A woman’s choice — a chip on her shoulder or a baby snuggling in her arms?

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21 Responses

  1. SM says:

    According to the AFL women get 77c for every dollar paid to a man. That is because ‘equal pay for equal work’ is a chimera. In order for the principle to produce genuine equality, women would have to be offered exactly the same opportunities in every job, as men. Otherwise women (and especially coloured women whose position is that they get 68c for every dollar paid to a man) are simply getting equal pay for jobs men do not do.

    So, the proposition implicit in this piece, that the reason for the discrepancy is that men work longer hours is simply wrong. Men may well work longer hours and it may well be that women do not want to work those hours. But that isn’t the foundation of the argument on equal pay. Nor can it be until there is proof that the only jobs which pay well are those demanding long hours, so that the reason women get less than men is because they OPT to do jobs which pay less well and take the equivalent benefit of shorter working hours. That is patently not the case in a country in which 62% of women polled by their Union said they contributed 50% or more of their families income.

    The way to close the gap is to change working practices so that women with children are not penalised in terms of job opportunites; to smash glss ceilings; to encourage women to qualify in business, science and the professions and to restructure commercial hierachys to reward achievement as a proportion of hours spent, rather than rewarding the hours (the average paid leave allocation in America is half that in the UK and perhaps a third of that in mainland Europe).

    Toby Katz and I are agred that women should be valued for what they choose to do. I also take the view that society benefits if men, too, are subject to less pressure at work. That is my conception of a proper regard for family life.

    Where we differ is in taking a real problem which disproportionately affects the poorest and weakest in society – the people we have a mitzvah to support – and using it to make a political point. It is too easy for a largely middle class community to say that women shouldn’t worry about not being paid enough. That isn’t the issue when you’re below the poverty line. And social policies which don’t work for the poorest and the weakest are selfish, and ultimately doomed to failure.

  2. DMZ says:

    Speaking as someone who actually studied labor economics in college, there’s still some very convincing evidence that discrimination is the cause of at least part of the wage gap between men and women. The author of this post does a pretty awful job of actually convincing us that the number should be 20% less than men, rather than 5% or even 25%. That is to say, while Toby accuses economists of not taking all the variables into account (which, IMHO, they do more than she gives them credit for), she herself never bothers to hand us any numbers to feed in, either.

    OTOH, Toby is correct in her thesis that these studies are often politically motivated, if only because the groups in question want to continue the fight. A knight can’t slay a dead dragon, right?

  3. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Note: This post is a wild generalization. Please read everything here with “on the average” and “it appears that” in the appropriate places.

    It seems that Conservatives (the political group, not the Jewish denomination) reproduce themselves by having many children. Liberals tend to reproduce themselves by getting into education, at all levels from pre-K to University, and convincing kids growing up to be Liberals.

  4. Tal Benschar says:

    Just confirms Mark Twain’s famous line that there are “Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics.”

  5. rejewvenator says:

    What young women too often don’t know is that pregnancy can be exciting, that childbirth can be exhilarating, that taking care of a soft and cuddlesome baby can be the most rewarding and delicious thing you ever do in your whole life. Why should a woman want to be a man when our lives are so rich in ways that men can never know?!

    Yup, you’ve nailed it! Too few women don’t know that taking care of a baby is “rewarding and delicious”. What a ridiculous straw man! But that’s not even the winner here – the question at the end of the paragraph is what I resented most. As far as I know, women don’t want to be men, and the desire to have a career, or to be a primary breadwinner is not the same as desiring to be a man. I think most men would agree that it is rather demeaning to be defined by the income we produce. I also think it’s foolish to suggest that the richness in a life built around childcare is restricted solely to women. You merely betray your own gender stereotypes when you suggest that men are incapable of partaking in that experience.

    To be honest, the whole post was an appeal to emotions cloaked in some kind of anti-left rant. Yes, babies are cuter than jobs (of course, teenagers are far less cute than jobs, and we all know what babies turn into…) How this has anything to do with equal pay for equal work, a goal which we’ve most certainly NOT achieved in this country, I have yet to figure out. I’m sure though, that wherever we do stand on equal pay for equal work, we’re certainly further along towards the goal then we were one hundred years ago, and we didn’t get there thanks to women who ‘had the luxury of kissing their babies any time they wanted.’

