Patriarchy and Wages

A friend of mine sent me a rather hateful article from CBS News that was in essence an apologist for the patriarchy trying to obfuscate the reality of the situation.  My friend was just asking for my opinion on it (didn’t support the ideas – just wanted my thoughts).  So… here are my thoughts.  I’ve put this together in about 5 minutes, so forgive any glibness or lack of depth.
There are a number of points to address here, so I’ll just run through them one by one.
Men are far more likely to choose careers that are more dangerous,
Chicken and egg problem – those careers are gendered masculine so women don’t choose them & because women don’t choose them, they are gendered masculine.  When women choose a career, the gender of that career changes, which historically leads to lower wages.  In Russia, for instance, following the Revolution, women entered the medical profession in droves, leading to medicine becoming feminized as a career path.  To this day in Russia, doctors make less than comparably educated professionals, due to the process known as “feminization” of the career.  It happened in North America with teaching in the late 1800s.  Each career has a culture and that culture can force certain groups out, women, racial minorities, whomever. The fact that the careers are more dangerous really has little to do with the matter.
Men are far more likely to work in higher-paying fields and occupations (by choice).
See above.
Men are far more likely to take work in uncomfortable, isolated, and undesirable locations
Yeah, and if you were the target in a culture that repeatedly says that if you go out late at night then you will be raped, would you want to work in those jobs?  If you were a boss, would you hire someone to take these jobs, when you too have been told that women are by nature victims?  Wouldn’t you think that would be an instant lawsuit?  Hence women who may want these jobs self select out on the one hand and are selected out on the other by potential employers, all because of the patriarchal construction of femininity-qua-victimhood.
Men work longer hours than women do.
Simply not true.  Studies have repeatedly shown that women tend to work longer hours than men.  This work is compounded when domestic unpaid labour is factored in.  In fact, that is one thing that this list really doesn’t seem to take into account – unpaid domestic labour is still labour and thus still counts as work.
Further, this, like many of the points on this rather hateful list, actually reinforces patriarchal norms as natural.  The playing field is not even between women and men and the list is trying to say it is.
Men are more likely to take jobs that require work on weekends and evenings
Again, this has more to do with traditional gender categories.  Our culture baulks at the idea of a mother leaving her children to work on the weekends, but has no problem with fathers working long hours to “bring home the bacon.”  With years of programming telling you (and your boss) that it is ok to work late hours, are you likely to say no to OT?  No, you become a hero provider.  On the other hand, what does the culture say about a woman who does the same at the expense of her family?  She’s a bad mother.
Even within the same career category, men are more likely to pursue high-stress and higher-paid areas of specialization.
The stress comes from the masculinization of the discipline and the pay, likewise.  See above.
This one is interesting if only because the study points out that this is a very small sample group and that you CANNOT extrapolate this across all women.  It really only applies to young women in certain areas of the US and even there, there are localized reasons as to why it is the case.  Mostly, education.  Women are more likely to pursue higher education than men, which is one of the reasons why education itself is becoming feminized.  Further, the fact that these women have never had a child is itself interesting since it has been shown time after blessed time that as soon as a woman has a child, her earning potential stagnates.
Anyhow, that’s my two cents.  I’ve not had time to put the studies together that refute this, but I’m sure that I could if you really want me to.


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