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The Plight of the Alpha Female « Back to Story
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Another reason women don't want to be promoted the upper 1% of the work force: When a woman is put in that position, It usually means that TSHTF within the year unless she can pull a miracle out of her six. It's gotten to the point where I cringe when a female is promoted to a leadership position. It means that The Old Boys Club has selected a fall guy. When TSHTF the Old Boys can say; "See!? Women cant handle positions of power!" Sad but true. You couldn't pay me enough to put up with that!
I qan confirm,as a French person that the situation in France is as you describe
most women I know who have reached the top as academics,artists and executives around me haven't had any kids and when they did it happened to be whith an all sharing companion
let us hope that women who have been betrayed by recent so-called revolutions and who outperform men
react and reverse this reborn conservative trend
To put it clearly any real evolution in the Mulim world can and will only come from women mobilizing
Alpha females? All I see are females being afraid of their own shadows. They care more about getting a man to use linkedin or google plus than getting any type of actual respect from men. Shoot, some aren't even aware they're pregnant until it starts peeking. Ah ha ha ha. Where do these Alpha females lurk so I may have a look at one?
My opinion is this article is too damn long.
I wrote an article as a rebuttal to the end of men.
This is just excellent! I work with the families of gifted children and although I'm totally for equal rights and opportunity, I'm very aware that males and females have many differences in preferences, likes, strengths, what they want, etc. This is so well-written that I plan to share it extensively. Thank you!
No amount of social engineering can change human nature. "Gender equity" is a foolish pipe dream. Take a look at the ethnographic record. The simple fact is there has never been any human society with any degree of formal hierarchy that was not patriarchal (i.e. the high status and high power positions are held predominately by men), despite frequent (false or wholly unsubstantiated) claims to the contrary. There is also no record of any society in which women did not bear primary responsibility for childcare. All of this is, of course, precisely what evolutionary theory would lead us to expect.
The radical feminists want to create a society fundamentally different than any that has ever existed. Unfortunately for them, pesky biological realities keep getting in the way.
I'm curious about the role of extended family in supporting women at the critical juncture of their career where they decide to scale back (and have children) or charge ahead. As a working woman in my 60's, I would gladly retire to care for my daughter's children while she pursues her law career.
Why not even mention stay at home Dads? With the level of child care and personal support a stay at home parent can provide, women do have the time, energy, and motivation to put in the hours required to make it to the top. They can also stay close to their children through their partner, rather than a short summary of the day from hired help.
Sandra how can society value or not value anything? Only private business owners can make those determinations. Underpaid according to whose metrics? Is it a form of discrimination for private business owners to compensation private employees according to their own assessment of an individuals probable contribution to their firm?
True. Now I ask - if society values professional women in the workforce, why are they still discriminated (and if hired, underpaid) when they seek to reenter the workplace after their children leave the nest? I'll bet gender discrimination is now compounded with age discrimination. At a time in their lives when women can dedicate all their living hours to work they enjoy and have delayed then it may be too late to compete with experienced males and with a male dominated professional world making the hiring decisions, do they stand a chance when now they also have a few wrinkles?
Apart from all the issues raised in the article, I always find discussions of gender interesting for the way they typically leave engineering off the list of professions. This is odd because there are no barriers to entrance for women in this profession, it pays well, and is not perceived as fostering a particularly aggressive level of competition. Moreover, the degree has great credibility and portability, and can support a career in virtually any other area. Despite this - and even with faculties of engineering actively courting women- women represent at most 15% of engineers and in some cases far less (the maximum is chemical engineering, though, at a full 50%). And there are few women at the top there, either. Women are far better represented in the life sciences. This suggests gender-specific factors and preferences may be at work in addition to those points Ms. Hymowitz makes in her article.
scrap the welfare state entirely. Let old people fend for themselves after they have exhausted whatever they have paid into the system as social security is an immoral intergenerational ponzi scheme.
SS is going to go bust in a few decades because of demographic changes.
A better solution? We could always return to doing what people have been doing for thousands of years – taking care of our own elderly parents instead of dumping them on the government to provide for. Anathema, I know, to many Americans. But the Amish are excused from paying FICA taxes because they believe in doing exactly this thing.
A reasonable compromise between what feminists think desirable and what mens rights activists such as myself think desirable would be to eliminate the income tax for most people and have a progressive consumption tax would go a long way in encouraging desirable behavior in both men and women, this would allow men to extract status out of working once again.
And yet Democrats are able to use these statistics on the dearth of women in the top jobs to impose governmental solutions "equalizing" the numbers, claiming that if there is a difference it has to be due to discrimination. That it doesn't means nothing to these Democratic bean counters, what matters is the claim, not the truth.
Steve B, thank you for putting your kids first. They are very lucky to have such a dad! Kids care more about time and attention than material things - and the joy of watching those children develop is priceless.
Very nice summary of the reality of kids versus career. I can speak to this with some authority as a single dad with two children, aged 11 and six.
Every factor you've outlined so well here applies just as much to men in the same situation.
There are limits on the hours I can work. The economics of child care versus work are the same. Tomorrow I'm going to cover a movie premier at midnight - and hire a babysitter that will absorb 80% of what I'll make during those hours.
Just recently I had to remove myself from consideration for a job that would have been interesting, fulfilling, and paid 50% more than what I make now because it would have involved 7-10 days travel per month.
I rely on help from my family way more than I like.
I am very lucky to have a job (journalist) with flexible hours, and can often take my children to events I cover in summer evenings. I also have an editor in the same situation, which helps too.
No one is saying the government should not have a program to help the less fortunate, we are just saying if the government did less everyone would have more including the unfit mothers of democracy that absolutely have to care about no matter what.
Zeitgeist: "All that it means is that women are more sensible and don't believe in such imbalanced and skewed unhealthy growth just as the growth of cancer cells"
What an interesting analogy. Tell me, do you think that eventual cancer cures will be discovered by people working, at most, 9 to 5, and devoting time to "family , children and reputation, social responsibilities and, social values"? Or are they more likely to be developed by monomaniacal driven people, male or female?
For every "well-balanced" individual (or harmonious collaborative group) who has provided humanity with significant advances (in the sciences, arts, business, ...), there are dozens if not hundreds of those "unsocial" alphas you put down.
I am reminded, yet again, of the famous Heinlein quote: "Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as 'bad luck.'"
