Posts from February 2018

You’re not doing her any favors

February 20, 2018

Men have traditionally been providers and protectors, increasingly both roles are criticized, deemed insignificant or even demonized. Modern Western society believes men should be more involved in their children’s lives, more nurturing and less “cold” —as their fathers’ generation was said to be. But as with the significant loss we face with fewer women taking on the traditional role of nurturer and caretaker, we also face immense detriment as men shift away from their traditional roles.

This is not to say that men shouldn’t be applauded for spending more time with their children than men did decades ago but rather to say that we should not be so focused on lauding this positive shift that we neglect to acknowledge the benefits of the traditional male role. Fathers, Eric Fromm states in his book The Art of Loving, love through guided principals and expectations. A father’s love is —unlike mothers, conditional. This may sound like an awful idea, how could conditional love from a parent possibly be positive? But if we view our parents as representations of the world, the balance of conditional and unconditional love is necessary. Unconditional love tells you that no matter what you do you are worthy of love, conditional love drives you to continually strive to do better.

We can see the overreaching of the ‘motherly conscience’ as Fromm calls it, in our modern day society. A lot of young adults believe that they should be accepted no matter what they do. Instead of playing by the rules and learning to deal with society as it is, they are begging for ‘acceptance’. Instead of trying to earn their way in the world it seems many have come to expect unconditional maternal love from all. That is not to say that mere complacency is the ideal. But a balance of maternal love and paternal love (from parents and thereafter internalized) creates, according to Fromm, a more balanced human being.

Free and insecure

Yet many fathers are afraid of holding on to their traditional roles for fear that they would be constraining their children and prefer instead to mimic motherly love. Bruce Feiler tells us in his New York Times article that he’d got into the habit of telling his daughters, “I don’t care what you wear. I care who you are.” A week ago on social media, someone asking for advice on whether or not to allow their daughter to train with a male coach was met by one enlightened fellow who said he lets his young daughter train with male coaches because he, “doesn’t sexualize his daughter”. To a further extreme Wendy Shalit relates in her book The Return of Modesty, the open letter of a father who tells his daughter to “go out and play” because “it doesn’t lessen you to give someone else pleasure.”

These men have the mistaken idea that they are freeing their daughters by letting go of the “oppressive” protector role, but they don’t realize that young women are immensely insecure. When a young woman is insecure about her body —which for many women is a common growing pain, she cannot make clear decisions about who to share her body with. When she is naively trusting she cannot clearly distinguish appropriate and inappropriate behavior. And when she is still trying to figure out how the world works, she doesn’t understand that certain items of clothing attract certain kinds of attention, the attention she may not want or be ready for.

Father as protector

The father who wrote this open letter to his daughter begins his letter by dismissing a humorous internet list called ‘rules to date my daughter’, which included things like, “If you make her cry, I will make you cry…” Steinmetz remarks the list essentially boils down to this, “Boys are threatening louts, sex is awful when other people do it, and my daughter is a plastic doll whose destiny I control.” This kind of thinking falls in line with the new liberal ideology insisting traditional masculine behavior is toxic. Toxic masculinity is defined as adherence to traditional male gender roles… including social expectations that men seek to be dominant… and limit their emotional range primarily to expressions of anger. In other words, anger is barbaric and wanting to protect one’s daughter is primitive. An ‘updated’ version of the ‘rules to date my daughter’ list that has spread across the internet more recently states, “Rules to date my daughter: I don’t make the rules… She makes the rules”

But this new approach imagines women —even young girls, as completely in control of their sexual desires, yet this simply isn’t the case. Biologically women feel a deeper emotional attachment to sex. An intended fling is more likely to turn in to heartbreak for the woman than for the man. Men compartmentalize, and sex can easily be just sex for them. Women don’t often understand that; other men do. And thus the father is better equipped to protect his daughter in the face of potential relationships than she is to protect herself.

Even outside of the hazardous liberal hook-up culture, male protection is still needed. A few weeks ago when I broached the subject of the importance of walis for women in the marriage process, many men quipped that walis were often “only out for money” or discriminated against them for no reason, those are the men women should stay away from. Sure, some walis arbitrarily make it difficult for potential suitors, but the likelihood of your dad having your best interest over the men attempting to marry you is extremely high.

This is not to say that women can’t make their own decisions about potential relationships, but you’re not doing your daughter any favors if you don’t guide her, especially when she’s young, or leave her without expectations or instructions. Women lead with our hearts, which is a part of our beautiful divine mercy, but without male protection, especially from our fathers that mercy is easy to take advantage of. Protection doesn’t make us your property, it is how you show us your love.

There is no gender pay gap, But that doesn’t mean the workplace is fair to women (3/3)

February 12, 2018

Gender Differences

While the biggest gender pay gap is not merely between men and women but rather between married women with children and everyone else, there is still a gender pay gap between single childless women and men. The gender pay gap between single (childless) women compared to men is $0.04, $0.96 for every man’s $1.00. So while it’s not dramatic, what might be the issue there? As we said in part one, “In discussing how we can make the workplace more women-friendly we have to have a discussion about the differences between men and women…”, let’s talk about a few differences that occur outside of marriage and babies.

Risk-taking Averse

For one, women are more risk-averse than men —on the whole, this is neither a good or bad thing, but in specific cases, it could be one or the other. In the case of asking for a raise and negotiating a salary our risk-aversion work against us and in favor of men.

