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But Men Work More Hours

Jason’s back at blogging again, after a bit of a break to get all credentialed up. Easing back into the swing of things, he put up a post pointing to the “11 Signs You Might Be an MRA” t-shirt that was going around. As the first one of these “signs” is “You have no problem with the gender wage gap. But you hate having to pay for dates”, it of course brought out the standard reasons why the pay gap is totes not discriminatory. For example:

It’s not that we don’t have a problem with it, it’s that we’re aware that when you account for factors such as that men work for longer hours, it almost disappears. If women want a higher wage, they should make choices that will bring them a bigger paycheck.

Both the idea that the pay gap “almost disappears” and the question of choice have already been more than ably handled in the comments at Jason’s. I want, however, to pull apart this idea of working hours.

The U.S. Department of Labor puts out an annual survey report on how people in the U.S. spend their time. In 2011, the average employed U.S. civilians spent 5.66 hours per day (including weekends and holidays) at work or in work-related activities (e.g., commuting, business travel). That number is the average of values for full- and part-time workers. Men worked 6.29 hours on average. Women worked 4.98 on average.

That is a fair-sized gap, assuming that more hours worked equals more productivity. (It doesn’t.) However, it doesn’t come close to accounting for all work. That is only paid work. If you look at almost every other kind of work that makes our civilization run, women put in more hours per day than men do. Running a household? Working men put in 1.24 hours on an average day. Working women put in 1.75 hours. Taking care of people both in and outside the household? 1.33 hours for men and 2.21 hours for women. They come closest in time spent shopping, with men at 0.65 hours and women at 0.85 hours. Only in organizational and civic activities do men surpass women with 0.17 hours to women’s 0.14 hours.

Total all that up, and employed women worked–paid and unpaid labor–9.93 hours in 2011 to employed men’s 9.68. Women are doing equal work for, not merely unequal pay, but grotesquely less pay than men.

Go ahead, try to tell me that’s a “choice” in any meaningful sense of the word. Better yet, tell it to all the women you just called really bad at basic, obvious math. Then explain how you though bringing up the contribution of unpaid work to the problem of gendered pay disparity was anything but a full concession to the idea that women are not treated equally. Explain to me how, “No, it’s totes fair to pay women less when they do more work”, is any kind of reasonable argument.

As with salary negotiation, this is an argument for more standardization of pay and benefits across a work force so that more than just a company’s interests are represented in its policies. It is also, perhaps an argument that it’s time our society stood up and said that it’s critical that the people doing this important work not lose by it economically.

The last thing it is, however, is any indication that everything’s fine, that there’s nothing to see (or think about) here.

Comments

  1. Caveat Imperator says

    The thread over at Jason’s blog made me think of something. If there is any good present in the MRA movement, the better elements must jettison the rampant misogyny. The more egalitarian members, however many there are, should re-frame the movement in terms of equality rather than privilege. Perhaps emphasize criticism of male stereotypes and encourage fathers’ involvement in families.
    Personally, I think feminism encompasses these ideas just fine. But if MRA’s want me to respect them at all, they need to rebuke the libertarian, freeze peach portion of the movement as loudly as possible.

  2. Nathair says

    Explain to me how, “No, it’s totes fair to pay women less when they do more work”, is any kind of reasonable argument.

    Actually, when you put it in the terms you did (paid work vs unpaid work) it does seem rather reasonable. We are talking about pay equality, after all. Should an employer pay someone more because that person is statistically more likely to spend more of their time away from work taking care of people or cleaning the house than some other employee? And if the pay is not coming from the employer, then who? Gender based government subsidies? The Dept. of Labor acknowledges that even after all attributes and considerations (such as hours worked and “choices” made) are taken into consideration women are still earning less money, so do we even need to go here?

  3. hjhornbeck says

    Nathair @2:
    You’ve got a point, actually. Those hours outside of work are spent on childcare and housework, as Zvan points out. If men are incompetent at both activities, then society is justified in proportioning the work to women and other sexes. So do you think men are incompetent?

    Should an employer pay someone more because that person is statistically more likely to spend more of their time away from work taking care of people or cleaning the house than some other employee? And if the pay is not coming from the employer, then who? Gender based government subsidies?

    Again, that depends. The government gives you a tax break on charitable donations, because we as a society see value in giving to charity. If you think children have value in society, then it makes sense to provide subsidies to cover childcare. If you think they have no worth, then subsidies make no sense.

