The recession is spoken about as if it is universal: blind to gender, class and race it will hurt us all. Yet the reality is that groups which are already disadvantaged will pay the biggest price: not only are they they worst affected, but our government is providing them with the least support.
This is not the first time this pattern has occurred, the Asian recession in the 1990s forced women out of the workforce and back into the kitchen, or overseas, or into sex work. This recession is no different, early last year a US Senate committee investigated the impact of the growing recession and reported
TheseÂ findingsÂ clearlyÂ demonstrateÂ theÂ severeÂ and disproportionate impact of this recession on women and their families.
Analysis in the UK similarly predicts more severe effects on women. In New Zealand no-one seems to have done the research yet, but there’s every reason to expect the same outcome: women will experience redundancy, loss of hours, and reduced pay at greater rates than men.
So our government’s response? Well there are the tax cuts, which will disproportionately benefit men, there’s the economic stimulus package which appears targetted toward working men and, of course, Tony Ryall’s instructions to the public sector to suppress women’s pay.
National is determined to keep bankers in business, corporates afloat, construction workers busy, and boost the pay packets of the wealthy; women should expect no help as their jobs, hours and pay are cut.
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I constantly see people referring to the world we live in as ‘Post-Feminist’. This is just another reason why that isn’t true…
People also talk about NZ as post-colonial. As I once heard Hone Harawira say in response, “What? Did they all go home?”
So maybe they should be attracted to men who have the skills to provide instead the tall ones with the nice bod who ‘makes them laugh’.
I’ve emigrated from NZ in search of quality women who might actually be attracted to me. Very few Kiwi women could be bothered so off I’ve gone.
(I know this looks like a troll on an important issue where I happen to agree with the post. It’s par for course for a National government. I just happen to feel rather bitter.
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Anita. Hello? Our society is patriarchal. What’s the news here?
btw. I doubt women will experience redundancy ( ie severance payment) as women will tend to be concentrated in casual, part time and non-union work = no redundancy payment.
I think it’s a lot more complex than simply blaming men for keeping women down. I certainly think that we are at a stage where conscious discrimination by sex will almost never happen. This is a good thing.
There is something else going on.
Stephen Pinker, in his book The blank slate, seemed to provide the bones of a good argument in one of his chapters. His theory was that a) women tend to take time out of the workforce to care for children and therefore have less experience than men of similar age and b) that women tend to choose jobs that are less valuable – often because they are easier to do or have more flexible time commitments. (I’m summarizing heavily and that chapter had some good evidence footnoted.)
He made the point that women at the age before child-bearing, 25-30, in industries that aren’t teaching, childcare or nursing, made about 99% of what men in the same age bracket do. (Close enough, imho, as to be explainable by statistical error.)
There is some progress being made: women now have the majority in University, I believe they also have the majority in the law faculties, they are certainly becoming doctors in higher numbers. However, they aren’t turning up in more technical fields such as engineering or my own field of software engineering. Where they do turn up they tend to be testers or occaisionally business analysts or project managers. It’s quite curious to note the gendered division of labour between developers and testers.
However, as a society, we don’t value children as much. If we accept, just for the sake of this paragraph’s argument, that, say, 5 years less experience is the sole reason for lower women’s pay rates, then why is this a bad thing? Can we not say that (being home with 2 kids for 5 years) + $45,000pa = $50,000pa?
I’ll also note that remarking on the pay rate difference is an indvidualist notion. It’s a view that the unit that matters is the individual instead of, say, the family or the group. The quaint 1850-1950 notion of stay at home mum and working dad was an agreed social norm with social pressure to keep it in place because it was reasonably effective at bringing up children. You could choose to view this enforced division of labour by gender as the group being chosen over the individual.
I worry that birth rates are falling among rich people (by whom I mean the majority of NZ’s population) because children are perceived as too expensive and too costly to one’s effort to keep up with the Jones’. I fear that this will lead to a situation where those that want women to have a more equal share in life will lose out to those that don’t simply because those that don’t have more children.
We’ve made some extremely large changes in the way we have children and structure our families in only about two generations. While we shouldn’t go back I feel we have a long way to go forward to find something that will work for us.
What do you think the effect of excluding all women dominated professions is?