  6. Micha Berger says:

    Umm, Rn Katz… The statistic is comparing EMPLOYED women to EMPLOYED men. The comparative percentage of women who choose to be unemployed or semi-employed has nothing to do with it.


  7. Tal Benschar says:

    “Umm, Rn Katz… The statistic is comparing EMPLOYED women to EMPLOYED men. The comparative percentage of women who choose to be unemployed or semi-employed has nothing to do with it.”

    I think some of the commentors are missing the point. Every job involves tradeoffs. Some have better benefits packages, some have better pay, some are more demanding in terms of hours expected, later work, work on weekends, travel expected, etc., etc.

    In a free-market system, one would expect that the more hassles and demands a job will have, the more pay (or benefits) an employer must offer to get someone to take the job.

    Conversely, a person who values alot of free time — who does not want to travel much, and wants to work evenings and weekends rarely, if at all, will in most professions have to compromise some pay, and may even be foreclosed from some professions demanding years of schooling and training (e.g. medicine, law). That’s why, for example, teaching is dominated by women.

    It is a fact that many women are more involved in raising children — especially young children who are not yet in school or only in early grades — than men are. For these women, long hours, unpredictable hours, high travel demands, etc. are not acceptable. For such women, the time they can spend with their children on nights (or even afternoons) and weekends is traded off for lower pay — whether within the same profession or in choice of profession itself.

    (I once had a high school chemistry teacher who illustrates the point. She had been a chemical engineer prior to her marriage, had a Masters in Chemistry and was working on her doctorate. She took a break from her career and taught high school because she had two children and wanted to be there for them when they were growing up. Teaching school allowed her to get out every day at 2:45 p.m., plus no work on weekends, other than occassional marking of tests and exams. Once kids were in high school, she returned to engineering.)

    If you compare all employed women to all employed men in the U.S. or in any given state, then women in the aggregate will have lower pay, because, in the aggregate, many women have accepted lower pay for convenient hours to allow time for raising children.

  8. Bob Miller says:

    The full implementation of the feminist dream would cause societies to run out of people. Partial implementation has already caused societies to partially run out of people.

  9. Toby Katz says:

    Re Comment #6 by Micha Berger:
    “The statistic is comparing EMPLOYED women to EMPLOYED men. The comparative percentage of women who choose to be unemployed or semi-employed has nothing to do with it.”

    Employed women in the aggregate make less than employed men in the aggregate because, after having taken off a few years to raise children, or after having made the choice to take an easier job with shorter hours, a 45-year-old woman is simply not at the same place in her career as a 45-year-old man.

    For all the rest of you who tried to argue with me, thank you for all the superfluous little dots in an illusionary picture that has already been painted, and painted, and painted in the MSM ad infinitum.

    There is no need for me to refute all this nonsense as it has already been done abundantly by numerous economists, sociologists and researchers.

    BTW in re black women — they earn MORE as a percentage of what black men earn than women in any other ethnic or sociological grouping. The reason the black gender gap is so small is that, for many cultural reasons known to us all, black men earn less than other men. Those AFL statistics posted by SM are thirty years out of date and totally bogus. “Coloured women get 68c for every dollar paid to a man.” Are we now comparing black women to black men or to white men? If the latter, then you need to overhaul the educational system to narrow the gap — not pay the cleaning lady a CEO’s salary.

    Surveys show that black parents favor vouchers and want their kids out of the public schools. Teachers’ unions (so heavily white and Jewish) oppose vouchers for abundantly obvious reasons involving nothing but raw self-interest. Liberals’ and blacks’ interests in this matter, as in so many, do not coincide at all.

    As to the pointillist propaganda dots above, see inter alia the review of Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap And What Women Can Do About It by Warren Farrell.

    Also see “The Truth About the Pay Gap” by Steve Chapman.

  10. SM says:

    I don’t understand why such bare assertions are good enough. The statistics were complied in 2005. Why are they ‘totally bogus’? What evidence is there of that? Or is it just an assumption because they are uncomfortable reading and don’t fit the right picture.

    And the argument about black people is condescending. If black women earn more of the percentage that black men earn than white women re white men, that is because black people are discriminated against in the workplace. How on earth can that support an argument that paying anyone less than someone else is acceptable? I simply canot understand the reasoning.