    So do you think children are worthless?

  4. brucegee1962 says

    One of the most interesting things I heard about pay equity a few years ago related to veterinarians (I remember hearing this on the radio, so I don’t have any citation, unfortunately). Fifty years ago, the overwhelming majority of vets were men. Over the last few decades, that proportion has swung to almost the exact proportions in the opposite direction, so that now the vast majority are women. During that same time period, the pay for vets as a profession compared to the pay for similarly-credentialed people in the medical field has plummetted.

    If true, that would be interesting, and hard to account for. Is it because women are more compassionate and don’t charge as much? They’re mainly in it help animals, not to make as much money as they possibly can? The work is valued less by society since it’s now seen as “women’s work”?

    I don’t know, but I’m curious.

  5. sobe says

    Bruce, the same is said now of physicians. On one hand, if women are the primary care givers at home, and the primary administrators of the home (as pointed out in Stephanie Zvan’s examples), then paid working hours need to be modulated (less overtime, days off when the children are sick, etc.) to account for the tasks to be done outside of the workplace. These examples point out that if the tasks were more equally divided, then maybe part of the wage gap would fall (just part mind you, as it is only one of the barriers).

    On the other hand, I see stuff like this and I despair. They controled many factors, including the amount of hours worked, and women still make less than their male counterparts.
    http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1182859

  6. Woodland Animal says

    I really do not like this idea that taking care of my kids and my house and myself is work. I just do not like that construction. It is life. I actually get really annoyed when my husband describes doing errands type stuff for our family as “work”. It is our life. That means that on Saturdays we end up running kids to birthday parties and going to Home Depot and the grocery store. And how would anyone ever define this? Is reading to my son “work”? How about taking him to a Dr.’s checkup? Volunteering in his classroom? Hosting his birthday parties? If grocery shopping for food is work, how about shopping for my clothes? What if I enjoy shopping and spend twice as long as really necessary at the mall because I like it? This really does not make any sense.

  7. Woodland Animal says

    Working 60 hours/week at a job for which one is paid plus the attending requisite stuff that goes with it such as commuting and answering emails outside of office hours is work. Shopping for dinner groceries or giving kids a bath is not work. I actually find it demeaning to refer to it as such.

  8. says

    I think you do think it’s work, even if you have an emotional reaction to the word. I think that if you did all of those duties, and your husband did none of them, you would be telling him it’s not fair that you do all the work.

  9. Woodland Animal says

    We both do them. They aren’t “duties”. This is why I feel the construct is demeaning to family life. (The examples used are usually those related to family life so I use that here, but I think it equally applies to single or non-parenting people who also have to make dinner.) The government is going to quantify and pay for family life?

    I don’t think these “duties” are work whether he does stuff or I do stuff. If I spend an hour on the treadmill: work or not work? It is definitely hard and tiring! He takes our son to the bookstore: work or not work? Could be fun. Could be a PIA.

    And under your scheme the government would pay stay-at-home-mothers as full-time employees, yes? What about the ones with Ivy League degrees? Do they get paid more than ones that are high-school dropouts?

    This never makes sense.

  10. says

    Actually, time on the treadmill would be personal maintenance and not counted in this time. Did you want to address the question of what you’d say if you were the one doing all these duties, or are you just going to talk about some “scheme” that isn’t in the post?

  11. jose says

    Why don’t both work about the same number of hours? Is it because traditional roles (even working, women are expected to do the house/children stuff whereas men are expected to provide), or because the jobs with more hours are traditionally male, or something else?

  12. says

    jose, it’s generally considered, by the people who study the question, to be a combination of traditional gender roles, workplace policies that aren’t friendly to men who want to take time for family, pay inequities that make it less costly in a dual-earner (heterosexual) family for the woman to take time off, and similar factors.

  13. Woodland Animal says

    OK, so personal time is off the clock, but all “duties” that involve other family members count? Whether one enjoys them or not?

    “It is also, perhaps an argument that it’s time our society stood up and said that it’s critical that the people doing this important work not lose by it economically.”

    And this has to be quantified and regulated by the government if somehow one’s “work” outside of work is to count towards work. And yes, that does sound silly.

    And all of this over 30 minutes/week?

    What really grates me is this implies that people are doing family life for financial gain. Running a family is not work – it is one’s life. It demeans it to call it work regardless of who is doing the parenting. Can you outsource a mother?

