Do Women Really Want Equality?

Not one imagined strictly by numbers

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The fall season in gender-gap news has started early and with a bang. A study released yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that male doctors earn over 25% more than female doctors. Why am I not surprised? There is a constant stream of stories showing gender disparities like this: that Obama gave only 35% of Cabinet-level posts to women, that men still write 87% of Wikipedia entries, that they are approximately 80% of local news-television and radio managers, and over 75% of philosophers.

After decades of antidiscrimination laws, diversity initiatives and feminist advocacy, such data leads to an uncomfortable question: Do women actually want equality? The answer seems transparently, blindingly, obvious. Do women want to breathe fresh air? Do they want to avoid rattlesnakes and fatal heart attacks?

But from another perspective, the answer is anything but clear. In fact, there’s good reason to think that women don’t want the sort of equality envisioned by government bureaucrats, academics and many feminist advocates, one imagined strictly by the numbers with the goal of a 50-50 breakdown of men and women in C-suites, law-school dean offices, editorial boards and computer-science departments; equal earnings, equal work hours, equal assets, equal time changing diapers and doing the laundry. “A truly equal world,” Sheryl Sandberg wrote in Lean In, which is still on the best-seller lists months after its spring publication, “would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.” It’s a vision of progress that can only be calculated through the spreadsheets of labor economists, demographers and activist groups.

It would be silly to deny that equality-by-the-numbers researchers can deliver figures that could alarm even an Ann Romney. There’s the puny 4.2% of female Fortune 500 CEOs, the mere 23.7% of female state legislators, the paltry 19% of women in Congress. But while “numbers don’t lie,” they can create mirages that convince us we see something we don’t. Take, for example, the JAMA study about the pay gap between male and female doctors. The study seems to capture yet another example of discrimination against women. But because it fails to consider differences in medical specialty or type of workplace, that appearance may well be an illusion. Surgeons and cardiologists, who have long been in the ranks of the top-earning specialties, remain predominantly male. Meanwhile, as women flooded the profession, they disproportionately chose to become psychiatrists and pediatricians, specialties that have always been among the least lucrative.

(MORE: The Pay Gap Is Not as Bad as You Think)

There are reasons for this particular wage gap that are gender-blind. Surgeons need more years of training, perform riskier work (at least that’s how malpractice insurers see it) and put in more unpredictable hours. Unsurprisingly, according to surveys, women who become doctors approach their work differently than men. They spend more time with each patient; when choosing jobs, they are far more likely to cite time for family and flexible hours as “very important” and to prefer limited management responsibilities. Male doctors, on the other hand, are more likely to think about career advancement and income potential.

This hints at the problem with the equality-by-the-numbers approach: it presumes women want absolute parity in all things measurable, and that the average woman wants to work as many hours as the average man, that they want to be CEOs, heads of state, surgeons and Cabinet heads just as much as men do. But a consistent majority of women, including those working full time, say they would prefer to work part time or not at all; among men, the number is 19%. And they’re not just talking; in actual practice, 27% of working women are on the job only part time, compared with 11% of men.

(MORE: Let’s Not Forget, Many Working Moms Want to Work Less)

Now, a lot of people might say that American women are stymied from pursuing their ambitions because of our miserly maternity leave, day care and workplace-flexibility policies. But even women in the world’s most family-friendly countries show little interest in the equality-by-the-numbers ideal. In Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland, according to the OECD, women still work fewer hours and earn less money than men; they also remain a rare sight in executive offices, computer-science classrooms and, though the OECD doesn’t say it I’m willing to bet, philosophy conferences. Sweden, the gold standard of gender equality in many minds, has one of the highest percentages of women working part time anywhere in the world. Equality-by-numbers advocates should be thinking about women’s progress in terms of what women show that they want, not what the spreadsheets say they should want.

SEE ALSO:  The Big Surprise of Martin Luther King’s Speech 

185 comments
CWinters
CWinters

I can't find a conclusion to the article. Did someone forget to write it? What type of equality do women want, then?

JuliusCaesar
JuliusCaesar

If the women want equal rights then they should take equal obligations. When is peace everything is nice and dandy, but when somebody is attacking your territory where are the females? How many have you seen in the trenches on the front lines? Yes, they stay "home" and take the man's jobs and does not give them back when they return if they return from war.

Is not the male fault that the Nature or God made the female smaller and weaker. The male fault is that they let themselves dragged thru the mud by them after all the sacrifices he does for the country including the ultimate sacrifice. Is like in the book In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks.

I am curious who will defend the chicks when everybody will be a chick.Maybe robots?

