Follow-up on “We aren’t exactly closing the gap …”

8 05 2009

About a month ago, I blogged about an article in the Tufts Daily about the employment gap, and how during the recession, women appear to be closing the gendered employment gap that we’ve seen for years.  In my blog post, I commented on how men disproportionately losing jobs during the recession was not actually improving gender equality in employment.  I expressed my concern about how the Daily was reporting this narrowing of the gap in a positive light, without problematizing specific issues, such as the fact that women tend to work more lower-paying jobs in lower-paying industries than men do, and that more women work part-time than men (and part-time and full-time are extremely different in more ways than just hours worked).  I finally agreed with one person who was quoted in the article, who explained that simply because the numbers are changing and appear to show equality, women are still treated much differently (in a negative way) than men are in the hiring process.

Why am I repeating myself?  Well, I found this article today through Shakesville (available through a link on the right side of our blog).  In it, the author explains more fully the gendered aspects of the recession, going into great detail about the ways in which this recession is claimed to hurt men more than women.  Some highlights from the article:

So just to be clear: we’re neatly bypassing the facts that more men than women work, that women’s work tends to be part-time, and that it also tends to be lower-paid, and surmising that women are coming out on top in this economic crisis because fewer of them are losing their part-time/occasional, low-paying jobs.

We seem to assume that women’s response to economic hardship (moving or changing to find work) has little or no cost, whereas men’s reality (lost employment) does. There is a cost associated with this perceived flexibility, that may involve education, transportation, shifts in family care arrangements, or increased care burdens within the home.

And if the response is to invest in those industries with the highest losses, where men are more heavily concentrated, then at best, the post-recession economy will position men and women exactly where they were before: with women earning much less. What is required is not just worker protection laws to eliminate discrimination and create equal employment in those sectors without regard to sex, but also more jobs in women-dominated sectors, with higher, living wages and increased benefits.

This is an excellent blog post, with quotations and information that wasn’t present in the Daily’s article.  I highly recommend it.


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