  14. says

    So, Woodland Animal, you’re not interested in telling me what you would say if you were the one doing all the work. Instead you’re putting arguments in my mouth so you can argue with them. Bored now.

  15. says

    I want to understand this argument better so I came up with this scenario. I come to this with no intention other than to understand this argument as well as I can.

    Consider a 5 year span of time.
    Assume there are only 80 hours in a week to make this more simple.
    Assume that Sam and Pat have no connection to one another.

    Company A hires Sam and Pat with equal credentials and experience to work 40 hours a week. Each get paid $50 an hour.

    For the first year, they both work 40 hours a week for 52 weeks.

    Sam’s salary: $104,000
    Pat’s salary: $104,000

    For reason “X” the Sam decides, over the next four years, to dedicate 20 hours a week to Company A and 40 hours a week to “unpaid labor.” The other 20 go to recreation.

    Pat decides, over the next four years, to dedicate 40 hours a week to Company A and 0 hours a week to “unpaid labor.” The other 40 go to recreation.

    Salary for the next four nears

    Sam – 52,000 per year for the next four years for a total of 312,000 over 5 years. Average 62,400 a year. Average $50 per hour.

    Pat – 104,000 per year for the next four years for a total 520,000 over 5 years. Average per year, 104,000. Average per hour $50.

    Obvious disparity between wages earned, but no disparity between wage rate.

    Total hours worked for a wage over 5 year period plus total hours of unpaid labor for 5 years

    Sam = ( 40 x 52 x 1 ) + ( 20 x 52 x 4 ) + ( 40 x 52 x 4 ) = 14560 hours.

    Pat = 40 x 52 x 5 = 10400 hours.

    Average wage rate per hour of paid + unpaid labor for a 5 year period:

    Sam = 312000/14560 = $21.43

    Pat = 520000/ 104000 = $50.

    Obvious a glaring disparity.

    My questions are:

    Is this an accurate representation of the OP’s idea?

    Do those who support the OP’s position see this as unfair?
    Do they see this as injustice or possibly due to sexism?
    Do they see it as the employer’s responsibility to make up the disparity?

    What are your thoughts?

    Does that change if I say that Sam is male and Pat is female, or if Pat is female and Sam is male?

  16. hjhornbeck says

    Woodland Animal @7:

    I really do not like this idea that taking care of my kids and my house and myself is work.

    Work is any non-essential action which brings value to another person. Exercise doesn’t count, because it’s done by you, for you. Sending your beau flowers doesn’t count, as small actions like that are necessary to maintain a relationship.

    It is entirely optional to have children, however. Do they bring value to society? Do they bring value to you? Do you bring value to them? I sincerely hope your answer to all three is “yes.”

  17. Woodland Animal says

    Sure I will tell you, but I don’t think you will like it. Anyone currently raising kids in a two-parent family who is “doing all the work” against their will effed up big time by having children with a jackass. Not really society’s problem.

    But looking around I don’t see any real life situations where a two parent working family has the woman “doing all the work” and quite frankly I think that is a ridiculous strawman. This isn’t 1955.

    And regardless of what I may think of the jackass, how does the government fix it economically?

  18. says

    Oddly enough, Woodland Animal, while your comment went a long way toward demonstrating a complete lack of empathy on your part, it didn’t address how you would describe the situation, except by quoting me.

  19. says

    Is this an accurate representation of the OP’s idea?

    Given that it assumes unfettered choice, and I specifically challenge this in the post, not quite.

    Do those who support the OP’s position see this as unfair?

    Not enough information given.

    Do they see this as injustice or possibly due to sexism?

    Possible, but not enough information given.

    Do they see it as the employer’s responsibility to make up the disparity?

    What part of the post would make you think so?

  20. hjhornbeck says

    Woodland Animal @7:

    Gah! The things I think of after hitting “submit.”

    Suppose I build a bird house, and sell it on Etsy. Have I done work? Certainly, someone was willing to exchange money for the work I did.

    Suppose I build a bird house, put it on Etsy, but no-one buys it. Have I done work? Certainly, someone *could* have paid for it, even though no-one chose to, so we still consider it work.

    Now, do you deny the existence of babysitters? Of daycare centres? Both offer up the service of looking after children, in return for a fee. Babysitters and child care workers are, well, workers. The service they provide constitutes work.

