First, thanks to Anne-Marie Slaughter for peeling the band-aid off an open wound of American womanhood. It’s our dirty little secret: balancing work and family is still impossible for elite American women because of the way we structure work, family, love, marriage, careers, masculinity, and dignity.
Yes. It’s that bad. Fifteen years ago, when I began to write Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflicts and What To Do About It, I thought that all we needed to do was to reshape work and careers. The key problem for women, I pointed out, is that workplaces still are designed around an ideal worker who starts to work in early adulthood and works, full time and full force, for forty years without a break, taking no time off for childbearing, childrearing, or anything else. The result is a clash of social ideals. The ideal worker norm clashes with the norm of parental care: the widespread and uncontroversial sense that children need and deserve time with their parents.
The solution is to reshape workplaces around the values we hold in family life. Careers need to be more flexible, such that career breaks do not spell career doom. Hours expectations need to be more flexible, such that a failure to work “full time” does not derail one’s career. Face time needs to end, allowing people to work when and where they need to, so long as the work gets done. Each of these ideas has subsequently been further developed. Here are twogood examples.
The debate over this proposed legislation reveals serious flaws in reasoning about the impact of public efforts to promote fair pay. Recent academic research suggests that many women are underpaid for the same reason that many chief executives may be overpaid — because the labor market doesn’t work according to the standard textbook model based on impersonal forces of supply and demand.
The Paycheck Fairness Act would have required employers to give a “business” reason for paying men and women different wages for equal work. It would also have prohibited retaliation against employees who revealed wage information.
Criticisms of the proposed legislation took several forms. A common claim was that it would do more harm than good, because pay discrimination is not the most important cause of gender disparities. Conservatives are not the only ones who insist that women are paid less primarily because they choose to devote more time to family responsibilities than men do. The New York Times columnist Eduardo Porter recently articulated a similar argument.
But pay discrimination and choices to take time out of paid employment are complementary rather than competing explanations of gender differences in pay. Women who are paid less — or who anticipate fewer opportunities for promotion — than their male counterparts are more likely to drop out of paid employment. Their choices represent, in part, a response to discrimination.
If a woman does drop out for a while, an employer who pays her less is off the hook. Case law shows that a lower level of experience on the job is typically considered a bona fide “business” reason for paying someone less. In herdiscerning analysis of the impact of the Equal Pay Act passed in 1963, a University of Maryland law professor, Deborah Thompson Eisenberg, points out that the Paycheck Fairness Act would have simply codified majority interpretations of that law.
A new working paper by Stephan Haggard and Marcus Noland for the Peterson Institute for International Economics suggests that Kim Jong-un's early economic policy moves in the economic sphere “were focused on re-enforcing controls.”
Most surprising of all this, writes my colleague Jane Perlez, is “how Mr. Kim has thumbed his nose at China, whose economic largess keeps the government afloat.” When a senior Chinese diplomat went to North Korea and warned Mr. Kim against a ballistic missile test, Jane says, “the new leader went ahead anyway.”
Mr. Kim, not yet 30, seems to have deftly consolidated his hold on state power since his father’s death in December. He appears fully in command of the political, military and diplomatic levers.
And some of his regime’s first policy moves in the economic sphere “were focused on re-enforcing controls” from the central government, according to a new paper by Stephan Haggard and Marcus Noland for the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
They suggest that the regime could impose a return to a more centrally planned economy, as we have seen before. Such a trend, which might well include a crackdown on the private, shadow-economy markets that are predominantly run by women, “could have the effect of once again marginalizing North Korea’s women.”
Mr. Haggard and Mr. Noland report that disproportionate numbers of women are now being laid off from jobs at North Korea’s state-owned enterprises because “working for the state is considered more politically advanced ‘man’s work.’ ”
As a result, women have moved into the markets, which are closed to men and operate quasi-legally in North Korea’s grudgingly hybrid economy. The regime views these markets — and the women who run them — with “an ambivalent if not actively hostile posture,” Mr. Haggard and Mr. Noland write.
