The Future of the Economic Gender Gap

The research on gender and income shows a very convincing gap between the genders. Women, overall, earn less money then men. Women hold the majority of minimum wage jobs in this country. However, if you compare single women and  single men in the same profession, there isn’t much of a difference. The real differences come about when you compare women with children versus everybody else. That variable – the three year old in the Old Navy t-shirt – is the real income killer.

Tyler Cowen’s article about gender and economics poses an interesting question. Is the gender gap narrowing? He looks at a couple of books that look at women in the workplace. The article is very interesting, and the studies are cool. I might come back to it later on. But the article doesn’t look at the key population that explains the economic gender gap – women who are not sitting around the corporate conference room. To really get a handle on the economic gender gap, we need to look at women who have had to leave the workplace or take a lesser position or were never able to finish school because they became parents.

I do think that things are easier for parents than they were 15-years ago, when I first became a parent. Of course, I’m just relying on my snapshot impressions. Not scientific at all.  I thought I would throw out my observations and see what y’all think.

When Jonah came around, there were very, very few childcare options. We couldn’t afford the very expensive place down the block that was set up for the doctors at Columbia Presbyterian. Through word of mouth, Jonah spent a couple of years with a woman who ran an unlicensed daycare out of her apartment. It wasn’t particularly safe. Ian’s childcare situation has always been more horrible, because he has special needs. I didn’t have access to after-school daycare. I can’t even write about my family’s dealings with the childcare system, because it was all such a trainwreck.

If I started my family today, we would be in a completely different situation. There are websites that help you find a babysitter, including babysitters that are experienced with children with special needs. When Ian was three, I posted an ad on the bulletin board at the local Starbucks. I accosted every working mom on the street looking for answers. I wouldn’t have to rely on the underground mom network today.

My friends who have young kids in daycare seem to be pretty happy. There are more places than there were 15 years ago. They are cheaper. Procedures are in place.

The workplaces are cooler about families. Sure, they have a long way to go, but I am starting to hear good stories about a shift in office culture. One friend told me that when she had her first kid around the time that Jonah was born, she had to pretend that her daughter didn’t exist. Now, her family pictures cover the walls of her office.

I am not sure that much has changed for low income women with children. Most of the clients at my dad’s food pantry are young women pushing strollers.

I am also not sure that much has changed for women who step out of the workforce for a while. Martha Stewart, who knows that audience very well, recently dissed Sheryl Sandberg saying that women need to be entrepreneurial, rather than dealing with corporate life.

Men Get Tenured Over Women With Equal Numbers of Publications

A study from the ASA conference explored the data on gender and tenure in computer science, sociology and English.

Not only are men more likely than women to earn tenure, but in computer science and sociology, they are significantly more likely to earn tenure than are women who have the same research productivity. In English men are slightly (but not in a statistically significant way) more likely than women to earn tenure….

In sociology, she found that the odds of a woman earning tenure were 51 percent lower than for men, when controlling for research productivity. In computer science, the figure was 55 percent. Those gaps are “highly significant,” she said. These figures suggest, Weisshaar said, that it’s not that women have to find ways to become as productive as men, but that women must be more productive than men if they want to earn tenure at a research university.

Wendy sent me the link to this study and a link to Instapundit’s reaction.

Scheduling Workers For Maximum Efficiency

Businesses have learned how to track the times when their workers are most needed — when delivery trucks arrive or during the lunch time crunch. Now they expect the workers to work those hours and only those hours. The hours change from week to week and rarely conform to school or daycare schedules. It’s a big money saver for businesses, but it wrecks havoc on the workers, especially those with small children.

Flex-time used to be a pro-work/family term. Now, it’s a force for evil. More here.

Like increasing numbers of low-income mothers and fathers, Ms. Navarro is at the center of a new collision that pits sophisticated workplace technology against some fundamental requirements of parenting, with particularly harsh consequences for poor single mothers. Along with virtually every major retail and restaurant chain, Starbucks relies on software that choreographs workers in precise, intricate ballets, using sales patterns and other data to determine which of its 130,000 baristas are needed in its thousands of locations and exactly when. Big-box retailers or mall clothing chains are now capable of bringing in more hands in anticipation of a delivery truck pulling in or the weather changing, and sending workers home when real-time analyses show sales are slowing. Managers are often compensated based on the efficiency of their staffing.

Scheduling is now a powerful tool to bolster profits, allowing businesses to cut labor costs with a few keystrokes. “It’s like magic,” said Charles DeWitt, vice president for business development at Kronos, which supplies the software for Starbucks and many other chains.

Yet those advances are injecting turbulence into parents’ routines and personal relationships, undermining efforts to expand preschool access, driving some mothers out of the work force and redistributing some of the uncertainty of doing business from corporations to families, say parents, child care providers and policy experts.

More on Rapes on College Campuses

(Sorry, y’all, for spotty posting this week. Family duties and all.)

Tenured Radical has a great post on sexual assaults on college campuses in The Chronicle. She’s rough on everyone.

What is really interesting is that the people who create and sustain the conditions for sexual assault on campus — whether administrators, faculty, coaches, or students — consistently present themselves as normal, caring human beings. There is not a college president in the United States who does not insist indignantly how much he or she cares about the “victims” of rape. You would think, listening to this genuine outrage, that the entire mechanism of a college comes to a halt and the calendar of every administrator is cleared until they get to the bottom of things (in the rare event that someone is actually raped on their campuses). All college presidents “take rape very seriously;” but almost none seem to think these rapes have anything to do with their own failed student life and disciplinary policies…

Characterizing raped women as “victims” and “survivors” who need to have their “emotional needs” prioritized by the institution gets everyone off the hook, even though it is perfectly apparent that raped women get minimal attention and poor care. Who benefits from this false assertion? The college administration, the fraternities, the alumni who support fraternity autonomy, and the rapists. Let’s not forget the other students whose right to party is inviolable, and who seem to think it is appropriate to watch women be raped, take pictures of them, tweet them all over God’s green earth, and then bully women who report the crimes….