    So how your child care not considered work, even though you provide it for free?

  21. Woodland Animal says

    hjhornbeck wrote: “It is entirely optional to have children, however. Do they bring value to society? Do they bring value to you? Do you bring value to them? I sincerely hope your answer to all three is “yes.” ”

    Yes they do and they always have throughout history. So, how exactly do we quantify this now? Are my children that get straight A’s and entrance to Ivy League colleges valued more highly than the neighbor’s dropouts? What if my children are just super nice but dumb as rocks. What value for them?

    The post refers to not only running a household but taking care of people in and out of the household, so beyond the optional children, presumably including parents, siblings, extended family, and perhaps close friends. (Close friend just got cancer, must sit bedside: work or not work?)

  22. says

    I absolutely adore the things I do for my job; I find it challenging, entertaining, and I’m exceptionally good at solving the puzzles work presents me.

    Am I actually working?

  23. Mrjazzitup says

    Here are arguments mainly aimed to see what the counterarguments are, not necessarily that I hold this view.

    Also I am not very familiar with this issue just that I remember reading an article or study about the pay gap; which was attributable to the reason that women are less assertive with their bosses and therefore are not as likely to ask for raises as are men. Thus men by en large get frequent raises and with higher rates and this aggregates at the end to make up for the significant disparity. So conclusion is, which I doubt, is mainly due to this behavior rather than inherent gender discrimination at the workplace. I don’t know how accurate it is but that Is what I have.. now for the arguments.

    Maybe comparing average hours worked is the wrong metric. What about the idea that statistically women live longer than men, therefore men receive higher wages because of their shorter life expectancy. This allows men to spend/invest the money in the present so they can fully exploit the fruits of their labor.

    A variant of this argument would be that since women live longer, they are more likely to retire much later. Because they live longer and retire later then they are more likely to make more, or at least the same amount, of money as compared to men. So at the end if you sum up and normalize the figures it probably comes out to be the same, but I don’t have any figures to support it one way or another. Any thoughts…?

    A counterargument would be that that women should be paid more than men since they live longer and need the finances, especially at an older age, to pay for medicine and support, etc…

    anyways just trowing it out there.

  24. hjhornbeck says

    Anthony Accetta @17:

    Do they see it as the employer’s responsibility to make up the disparity?

    Is it an employer’s responsibility to provide sick leave? In theory, no; they gain nothing from paying you to not work. However, we’ve decided as a society that being sick is not an act to be punished for, and so employers are mandated by society to provide sick leave.

    Do you think having a child is a punishable act? Do you think children offer no value to society?

  25. Woodland Animal says

    I can have tons of empathy without thinking that society should rectify the problem.

    Again : “As with salary negotiation, this is an argument for more standardization of pay and benefits across a work force so that more than just a company’s interests are represented in its policies. It is also, perhaps an argument that it’s time our society stood up and said that it’s critical that the people doing this important work not lose by it economically.”

    It is impossible to read this any way other than society? Government? Private companies? All three? need to somehow quantify what you call “running a household” and “taking care of people in and outside the household”.

    In your hypothetical I would not suggest that the government fix it or my company pay me more for raising my children. There is a disconnect there.

  26. Woodland Animal says

    Jason Thibeault: “Am I actually working?”
    LOL! Yes, because you are being paid.

    Of course this leads to:
    My uncle in Boca who is floating in his pool and being paid dividends from his stocks. Working or not?

  27. Mrjazzitup says

    Hey to comment about doing house related chores or what have you, if it is considered work or not.

    I suppose in the technical sense of the word it would be but colloquially speaking it implies work that generates money. But house “work” is not the same type of work really. If it were, and I don’t know what position I would hold since this is another issue on its own, then it should also be considered part of GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

    The other aspect of this is “work” thing that kind of bothers me is that given that this type of “work” was, and to a larger extent, done by women in the past justifies paying men more to compensate for that time spent at home taking care of kids, washing clothes, making food etc. Maybe there really is not a wage disparity because men are provided for the work they do at their jobs and the “work” their counterparts do at home. but again this is assuming traditional gender roles and thus nowadays dynamic of society has changed but the workplace has not changed to compensate for the archaic remnants of the older days.

  28. Woodland Animal says

    hjhornbeck: I’m still laughing at imagining my children as birdhouses I’m trying to sell on Etsy. Some will fetch more than others!

