Work And Family — Do They Mix?

Posted by | August 4, 2010 14:14 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

David Leonhardt examines the pay gap:

Women and men with similar qualifications — age, education, experience — are much more likely to be treated similarly today than in the past. . . Over all, full-time female workers make a whopping 23 percent less on average than full-time male workers.

What’s going on? Men and women are not identical, of course. Many more women take time off from work. Many more women work part time at some point in their careers. Many more women can’t get to work early or stay late.

Leonhardt goes on to discuss how, as long as women are taking time off to be with their family, the gap in the workplace will not be narrowed.  He goes on to describe policy changes that could mitigate the difference (more and better child care, paid leave) but acknowledges that even in Europe where child care policies are more generous the gap between men and women still exists.

While policy remedies are desirable, this problem requires a culture change as well.  Yesterday while waiting for my son at the doctor’s, I overheard several parents (two moms and a dad) talking.  The gist of the conversation was about how men can’t take care of themselves and need their wives to do so (and presumably the children need their moms to supervise their upbringing).  As long as both genders take the idea that women are superior at managing the household and raising children for granted, men will have an excuse to leave that work to the women and climb the corporate ladder in their place.  All the policies in the world won’t erase this.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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