If you, man or woman, don't like the rat race and want a more balanced life, go for it! That's precisely what I've done. But don't try to pull down the small minority of others, or eliminate the rewards system that drives many of them. If you do, you are setting society up for "bad luck."
I don't agree with the conclusions arrived at .
Nor did I like the patronizing tone of the very title .
The very title of the article is a pathetic attempt at " brain washing " .
( "Women remain scarce in the most elite dizzy heights "positions".
And, it's by choice ". ....
Their "Plight " , the "Alpha- woemen " ( mis- spelt by me , intentionally )
My foot ! ).
Women are condescendingly lectured upon as if to children by nuns in a convent school ;
where the nuns would exhort,like:
" Good girls don't want to do it . Do we ? "
When one is a child,one wants to test oneself against the world. The child seeks out challenges to pit it's wits against them and self-assess it's own strength and weaknesses; to see where it stands vis- vis the universe. The child wants to try out everything , good and bad , courts danger and defy logic and tradition ;
rebelliously push the fences , to touch the limits to see how far it can go .
But once you test it all out , grow up and attain a degree of maturity ( hopefully ) one will know what one's true interests are, where one's talents lie , what one's potentials are , and accordingly decide what one wants in life and how to get it , given the world for what it is. Or, to reform it ,to the best of one's abilities.
Like wise , the women folk were initially in their childhood enthusiasm. The western women in their yearning to get rid of the yoke of sexist oppression , gave birth to feminism in the late 19 th century. ( "A room of her own" by Virginia wolf etc etc ) .
Twentieth century saw them grow up , pitting their wits against men in a cow- boyish macho "man's world" and holding their own , finding their own strengths and,so called weaknesses.
The 21st century female ( the young ones ) are now ready to take on the world ,on their own . They are turning their men- assigned "weaknesses"( ie, caring equally for their children and family ) into their strengths. Women are putting the brakes on the one- sided imbalanced cancerous growth of "money- chasing" , power mongering men who were so madly enthusiastic about , to the exclusion of everything else in life even of one's own family , children and reputation, social responsibilities and, social values of life, all in the name of chasing
" career and elite position " (and, other seductive lofty- sounding terms ), but all boiling down to money- chasing for power over others. (a' la' Rajat Gupta,DSK ,Rajaram types are just typical examples of their ilk) ; the ultra rich at a loss now , losing not only their bearings but their moorings as well ; don't even know where to invest and what to do with their ill- gotten moneys .
And , that is what the men want the women to believe are "elitist heights" and, wonder why no women are in that crowd !
All that it means is that women are more sensible and don't believe in such imbalanced and skewed unhealthy growth just as the growth of cancer cells, fatally bringing the entire system down ultimately.
It's as if the women were letting the men run their greedy course and come to their own " conclusions " , I mean , their own end.
Now is the time for the 21 st century women , who have come of age , to take over and run the world which the men would better hand over to them with reluctant grace .
That process has started .
The men are standing aside and teasing the women , " let's see, baby, how you do it now with your way of giving equal importance to family and society ".
The men are throwing the gauntlet in false bravado challenging the women to
remain as women but to act as men . ( " Why can't a woman be as a man ?", My Fair Lady etc ).
But women are going to do it the women's way .
Women can run things in supportive groups .
Standing for each other, taking place for the other , when one has to take time- outs.
Individual way is not the only way.
Groupism , not individualism !
That doesn't make them women robots ,as men are apt to think, but doing it the bio- intelligent way , nature's own way.
Cell- mapping etc !
But, for the benefit and understanding of illiterate,unsocial macho- men folk
I draw analogy to road traffic in India and in the UK or USA.
In India , the roads are rough , potholed , with broken edges ,the traffic wild ,everybody pushing everybody else off the road ostensibly to get ahead of each other ,( running the same high- end , high- speed motor vehicles they run abroad ) , but no one reaching anywhere any sooner except the extremely reckless and feckless ones, at the cost of every rule and regulation and social responsibility . No one loses their driving license .
And , in the UK or the USA the traffic flows smoothly at a good speed because ,
everyone obeys the road rules and road etiquettes or their driving license gets cancelled.
Indians think that's the way they can drive on the road ; the only way to get ahead of each other .
They feel , "how else can I get ahead at all , except by being pushy , pushing and a bit reckless , even forgetting their family responsibilities in their attempts to get ahead on the road ?" .( at least I was one who thought like that in those
days . I am sure that that's the way other Indians who have not seen any other way the road being used, also think ).
Now is the turn of the women of the 21 st century to teach the men how to conduct life in an orderly , balanced way . It is the women who can take the world to peace and prosperity . The men have run their reckless feckless course . Now it's time they get back to cooperating with the women coming to terms with their family and social system, social responsibilities instead of confronting
them in unproductive conflicts .
The sooner the men do that , the better .
Women should set their own standards and re-set the work places to integrate it with domestic and family needs and imperatives , make their own rules and regulations accordingly , re- writing the edicts of men created for their mayhem meaning less power- mongering life- style.
I am confident that the women will succeed where the men had so miserably failed , in running a sane and balanced world on it's way to inclusive adventures and thrills
Epoche- thank you for the best laugh I've had in ages.
Great article, Ms. Hymowitz. My only correction would be that when women have a family AND employment that they actually work double-shift, only - one of the shifts is not paid. However, not having to send your kids to therapy for years because you truly have healthy relationships with them and know what is going on in their lives is actually like money in the bank.
Wow, a rare moment of sanity.
Liz you obviously think the world should look differently than I do. Perhaps we should bring back segregation to resolve these issues? I dont see why it is so necessary for people who share nothing in common to be forced to associate with each other. We could fund the whole movement by posting a racist and sexist ad for employment and make a movie about the EEOC and its response. This would prove precisely what? That people who share nothing in common should be forced to associate with one another or should not?
Liz an even better solution would be to scrap the welfare state entirely. Let old people fend for themselves after they have exhausted whatever they have paid into the system as social security is an immoral intergenerational ponzi scheme. The point about children the issue is not whether or not children are needed the issue is who is supposed to pay for them such subtle distinctions apparently being very difficult to make. I could just as easily say that men shouldnt have to pay child support because children are needed and it would be the mirror image of your advocacy of child care but nobody would be fooled. As far as going to Saudi Arabia its ironic that you bring this up because it is a polygamous society and that is exactly what feminism leads to when there are no restrictions on female hypergamy. Polygamous societies are very barbaric.