    And yes, there are babysitters and nannies and personal assistants and guys who will blow out my hair. So I can outsource the tasks I deem annoying or just too time consuming relative to the return.

    “So how your child care not considered work, even though you provide it for free?”

    Are we then quantifying ALL of my childcare and household running and bitchy aunt caring? Or just the parts I don’t like?

    And again, somehow society, government, or whatever is going to pay stay-at-home-mothers as full-time workers, yes? Maybe just pay their husband double?

    Because the whole point of this is to compensate women for the now unpaid labor of “running a household” and “caring for people in and out of the household”.

  29. says

    What really grates me is this implies that people are doing family life for financial gain.

    lolwut

    anyway, I greatly enjoy my job. but it’s still work. enjoying something does not make it stop being work. Work is producing value (via services or production) for other people. That’s why child-care and house maintenance are work, even if they’re your favorite hobbies.

  30. says

    besides, a lot of care work is not so much for economic gain, but it still interacts with the money-economy:

    cooking meals vs. having them cooked
    having a house cleaner vs. cleaning yourself
    having a caretaker for elderly parents vs. caring for them yourself
    staying at home vs. having a child at daycare

    ignoring these things, especially when they were originally government funded and then get cut and “disappear” into the informal economy, is one of the reason “womens work” is undervalued

  31. says

    i guess woodland animal doesn’t believe in paying baby-sitters or teachers since nurturing and educating children isn’t “work.”

    i guess she never pays when she eats out since preparing food for other people isn’t “work.”

    When she stays at a hotel, she never tips the housekeepers since picking up clothes, straightening beds, and tidying up isn’t “work.”

  32. Robert B. says

    Does anyone else think the problem here is that society seems to have decided that nobody’s going to pay for the kinds of work women are doing? People are talking like the difference between “paid work” and “unpaid work” is this essential distinction written into the universe, and that’s just not so.

  33. hjhornbeck says

    Woodland Animal @23:

    Yes they do and they always have throughout history. So, how exactly do we quantify this now?

    Who said we had to put a precise number to it? So long as there is value, child-care can be considered work and my argument stands. Even if we concede a number is necessary, however:

    Are my children that get straight A’s and entrance to Ivy League colleges valued more highly than the neighbor’s dropouts? What if my children are just super nice but dumb as rocks. What value for them?

    Look to the marketplace. Do day cares and babysitters charge different rates for smart or dumb kids? No, they have equal value according to the market. Even if there was an actual difference in material or labour cost to raising a child, society can use collective action to smooth those out. In most developed nations, all citizens pay equally towards health care, even though some people draw much more out of the system than others.

    We as a society decide the value of a child. Right now, we’ve decreed that they’re all equally worthless. That ain’t right.

  34. hjhornbeck says

    Mrjazzitup @28:

    I suppose in the technical sense of the word it would be but colloquially speaking it implies work that generates money. But house “work” is not the same type of work really. If it were, and I don’t know what position I would hold since this is another issue on its own, then it should also be considered part of GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

    It should be a part of the GDP. Sometimes it is, in fact; I’ve submitted a paper for peer review which points out that during small economic shocks, child care is partially monetized, which in turn leads to a slight bump in GDP. Childcare and housework are necessary for our economy to function, and yet the GDP does not include either. Again, we’ve placed no value on what is actually quite valuable.

  35. hjhornbeck says

    Whoops, missed one:

    Woodland Animal @23:

    Close friend just got cancer, must sit bedside: work or not work?

    Does someone else care for a sick person, in return for wages? Sure, nurses and doctors do. If you were to do the same, you too would be working.

    Does someone else sit at a person’s bedside and stroke their hand, for wages? No, because sick people are not comforted by a stranger doing that. The value comes from a loved one wishing them well. So in that sense, yes, you are doing work. What’s the payment?

    The friendship you two have together. By staying at their side, you are signaling that you value them so much, you are willing to sacrifice your precious time to be by their side, in return for little more than companionship. You are also making it far more likely that they will return the favour, should your roles be reversed later on, and demonstrate how much they value you.

    Remember, value does not have to be explicitly quantified.

  36. Woodland Animal says

    You seem to think I am attacking you. I am not. I am wrestling with this argument which is hardly novel to you. Is it not valid that another woman has a different perspective and experience from you? You can’t even post my comments constructively (and jovially!) responding to your other commenters? If you are going to use my awful comments to solicit readers on twitter at least show all of my awful comments.