One can easily argue that it trapped both men and women in roles and responsibilities they didn’t prefer and that other structures raise children just as well while allowing their parents more freedom than your model.
One could argue that, perhaps, raising children is not the only outcome of value.
What’s the point of accepting it just for the sake of the paragraph’s argument given that it is demonstrably wrong? You seem to be setting it up as a fundamental assumption for your argument, but pretending that you are not (and that you don’t even believe it).
imperial zeppelin writes,
Fair call â€“ NZ still patriarchal and perpetuating deep seated gender inequities, film at 11 :)
Again you say something contentious but phrase it as if you might not actually believe it. It’s a common tactic for saying something contentious/debatable while providing a defence if you’re called on it.
Soâ€¦ do you believe women should be attracted to men who have the skills to provide etc?
If so, why?
If not, why did you put that in your comment?
Your second response. Essentially meaningless.
Big smile ’cause that’s just fine.
First response. Your covering a lot of ground there. So first up, I am a man. In my view…
child rearing is not valued at all in our oh so progressive and enlightened society.
whereas the income of an individual (the male) provided for a family in the past, we are now talking household incomes, so we hit a double whammy in regards to women
Women are very prominent in higher levels of education, but that does not translate to workforce representation.
capitalism is predicated on exploitation of the individual worker. Since many women necessarily disengage from the workforce they are less exploitable = less employable where the job involves high level skills being persistently exploitable over a period of time = de facto limitation of choices for women.
If gender is not a concious factor in employment then the problem is compounded because there is no recognition of discrimination on the part of the employer, therefore more difficult to challenge.
Yes, children are not valued which by extension means that the child carer is not valued and by further extension the child barer is not valued.
Equality in terms of gender, race or whatever can only be realised by stepping beyond the bounds that Capitalist dynamics impose. Otherwise there is only amelioration of inequalities effects.
Assuming that you are not asking this rhetorically the answer is that the average wage goes down. Nursing and teaching are not paid that well. Some portion of this can be explained by a greater supply of people pushing the price down but it doesn’t explain why those traditionally female professions are still female dominated. That’s a key questions.
I would agree. I’ve been doing some thinking on this prior to this conversation and I don’t believe our traditional view of the family is as traditional as we think. I don’t have a complete grasp on the history here, it’s something I’m planning on researching, but let me make the argument.
I’m suggesting that the idea of mum, dad, some kids living by themselves in a single house is a concept that came in (in the Western world) sometime in the 1800’s with the movement of people from farms to the cities.
If we take current belief about our pre-agricultural forebears then we see that while there was a gendered division of labour (for sensible reasons) it was groups that did the work. i.e. it was normally men that went off and did the hunting – on average, men are stronger and faster than women. Women, otoh, would go off and gather roots, berries and other food. In both cases, it’s a group that’s doing the job and that makes childcare a little easier. i.e. a group of women can go gathering, taking a group of children, that they all look after. Each woman is not isolated at home with a brood of kids to look after. Also note that the women are probably bringing home food far more regularly than the men (therefore doing more work?). Our evidence suggests that meat only turned up once a week. Also note that each band (up to 150 people) would likely have been quite closely related to each other. It makes a lot of sense to look after another family’s kids for a bit if they share 1/4 or 1/8th of your genes.
This makes me wonder if there’s not some family structure where the load of work for income and childcare work cannot be shared by more than one couple. However, with today’s highly mobile workforce it would be kind of hard to achieve.
Yes – to individuals. But in an evolutionary sense it’s the only outcome of value.
Because, by not including confounding factors, I could make that argument more clear. i.e. that the time off for caring for children should have some value in society.
I do think that a large component of pay is based on years of experience and that time off for child care is therefore *a* determinant of the pay difference. Secondly, I don’t believe it would be a good thing to try and fix this by making employers ignore 5 years taken for childcare when determining salary. If an employer thinks that a employee can get a better salary somewhere else then the employer needs to match it. Otherwise NZ would lose good staff overseas to where they would get more pay.
In this case, I said it as I meant it. The ‘So maybe’ was a rhetorical device that clearly didn’t come across. I was also a bit hesitant making the comment because it’s off the topic of your original post and came across as a bit of a troll – which was not my intention. This does get a bit personal for me, hence I’m using a different handle, but I’ll attempt to work with the issue.