A Harvard study concluded, “The authors found that when there was no explicit statement that wages are negotiable, men were more likely to negotiate than women,” when the wage negotiation was explicit women were just as likely as men to negotiate the salary. If we’re serious about closing the wage then more women need to be willing to take that risk. Now, we do have to acknowledge it is a risk, you can ask for too much and be denied a job and so it isn’t as if there aren’t negative consequences to taking that risk but women should at least know a negotiation is an option they can choose even if it’s not explicitly mentioned. And yes, of course, companies should explicitly state their salary as negotiable.

When women and men are offered jobs risk-taking behavior also plays a role, “A survey of masters’ students entering new jobs indicated that female students were likely to take the first offer of pay, while male students were eight times more likely to attempt negotiating a higher starting salary”. Ex-CEO Ellen Pat’s solution to this was to eliminate the possibility for salary negotiations in her company, as I mentioned in part 1 of this essay series, we cannot create so-called solutions that are essentially “Fairness for women and injustice to men”. We don’t need to discourage men from appropriate risk-taking we need to encourage women to take appropriate risks or at least teach them how to do so. This is a skill that should be taught in high school, college or career training programs. Once women know how to successfully take the risk they can choose to do so or not, that would level the playing field in a way that benefits women but does not hurt men.

$.24 vs $.04

There is newer research that suggests men and women ask for raises at the same rate and women are simply given raises less often or given negative feedback after asking, but most of the research on this subject overwhelming reports that is not the case, men ask far more —so we ought to take this newer research with a grain of salt until there are more studies with similar outcomes. This is not to deny the existence of sexism as a force that holds women back, the lack of support for mothers is a form of sexism, “But the failure to negotiate higher pay is crucial. Research shows men are four times more likely than women to ask for a salary raise.”

Women have to be taught how to assess and take appropriate risks in the workplace, this is not a skill that comes naturally to us —and in many cases, that’s a good thing, but in the workplace, a little risk-taking pays off. Yet, we must remember that when we rule motherhood out of the equation we are only talking about a $.04 gap —important but not as significant as a $0.24 gap. And when we focus on only the wage gap we’re missing out on a much bigger issue, workplaces that don’t accommodate women with families, workplaces that force them to choose between family and work, a choice that isn’t fair to women or their families. We can and must do better than that.

________

Resources:

+Gender Differences in Risk Aversion and Ambiguity Aversion, http://www.nber.org/papers/w14713

+Why Men Are 3 Times More Likely Than Women to Succeed in Salary Negotiations, http://fortune.com/2016/05/02/woman-negotiation-success/

+Do Women Avoid Salary Negotiations? Evidence from a Large Scale Natural Field Experiment, http://gap.hks.harvard.edu/do-women-avoid-salary-negotiations-evidence-large-scale-natural-field-experiment

+Research Stating ‘Women Ask For Pay Raises As Much As Men’ Is Misleading, https://www.forbes.com/sites/kimelsesser/2016/09/07/research-stating-women-ask-for-pay-raises-as-much-as-men-is-just-wrong/#6f7259a53983

+Ask For A Raise? Most Women Hesitate, https://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133599768/ask-for-a-raise-most-women-hesitate 

+How to Fix Feminism, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/12/opinion/sunday/how-to-fix-feminism.html

There is no gender pay gap, but that doesn’t mean the workplace is fair to women (Part 2/3)

February 5, 2018

So how can we make the workplace more friendly to women, esp. women with children? Here are a few ideas:

Baby on board

One businesswoman, I’ve always looked up to was Rachel Zoe, she seems to have it all —the man, the business, the baby. But she became even more of a hero to me when she opened a nursery in her office about two years ago. About the decision, she said, “I wanted to create an environment where these new mothers wouldn’t have to make a choice between career and motherhood.” Opening nurseries in the workplace would make it easier for new moms to return to work, it allows mothers to both stays engaged in the workforce and in their child’s life, especially for those mothers who may want to breastfeed. In my alma mater, Teacher’s College Columbia University there were nursing rooms where the mother could feed their children. These spaces say, “you are welcome”, spaces that are welcoming to moms are women-friendly work environments.

Flextime

Flextime allows women to work the same amount of hours during the week but within their schedule. A mom with young children may opt out of the higher position at work or may cut back in her hours to spend more time with her children but she may not have to make that choice if her time was flexible. If she could work longer hours on fewer days, or work evenings instead of daytime or work weekends instead of weekdays, etc. she may be more able to stay in the workforce. Many women prefer balance and therefore would greatly benefit from flexible hours.

Work from home

Can she work from home? While many workplaces still demand their workers come in from 9-5pm it often isn’t necessary. If an employees job is largely comprised of using a computer and they have significant family responsibilities (like a new mom), why not let that employee work from home? If the work is quality and turned in on time, what difference does it make? A slight alternative to this is allowing employers to spend part of their workday working from home and to be present in the office on set days and hours, example, they must come in for 2 hours on Monday and Friday, that way they’re available for things like staff meetings but are able to work from home and attend to family needs most of the week.

Part-time

Some women are forced to leave their job if they aren’t able to work full time. This all or nothing attitudes pushes women out of the workplace unnecessarily, find ways to allow her to work part time especially after childbirth, other employees may be happy to pick up the slack and extra pay until she’s able to come back full time.

So, while I strongly believe women-friendly policies must focus on women with families since that is when women are most likely to “fall off” their career track and that is the group amongst women the largest pay gap as compared to men, some may still be tempted to ask How do we explain the gender pay gap between single men and women? That’s where I believe gendered differences do in fact play a significant role.

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