    Here is another far more relevant response to your hypothetical. This research shows:
    “Faced with a husband who wants them to be a housewife or work part-time, almost three-quarters of women say they would choose divorce and raise their kids alone.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-wade/housewife_b_2568187.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women&ncid=edlinkusaolp00000008

    Personally, I don’t know what on earth those responders are thinking – as if going it alone is going to be less of a burden. But maybe if society pays them double for their two “jobs”? I really don’t know. It sounds like if we are going to account for all of this “unpaid work” we should back to the days when men got paid more because they had to support a wife and household. So people with dependents and responsibilities of some kind get paid more to account for all of their “unpaid work” taking care of society?

    There are a lot of interesting issues here, and I would love to hear people’s opinions about that.

    hjhornbeck: I think I was coming at the childcare questions backwards. Ever hire a nanny? There is a great inequality of pay due to their ethnicity and education and special talents. (The rare male nanny can be highly desired for families with boys – and paid accordingly, btw.) Not all childcare gets paid the same. So we have to account for the differences in quality of childcare that I provide, and all other care I suppose, than my layabout illiterate neighbor.

  37. says

    I really do not like this idea that taking care of my kids and my house and myself is work.

    Yeah, that’s why we don’t pay people if they do them for us.
    Hell, even elves demand that you put out some milk for them.

    To address some of the other points:
    Our world is obsessed with “working many hours”. Somebody working 10, 12, 14 hours is seen as good, as successful, hard-working.
    Fact is that after about 8 hours productivity drops dramatically. 2 people who work 12 hours each are noticably less productive than 3 people working 8 hours. Given that there’s many people out there who would really, really like to work, as a society it would be best to redistribute paid work in a way that’s more productive for society and people.


    Also, those structural inequalities perpetuate themselves constanly: Because women do get paid less (yes, from early on women pay a “reproductive bonus”: Because they could get pregnant and then would take time off to care for the kids, they get paid less, and jobs that women work in get traditionally paid less, when they actually do have kids it is the individually best economic decision that the mother should take time off because they can’t do without the father’s income. Which means that women leave work for longer, only work part-time once the kids are older, and so on.*
    Society can do a lot to address that, like raising the value of “female jobs”, making sure the initial wage-gap doesn’t happen, organize daycare, encouraging men to take care of their children and their share of the house hold**…

    *honestly, I don’t see myself working fulltime for many more years to come. My husband works out of town and there’s only 24 hours in a day

    **There’s an incredible amount of people who think my husband is a “sissy” because he knows how to do the laundry. Because machines are a guy thing, unless they’re white and found in households.

  38. Woodland Animal says

    Matt Penfold wrote: “If childcare and housework are not work, how come some people earn a living doing them?”

    Why don’t stay-at-home-mothers earn a salary? Should they? From whom? Should their husband have their salaries doubled to account for their wives otherwise “unpaid work”?

  39. Woodland Animal says

    Stephanie Zvan wrote: “Oddly enough, Woodland Animal, while your comment went a long way toward demonstrating a complete lack of empathy on your part, it didn’t address how you would describe the situation, except by quoting me.”

    Shoot the jackass? Divorce the jackass? (As the women in the study in the aforementioned article are in favor of.) You seem to me, and I am not trying to put words in your mouth but this is the only way I can interpret what you are writing here so please clarify how I am mistaken, to think that the only right answer is to demand that “someone” pay me to compensate for the jackass’ jackassery. I do not agree with that.

  40. shari says

    Stay at home mom here –

    Running a household and caring for children is work.

    It’s work I love, it’s work I am privileged to be able to do. But it’s work.

    I need breaks from it (they are rare).

    I am paid by gratitude, shelter, food in the house, and a lot of intangible enjoyment. And sometimes my massive ingratitude. It happens.

    I am also performing tasks that would need someone else to be PAID to perform if I were not there. Or if my household were considered a ‘small business.’ Seamstress, laundress, cook, waitress, chauffer, tutor, cleaning service, landscaper, counselor, nurse, therapist, dog groomer, secretary, purchasing agent.

    And I can tell you how the household runs much less efficiently when I don’t ‘feel like doing my job’.

