Thursday, July 22, 2021

Reversion to the Gender Norm

Contemporary feminism has been with us for around five decades now. The nation has presumably erased the difference between the sexes. It has beaten down sexism to the point where men and women are barely distinguishable any more. Or so they think.

Others, of course, think that sexism is so engrained that we must be struggling against it every hour of every day-- lest humans revert to their bad old habits.

During the pandemic, lo and behold, the nation reverted to the norm. Regardless of their careers, women became the go-to, default caregivers. Therefore they have lost career opportunities, promotions and raises. Having had to stay home in order to care for children, they found it far more difficult too focus on their work obligations. 

Were you to ask whether people can work as effectively when they are outside of the office, the answer, in the case of mothers, must be that they cannot.

Claire Cain Miller has assessed the consequences of this reversion to the norm, this return to more traditional division of sexual labor, and has done her normally excellent job at it.

Yet, she fails to mention that the reason so many children were home from school was that the teachers’ unions and Democratic politicians chose to shut down schools. The enemies of women’s career advancement turn out to be progressive politicians and unions. It was not the big, bad patriarchy that refused to allow children to go to school.

Miller’s article would have been improved by that added piece of information.

She explains the reversion to the norm:

Throughout the pandemic, though, mothers have done the bulk of the additional care — and are more likely than fathers to have their workdays interrupted. Morning Consult, in the survey for The Times, asked 725 mothers with partners at home whom their children first go to if they need help: the mothers, their partner, or someone else like a babysitter or relative. Nine in ten said they called for their mother.

One reason that many mothers became the default caregivers in the pandemic is they sought jobs with flexibility for child care emergencies, like a sick day home from school.

You would think that we had overcome the sexist division between mothers and fathers, but apparently such is not the case. The reason that so many mothers became default caregivers is quite simple-- we have not yet repealed human nature. Most adults and nearly all children understand that mothers are better at being mothers than men are. They understand the bond between mothers and children, as do most working mothers.

One does not quite understand why Miller fails to see that these simple facts put quit to the feminist position, namely that there is no relevant difference between men and women, between fathers and mothers.

This means that even if the schools had been open, women’s career prospects are diminished by their responsibilities as mothers. We might ask whether or not they prefer spending more time with their children, whether they choose freely to be better mothers, but Miller never does. 

The difference is clear. Miller reports:

Millions of parents, mostly mothers, have stopped working for pay because of the pandemic child care crisis. But for many more who have held on to their jobs, child care demands have also affected their careers, often in less visible ways. They have worked fewer hours, declined assignments or decided not to take a promotion or pursue a new job.

The feminists in our midst insist that it all shows how far we are from full equality. In truth, it shows that the ideologically driven effort to reengineer human reality has fallen far short of its goal.

Miller explains:

A variety of research has found that working at less than full capacity — like going part time or doing a job that doesn’t require the full extent of one’s skills — can have career repercussions, though not always.

To test this idea, David Pedulla, a sociologist at Harvard, submitted fictitious résumés to employers. Previous jobs listed on a résumé that were below an applicant’s experience or education resulted in callback rates that were about 50 percent lower.

He also tested the effects of putting part-time work on the fictitious résumés. Men were penalized for it as much as if they had been unemployed, but women mostly weren’t. In follow-up interviews with hiring professionals for his book, “Making the Cut,” Professor Pedulla said they assumed women had a reason for working part time — being mothers — while they assumed men were unambitious.

Yet research has found that part-time work hurts women in other ways, like earnings and promotions. In Europe, where employers are largely required to accommodate requests for part-time schedules, and it’s mostly women who choose them, they are significantly less likely than American women to reach high levels at companies. The main reason women are paid and promoted less than men in the United States is because of flexible hours and other demands related to motherhood — even before the pandemic.

One detects a whining complaint behind all of this. But, is it really so outrageous that people who choose to work part time do not get promoted as quickly as people who work full time. The guy who works until 8 o’clock every day and who travels extensively for assignments is likely to have better career prospects than is the woman who knocks off at 5 and who takes an occasional day off to care for a sick child.

Feminism sees this as a clear sign of sexism. And yet, isn’t it simply the human norm? Or else, isn't a sign that the two sexes are being held to a single set of standards?


urbane legend said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

As usual-- "World to end tomorrow. Women and children hardest hit."

Sam L. said...

I'm with Anon.