I am open to  honest discussion and answers from women.

JuliaCallahan
JuliaCallahan

Is it so fascist of me to wholeheartedly find agreeable interest in this controversial article promoting the general ideology of gender-profession equality rather than my practically expected protest for female empowerment? Maybe I just feel strongly about this because I hold a firm belief in concentration on the bottom line when it comes to business. Either way, this is an insightful read .. gets you thinking.

hopevarnes
hopevarnes

Of course, I want equality, but not as feminist advocates are screaming about. I definitely don't want to be in the boardroom just to make up numbers, so that a company can say that 50% of their decision makers are women. I want to be valued for what I can do, not for my gender. What I want is for society to see that parenthood, raising children, keeping families together, budgeting the family's income are as important and as difficult than running a company or a country. It doesn't matter who does the work, be it man or woman. What I want is the freedom to choose. I feel that men are having a tough time too. A lot of men I know, my husband included, have stalled their career for the sake their family. Two of my friends were house husbands for awhile, while one is still is, to allow their wives to pursue their careers. It takes a lot of guts for them to it  because, let's face it, despite all the equality talks, men are still expected to be the breadwinner in the family. My husband, has refused many time opportunities for promotion and higher salary because he wants to be a hands-on father. And I'm sure there are many men out there who have done the same, and yet they are still being blamed for the so-called gender inequality in society.

KerryGiangobbe
KerryGiangobbe

I don't think women deep down want equality because they feel inferior to men. This is sad. I thank my father even more than my mother for raising strong, independent minded girls. He was my greatest support. He never discriminated against me and taught me as much if not more than his son. I got the message early on from my father that I could be as smart as any boy. He prepared me well for life and supported education for girls as much if not more than for boys. I owe him a great deal especially in the self-esteem department. Women must have good relationships with their fathers to develop good bonds with men. The female bonding is also important, but because mothers come from another generation behind, it can create conflict. Women and girls have greater opportunities now and sometimes other generations vocally resent it. It is a team effort  and life must be about compromise, balance and give and take, which is more important than equality. Also the French say, Vive La Difference!

ronlle
ronlle

Come on, girls, let's hear a justification for the discrimination against men who want to stay at home to raise their family while a women goes off to work.

The truth is women can do either - go to work or stay at home and no one judges them.  Men do not have that choice.  We're treated like crap if we want to stay home and no attractive women will have anything to do with us, much less trudge off to some a$$-kissing job to support us and the kids.

If a man doesn't feel like grubbing for money, he better get used to being single or dating only ugly obese women.

Women are hypocrites.

ronlle
ronlle

Women don't want equality.  Sure, they want equal pay and equal employment opportunities, but when it comes to personal relationships, that don't want, won't tolerate, and will avoid any semblance of an equal relationship.

In the last 5 years, I've gone out on first dates with no less than 50 women who were very interested in me up to the point when I bring up the subject of economic equality in the relationship.  They've all bailed after than and none of them would go out with me a second time. 

Caveat:  these were not ugly obese women.  I expect those women would accept a truly equal relationship.  

Women also expect men to pursue them like they are priceless treasures, pay for all dates, and otherwise prostrate ourselves before them in the hopes of eventually having sex.  Even if the woman makes more money than the man, it doesn't matter - he still has to pay.  It makes me feel like a "John" dating a hooker.

At my age (56) more than half of the women don't even want to have sex - but they won't tell you that.  Instead, they will pretend to long enough to lure you into an emotional attachment and then, once you're hooked,  dole out sex as if it's a valuable commodity for which something of value must be exchanged.

Women don't want equality, they want to be more than equal.  They  want to be superior.

double.dissociation
double.dissociation

Kay Hymowitz’s argument that the wage gap is not a serious issue we should be addressing because it’s not caused by some sort of unfairness but by women’s free rational choices is flawed. There is no rational reason why work traditionally done by women is not viewed as valuable, other than historical precedent. There is no logical way to explain away why a parking lot attendant is doing a more important/arduous job than a childcare provider. Contrary to what Hymowitz says, we should be trying to close the gap. We should be striving for more equal division of housework chores. And we need to reevaluate our priorities as a society, so that we’re not relying on 1800′s precedent for 2013 solutions.


http://disruptingdinnerparties.com/2013/09/06/yes-ms-hymowitz-we-do-want-equality/