Generally speaking, what attracts men and women are indicators that the other partner will help provide good children.
In growing up, I was sold a tale that if you work hard in school and get a good job then you will be attractive to women. It hasn’t really worked out that way. I *feel* that women are attracted to tall guys with big upper bodies who are noisy and boisterous. I *feel* that this attraction ignores how good that man might be as a partner and a father. Big tall guys would certainly have been an advantage when providing for one’s family required physical work. But that advantage has (mostly) gone away now but attraction hasn’t kept up.
I also think that, if you follow my original argument through, it’s rather uncharitable. The implication is that I was arguing that women should marry rich men so their ‘pretty little heads’ can be cared for when they get disproportionately laid off in bad times. It doesn’t actually address your point as to why they might be disproportionately laid off.
Hmmm…. I was brought up by a feminist solo mother – to the point where I would normally read the feminist magazine Broadsheet. I would generally sign up to the tenets of equity feminism – that women and men should have equal opportunity in our society.
But as I’ve grown older I can see that it’s not quite working. I’m not harking back to the old days but trying to find a new way forward. Some of your comments appear to trap me into having said that the old ways are good – which is not my intention.
Some of my comments are couched defensively because they go against how I was brought up and common liberal belief – and I do identify as a liberal – and therefore I’m struggling to deal with ideals that don’t quite work.
You write like you think you’re entitled to the attention of women – that if you do something, or behave in a certain way, or whatever, then they’re being unfair and irrational if they don’t pick you (which they clearly haven’t, so they clearly are).
With this, you argue an evolutionary line that rationality in mate selection by women is wholly determined by genetic, physical and material security for themselves and their children. You argue that women shouldn’t be bound to outdated conceptions of what constitutes a good provider, but that they are.
Unfortunately, evolutionary arguments are incompatible with the `it’s not fair’ line above because nature is not fair. Evolutionary arguments are also not compatible with rationality arguments, because evolution is not rational in the conscious sense that women choose mates based on their objective ability to provide. So, which is it? Are women irrational and unfair, or are they irrational and slaves to evolutionary impulse?
Not quite working for whom? The purpose of feminism isn’t to deliver you a mate – in fact, it isn’t about you at all. It’s about women.
You claim to be bitter about women because they haven’t chosen you as a mate. On this basis, you are inventing or adopting justifications which you admit you would not otherwise hold for why feminism doesn’t work. While I don’t know you, and I’m not a woman, based on your comments here I would generalise that you don’t have a mate because you’re bitter about women, not that you’re bitter because you don’t have a mate.
Unfortunately the documented research on the pay differential is normalised for experience and qualifications. A given woman with the same levels of both as a given man will be paid (through bonuses) and promoted less, even when she does the same or more work. One of the problems is that women are not given credit for ideas which are actually theirs a lot of the time.
Another problem, as Anita suggests, is that traditionally female professions- even ones that are not very accommodating of work flexibility and time off for family- are significantly undervalued. There is a perception that if a woman can do something it is clearly worth less than if men do it, even among men who profess to see women as equals.
I don’t buy this division of labour stuff because it simply does not excuse a woman in the same job with the same or more experience, qualifications, and workload, being skipped over for a man when there’s a promotion to give out.
And that’s without even mentioning the boy’s club mentality.
Ah, there’s a shortage of both nurses and teachers in NZ, and has been for a significant period of time. So the supply and demand argument for lower wages doesn’t wash very well.
Great post Anita, interesting comment discussion, and I’m looking forward to hopefully working with you on a little bit of opposition to this in the near future :-)
That is not a feminist view, nor one you can hold feminists responsible for. Financial success to score grateful women is the old patriarchal myth.
In my world doing well at school and getting a good job does not make one a good father or partner. Emotional competence, flexibility, the ability to see ones partner for themself not their gender, the ability to love, the ability to share and the commitment to being part of something greater are so much more important than the pay packet someone can bring to the table.
I’m not even sure why you’re replying to Anon7. I think he is just trying to get a reaction, saying ‘controversial’ things to get a response. He’s already confessed that he is lonely and ‘can’t get a woman’, so he’s come on here for a little bit of negative attention seeking. How did he even FIND this blog, anyway? A little worrying…..
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