I am very grateful for this article. Usually the only analyses we get of the wage gap and the “glass ceiling” are the ones that – as Hymowitz says – make sense in gender studies class but bear almost no relation to the real world.
There are two things I am particularly glad to read here. First, the acknowledgment that “women are less inclined than men to think that power and status are worth the sacrifice of a close relationship with their children,” and the associated realization that this is not something we need to regret.
Second, the recognition that increased workforce participation by professional women in the U.S. has been supported in large part by income inequality which allows childcare to be purchased cheap. Feminism supposedly is opposed to the devaluation of childcare, but it depends on it to a large extent. The two-career family only works if a nanny can be hired for far less than either of the parents earn. The women´s movement worries about the insecure economic future of a full-time mother, about what may happen to her in the case of divorce. But bring a third person into the home to take care of the children, and there is far less concern among feminists about what sort of lifetime economic guarantees she (always a she) takes from her participation in the family.
Look, I'm a male programmer, and I think that the macho culture of very long hours as a standard is absolutely ridiculous and counterproductive. I also know that my company was founded by people (call them alphas, 1%, whatever) who did have the drive and ability to work such hours. Should our economy be based on people sacrificing their lives to their jobs? Absolutely not! But we should acknowledge that much of what we already have and are yet to have is dependent on the tiny minority who do make that sacrifice, and we shouldn't be discouraging them, or start berating them for not being gender-balanced.
Epoche, I suggest there are places that conform to your world views - try Saudia Arabia or the wonderful nation they are trying to create in Egypt.
Firstly, if we ban abortions (and I am not speaking from a moral standpoint)you are going to create more welfare dependancy. We need more people in the form of potential wage earners to fund the massive entitlement programs for the elderly like Social Security and Medicare as well as Medicaid (nursing homes). Since our current policies subsidize both poor women having children as well as illegal aliens, it would make more sense to instead encourage women who have the intelligence and drive to hold down a job to have more children, as well as change our immigration laws to favor the educated and skilled.
"Slaughter stumbled onto a truth that many are reluctant to admit: women are less inclined than men to think that power and status are worth the sacrifice of a close relationship with their children. Academics and policymakers in what’s called the “work/family” field believe that things don’t have to be this way. But nothing in the array of work/family policy prescriptions—family leave, child care, antidiscrimination lawsuits, flextime, and getting men to cut their work hours—will lead women to infiltrate the occupational 1 percent. They simply don’t want to."
Exactly--which means that the real enemy of these social engineers is freedom, not sexism or misogny.
What we're seeing is that the majority of what I would call mentally healthy women reject a life of sacrifice to commerce, or pursuit of any field of work that follows such extreme market-driven practices.
What we're also seeing is that young men are following suit. Adam Cox's book On Purpose Before Twenty includes results of hundreds of interviews with young men,and the thing they feared MOST was doing work that they did not enjoy. A lack of purposeful work is a crisis for the next generation.
So it makes me wonder if the pool of "alphas" is going to shrink. If so, that may explain the poor quality of leadership we see at the top of many institutions. Our better and wiser people of both genders are opting out.
As an aside, it makes no sense to me that such jobs routinely require 70+ hours. Is this to cause sleep deprivation for brainwashing purposes? Seriously, a reasonable maximum-hour limit on salaried staff would really help unemployment, and open up the glass ceiling.
This is an interesting take on the glass ceiling that women face in the working environment. Others have cited gender bias as the main reason that there are very rarely women in positions of power, which I can understand. I have always considered that a women's parental instincts played a factor in their lack of ascendancy to (as you put it) occupational Olympus. However I didn't think that it impacted them so much in a competition to the top.
But on the topic of flextime, John Maynard Keynes posited that by now humans would be working very few hours and spending more time pursuing other avenues of interest because of drastically increasing wages. However as modern day society obviously tells us, this is not what is happening. Perhaps flextime is the what will push us in this direction and Keynes was correct all along. Who knows...
The solution is obvious: men (and a tiny proportion of women) must be legally prevented from devoting too much time to their careers. Only thus will we progress.
Is there anything a woman won't complain about? The only real "fault" men have in all this is letting things get so far out of hand. Men need to get control of the society they built, get women back in the kitchen where they can cluck with their friends about shoes and TV, and start repairing the damage that our "equal" society has brought down on the world.
This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free.
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When women complain of the glass ceiling instead of building the structures themselves they are admitting that women can do wonderful things with a house but they do need the house to be there in the first place.
Ever heard the expression "Hobson's Choice"??
It would certainly be very convenient for Corporate America to believe that it was women's CHOICE not to achieve top business positions.
Ah well, that's easy then. Not business's fault. Just lazy featherbrained women ignoring opportunity. Never let it be said that it was the fault of the corporate structure or business practices. Or outright prejudice on the part of businessmen.
It didn't take men long to figure out that if they had to compete on competency alone for jobs, women would walk all over them, as they are currently doing in the educational arena where the playing field is far more level. But chaps had a sneaky weapon - they could make sure that jobs and job practices were so hostile to family life that women were faced with the choice of having either paid work or children.
Nice gaming, men. Pity about your morality, and pity about the loss to the nation of half its brains and ability.
This is a typical Backlash article if ever I read one! There are many women who aspire to senior management and Board roles. Unless they can meet the test that says you have to have the values and thought patterns of the ruling elite and unless they are sponsored by that elite, they will not even be considered. In business it is still not what you know, but who you know. If business continues on this road, we will have more Enron-type failures of the system. Thankfully there are many men who see that the Alpha life is not good for any of us and who also want to spend time with their families.