    Yes, it’s all stuff I signed up for – my husband’s earning power has way more juice than mine does. He works full time, and can certainly do most of the above jobs as well as I do, some of them better. But don’t – Woodland Animal – assume that this is Not Work. These aspects of my life take effort, patience, research, energy, time, and dedication. I am doing it for people I love and respect. Somethings don’t feel much like work. But boy howdy, everyone sure notices when the job ain’t done….

  41. shari says

    HAH – ‘by ingratitude’. Sometimes I’ll add the ‘my’ may have it’s place.
    Thanks, keyboard, for helping me out here….

  42. Matt Penfold says

    Why don’t stay-at-home-mothers earn a salary? Should they? From whom? Should their husband have their salaries doubled to account for their wives otherwise “unpaid work”?

    Please answer the question I asked.

  43. Woodland Animal says

    Matt Penfold: Childcare and housework can be jobs and work when paid for specific tasks. What I object to is this construct holistically quantifying care and parenting and what I just term living my life as work that “society” should compensate me for at $3.75/hour or $11.25/hour or whatever.

    While we are at it, I could have outsourced my gestation with a surrogate and even ovulating an egg for that matter, but I do not consider that my work.

    shari writes:” I am paid by gratitude, shelter, food in the house, and a lot of intangible enjoyment. ”
    Yes, but the OP calls for society to economically recompense you per hour.

  44. shari says

    My living expenses are covered. Otherwise, I’d be a working at home mother And working outside the home doing other work that is valued at monetary rates. Less than what a man makes, to be certain.

    Some people love their jobs and ‘would do them for free..’ oh yeah, except those pesky bills.

    People have been paid to be at home raising their kids if they have no income – but those programs tend to generate criticisms about Welfare queens.

    My husband loves and values my work at home, especially because it gives both of us the opportunity to do more unpaid work with volunteering. We both agree on the budget of how his income gets spent, so while I don’t earn a paycheck, I have equal decision making power on how his income gets used. I can’t speak for how other stay-at-home spouses should get paid or not, because if my husband DIDN’T value me, and respect my work, I probably would DEMAND a paycheck!!!!

    That’s not the way my marriage works, and I can’t speak for how others work.

    What I will say, to get back on topic to the original post, is that people aren’t numbers. Without people doing really important unpaid work, a lot of institutions that society depends on don’t work well. Actual numbers of working hours seem to back up the view that ‘men work more hours and make better earning choices’ is a….useless response to discussions of pay equality.

  45. Matt Penfold says

    Sweden, a few years ago, embarked on a program of generous parental leave that basically ensured a parent who stayed at home to look after pre-school children would get generous payments in line with what they were earning before.

    Something quite notable has occurred following the introduction of that program. The number of fathers who decide to take a career break and stay at home to raise their kids has increased dramatically. Not to levels of total parity, but getting near it. Another quite notable thing has also occurred. The stigma attached getting such benefits paid for by the state has disappeared. The two things are not unrelated.

  46. Nathair says

    You’ve got a point, actually. Those hours outside of work are spent on childcare and housework, as Zvan points out. If men are incompetent at both activities, then society is justified in proportioning the work to women and other sexes. So do you think men are incompetent?

    Again, that depends. The government gives you a tax break on charitable donations, because we as a society see value in giving to charity. If you think children have value in society, then it makes sense to provide subsidies to cover childcare. If you think they have no worth, then subsidies make no sense.

    So do you think children are worthless?

    Serious skills! You could Strawman for America at the 2016 Olympics. Plus, not that it matters to my point, I am a stay-at-home parent and my partner is a woman who works full time to support our family. Please get a grip on your assumptions.

    My point is that in a discussion with MRAs over the injustice of unequal pay discussing what people do with their time out side of work and whether it has value is beside the direct point. These are the points that the MRAs themselves are bringing up to dilute the issue. I don’t think we should be letting them direct the conversation into these murkier waters when the crystal clear fact remains that pay is unequal by gender even after all these elements are taken into consideration.

  47. hjhornbeck says

    Woodland Animal @39:

    It sounds like if we are going to account for all of this “unpaid work” we should back to the days when men got paid more because they had to support a wife and household.

    Funny you should mention that. I sat down with the 2006 Canadian census a while ago, and worked out what our economy would look like if anti-feminists got their way. Therefore, I can give you hard numbers!

