Pay Differentials – ‘gender rights’ move on

By Robert Whiston. May 5th 2009

The article looks at the problems of aiming for the ideal of a ‘Work-Life balance’. What do women say they want and what do their bodies tell them they want ? It cites survey results from 2008 and 2009 into why it can prove impossible sometimes and just plain difficult on others.  Is it really sex discrimination ?

The perennial conundrum of policies encouraging young mothers into the labour market with that of ‘affordable’ child care.

It recaps the work of Gilder and Amneus and contrasts the promises of 2nd wave feminist and how a ‘reality check’ is now overdue.

Recession has brought many people down to earth and this article reinforces why a reassessment by many will have them hitting the ground with a thud.

Gender rights and considerations are moving from haranguing men for pay differentials – as if it were ever somehow their fault – to frantic demands that female cohabitees be subsidised in the same way divorced women are ‘compensated’. Cohabitation reform is the hot button topic in Britain today.

What a far cry this is from the pristine days of feminism ! Those now dim and distant purist days when feminists proclaimed that women were every bit as good as men and should be paid as such. Now that the reality is here and has bitten, feminists no longer like the landscape and have decidedly fallen out of love with equality.

Perhaps it was naïve of feminists to believe that equal pay meant equal status and equal opportunities. In their world perhaps it did, for few of them ever professed an obsession with having a family or an inclination to be married.

In case it has passed them by, this is what over 90% of women the world over want. They see it as their biological destiny. To be fulfilled they therefore cannot work for forty of fifty hours a week or for forty years without a break as men can.

Short of giving birth in the office or factory, to have the family that they yearn for requires time be taken off work. Indeed, if there is more than one child several years may have to be taken off work.

But where was society and commonsense when all this silly girlishness filled the airwaves ? Out to lunch, one suspects. But that would be to misunderstand the epoch. It was fashionable, even obligatory in the latter phase, to heap personal abuse on opponents and denigrate them in a way rarely before seen in the 20th century.

Take, for instance, George Gilder and Daniel Amneus. Both had umbrage and odium piled upon them by the smart set in the media for taking an independent stance on human relations and the dynamics of the family. Thirty years later, no less a figure than Larry Summers, the president of Harvard University was forced out of office in Feb 2006, by those same siren voices after he had intimated that women may not be as good as men in the hard sciences.[1]

In the 1970s Gilder pointed out the impossibility of mother headed households ever being self sufficient (Sexual Suicide, 1973). Gilder was an author for Forbes, The Economist, and The Wall Street Journal, and he was also used by politicians as a speech writer, e.g. Nelson Rockefeller, George Romney, and Richard Nixon. 

Above: George Gilder

He wove together economic policy with sociological themes (see Wealth and Poverty and the rigours of ‘supply-side economics’). He predicted that the breakup of the nuclear family and the policies of demand-side economics would lead to poverty. The fact that his analysis of ‘family plus supply-side policies’ led to wealth and increasing wealth, made him a natural target for those wishing to distribute other people’s wealth by George Gilder  subsidising various social sub-set in the economy, e.g. single mothers.

In the space of 30 years we have gone from Gilder defending President Nixon’s decision to veto the Child Care Bill as too costly to a situation where all politicians feel obligated to ideologically prostrate themselves before the child care totem and pay homage to what is, economically, an insane idea. In Britain the bill for the tax-payer runs into billions. As any honest mother will tell you, what they earn and should be used to lift their family’s standard of living to a higher level is eaten away by child care fees. So one has to question the blanket policy of getting all mothers out into the work place.

The same feminist smart set that ousted Lawrence Summers demanded and achieved Gilder’s firing from “Forum”. In between these events there have been innumerable lesser mortals removed from colleges in various states and countries (it’s an Anglosphere problem), which suggest the emergence of a new female hegemony in education and thought control that brooks no independent thinking.                    

It must have come as a huge disappointment for feminists to read in May 2009 that analysis by the Britain’s ONS (Office for National Statistics) confirmed what Amneus and Gilder had been saying 20 and 30 years beforehand. It was clear to many that even before the days of the Equal Pay Act 1970, that the US Census returns were unambiguous and told us where the growth and wealth creation lay.

The ONS concluded that men and women are paid at similar rates until they reach 30 – the average age at which a mother has her first child. After that age, single women are likely to be paid more than men but most women see their earnings fall away in comparison with men. [2]

What a setback it must represent for feminists to realise that without the despised patriarchy there is no economic growth in the accepted sense because of women’s biological and very normal urges.