Here are my comments elsewhere about Kay Hymowitz's admonition that we man up: The reason that more men are not in college or at least not achieving the way that women might like is that the economy has specifically been re-arranged to accommodate the feminine preference for material risk aversion making it difficult for men to extract status out of working. There are two ways of organizing society – as noted by Victorian Lawyer Sir Henry Maine A) Status (Compulsory cooperation) and B) Contract (Voluntary cooperation) and the modern progressive movement is a giant step backwards towards compulsory cooperation and away from voluntary cooperation. How a group of people determine achievement says nearly everything about how their lives are going to be lived – this is why Kay Hymowitz noted that these degrees “take years” in “preadulthood” but mistakenly blamed the “knowledge economy” instead of noting the shift away from material resourcefulness and towards credentialing as the source of social standing. the idea that economic activity is something we engage in as a social ritual that ‘sanctifies’ our social rank rather than something we do to cope with scarcity is regressive thinking not representative of progress. This was never going to be a simple matter of giving upper class, bored housewives something to do. Those are the “special ingredients” that Hanna Rosin never mentions. This was never going to be a simple matter of giving upper class, bored housewives something to do.
Liz we could raise the birth rate by outlawing abortion but we wont do that because it imposes costs on female sexual autonomy. Maternity leave is a form of private welfare. Women in general only care about childen politically insofar as it involves getting money from men who are not related to them as that is the whole purpose of feminism. This is why women are against any form of discrimination because no one would choose to associate a lot of these people if given the choice but it is very difficult to segregate oneself in this day and age. Its the most remarkable thing feminists such as Barbara Eherenreich hate white males but want to make it very hard for us to get away from feminism. You obvious see things differently than I do so why not allow people to segregate themselves?
Pauly the problem is not uniquely yours. It is a biological fact
The academics that write these articles still don't get it! They sit in their Ivory-Towers making inaccurate assumptions about the ease of work- family commitments with little consideration for a child's development. This article completely ignores the time consuming tasks that nurturing, developing children require. Nor does this article include any biological traits that differentiate mothers from men (not only women from men). Isn't it about time these family-study academics either change their research-hypothesis OR seek employment in alternative more worthwhile careers.
The problem as far as I'm concerned was never about the so-called "Alphas."
The one's getting screwed blued and tattooed are the Beta's, Gamma's, Delta's, Epsilons, and especially the Omega's like me.
Last week I heard a preacher telling me it was my duty to love my wife like Christ loved His church; then in the next breath he said that wives don't need to submit to their husbands anymore because that was sexist.
Then they wonder why I have no use for relationships with women, of any sort. If they don't respect me and refuse to even consider it then they shouldn't expect any love from me. Certainly not husbandly love that lays down its life for those he loves.
Apart from the "glass ceiling" in the professions, women are scarcely found in any pursuits that are fun, like:
aircraft and yacht design
physics and chemistry
Any woman who is not primarily into kids, cats, dogs, clothes and shopping, please stand up. Indeed, any woman who is sterilized should announce the fact in any interview, since no employer really wants the hassle of hiring a breeder.
I'm not sure many people actually read the article. She's actually agreeing with the argument that biology - and children - matter, and she shows that "child-friendly" policy doesn't always work (and can even be counterproductive by encouraging women to take advantage of it, effectively sidelining themselves).
At the end of the day, getting to be a CEO, a senior partner, or Wall Street hotshot requires such a single-minded commitment that few of either sex will achieve it. And the problem with such a commitment is that taking a few months away from it will inevitably damage your ability to achieve the highest levels.
A pregnant woman is going to be biologically "less than 100%" for at least six months per pregnancy, and those will happen in the peak "career climbing" years. Unless we discover ways to grow kids artificially, this won't change.
Forget any rational explanation of the phenomenon we observe...it's sexism!! And racism!! And greed!! And evil Capitalism!! And not enough sacrifice, not enough taxes, not enough "social justice," and, most importantly, not enough government control over the lives of the selfish individual!!!!!
This is sarcasm, in case you didn't notice...
A person has to put in so many hours of his or her life to gain experiences, expertise, and connections to become top dog.
At fifty, a top male can marry a 20 something or a 30 something to make babies, a top female cannot. A male can leave his babies to make a new family with a new female, a "good" one will pay child support for his old broods. Most females stay with their young.
Regardless of what Big Govt mandates, a male can delay fatherhood until after he's successful, a female cannot.
All well and good, but there's also a reason why the top fighter pilots are not women, even though both men and women can fly a plane.
I thought men and women are supposed to be equal, but this article suggests changing companies specifically to assist women. If men can handle a working environment, but women can't without special consideration, doesn't that mean right there that the genders are not equal?
Of course it's obvious to anyone not steeped in political correctness that men and women are not equal, they are different. Feminists know this, that's why they push for equality while still expecting men to hold doors open for them and workplaces to change the way they do business so that more women will work there. I can't stand when I hear women talking about having it all. No men have it all, and we don't whine about it.
But, wait just a minute . . .I thought that the “income gap” between men and women was due to massive, institutionalized discrimination against women in high paying professions, and everywhere else in the work force for that matter. Are you saying that all those Leftists/Liberals/Democrats that were screaming “women get paid only 72% of what men do” are not telling the whole truth? Is it possible that, in fact, women don’t pursue the super high-paying jobs that men due and this might account for their being a cumulative gap in total pay earned? No, not possible, it’s all do the Republicans “War on Women.” We all know this to be true, Obama and The New York Times said it was.
Correlation is not causation. Women have to learn to work differently from men who believe that blood, sweat and tears is the only route to follow.
If women were more critical and precise in their thinking they could do better.
Richard R. Bélec, Ph.D.
Clear,Crucial and Critical Thinking
Great comment Leslie.
I think your thoughts show that we need to be open to what an individual prefers and finds fulfilling in life. Women who want to enter the workforce can do so. There is nothing stopping them.
Kay's argument in this essay is essentially that because statistics show that many women are NOT entering or staying in the workforce, that there must be unequal opportunity for them to do so. What she forgets is that her aspirations do not represent those of many (I would say most) women in America. Many do prefer to be a wife and mother and are completely fulfilled by that lifestyle. I also think it's arrogant of Kay to assume that such a lifestyle choice is somehow lesser than pursuing a career.
Wealth or status doesn't make a "better" person. Doesn't our society still pity those who accomplish all of their career goals, but are miserable because they lost their family in the process? If not, then how far have we fallen that we have forgotten the most valuable things in life.
Karen says, "If women are restricted to the home, they will all become cowardly, dimwitted, weaklings grovelling to their husbands." This is one of the most "anti woman" statement and derogatory statements I have ever heard against woman. Shame on you!
