The Mommy Track

Kate posts: “I’m not a mommy-track type, but I can see the appeal. If you want to earn more money, learn to demand it. Or negotiate, to use a nicer word. When I was a producer, I was, frankly, very aggressive about $$–and almost all male bosses paid up. Female bosses were somewhat surprised that we were discussing anything as icky as pay rates.”

Kay Hymowitz writes: Early this past spring, the White House Council on Women and Girls released a much-anticipated report called Women in America. One of its conclusions struck a familiar note: today, as President Obama said in describing the document, “women still earn on average only about 75 cents for every dollar a man earns. That’s a huge discrepancy.”

It is a huge discrepancy. It’s also an exquisite example of what journalist Charles Seife has dubbed “proofiness.” Proofiness is the use of misleading statistics to confirm what you already believe. Indeed, the 75-cent meme depends on a panoply of apple-to-orange comparisons that support a variety of feminist policy initiatives, from the Paycheck Fairness Act to universal child care, while telling us next to nothing about the well-being of women.

This isn’t to say that all is gender-equal in the labor market. It is not. It also isn’t to imply that discrimination against women doesn’t exist or that employers shouldn’t get more creative in adapting to the large number of mothers in the workplace. It does and they should. But by severely overstating and sensationalizing what is a universal predicament (I’m looking at you, Sweden and Iceland!), proofers encourage resentment-fueled demands that no government anywhere has ever fulfilled—and that no government ever will.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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