Kar
Kar

“Do Women Really Want Equality?” makes the argument that to some extend the wage gap is the result of women’s career choices. The problem is that Ms. Hymowitz attributes the wage gap exclusively to personal choice, thereby ignoring the fact that 40% of the wage gap has been attributed to discrimination (The Economics of Women, Men, and Work).  In addition, the question must be posed why women make choices that will eventually hinder their career, or why a society potentially punishes men and women who decide not to sacrifice their family for their career (for example “Daddy-Tracked: Men Punished at Work for Child Duties”). Eventually Ms. Hymowitz goes so far as to imply that “Equality-by-numbers advocates should be thinking about women’s progress in terms of what women show that they want, not what the spreadsheets say they should want,”  thereby implying that the wage gap is perfectly acceptable since, in her opinion, it is exclusively the result of women’s choices, and thus an expression of progress with respect to gender equality. I find this attempt to develop an argument that distorts evidence of discrimination (even if it is only partially applicable) and turns it into a sign of progress problematic.


Read more: http://ideas.time.com/2013/09/04/do-women-really-want-equality/#ixzz2eLOMsMsq

NakeetaNicol
NakeetaNicol

@SadeInc interesting....an alternative title could have been "what does equality really mean for women?"

TobiWalker
TobiWalker

At different ages and stages of family life women want different things.  More flexibility when children are young, more cutthroat boardroom competition when children are grown.  Can't generalize about women working without factoring in age.

Blackgriffin
Blackgriffin

Of course, women want equality. That's a stupid question. However, equality does not mean being exactly what men are. If we decide to be a CEO, we want the same respect and pay for the same abilities and work. If we decide we would rather raise our families, we don't want to be treated as less than fully adult humans because of that choice. And I have personally experienced a difference in pay from a male in my company who had the same job, less time and less responsibility. I trained him. Yet, I found out he made more than I did. That's full-on gender discrimination. It happens a lot more than this author wants to admit.

SimonPrimer
SimonPrimer

Why would any one expect statistical equality in outcomes when men and women are not equal?


drpatallen
drpatallen

I am a physician who has a solo private practice in New York City.  I completed my training in 1982 and have always worked about 70 hours a week.  I came of age when the opportunity for a woman to have an internship in general surgery at a major teaching hospital was almost unheard of.  I have been so grateful for the opportunities that I had to find a career that was a good fit for my talent and interest. I chose to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology after that internship because I had a passion for women's health, a passion for reproductive freedom and  a passion for running my own practice.  I have had the opportunity to watch women  in my practice over thirty years and understand that the decisions that younger women make regarding life/career "balance" often becomes a choice they wish they had not made when they are 50.  I had two children who are great grown up sons.  I have a wonderful but demanding life but I never expected a "balanced" life.  I urge younger women to think about their future, not just the difficult first ten years of managing home, children, relationship and work.  It really is worth it.  This was a terrific article because it addressed the issue of gender parity in a very clear way.  Work is hard.  Not every woman has to work and not every woman wants to work.  We need to look at the statistics for women who do give work everything that allows them to be competitive and address the imbalances for these women for whom work will never be less than full time.

AdamFreeman
AdamFreeman

Funny that women never pursue the dangerous jobs that pay more money...

WLibertarian
WLibertarian

@ClairLemon I’m just plain tired of elites defining “equality” for men and women. They need to take irony classes.

GloriaGRivera
GloriaGRivera

@85Broads can we see that what it looks like women choices are nothing else but constrained choices? This is not free will!!!

liquidboy
liquidboy

@CWinters The conclusion is the last line in the article. "Equality-by-numbers advocates should be thinking about women’s progress in terms of what women show that they want, not what the spreadsheets say they should want."


The author should have put this in a separate paragraph and fleshed it out a bit. I think by including it in the paragraph about the dearth of working women in the world's most female-friendly countries, the author is suggesting that women want the choice to work full-time, part-time, or to stay at home, and don't want to be dictated to make the choices that by-the-book gender feminists want them to make.

MarcusSG08
MarcusSG08

@JuliaCallahan your not wrong to feel that it cant happen. the whole thing she is only saying is that if it doesnt dont go blaming men or the government first. maybe its an internal difference amongst women that dont want it. we are built different. not less important. so thats really what i have already been thinking and also what i took from it.

JuliaCallahan
JuliaCallahan

@hopevarnes  Great comment! "I want to be valued for what I can do, not for my gender." My point exactly.

J.L.Jean
J.L.Jean

@ronlle 

It's not our fault that a man won't take a woman seriously if she sleeps with him too soon. It's not like I don't want sex, too, but if I actually like a guy and want him to stick around, I HAVE to make him chase me for a bit before I sleep with him, otherwise, adios, I'm never gonna hear from him again afterwards (and so many women including myself have learned this the hard way). He just doesn't find a woman interesting anymore after she has sex with him too soon, even if there's nothing wrong with her and he would have been interested in her if she had waited. This is a known fact that's been written in countless articles and advice columns. Women are forced to play these silly hard-to-get games only because men wouldn't find them desirable if they didn't.