    The appropriate response would be that black men are ALSO victims of discrimination. That, of course, is a point that undermines the whole basis of TK’s post. But that is no excuse for spinning the facts. Rather, it is proof that this is sloppy thinking compounded by poor argument.

  11. Yoni doe says:

    “As Orthodox women, we have the special honor and privilege—and pleasure! —of nurturing babies and children, of bringing new Jews into the world and raising them to carry into the future the torch we ourselves were handed from the past.”

    “Don’t let their ugly subliminal messages destroy our pleasure in bringing up our precious Jewish children!”

    Isn’t it then just a tad ironic that more and more in the Yeshivish and Chareidi worlds young woman are essentially being forced out of this very important role to provide for their families while their husbands sit and learn?

    In total contradiction to Mrs. Katz’s well stated critique of secular feminist idealogy Bais Yaakovs and Seminaries are selling this lifestyle to their students as some sort of religious ideal.

    So in many frum circles the mothers run off early to work, at substandard pay because professional training is now being shunned, while the fathers leisurly bring their babies to the babysitter on their way to a day in the beis medresh.

    Sounds every bit like an arrangement the feminists would applaud.

  12. Tal Benschar says:

    “I don’t understand why such bare assertions are good enough. The statistics were complied in 2005. Why are they ‘totally bogus’? What evidence is there of that? ”

    The bogus quality is not the raw data but its organization and interpretation. By lumping together all employed women and all employed men in the U.S. (or in given states), the article fails to account for tradeoffs made by women which I discussed.

    “And the argument about black people is condescending.”

    No it isn’t, its statistically accurate. A large number of black men are incarcerated; not so for black women. If you aggregate each gender within that community, one should not be surprised that men IN THE AGGREGATE are behind, given that many are in prison earning little or nothing, and even those out of prison are likely to make, on average, lesser salaries. Prison tends to be a real resume buster. (Not clear if those actually in prison are included, but certainly those released and employed are.)

    Not to mention lower education rates — again something not adjusted for.

    SM– your problem is that you assume any statistical difference must be due to discrimination. There are many other factors which may account for the difference.

  13. SM says:

    No Tal – you didn’t read my first post. I dealt with the point by asking where the evidence was that women got paid less because they OPTED for less demanding jobs. You have given me one anecdotal story about your chemistry teacher. You take the statistics and interpret them as you like – but there is no evidence of that being right.

    I repeat, it is unlikely to be right – as neatly demonstrated by your point about black people. IF the reason why black man are paid less is that they are in prison – a dubious argument in that it assumes that even the US’s disproprtionately high prison population registers in the statistics – then black women should be CLOSER to what black men earn. Why? Because, on your argument, they would be more likely to work long hours as they are then the only income earners. And there are less black men earning.

    In fact, black women are even further behind black men than white women are behind white men. On any rigorous analysis, one cannot describe TK’s argument re black people as ‘ accurate’.

    I don’t assume anything. But there is good evidence of discrimination and there is only anecdotal evidence of women voluntarily taking less well paid jobs – still less of black people doing so. The ad hominem attacks on the collators of the statistics adds to the impression that there is no argument of substance here – merely an argument of political wishful thinking.

    Anyone can say ‘I think this and if anyone disagrees with me, their argument is because they have a set of political beliefs I don’t like and their evidence is bogus’. Anyone can say it. But it’s still vapid.

  14. Toby Katz says:

    “Isn’t it then just a tad ironic that more and more in the Yeshivish and Chareidi worlds young woman are essentially being forced out of this very important role to provide for their families while their husbands sit and learn?” — Yoni Doe

    I happen to agree with you and I think that there are many unfortunate aspects to the modern phenomenon of “kollel feminism.” The pressure on kollel wives to earn like secular career women while breeding like chassidim is simply inhuman.

  15. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Toby Katz: The pressure on kollel wives to earn like secular career women while breeding like chassidim is simply inhuman.

    Ori: Do any Gedolim say that? If so, why do the husband learn when the greatest Torah scholars of the generation say they should go earn a living? If not, why do they turn a blind eye to inhuman treatment of people within their society?