Daniel Amneus is perhaps better and more widely known for his provocative and still highly relevan t book “The Garbage Generation”.[3] He was professor of English (Emeritus) at California State University in Los Angeles (he died in Dec 2003). His specialty was Shakespeare.

Above: Daniel Amneus 

Amneus, even his critics would agree, was the leading theoretician of the 1990s and matched Warren Farrell as the best articulator of the Fathers’ Rights movement. The last decade of his life was dedicated to perfecting the articulation of his arguments supporting father custody. Doyle’s “Save The Males” repeatedly references his work. Where Amneus disagreed with Gilder was in the role that women played. Gilder gallantly saw then as passive vessels of virtue, swayed by less benign forces.

Amneus saw them as inherently hedonistic, short-termist and lacking scruples that could withstand bribery, or what one might call in another era as lacking fortitude or moral fibre. 

Both Amneus and Gilder and then American playwright Arthur Miller, together became America’s favourite anti-feminists.

 Left: Arthur Mailer

The claim in more recent years has been that women either find it impossible to become executives or that if they do become executives find they are regularly pushed off the career ladder in favour of men. The view is supported by a survey undertaken by management consultants DDI

In its poll of 10,000 leaders from 376 organisations in 76 countries, including       more than 3,800 women and more than 6,000 men, it argues that the “glass  ceiling” often begins right at the start of woman’s career rather than once they try to reach management level. The credibility of the survey has to be questioned against the back drop of the ONS findings. Would it be right to dismissed it as a cynical PR exercise perhaps to gain for massive media corporate coverage that advertising could never buy ?

The journal ‘Management Issues’; (01 May 2009) makes a useful contribution to our understanding. It reports that a poll by PricewaterhouseCoopers last month (April 2009), argued that the massive jobs’ shake-outs we have been seeing, particularly in the financial sector, are encouraging workers of both sexes, but especially women, to ‘re-evaluate what they want from life’, with the conclusion often being that they don’t want a high-flying corporate career. [4]  This helps bridge the gap between the view of doctrinaire zealots and the rest of humanity in the real world.

Similarly, a study by the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and Harvard University, in February, argued that women who did MBAs benefited less from the experience than many men, largely because of the effect on their careers of ‘career breaks’ or time out to raise a family.

The UK-based Institute of Economic Affairs found in research published in October, 2008 that women often lose out simply because, for whatever reason, they are less prepared to put in the over-time and brown-nosing needed to get to the top.

What is beyond question is that claims of ‘invisible discrimination’ are false. The resentment that women have no chance of matching the success of male counterparts is wholly unfounded yet true. For those prepared to work unstintingly promotion will come but at a price that men also have to pay i.e. not seeing so much of ones family as one would like, working long hours, being unswervingly loyal and constant.

The good news is that it would appear that in some industries 1 in 14 women with the potential to reach the top actually did so. This is because they are prepared to match male counterparts.

Anastasia de Waal of the Civitas think-tank summed it up when she said;

‘It’s not so much invisible discrimination in this case, as ‘imaginary’ discrimination because it’s the parenting responsibilities gap which is the main issue.

‘In this context it’s less about a gender pay gap per se, but about a childcare gap and that is not necessarily a matter for employers.

‘Women do not put themselves forward for promotion or they are not able to work long hours because they are bringing up children. The reasons for that are complex.’

As we review the present situation in our local towns and cities – the falling apart of local communities, the loss of society’s coherence, bighting of neighbourhoods, the increase in crime, increasing poverty, and the decrease in respect for others – who, one wonders, assigns these ‘outcomes’ to the prediction to both Amneus and Gilder ?

END


[1] “Harvard row over sex and science” 18 January, 2005, The president of Harvard University has caused a stir among academics by suggesting women have less innate ability at science and maths than men. . . . Lawrence Summers argued one group outperformed the other because of genetics, not just experience. . . ..  Dr Summers said later that the shortage of senior female academics was partly because of child-minding duties.http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/4183495.stm and http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4738030.stm. See also “A Threat in Title IX”, By Christina Hoff Sommers, April 14, 2009 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/13/AR2009041302119.html

[2] “Why women don’t even get close to the ‘glass ceiling’ in the workplace”, By Steve Doughty , Daily Mail, 3rd May 2009

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1175800/Why-women-dont-close-glass-ceiling-workplace.html

[3] “The Garbage Generation”, http://www.fisheaters.com/garbagegeneration.html His insights can be found in Back to Patriarchy”, and “TheCcase forFfatherCustody”  (b  Oct 1919 – d  Dec, 2003).

[4] “Women held back in the workplace at all levels”,  Management Issues,  http://www.management-issues.com/2009/5/1/research/women-held-back-in-the-workplace-at-all-levels.asp

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