Once again, the Republicans are trying to convince women that the Democrat fight for our rights is condescending. And once again, their feet are lodged in their throats up to their thighs.
“When it comes to employment, the fact is many women seek jobs that provide more flexibility for their family over more money, which is the choice that I made as a young working mom,” Jenkins said.
Of course, loads of studies still find a significant gap even when you account for the differences in jobs. That is, when Dad takes the more flexible job so he can drive the kids everywhere they need to go, he still tends to get paid more than the women doing precisely the same work he’s doing as they care for their kids. Or when Mom is the big earner putting in the wild hours, she tends to be paid less than the guys doing the same work.
So this point completely misses the boat. One could understand if employers tended to reward employees they perceived as working harder, and it just happened that most of the ones putting in long hours and all that were male. But that’s just not the whole story:
One economist testified to Congress that hundreds of studies have consistently found unexplained pay differences which potentially include discrimination.:80 Another criticized these studies as insufficiently controlled, and opined that men and women would have equal pay if they made the same choices and had the same experience, education, etc.: Other studies have found direct evidence of discrimination. For example, fewer replies to identical resumes with female names:10 and more jobs went to women when orchestras moved to blind auditions.
Even people who intend to be perfectly fair and unbiased aren’t, because evolution just didn’t favor that outcome. Our unconscious minds take all sorts of shortcuts that doubtless saved our lives many years ago, but today result in irrelevancies like the inability to picture a woman directing a film or ordering troops into battle, or a man knitting or tending kids. If employers are aware that we are hard-wired to have such biases, and systems are put in place that force us to account for precisely why we ignored a certain resume, for example, they can do better.
But it may also be a myth that women choose jobs that are more flexible to give them better options for combining career and family. From the above Wikipedia link:
However, Jerry A. Jacobs and Ronnie Steinberg, as well as Jennifer Glass separately, found that male-dominated jobs actually have more flexibility and autonomy than female-dominated jobs, thus allowing a person, for example, to more easily leave work to tend to a sick child. Similarly, Heather Boushey stated that men actually have more access to workplace flexibility and that it is a “myth that women choose less-paying occupations because they provide flexibility to better manage work and family.”
In my experience, low-paying jobs do not correlate with flexibility. The paralegal is chained to her desk while the lawyer is out and about most of the day, maybe at court, maybe seeing a client, maybe at his kid’s soccer game, maybe scoring drugs. Who knows? The receptionist has to ask someone to cover her for a bathroom break – if she wants to leave for her kids, it is a Huge Big Deal in which the company scrambles to discover Whether Anyone Else Knows How This Switchboard Works and can drop their uber-important work to cover it. And 99% of the time, it’s a woman who fills in, no matter what her position is. Most people in offices have no idea where their bosses are, but their bosses know precisely where they are or else there’s hell to pay. So… where’s that flexibility, again?
The reality is: people perceive men as more valuable in many occupations, and those occupations command higher wages because they are perceived as something men are good at. No one pictures a man for their administrative assistant, so it remains a low paying job. Additionally, employers steer women into lower-paying jobs. I’ve lost track how many women, myself included, were advised in film school to go into production, not directing. Many of the men offering this advice may have been well-intentioned: they just couldn’t picture a woman they love going through the sometimes brutal work of directing a movie or TV show, while production is something you can do from a nice little office. But others simply will not even consider women for directing positions, preferring to pay Guild fines for discrimination and continue hiring men – including far younger and less experienced men (and directing is one of those few occupations where age is respected and valued).
I can’t resist sharing some anecdotal evidence. I used to temp, which means I filled in on jobs where other employees had washed out, taken time off, etc. I’ve had bosses tell me straight to my face that hiring women sucks because they just go off and leave the company to have babies anyway (and the fact that they said this to a young female temp who might be hoping to find a permanent job speaks volumes to how unaware they even are that there’s anything wrong with what they just said). I’ve heard employers – including female employers – moan about why anyone needs as much time off as they’re taking. I’ve heard employers complain that someone who went on maternity leave a few days or weeks before her due date must’ve just been lazy and gotten her doctor to lie about her needing bed rest.
If it was just about having kids, you’d expect to see childless women on par with men for earnings. But instead, employers invest less in women generally, because any woman is perceived as someone who might dump them to have babies. And men are not, even though some do precisely that these days.
That Wikipedia link is overflowing with citations of studies verifying this very sort of thing. One that goes straight to the heart of the argument that if women didn’t take time off to have kids, they’d get paid the same:
In a subsequent audit study, Correll et al. found that actual employers discriminate against mothers when making evaluations that affect hiring, promotion, and salary decisions, but not against fathers. The researchers review results from other studies and argue that the motherhood role exists in tension with the cultural understandings of the “ideal worker” role and this leads evaluators to expect mothers to be less competent and less committed to their job. Fathers do not experience these types of workplace disadvantages as understandings of what it means to be a good father are not seen as incompatible with understandings of what it means to be a good worker.
Your side is clearly losing when a single Wikipedia article offers credible studies that shoot down every argument you have. And it does. If only the GOP was interested in fact-based debate. Or had the basic sense to understand that facts are important to reality.