Women currently play a prominent role in creating sexually unsafe spaces, excusing guys who rape, and slut-shaming women who have been raped. Rape is not a man vs. woman thing anymore; it is a man + his friends + all their girlfriends + all the girlfriends’ girlfriends vs. the raped woman thing. Sure, it’s easy to blame the people with the penises, but how about all those women who are at parties and not stepping forward to stop rapes? Then there are the women who need to be cool so badly that they participate vigorously in slut-shaming and reassuring the campus on Anonymous Confession Boards that “my boyfriend is a member of (name frat/team) and they are all really good guys who would never do something like this. This is just a bad breakup and she is a big lying beyotch.”

Ack. I keep cutting and pasting paragraphs. Read the whole thing and then get back to me. Is she right about all this?

Indra K. Nooyi on Having it All or Not

Indra K. Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, was interviewed at Aspen about “having it all.” It’s a really honest, insightful interview. Here’s a small bit.

This is about 14 years ago. I was working in the office. I work very late, and we were in the middle of the Quaker Oats acquisition. And I got a call about 9:30 in the night from the existing chairman and CEO at that time. He said, Indra, we’re going to announce you as president and put you on the board of directors… I was overwhelmed, because look at my background and where I came from—to be president of an iconic American company and to be on the board of directors, I thought something special had happened to me.

So rather than stay and work until midnight which I normally would’ve done because I had so much work to do, I decided to go home and share the good news with my family. I got home about 10, got into the garage, and my mother was waiting at the top of the stairs. And I said, “Mom, I’ve got great news for you.” She said, “let the news wait. Can you go out and get some milk?” I looked in the garage and it looked like my husband was home. I said, “what time did he get home?” She said “8 o’clock.” I said, “Why didn’t you ask him to buy the milk?” “He’s tired.” Okay. We have a couple of help at home, “why didn’t you ask them to get the milk?” She said, “I forgot.” She said just get the milk. We need it for the morning. So like a dutiful daughter, I went out and got the milk and came back.

I banged it on the counter and I said, “I had great news for you. I’ve just been told that I’m going to be president on the Board of Directors. And all that you want me to do is go out and get the milk, what kind of a mom are you?” And she said to me, “let me explain something to you. You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you’re the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re the mother. You’re all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don’t bring it into the house. You know I’ve never seen that crown.”

She says that even with a staff and extended family, she isn’t able to give her family enough attention.

You know, stay at home mothering was a full time job. Being a CEO for a company is three full time jobs rolled into one. How can you do justice to all? You can’t. The person who hurts the most through this whole thing is your spouse. There’s no question about it.


Where are the Girl Coders?

Yes, girls are outperforming boys in high schools and college, but all is not perfect. Boys still dominate computer classes and, later, occupy most of the programming jobs in tech industry. According to Nitasha Tiku in the New York Times, the numbers are grim.

Last year, girls made up 18.5 percent of A.P. computer science test-takers nationwide, a slight decrease from the year before. In three states, no girls took the test at all. An abysmal 0.4 percent of girls entering college intend to major in computer science. And in 2013, women made up 14 percent of all computer science graduates — down from 36 percent in 1984.

The imbalance persists in the tech industry. Just this week, Google released data showing that women account for just 17 percent of its tech employees. The problem is not only getting girls to computer class, but keeping them there.

Tiku gives a shout out to my favorite computer game, Minecraft. She points out that girls are starting to play Minecraft, too, and this might be gateway program for other technology programs. I’m going to teach Ian how to use  Scratch over this summer. This easy program might appeal to girls, too.

Girls might be avoiding computer classes, not just because there are boys in these classes, but because there are really nerdy boys in these classes. And some of them have been coding at home since they were ten. It’s intimidating to go into these classes as a complete novice. Even for the less nerdy boys.

Feminists for Home Ec

home-ec-insetI’ve long been an advocate of returning home economic classes to public schools. Woodworking, cooking, parenting, and home financing classes are GOOD things. Unless you plan on winning the lottery, you’re going to need to know how to make pasta dinner for four at some point. You will have to do some basic home maintenance. You’re going to have to pay a credit card bill. These classes used to be part of the public school curriculum and were phased out in the 1980s in favor of academic electives.

In the New Republic, Rebecca Traister argues that we should reinstate home ec classes into the public school curriculum, because men need to learn these jobs, too. Women and girls pick these skills on their own, because it is expected of them. But boys could use some direct instruction in these areas. If they appreciated the value of these jobs, they might be better advocates for child care and leave policies. Besides, with the shift in the economy, more guys might end up as the full time parents.

I whole-heartedly agreed with Traister. Housework is a skill that needs to be honed by men, as well as women. I think it’s valuable work. I think that we need public policies that enable famiies to maintain their work and family responsibilities.

But I also think that we need more home ec classes, because working with your hands is deeply rewarding. I enjoy cooking food. I enjoy digging up my lawn to create a garden. I got an A+ in my shop class in middle school, because I was an excellent sander. Maybe the best way to get more men to do housework is to de-politicize it.

It’s funny, but I think that the bearded hipsters have done a lot for our cause. At least in terms of food, they have made cooking a manly job.