“In other settings, this newfound freedom might be empowering,” they say, but the women traders have frequent run-ins with the police and, therefore, the North’s harsh penal system. Corruption is rife. Bribing police officers and state officials is common. “In short, the increasingly male-dominated state preys on the increasingly female-dominated market.”
Human rights groups had called on the International Olympic Committee to bar Saudi Arabia from competing in London, citing its failure ever to send a woman athlete to a Games and its ban on sports in girls' state schools.
Powerful Muslim clerics in the ultra-conservative state have repeatedly spoken out against the participation of girls and women in sports.
In Saudi Arabia women hold a lower legal status to men, are banned from driving and need a male guardian's permission to work, travel or open a bank account.
Under King Abdullah, however, the government has pushed for them to have better education and work opportunities and allowed them to vote in future municipal elections, the only public polls held in the kingdom.
"The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is looking forward to its complete participation in the London 2012 Olympic Games through the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee, which will oversee the participation of women athletes who can qualify for the games," said a statement published on the embassy website.
What does birth control have anything to do with reducing global emissions?
Everything, women around the world would say, because they know how closely linked reproductive health is to issues ranging from poverty and food security to climate change and beyond. This message was precisely what female leaders brought to the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development, but not many were listening, least of all the Vatican.
“The only way to respond to increasing human numbers and dwindling resources is through the empowerment of women,” said Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway and former director-general of the World Health Organisation.
“It is through giving women access to education, knowledge, to paid income, independence and of course access to reproductive health services, reproductive rights, access to family planning,” she elaborated, adding that no other way existed to change the current “pattern of human consumption”.
Female leaders have long been trying to tell the world that sustainable development is not just about deforestation, climate change and carbon emissions. Equally as important to sustainable development are gender equality and human rights, which include sexual and reproductive rights.
But the reality is that globally, 215 million women who want to avoid pregnancy are not using effective methods of contraception. More than two and five pregnancies are unplanned, and approximately 287,000 girls and women die each year from pregnancy-related causes. The world has a ways to go to ensure that women have access to full reproductive rights and health.
EIGHTEEN MONTHS INTO my job as the first woman director of policy planning at the State Department, a foreign-policy dream job that traces its origins back to George Kennan, I found myself in New York, at the United Nations’ annual assemblage of every foreign minister and head of state in the world. On a Wednesday evening, President and Mrs. Obama hosted a glamorous reception at the American Museum of Natural History. I sipped champagne, greeted foreign dignitaries, and mingled. But I could not stop thinking about my 14-year-old son, who had started eighth grade three weeks earlier and was already resuming what had become his pattern of skipping homework, disrupting classes, failing math, and tuning out any adult who tried to reach him. Over the summer, we had barely spoken to each other—or, more accurately, he had barely spoken to me. And the previous spring I had received several urgent phone calls—invariably on the day of an important meeting—that required me to take the first train from Washington, D.C., where I worked, back to Princeton, New Jersey, where he lived. My husband, who has always done everything possible to support my career, took care of him and his 12-year-old brother during the week; outside of those midweek emergencies, I came home only on weekends.
As the evening wore on, I ran into a colleague who held a senior position in the White House. She has two sons exactly my sons’ ages, but she had chosen to move them from California to D.C. when she got her job, which meant her husband commuted back to California regularly. I told her how difficult I was finding it to be away from my son when he clearly needed me. Then I said, “When this is over, I’m going to write an op-ed titled ‘Women Can’t Have It All.’”
She was horrified. “You can’t write that,” she said. “You, of all people.” What she meant was that such a statement, coming from a high-profile career woman—a role model—would be a terrible signal to younger generations of women. By the end of the evening, she had talked me out of it, but for the remainder of my stint in Washington, I was increasingly aware that the feminist beliefs on which I had built my entire career were shifting under my feet. I had always assumed that if I could get a foreign-policy job in the State Department or the White House while my party was in power, I would stay the course as long as I had the opportunity to do work I loved. But in January 2011, when my two-year public-service leave from Princeton University was up, I hurried home as fast as I could.
