments that is, as the world we occupy becomes increasingly more automated and mechanized removing any need for someone to do the heavy lifting and saving time so that everyone can take part in the domestic work.

Just a thought...

Kenny said...

I thought the consensus would be dinner is better than stock advice. Yet dinner is worth much less in our economy.

I believe that I did make the qualification that the vast majority, rather than all, jobs should be equally open to men and women. Regarding differences between men and women, I tend to favor the nurture explanation over the nature explanation for most of them. Perhaps it is because I am a guy who's greatest enjoyment is quite possibly long conversations with friends. Though I have yet to see truly deep simultaneous two-way communication. Anyway, even if one gender is more suited to a certain job, given the diversity within a gender it seems unlikely that no one of the opposite gender will be able to do it, so in almost all cases I see no reason to gender segregate jobs.

Kenny said...

I should also mention that I appreciate devil's advocacy, both because it stimulates thought and conversation, and because it is a role that I quite often play myself.