Women As Half the Workforce Does Not Equal Equality

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6 Responses

  1. AYY says:

    I think a better question to consider is whether the line of inquiry described in your posting is well advised.

    You assume equality means identity of outcomes, when to most of us it means equality of opportunity. Unless you can explain why identity of outcomes is important, your argument doesn’t get very far.

    Your statement that women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn doesn’t mean much because you haven’t said anything about controlling for the nature of the job and experience. If men get a disproportionate number of degrees in engineering, and women get a disproportionate number of degrees in women’s studies and sociology, then that might have something to do with the wage differential

    You end by saying you will describe some of the challenges and opportunities for equality in marriage law. The tenor of your posting suggests that you don’t mean how the law might be changed to make it more difficult for women to get ex parte restraining orders kicking men out of their homes, or how to even up the chances for men in custody disputes, or whether the repeal of the Bradley amendment might be a good idea so that men who are out of work don’t get tossed in jail for failing to pay child support that far exceeds what they’re currently making.

    As it is men are avoiding marriage in droves because the legal system is so stacked against them if things don’t work out. Proposals for equality in marriage by an advocate for equal outcomes might be an interesting intellectual exercise, but will do nothing to reverse this trend. They will simply foster a climate of male-bashing, and will result in more and more single moms.

  2. Orin Kerr says:


    Can you offer a test — or, perhaps, a few tests — that you think we should use to identify when we have a state of true equality?

  3. Alicia Kelly says:

    Thanks Orin. You (and the earlier commenter in a different way) ask an important question: what is the content of equality? I don’t think there is one answer to that, but I hope its possible to develop some general principles. I am exploring the question in current project on gender and the family economy (partly previewed in my post).

    I don’t see equality as a status that is achieved, once and for all. It is dynamic ideal to work toward and it can mean different things in different contexts. One understanding I like is that equality is a commitment to a process that takes into account the needs and goals of all individuals in a shifting environment. That means each person would have power to influence their environment to develop and serve their well being. Influence doesn’t mean you always get what you want. But the framework supports every person’s voice in determining outcomes. Women as a group have less power to shape their access economic resources—one measure of well being. And law has a role to play in that.

  4. JD says:

    “Women as a group have less power to shape their access economic resources—one measure of well being.”

    But don’t women,at least married women, also have MORE power than men to decide whether they want to work for wages full-time, part-time, or not at all? There are far more SAHMs than SAHDs, and I know of many women who decided they didn’t want to work anymore after their first or second kid, sometimes over hubby’s objection. I don’t know of any guy whose done the same (I know there are some, I’m talking about my wide range of acquaintances).

    Most jobs suck. Married women, but not men, tend to be the ones with the power to opt out of them.

  5. AYY says:

    This is from Dr. Helen’s blog:
    “I read a short book from Encounter Books today entitled How Obama’s Gender Policies Undermine America. The book highlights how women are doing much better than men in today’s America. They live longer, face a significantly lower unemployment rate, are awarded substantially more BAs, and MAs and have lower rates of incarceration, alcoholism, and drug abuse. Career feminists constantly harp on how women need government intervention and hand-holding because they are treated unfairly. For the most part, however, women in the academic world are treated better than men. The author, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, makes an important point:

    …in some cases, women are treated better than men when it comes to academic tenure positions. Between 1999 and 2003, according to the National Academy of Sciences, although women only represented 11 percent of tenure-track job applicants in electrical engineering and 12 percent of applicants in physics, they received 32 percent and 20 percent of the job offers in these fields, respectively.

    Not that it would help, but maybe some of these “feminists” (more like female-privilege specialists) who insist on more and more affirmative action for women in the academic world should read a book that tells a more realistic account of what is really happening with many males in our society: Boys in Poverty: A Framework for Understanding Dropout.”


  6. Alicia Kelly says:

    There have been a few comments expressing concern about some challenges that men face. It might be helpful to know that most feminists, including me, value and advocate equality of status for all persons, regardless of gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or socioeconomic class. Feminist concerns do include equality for men. Specifically, I share your concern that men’s opportunities for caregiving should be expanded.