Lord, does it take a lot to piss me off when I’m reading the news lately. Like, really truly infuriate me. Like make me want to reactivate my Twitter account kind of infuriate me.
There’s so much awful right now everywhere that it’s all just a steadily nauseating, disappointing, tragic flow of news. But for something to really grab me by the lapels and make me want to punch someone…now that’s talent.
Bloomberg accomplished that feat this week with this headline: “Having Kids Is Terrible for Women’s Earning Power”
It begins: “Babies are cute. They’re soft, they often smell nice and—let’s face it—they’re necessary for the survival of the human race.
But for women, the arrival of a baby dovetails with a significant economic event: the moment when their earning power starts to lag their male peers’. At the beginning of their careers, men’s and women’s income are practically equivalent. By the time everyone’s in their mid-40s, women on average make as little as 55 percent of what men do.”
“…research finds that women often pull back from their careers because their unpaid work—raising and caring for a child—becomes more demanding.”
“In a 15-year study of MBA students at the University of Chicago, Goldin and her colleagues found that the pay gap started to widen a year or two after a woman had her first child. ‘These women are extraordinarily driven and dedicated to what they’re doing,” she said. “They’re trying as hard as they can, but at some point, the demands of home are really getting to them.’”
“Women’s attempts to deal with these dueling demands are often mistaken for a lack of dedication or ambition in their careers.”
Someone please remove all the sharp objects around me.
Anyone notice a little thing Bloomberg has done with its nouns and verbs here?
It’s “having kids” that is “terrible” for women’s earning power. Not because they do much less at work. But because they have shitty support at home and face bias at work for being mothers. The research clearly—CLEARLY—states that the problem is not women’s ambition. It is not how hard they are working or how talented they are. It’s the patriarchy thwarting them at work and at home.
Let’s rewrite a few of these sentences starting with the headline: “Mothers face unfair bias at work, despite performance. widening the already atrocious gender pay gap.”
Let’s cut that atrocious lead about babies being cute and smelling nice. Because it’s a dog whistle to the idea that women become cooing messes who can’t handle their sh*t when a baby comes in the room. None of us deal with the pain of childbirth and all that comes after it because a baby is soft and smells good. We’d just get feature beds and more candles for a whole lot less money and hassle.
Then let’s acknowledge another big ol’ change happens in the mid-40s: Compound sexism starts to come into play. Research shows that women and men start in their careers on parity and the gap changes little by little when it comes to entry level and then mid-management. As women climb the career ladder, the gap becomes more pronounced. Whether they have children or not, a**holes. You are potentially conflating causality: The time most women are having kids coincides with this other well-documented trend.
“Women often pull back” —> I’m going to cut you. The McKinsey study from last year conclusively proved that “leaning in” is not the problem with equality, just as researchers ten years ago proved “the opt-out revolution” was a myth. In those cases, and this one, it’s not a matter of women “pulling back.” It’s a matter of women not having support at home, American women living in a country with no social safety net for families and moms, and maternal bias at work. WOMEN SHOULD NOT BE THE SUBJECT OF THIS SENTENCE. Women are the object of this sentence. This is being done to women.
“Women’s attempts to deal with these dueling demands…” Again…why exactly is it only the women who have to deal with these demands? Where are their partners? Where is the support of government, society, or employers providing benefits that help keep mothers in the workplace? Propagating the human race is just up to us now?
Check your language. Your bias is showing and you are part of the problem.
Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:
- How much have you spent on non-essential purchases for your kids lately?
- Any Bay Area gardening experts out there?
- Inspiration time: Tell me about your favorite badass ladies of the past!