Yes, I stayed at home with my children. But I did not become stupid. I find that women who are at home are highly creative. We have time to read and learn. I took my kids camping, hiking, rock climbing, to museums. I was fearless in taking them to the North Cascades or to remote Canada. When I die, these will be the happiest memories of my life. My husband did and does appreciate all I have done for the family. The end product, my sons are amazing people. Yes, amazing. They are amazing because I was a fabulous teacher. When I look at all the teachers they had k-12, I was the very best one. There dad was their second best teacher.
Karen, you insulted me with your comments about women who choose to raise their own children and not out-source the job.
Now that my kids are grown, I have built my own business and work out of my home. I would never go work for corporate America because I love the creativity and independence of working for myself.
I want to suggest two additional contributing factors to consider in women's career patterns, both consistent with the idea advanced in this article that the gap is at least in part a function of women’s choices.
My impression (although certainly not arrived at scientifically) is that few women are interested in men who want, or are even just willing, to stay home and take care of the kids, whereas I think a majority of men are perfectly happy at the prospect of their wives doing so (assuming that they can afford it). Many women still choose their mates to a considerable extent based on their earning ability. Most men do not. Men are happy to have high-earning spouses but as a group do not aim for it the way that women do, and they are comfortable with the idea of their wives staying home to raise the kids. I know that there are plenty of men and women who don’t conform to this description, and indeed I know some. I think that the description is nevertheless largely accurate, and what it means is that women (or rather the ones who win the high-earning mates) have the option to work as much or as little as they want, to stay at home with their kids or not, to be valued as women whether they work in an office or work at home at childrearing. If men had this flexibility to the same degree, and if they were valued to the same extent as fathers as they are as money earners, then I think that we would see many more men working less and raising the kids more. If women want men to raise the kids so that they can have high-powered careers then they need to stop choosing men based on their earning power.
Regarding the idea that women still run the household even when they work, again I think that women's predilections come into play. In most of the couples that I have observed in my life the women won't LET the men run the household. The usual response to this observation is that men do a lousy job of it so women have no choice but to do it themselves. The assumption here is that men never complain about how women run the household because the women do a great job. Another explanation, however, is that men are simply going along to get along: things may not be done the way they would do them but they keep their mouths shut. I would suggest that if women want men to run the house then they need to demand it, yes, but then they need to let the men do it without micromanaging them. Men today are not really permitted to complain about their mates’ cooking and cleaning skills, nor should they be; girls growing up today are not taught to cook or clean or sew much more than boys are, and we choose one another not as servants but as soulmates. Men should NOT complain if their mates don't run Betty Crocker households, but neither should women.
Liz, the problem with bringing up the issues about 100 or so years ago is that it makes me responsible somehow. The tendency to reduce all social differences between individuals as a function of education is another myth that comes out of the 1960s whereas the reality is that universities were private institutions for the most part until women's suffrage and they did not produce credentials that private employers had to accept. Either individual discretion determines who gets what or you are in the Soviet Union. When I say that women shouldnt be educated I dont really think that the government should be involved with higher education because I dont see the state as a source for doing good. See my http://heartiste.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/womanly-economy/
While I agree that gender roles are important in human society, you're trying to apply a biological and evolutionary discipline to this discussion of humanities. That breaks down really quick with a few pokes in your argument bubble.
Humans may possess animalistic instincts, dominance among many others, but I think history demonstrates that we have to restrain some such instincts as they are considered immoral (a foreign concept to evolutionary biologists, I know.) Infanticide, cannibalism and polygamy, to name a few, are examples we see in nature that as humans, we agree are the baser and less admirable instincts of the animal kingdom.
All of us can agree that while we may share some biological similarities to other mammals, we expect humans to behave in a manner that shows we are a superior and altogether different species than any other mammalian creature. It's self-evident. You don't see monkeys showing self-restraint based on moral or humanitarian logic, but in humans, you do. That's what makes us human.
That said, I agree that unless modern surgical techniques are involved, gender will always demonstrate a difference in roles of men and women. These roles are, to me, self-evident.
Equality though, that's something I will fight for and I appreciate Kay, despite our differences in opinion, for fighting for it also.
If women were to finally realize "equality" to men, wouldn't that be considered a demotion?
Why might children "exert" a stronger "pull" on women than on men? Remember Bill Cosby's great monolog? "I teach my son to catch the football. I take him to the park Saturdays, teach him my secret moves. Drive him to his games, sit in the stands encouraging him. He becomes a star! That's my boy out there! In college he catches the winning pass in the Big Game! He turns to the TV camera and he says.... 'HI, MOM!'" It's good to be MOM. Why do people write as if, in America, MOM were a low status job?
ncgh, if by your 'nature walk' you believe you are making a stronger case for the 'inevitability' of women participating with diminishing frequency in the world of work - well, you should probably stop believing it. That line of argument is as nonsensical as the OP's essay.
The fact that some mammal species also display gender specialization really reinforces the point. We do have significant hard wiring with good reason.
And these unusual adaptations are STILL gender optimized, but for a very different social style --- interestingly the matriarchal groups of hyenas are EXTREMELY aggressive. Social insects have an even more bizarre (by our standards) way of optimizing reproduction...
Wars are counter productive, but there are many forms of competitive aggression that are actually economically productive.
From an evolutionary standpoint, a certain degree of male aggression actually has a significant genetic payoff. Not all males get to successfully breed, but the ones that are most effective in acquiring power and resources, and displacing other males disproportionately contribute to the next generation through increased mating opportunities. By contrast, by excess aggression a female contributes little to her eventual genetic contribution, in fact may reduce the number of successful offspring. There is little benefit for her to increase mating opportunities beyond a basic success level.
The extended vulnerability and resource cost of human young has forced a division of labor on humans long ago. For several years of early life, a woman could not simply leave the young to forage and hunt like other animals could. A woman who did that was much more likely to lose young, removing her from the gene pool.
A rather complex form of cooperation developed, particularly between the sexes, but in group organization too, which helped provide for the young without exposing them to additional risk.
ncgh, you have to be careful with homely analogies to the animal kingdom here, inasmuch as so many successful mammals - African wild dogs & hyenas are two such that come quickly to mind - only thrive in matriarchal groupings.
Meanwhile, our male-centric species foments destructive wars and runs its eonomic productivity steadily downward. It's as if the guys at the top don't actually know what's good for us all....