This Study of Rabbinic Compensation by Gender is undertaken by the Central Conference of American Rabbis (“CCAR”) as a service to CCAR rabbis and all the congregations, organizations and communities which they serve and in furtherance of the Reform Movement’s long-standing commitment to economic justice.
This study relies upon the data collected in the 2010-2011 Study of Rabbinic Compensation. That study was conducted by an independent actuarial firm, Buck Consulting, LLC, a Xerox Company (“Buck”), with the assistance of the Reform Pension Board (“RPB”), for the CCAR in partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism (“URJ”). Gender material for this study was computed and analyzed by Mayeri Research/The Internet Poll (New York).
"We’d love to have a gender lens, but we’d have nothing to invest in.” I rocked back on my heels, absorbing this statement from the head of the Africa division of a large social investment fund.
Yet he is not alone. Two years ago, when I first talked with the head of a domestic fund investing in women entrepreneurs, she said, “Jackie I don’t have a gender lens.” Her concern was that a “gender lens” made her appear soft, not return-focused.
For the last two years, I’ve led Women Effect Investments, a field building initiative for gender lens investing. In the process I’ve discovered multiple challenges talking about gender in the investment world. It surfaces concerns about quotas and quality, culture and stereotypes. It is seen as soft, unnecessarily feminist, or limiting. I see a huge opportunity in transcending these concerns. Given women’s centrality worldwide to economic development, health, education, and a strong civil society, investing with a gender lens illuminates opportunities and highlights risks. Take, for instance, the need for electricity in maternity clinics or the challenges that emerge when loan officers are all men. If more investment vehicles employed a gender lens, we could accelerate change for everyone.
To clarify what I by lens—I mean the point(s) of view by which we can analyze investments. There are at least three different lenses that highlight investment opportunities, and they can and often do overlap.
If, as many maintain, women could have such a tonic influence on the markets, why are there so few women traders? Why are women not pushing their way onto the trading floors, and why are banks and hedge funds not waving them in? Women make up at most 5 percent of the traders in the financial world, and even that low number includes the results of diversity pushes at many of the large banks. The most common explanations ventured for these numbers are that women do not want to work in such a macho environment, or that they are too risk averse for the job.
There may well be a kernel of truth to these explanations, but I do not place much stock in them. To begin with, women may not like the atmosphere on a trading floor, but I am sure they like the money. There are few jobs that pay more than a trader in the financial world. Besides, women are already on the trading floor: they make up about 50 percent of the sales force, and the sales force sits right next to the trading desks. So women are already immersed in the macho environment and are dealing with the high jinks; they are just not trading. Also, I am not convinced women are as easily put off by a male environment as this explanation assumes.
There are plenty of worlds once dominated by men that have come to employ more women: law and medicine, for example, were once considered male preserves but now have a more even balance between men and women (although admittedly not at the top echelons of management). So I am not convinced by the macho environment argument.
What about the second-mentioned explanation, that men and women differ in their appetite for risk? There have been some studies conducted in behavioral finance that suggest that on computerized monetary choice tasks women are more risk averse than men. But here again, I am not entirely convinced, because other studies, of real investment behavior, show that women often outperform men over the long haul, and such outperformance is, according to formal finance theory, a sign of greater risk taking. In an important paper called “Boys Will Be Boys,” two economists at the University of California, Brad Barber and Terrance Odean, analyzed the brokerage records of 35,000 personal investors over the period 1991–1997 and found that single women outperformed single men by 1.44 percent. A similar result was announced in 2009 by Chicago-based Hedge Fund Research, which found that over the previous nine years hedge funds run by women had significantly outperformed those run by men.