Saturday, September 29, 2012

"The Myth of the Male Decline"

Check out this interesting article in today's New York Times regarding the recent buzz about "the male decline." It's a great article, and well worth your time. Here is one particularly discouraging quote that discusses the motherhood penalty as part of the larger sexist hegemony:
Once they have children, wives usually fall further behind their husbands in earnings, partly because they are more likely to temporarily quit work or cut back when workplace policies make it hard for both parents to work full time and still meet family obligations.But this also reflects prejudice against working mothers. A few years ago, researchers at Cornell constructed fake résumés, identical in all respects except parental status. They asked college students to evaluate the fitness of candidates for employment or promotion. Mothers were much less likely to be hired. If hired, they were offered, on average, $11,000 less in starting salary and were much less likely to be deemed deserving of promotion. The researchers also submitted similar résumés in response to more than 600 actual job advertisements. Applicants identified as childless received twice as many callbacks as the supposed mothers.
This infographic was found alongside the article linked to above, and can be found here.

The article wraps up discussing the "male mystique," that is, how men are bound within their sex to particular roles and expectations:
Just as women who display “masculine” ambitions or behaviors on the job are often penalized, so are men who engage in traditionally female behaviors, like prioritizing family involvement. Men who take an active role in child care and housework at home are more likely than other men to be harassed at work. Men who request family leave are often viewed as weak or uncompetitive and face a greater risk of being demoted or downsized. And men who have ever quit work for family reasons end up earning significantly less than other male employees, even when controlling for the effects of age, race, education, occupation, seniority and work hours. Now men need to liberate themselves from the pressure to prove their masculinity. Contrary to the fears of some pundits, the ascent of women does not portend the end of men. It offers a new beginning for both. But women’s progress by itself is not a panacea for America’s inequities. The closer we get to achieving equality of opportunity between the sexes, the more clearly we can see that the next major obstacle to improving the well-being of most men and women is the growing socioeconomic inequality within each sex.
What do you think?