Why is it that rational people ideologically refuse to recognize that we are, at our core, mammals, and that we will always behave like mammals.
Mammals actually show more gender specialization than other animals, with each gender's behavior optimized by natural selection for their individual genetic success. The more complex the mammal, the more specialized these actions are.
No woman should ever be denied the opportunity for advancement because she is a woman, but we should not be at all surprised that, on whole, the choices made by men and the choices made by women reflect very different priorities.
Kay, you are a tremendous asset for conservative. Please continue to write!! Perhaps one day we all will recognize our folly and instead use modern technology to provide for a comfortable living, but also to greatly increase our time focused on the more transcendental.
epoche,I would not expect you to apologize unless you were personally responsible. As to paid maternity leave, I had none other than medical time off. However, there are good reasons that are not particularly feminist for having this, as we need to encourage people to have children.
My husband and I traded off child care responsibilities and effectively lived on one income (his or mine) for nearly a decade.
As to the whole male vs. female dynamic, I will try to make myself as clear as possible:
1. For most of history, women were effectively denied rights and opportunites available to men. Much of this was due to the unique ability of women to have children and care for them. Additionally, life was precarious and short.
2. Women and men have natural afinities to each other, with certain exceptions.
3. Many men like and want children, as well as women.
4. Men and women can form good, long lasting partnerships based on something other than an imbalance of power.
5. Women, being human, have capabilites and ambitions as much as men do.
Any Randian could tell you what the early career exit of so many women actually represents:
Who is Joan Galt?
Sorry ladies - relics like me have known this for years: Having it "All" means doing it "All". I never needed the power, prestige, or even the money badly enough to sacrifice home and family - the big house just wasn't that important. Even after the kids are grown, most women prefer a relationship with them rather than a pet. That takes some years of laying a foundation - not deciding to have one after you retire from a power career. It’s wrong to keep chipping away at the business world to make it conform to something that suits you – in fact it’s just plain selfish (and expensive for the tax payer who ends up subsidizing your lifestyle choice).
Whats the mystery??!
WOMEN HAVE BABIES.
Women stay home to look after their children.
Womens' career paths are interrupted by this small matter. And surprise surprise - many of them seem to like it and drop out of the high octane rat-race.
ERGO: Less women than men at the top. One doesn't need a Doctorate or an MBA to figure that out
Liz I am not going to apologize for all those years that men oppressed women, nor do I want to pay for the maternity leave of my social betters. I used to work for a debt collection agency and the enormous waste in getting women into positions of power is laughably absurd. You obviously see things differently than I do so perhaps we should allow people to segregate themselves physically from one another as women being independent they certainly do not need white males around nor our money for the welfare state.
"Is There Anything Good About Men?" by Roy F. Baumeister
"Most women ...prefer long maternity leave, reduced hours, and part-time and flexible jobs." Rubbish. Not among the professional women I know.
Karen makes a point in that absolute power corrupts absolutely. See Saudi Arabia, et al
Crud.. The first sentence should be "a woman WITHOUT a job."
Damn right I want to see the end of any and all gender roles, because such roles only harm women and benefit men. A woman with a job is at the absolute mercy of any of her husband' idiot whims, but he can completely ignore her. If women are restricted to the home, they will all become cowardly, dimwitted, weaklings grovelling to their husbands, who will in turn become annoyed and bored. The men, however, can ditch the wives who became exactly what anyone could predict, but the wives are stuck if they want to continue to eat and live indoors.
At the risk of sounding sexist (meh, who am I kidding, I'll be accused of it anyway), I'll try to keep my thoughts as diplomatic as possible.
I admit that your research statistics are impressive, but I think the represented populations of interest are inconsistent. You cite the Chicago study that found 52% of women are in the workforce 10 years after their studies compared to 90% of men and you're right; the reason is obvious: they get married and 48% of them stayed home with their kids. The editorial bias for the rest of the article is clear that it's unfair to women to have them stay at home, but you miss the silent majority of women who CHOSE to stay at home because they WANTED a family instead of a career. What if our society is putting pressure on women to work, succeed and outshine men, when in reality, a lot of women just want to stay home and be a mother?
To suggest that women who marry and then when they have their first child, they suddenly realize, "Wait, I'm expected to stay home with the children?" is to say that women are too stupid to have that foresight. I would argue that women who marry know full well what they are doing. They are choosing to bind themselves to marriage and motherhood because they want to be a wife and a mother. I would argue that these women are not duped into marriage. No one is forcing them to stay out of the workforce. The "alpha" women can speak with their husbands or husbands to-be and ask them to stay home with the kids if they want to be the ones to bring home the bacon.
My thoughts aren't an effort to subvert your goals for equality - rather, I join you in this fight. Instead, it's a plea that we not try to abolish the uniqueness of individuals. You're right that we shouldn't force women to be silent and subservient to the domineering males, but neither should we burden them with expectations to outperform the other gender in the workplace. Should we not liberate people to do what they really want?
Your argument isn't against those God-damn oppressive men anymore. Instead, it sounds like a desperate plea to women to stop wanting families, to stop wanting to be mothers. You're not fighting for equality anymore, you're fighting for the dissolution of gender roles.
What scares me is that in 10 years, you'll probably succeed.
One more "women SUCK!!!!!!" story from Kay Hymowitz. Yawn.
Um, epoche, many of us like and are married to men? I guess I have a different perspective than some - both my granfathers were raised by single moms due to the death of their spouses - they were very much feminists in that they believed that women should be educated and have a paying profession. And both of my grandmothers were capable, independent women.
It would be really interesting to check these business dynamics not only focusing in differences of sexes, but of sexuality, marital status and such.
For instance, I wonder what´s the perspective gay women with children have about jobs and something tells me that straight divorced women with children might feel the need to assume the role of provider, thus focusing more on their careers.
Good article just a minor quibble with this line:
"American women even won more Olympic medals than their male compatriots did this summer."
Err... right, but if they'd been playing against the male teams they wouldn't have won any.
Liz why should men care about women's progress? I cant go live in buildings or cities that women create, women just want to be where the men are bossing them around with the legal force of disparate impact. Perhaps we should bring back segregation and women could really be left to their own devices without a welfare state or men at all.
