Flimsy Sanity

Flimsy Sanity

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. - Friedrich Nietzsche

Monday, June 17, 2013

Some jobs are traditionally male and some are traditionally female and there are subtle and obvious ways to keep it that way. One way is to demean anyone seeking to break tradition. The society functions cheaper if it can keep people in traditional roles. For example, women are supposed to be caregivers. Girls are usually raised in ways that make them develop an interest in caring for others, particularly their husband, children, family members. That is why we often see them in "caring jobs". Because such "caring jobs" are done by women they have a lower status, and because of that they are paid worse, hence men don't want these jobs. This is because men, who are the ones who are in power, determine to a large extent the value of such work. It is not because this kind of work is in itself of lower value. The underlying male idea is that women are inferior, and therefore, the work they do is inferior as well, and thus lower valued and lower paid. It is very interesting to see that if, for some reason, men start to enter traditionally female jobs, the status of that job tends to become higher. Cooking is a good example. Women are very often supposed to cook for the family, and this work is very often under-valued. But if you go to a good restaurant, the cook is very often a man, and in that case his work is highly valued. Some people rate a restaurant as superior if waiters rather than waitresses serve them. Conversely, if women enter "male professions" in large numbers, the value of that work tends to decrease. The position of medical doctors in the (former) Soviet Union is a good example. Most doctors there are women, and as a result, the medical profession there has a much lower status than in most other countries, and the incomes of doctors are comparatively speaking also much lower.

Within this sex/gender division of labor, women's work is systematically valued less, which reinforces women's lower economic status in both developed and less-developed countries. In the United States, on average women earn 70% or less of what men earn at most educational levels. This gender pay gap has closed since the 1960s, when it was closer to 60%; however, the closing of the gap is due to a decrease in men's average wages since the 1970s due to deindustrialization, corporate, downsizing, and fluctuating patterns of economic growth. A staggering 80 percent of the 53.7 million women in the American workforce continue to make $25,000 or less a year. That is a cold $10,000 less than the average man makes. Worldwide women perform an estimated 60 percent of the work, yet earn only 10 percent of the income and own only 10 percent of the land. When we talk about sweatshop labor, we're talking predominantly about the labor of young adolescent women.

There have been numerous experiments in which two groups of people rate things such as a set of articles, pictures of works of art, a set of resumes. The names of the authors are changed for each group. Those items for the first group which have men’s names, have women’s names for the second group, and those items with women’s names for the first group have men’s names for the second group. In other words, the gender of the author is reversed for each group. The results of these studies are remarkably consistent: articles that have a male name attached to them get higher ratings than when the same article has a woman’s name. Both men and women do this: they devalue those items ascribed to females. Studies of how women’s success is perceived show a similar pattern: men’s success is attributed to talent; women’s success is attributed to luck or affirmative action.

It has been my experience that women work harder for their money.


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