And I WANT to pay for dates. It feels belittling for men to automatically assume that they're more financially capable than I am, so I feel empowered when I get to pay for dates. But when I do, the guys no longer want another date. They get offended, they feel emasculated, and one guy said my behavior was "unfeminine" when I tried to pay for our first date. I never meant to offend any of those guys, I just simply don't believe men should by default be expected to pay.

Eventually, I gave up on principle, and decided it was just more practical to conform to the traditional dating rituals of letting the guy pay and making him chase. Men like to complain about having to pay for dates and work hard for sex, but they wouldn't accept it any other way. Just like most women don't truly want equality, most men don't want equality when it comes to dating either.

If you disagree and think that most men are progressive enough to accept a woman who pays for dates or a woman who doesn't withhold sex like it's a "valuable commodity" (and still be interested in a serious relationship with her), by all means, do speak up.

Penguin0719
Penguin0719

Are you a woman? No? Then how can you say this?

MarcusSG08
MarcusSG08

@double.dissociation your getting worked up over nothing. her points are even more valid with your comment. more division of household chores...if you need a movement to do this. you may be with the wrong person to begin with. you want more women in sciences then you have 2 choices. force them to do jobs they dont lke or let them choose. pick your poison, because both have surprising effects on society as a whole you may not expect. 


ManuelAnatoliyArciaSalmerón
ManuelAnatoliyArciaSalmerón

Hello, lady. Your opinion is appreciated, but it is not that women's work is not valuable. This job is very very important. I don't know who my life would be if my mom wouldn't take care of me. I can't stress how important women are for family stability.  It is viewed as valuable. The problem with this type of work is that it doesn't earn a lot of money(if earned something). Who pays you for staying at home taking care of the children? Thanks.

SadeInc
SadeInc

@NakeetaNicol Yes. I found it quite interesting too. What's journalism without a sensational headline tho? Lol! *facepalm*

ronlle
ronlle

@Blackgriffin Sooo, how does that work for the guy who doesn't want to grub for money and power all his life?  And who wants to stay at home raising kids?

If you don't know, or won't admit - he's treated like crap.  No attractive woman will have anything to do with him.  If he wants to ever get laid, he'll either have to cave in and become a corporate slug or date ugly obese women.

ronlle
ronlle

@drpatallen but what about every man who doesn't want to work?  Where are the opportunities for men to stay at home and raise a family?  

Buncha hypocrites on this site.

niqabibarbie
niqabibarbie

Warren Farrell can let the door hit his ass on the way out along with his disputable claims. Most men aren't coal miners and did you see how Charlize Therons character was treated? Anything but equal, her job was made more dangerous by the men around her.

steverific
steverific

@thecrazyfem @ronlle Maybe he is single, maybe he's even single by choice. 
Ever notice that a woman who chooses to be single is "empowered" while a male who is single is always cast as a looser, regardless of his choices?
How is it that a man is only valued by his service to a woman? Female supremacist much?

For the record, I am not single, so you'll have to find some other ad hominem to silence my voice.

ManuelAnatoliyArciaSalmerón
ManuelAnatoliyArciaSalmerón

We're different. It's nature. Men do some things and women do others. We have different interests. For example, why do women like to talk a lot and men not that much? Society is created on behaviors. We people create society, and if there are not many opportunities, it is because probably they're not needed very much, because again men don't usually do these things. It is the reality. And also, women have a better approach in taking care of children when they're growing. It's nature. Women can even feed kids with their breasts. Men can't. Men usually tend to develop a child's different abilities. Men teach some things, women teach other things. We as humans have to have the same rights, the right to choose, to go where you want to go, love who you want to love,but we are men and women are different so we behave differently. We cannot pretend to be the same as the other.

AmiNBayern
AmiNBayern

@ronlle@drpatallenThe problem is, most men really do not want to stop working full time to- take care of the house, take the kids to soccer practice and piano lesson, doctor's appointments, and stay home with them when they are sick.  I used to make more money than my husband but once the baby came, he couldn't care less if I have to stop working in order to do all those things.  He misses the money, but does not want to be bothered with domestic and childcare needs.  And you know what, most men are like that.  Sorry, but it is true.

niqabibarbie
niqabibarbie

......also they compared for everything and found on average they were paid less, ie a woman who works eight hours has the same level of education as the guy and was still paid less