People shouldnt be wwayed by this very flawed theory. This author is anti-equality. The Onion could have printed this instead of the faux article Ann Rice did about Anne Romney stating women dont really want to be seen as the equals to men. Who was interviewed or surveyed? I know many women that have been trapped under the glass ceiling for years. They have put of having children to get to the top and when they realize that the old boy network is still alive and kicking, they give up trying to buck the system.
The rest battle with the perception that it is a woman's job to raise the kids, and maintain, the home. That is why they look for shorter hours, to try to appease husbands, children, and community that says they should be there, not working. We look at stay at home dads a lot diffently than stay at home moms. Until grandma moves in because her social security, someone has to be there when the kids need to get to their sports and dinner on the table.
When females are offered the usual array of work/family policy prescriptions—family leave, child care, antidiscrimination lawsuits, flextime, and getting men to cut their work hours the result is discrimination against men. When females don't want to take employers up on their sexist female-favoring generosity, the discrimination against men has no point at all.
That females get options (family full-time, family with part-time career or full-time career) while men get obligations (job, job, job) is called discrimination against women by feminists. How many more hand-outs must females get and obligations imposed on men before the feminist Promised Land is attained?
A major excuse for obligating the taxpayers (mostly men even today) for the college educations of millions is that those educations provide skilled professionals whose work indirectly benefits everyone. When females have equal or greater access to such subsidies yet - as Ms. Hymnowitz observes - on average return half of the years to workforce productivity that men do, females are being unfairly subsidized by men. In the name of gender fairness must men pay only half the price of tuition at government-subsidized colleges and universities that females do? Or are men arguably being overworked compared to females?
Almost every feminist complaint in this article, The Plight of the Alpha Female by Kay Hymnowitz, can be turned around and shown to be evidence of institutionalized, socialized or outright government-mandated discrimination against men. One of many examples is University of California law professor Joan Williams's complaint about "a 'macho' workplace ethos that forces men into 'the straightjacket of conventional masculinity." The long week arguably represents “systemic discrimination” against men, who still find themselves expected to be near-permanently separated from their children for all but a tiny slice of the children's waking hours. Females who make career choices that lead to their alienation from their children are pitited. In contrast, men who have much less choice in (along with less spousal affirmation and less societal support for alternatives to) such job requirements and who as a result find their children are alienated from them are despised.
Why dont feminists such as Ann-Marie Slaughter create the next great product or service and bypass the good old boys club together? Feminists could then retreat to the homes built entirely by female labor. A lot of these disputes could be resolved by just allowing people to segregate themselves economically and socially. If they dislike white males so much perhaps we shouldnt be forced to associate with one another.
Thank you for that bit of sanity - again, I see female progress as one of great strides within a short period (historically speaking). I am quite positive that my daughter will have no external barriers to achieving what she wants and will also find a husband who is a sharing and supportive equal partner.
Well written as always but with a sociologist’s slant, not a business person’s viewpoint. Consider that CEO’s, CFO’s, etc. are generally 40 years old and often quite older before obtaining the requisite experience to be considered eligible for a top position. Today, that’s someone born in 1972 or prior. A different era then and a different upbringing. Today’s demographics point to more and more women choosing to remain childless as well as unmarried or just “living together”. Forming two parent families through stable marriages is statistically on the wane in America so it’s rather an issue of time’s passage needed to age our future corporate leaders.
Is male vs. female IQ really a determining factor – that’s utter nonsense. After 40 years working in American business and with frequent contact among senior corporate leaders, I’ve found the brightest candidate isn’t always the most likely candidate chosen. Many factors are involved, emotional factors as well as coldly rational ones. But why aren’t more women selected – once again, the available experience pool is limited by the 40 years or older demographics variable.
What is the potential pool of available female candidates for top corporate and government positions? It most certainly isn’t all American women any more than the NBA will select players from a pool of all American men. Female preferences – held by “most” women - among the general society concerning mothers in the workplace are completely irrelevant to filling the relatively few top corporate positions which open up each year – attempting to compare apples and oranges would be a valid criticism.
What about discrimination by powerful men targeted at women – the glass ceiling effect? More nonsense. Today, a woman’s rights are better protected within the American workplace than within the society at large. If an off-color remark uttered during an offsite and unsponsored social gathering among co-workers can lead to a legally valid sexual harassment in the workplace complaint, then it’s difficult to understand how blatant discrimination between equally qualified male and female job candidates would escape scrutiny and potential – and expensive – legal liability. A brief review of today’s stringent discrimination laws must conclude a woman is emotionally safer and less discriminated against within the large corporate workplace than anywhere else within America, with the possible exception of government jobs.
Women thoroughly understand the need to be home when a child is very young and that may be the reason so many young women are delaying marriage, as well as delaying marriage and also foregoing children. Such understandings are speedily reversing previous marriage-family forming trends.
Americans thoroughly hate each other at present and voicing real or imagined cultural grievances is a sure road to power and money within today’s society and under today’s rules. But our culture is constantly changing and the day will come when men share power with women in the executive board room on a mathematically equal basis and no future social commentator will consider that ratio even slightly unusual.
I'd rather regret that there are some women who have babies they apparently don't care to spend time with. I can only assume they don't know what they're missing.
I'm curious about the data on the women who are able to climb to the top while having a family. Are they more likely to have a 'wife' at home?
It seems ambitious women tend to seek out and pair up with ambitious men. Whereas, ambitious men seem to seek out and pair up with women who support their career and assume the role over social and family duties.
Identity politics (policy) once again. "Equality" in everything is a neverland goal
The president of my College was a Jesuit Priest and the Dean of the School of Business was a man. I remember one Acconting class taught by a female professor. It was a really tough couse and I recieved a lower than usual grade. I chalked it up to "I must work harder". I remember hearing some (not all) of the male students saying their lower grades were because she was a woman and therefore discriminated against them.
I believe the main lesson to take away from this is that we should be treated as individuals and allowed to live up to our individual potentials. We have barely just started to allow this.
Lots of good points here but years ago leftish women started taking over the presidencies and many deanships of Ivy League colleges.
These were College GPA scores. Back in the late 1970's and early 1980's. So are you saying that grades in taxation, cost accounting, statistics and business law at the College level at this time were inversely proportional?
GPA (decided by HS teachers) is inversely correlated with objective evaluation SAT, GRE, etc. Again, the triumph of politics over ability.
Why would a 'big accounting firm' deliberately hire anyone with lesser ability? Such firms hired high-scoring Asians and Jews.