  16. Toby Katz says:

    SM: I provided links that you evidently did not follow, see my comment #9 above

    Ori Pomerantz: Your questions need a book to answer. I’m working on it. Short answer: the gedolim deal with these issues in varying ways.

  17. Miriam Shear says:

    “Short answer: the gedolim deal with these issues in varying ways.”

    Comment by Toby Katz — May 4, 2007 @ 12:27 am

    Oh, yes, they sure do. These are some of the “varying ways” they “deal with it”:

    1) In NY and Lakewood, many Jewish kinderlach learn a good Polish from the Polish nanny/housekeeper while Mommy slaves away to make parnassa while Tattie learns in Beis Midrash all day. Seriously, I know kids who don’t know English or Yiddish, but they would make it around Warsaw wiht no problem.

    2) Mommy’s parents have 2nd mortgaged their home, gone into debt, and work well into retirement to subsidize their talmid chacham son-in-law because their daughter’s teaching salary just ain’t cutting it

    3) Section 8 housing, food stamps, WIC –
    The whole system is sick and fraught with abuse and neglected children. Then everyone wonders why little Shmulie and sweet little Rivkie go off the derech when they’re a little older. It started when Mommy ran out the door as soon as she could after Shmulie and Rivkie were born to go back to her Bais Yaakov teaching job while still trying to nurse, still trying to be a good wife, still trying to be a Rachel to her Akiva, still trying to take care of the other children, etc – and, oh yes, somewhere in there try to find a few minutes to take care of herself. Ahh, but the most that will ever come to mean is dropping off her sheitel for a wash and set and taking a few moments to read the new tznius guidelines, because you see, it’s all YOUR fault overworked Mommy, that klal Yisrael has all these problems. You’re just not tznius enough. Mrs. Katz is right – it takes a book to answer Ori Pomerantz’s questions. What I want to know is: When do we all stop playing this stupid, self-destructive game, wake up and smell the coffee, and tell these husbands to go out and get a job? When they do, they’ll be in good company – Rambam, the Abarbanel, etc.

  18. Jody says:

    Mrs. Shear has obviously no familiarity with Lakewood. It is so sad to see how someone needs to lie to prove an assumption. I am a well known community activist, and through my involvement know hundreds of kollel wives. The total percentage of women I know who use Polish nannies for childcare is…zero. I know of one (1) woman whose husband is working, and has been since shortly after marriage, who uses a polish childcare worker.

    Whoever you are, Mrs. Shear, please don’t embarrass yourself by what amounts to sheer libel. And feel free to come visit Lakewood, where you will find countless women who work as wonderful babysitters/playgroup workers. You may not like this arrangement (do I care? We’re quite happy with our arrangements, so perhaps save your sympathy for those who need it), but you WILL have a chance to be aquainted with the facts.

  19. Shira Schmidt says:

    19 bIyyar An offSHOOT of the concept of equality is gender egalitarianism in the army. See Haaretz article April 29 “Is the IDF ready for women in combat?” at http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/853238.html
    “Lowering standards to integrate female fighters detracts from a unit’s preparedness for the reality of battle…The result is that lives will be lost and missions will be harmed. If the tendency [to integrate women into combat units] …is accepted, military culture will change. They’re trying to make the [Israeli] army gentler and more sensitive, but this is the only army you’ve got. There is no substitute for it.”

  20. Charles B. Hall says:

    Just confirms Mark Twain’s famous line that there are “Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics.”

    The question of how much of the pay gap, which does exist, is due to discrimination and how much to choices is a matter for empirical research and the answer has important public policy consequences. (I personally am not familiar with the current research on this issue and will therefore withold comment on the substantive issue.) The people who are attempting to address this issue empirically should not be dissed.

    Equal pay for equal work has been the law in the United States since 1963, and equal hiring and promotion since 1964, but the fact that there continue to be successful discrimination lawsuits show that at least some employers don’t play by the rules.

    (Full disclosure: I have a PhD in biostatistics and work as a statistician at a medical school.)

  21. Bob Miller says:

    Charles B. Hall said, “the fact that there continue to be successful discrimination lawsuits show that at least some employers don’t play by the rules.”

    Charles, as a statistician, can you show that the number of employers losing these suits is significant?

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