Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dis-Parity

In an otherwise superb article on gender, race, and politics, I came across this gem, “Fredrick Harris, a political scientist at the University of Rochester, sees a post-gender future out there, and its name is Condoleezza Rice. The secretary of state, he notes, "is unmarried, has no children, is completely dedicated to her job, for pleasure she plays the piano and works and that's about it."” Directly related to the argument that Annie and David Kelsey have been having on his blog about gender parity, this comment reveals that they are arguing over what is essentially a false choice. The question is not whether women choose more flexible careers and hours because they want to have families, but whether that choice honestly exists in this society. If men had an equal obligation to make that choice, then the issue of gender parity would truly be based on life decisions left to the individual (or to partners). Just as women choose to take the obligations of time-bound halakha, men choose to take the obligations of family. But this choice is not necessary for them to have a family. The “post-gender future,” for women, is to choose between having a family or not. The implication is that you are either a woman, and choose to marry and have children, or you are not a woman, and choose to dedicate your life to your job and playing piano.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Harley,

Where I disagree with you is your implications that this lack of choice is completely a social construct. We are dealing with the birthing process. A mother's milk is considered beneficial to the child by many pediatricians. You are asking that even though women will need to take some time off work if they wish to regularly nurse their children if they have them, that somehow it should still be 50/50 after that period.

Why? One parent has already taken off time from their career. How would that not affect the choice on who will now take time off their career? The precedent is already established at that point. There is a status quo.

AnnieGetYour said...

DK-

ok, so now we can have this fight here. Many companies (including the CIA) have options of in-house daycare and for women to breastfeed at work. Not a huge percentage, but enough that it is a growing trend.

Neither Harley nor I are saying that women should have a 50/50 representation if they take off (significant) time for maternity leave. We are saying that if a woman wishes to have children, in many cases she has no choice but to take significant time off. And then she falls behind in her career.

This is a new model, where after the intial period of 3 months or so (traditional maternity leave) that women can re-integrate into the workforce.

For other examples, see countries such as Denmark, Sweden, and Canada and check out their system. And their numbers for women's participation in the workforce, and women's advancement opportunities.

Anonymous said...

"Denmark, Sweden, and Canada"

There is no doubt these are frequently the countries to watch on many progressive workplace measures. If you want to implement something done there, you are often going to be right.