What evidence do you offer for your claim?
When I graduated in the early 1980's the men in my class who had lower GPAs were picked over women with higher GPAs by the Big 8 Accounting firms. So, back then IQ was inversely correlated with GPA?
Ms. Hymowitz: “At the top of every industry, men remain in charge.” The hidden feminist assumption is “proportionality,” “sex disparities,” and “under-representation”. All imply a minimum 50% quota for women.
Charles Murray, in “Human Accomplishment,” shows that since 500BCE, women comprise about 2.2% of “significant figures”. Women rank as 4.5% (n=35) of Nobel Prize laureates, with two-thirds of their awards in Literature and Peace. Nineteen Prizes were won by organizations. The remaining 744 Prizes were earned by men. The 48 recipients of the Fields Medal - viewed as the top honor a mathematician can receive - are all men.
Scores on the SAT, GRE, LSAT and similar ability tests show a significant male advantage on verbal and wider on mathematics tests. That advantage persists despite over thirty years of ‘gender-norming’ of test questions (founded in the testers’ presumption of equal intelligence) to inflate female scores. Prior to 1990, the male test advantage scored wider. Either, over thirty years, males have lost ‘g’ and become less intelligent, females conversely, or those tests have been increasingly female-rigged.
At the IQ mean, the lowest cited male advantage is +3.6 IQ points. Irving & Lynn’s meta-analysis found the male advantage at about +4.6 IQ; Jackson & Rushton show +5.0 IQ. Nyborg cites +6.90 IQ points; Strumpf & Jackson measure +8.4 IQ. Extensive evidence shows that boys begin to surpass girls in IQ about age 15. Female abilities and IQ appear to vary with menarche, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. Studies of sex and intelligence consistently show a significant male advantage, unto old age.
In “Why g Matters,” Linda Gottfredson estimates that a minimum of IQ 120 is needed to be competitive in “high-level” jobs “… [and] the probability is that only 37% of the workforce at that level will be female”. At IQ 130 (+2SD), males comprise 82%; IQ 145 (+3SD), 88% and at IQ 160 (+4SD), associated with genius, males comprise 97%.
I remain grateful for Ms. Hymowitz’s analysis and insights. But her intelligence ranks significantyly above most men and even more, above women. Western women’s predominance since the 1970s, from high school to the professions, as explained by Christina Hoff - Sommers in “The War Against Boys,” appears as the triumph of politics over ability. The West appears determined on cultural suicide.
[Gottfredson, L. S. (1997). Why g matters: The complexity of everyday life. Intelligence, 24(1), 79-132.
Extensive bibliography available on request.]
For my generation, I have friends who are very sucessful, but they are either unmarried, or have spouses who fulfil the traditional "housewife" role.
The issue isn't how behind women are, but how far we've come. It wasn't too long ago that birth control was not very reliable. It wasn't too long ago that women could be legally excluded from certain employment/educational opportunities.
We should be less concerned about numerical parity than the opportunity to suceed, if one is so driven to do so. As the mother of a very bright daughter, I applaud the Meg Whitmans and Katrina Firliks of the world.
Murray and Herrnstein in "The Bell Curve" noted that the intelligence bell curve for men is not the same as the intelligence bell curve for women. That for men is "flatter". That means there are more highly intelligent men than highly intelligent women, and more extremely dull men than extremely dull women. In a technology oriented world, this has implications that have nothing to do with sexism, childbirth or culture.
And in the early days of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire", it was almost embarrassing what a high percentage of contestants were white males. After a while, that was "corrected". What was also noted was the mechanism by which the "wrong" numbers first came about. Candidates would call into a studio telephone number, which would hit them with automated questions, comparable to what they'd get on the show, and the candidates answered via touch tone telephone pad. Men and women flunked out in equal numbers. But men kept calling back, again and again, until they mastered the Q&A and became a contestant. In this case, it wasn't raw intelligence, it was determination and perseverence. That also has nothing to do with sexism, childbirth or culture.
I am an engineer, so I fit into one of the specialties that attract fewer women, but my experience has been that women in engineering just don't work as hard, period, as the men do. And this holds true even when no children are involved. Also, they are (presumably socialized?) less confident and assertive, which does not help to succeed in this field.
If I had to guess, I would say that it is testosterone that makes men driven to succeed in almost every field of endeavor in ways that women just won't or can't. And the fact that most women passively accept the variously noted wage and title discrepancies shows (to me) that they understand they are not really competitive to get said rewards.
Feminism is a total disaster, and a sham. Biology cannot be denied. Men and women are so very different. This was a tragic mistake, trying to force women into the same shoes as men. The feminist yardstick measures women's worth on how well they are doing against men, what's their pay? What's their influence? etc. Big, big mistake. Women have great, fantastic, high worth. But it's not to be measured in resource competition with men. You miscast women if you expect them to be your next Heny Ford, your next Albert Einstein, your next Winston Churchill, etc. Women aren't dogged extremists on the whole. Can't be. Women never push the boundaries of thought. Look, two divorced women take a walk on the beach. What do think they talked about, philosophy? No, family. That footing where men and women compete in a Thunderdome as equals, it doesn't exist.
In my own case my first wife moved from nursing to pharmaceutical research. Her career took off and she put in the 70 hour week and we put off kids. I was working for a Japanese banks, so I put in the same 70 hours, but I was less career driven. The apartment was well furnished and the car german, neither were used much we caught the train to work and were exhausted most weekends. I was made redundant and started a small business teaching and did part time teaching at the University. We drifted apart after I felt we were leaving kids too long.
I re-married a less ambitious woman, who is a full time mother to our two children of 6 and 4, she is studying Counselling and will return to work part-time in the future. My ex-wife is happily re-partnered and she and her partner have seperate apartments, great cars and exotic holidays, but no children.
I felt that the life-stlye was one of working long hours, spending profligately and just being wasteful. I now do 40 hours 8am - 4.30/5pm and do training one or two evenings a week when I work 5-8.30pm after work for extra income. I have no mortgage or car loans, no debt at all, plus savings. At 49 I am an old Dad and will have to work to 65-70, my ex-wife has a luxury London apartment, Lexus, apartment in Barcelona and serious share portfolio. This is perhaps what kids have cost me, but they are worth every cent.