    For instance, 2.6 million Canadians, out of 31 million, are single, childless women. Collectively, they bring home 7.6% of the nation’s private income, and thus are responsible for 3.8-7.6% of our GDP. Your proposal doesn’t account for them; should they be paid less than a single, childless man? What happens if they do marry, should we knock them down a pay grade in response? Half of these women are over 55, and can’t bear children any more. Should we punish them for that, by paying them less?

    Next problem: 65% of legally married women are in the labour pool, and 95% of them are employed. As a result, 25% of all private income comes from married women. If we take the extreme and wipe all of them out of the workforce, married men would either have to work about 50% more hours to compensate, or get a 50% pay increase, merely to balance out the loss. These women are capable of being employed, in fact their unemployment rate is equivalent to that of married men. Should we bar them from employment, or pay them less, because they have children and husbands?

    Statistics Canada. 2006. Census of Canada, 2006, Individuals File (public-use microdata file). Statistics Canada (producer). All computations, use and interpretation of these data are entirely those of the author.

  48. penn says

    I’m really trying to wrap my head around this argument. I definitely think it’s unfair that women in most relationships are still expected to put more time in doing “housework”.

    Is the argument that if men did their fair share around the house (4.17 hours per day), that would free up women’s time to do more paid work, and mean that men would have less time to do paid work, and since women work more total hours, they would then be working more paid hours than men (5.76 to 5.51)? Is this the gist of the argument, or are you arguing the people should literally be compensated for the time spent “working” for their families?

  49. shari says

    this is mostly in response to Woodland animal – although apologies all around, I am way undercaffeinated and under the weather to boot and not at my sharpest right now!!

    I think I understand what you were saying about ‘don’t demean what I do by calling it ‘work’.

    I look at what we do as ‘work +’ – the plus being all the intangibles that (at least in my household) are the rewards of a stable and happy family life together. It’s not merely work – it’s work plus forming young people, contributing positively to our communities, so that those who cannot have the resources of those who can. It’s family life, and much bigger than just work – but, and perhaps I am just lower on the learning curve, it is a Hell of a Lot of Work to do it well.

    The OP started by pointing out that pay inequality was being justified by ‘men working more hours’ or making better choices to Earn a higher pay scale than women do. Stephanie pointed out that women seem to be doing a lot of necessary work that is unpaid and out of the office that still has to get done anyway, and it’s therefore not a true assertion that men work more hours.

    the swedish study is interesting, and the topic i think is way too big for ‘shoulds’, but my comment still stands, were I in the workplace, not only would my pay be likely lower than a man’s, it would most likely be lower than younger women who have stayed in the workforce because they either haven’t stayed home as a homemaker (which is not feasible for many) or they haven’t yet had to make a choice. Their credentials would trump mine anyday.

  50. Nathair says

    So, Nathair, it would be completely fair to have someone outside the household do that work and not pay them?

    No it would not be fair to not pay them. That, however, doesn’t mean that I should expect someone to pay me to clean my own house or raise my own child. I benefit from doing so in a way that someone else would not were they to do it for me. I have a healthy and happy child with a clean house to live in and home cooked meals to eat. Those things are important to me, important enough that I chose to stop working for mere money and take on these responsibilities. Anyone else I would have to pay. It is a false comparison.

  51. Matt Penfold says

    the swedish study is interesting, and the topic i think is way too big for ‘shoulds’, but my comment still stands, were I in the workplace, not only would my pay be likely lower than a man’s, it would most likely be lower than younger women who have stayed in the workforce because they either haven’t stayed home as a homemaker (which is not feasible for many) or they haven’t yet had to make a choice. Their credentials would trump mine anyday.

    One thing I forgot to mention about the situation in Sweden is that the pay disparity between those who took time off to look after their children and those who didn’t has pretty much disappeared.

  52. Woodland Animal says

    hjhornbeck: I seriously love that you are number crunching this. I was being sloppy – I did not mean to propose paying the men more to account for their families a la the 1950’s, but rather bring up the concept to be applied across all people.

    To back up a little, back in the day men with wives and families were explicitly paid more to compensate for this worth to society. Then the women’s movement came along and said no, that’s not fair, equal pay for equal work meaning defined work for pay. Now, the OP and others who make this argument want to expand this definition of work to include these unaccounted for benefits to society. I think we can all probably agree that in this day the unpaid benefits are not wholly the province of women any more than the paid benefits are wholly the province of men.

    So, do we apply a $/hour value to this caring work and allocate across the spectrum? Do we define what counts as this caring work? In that case single people without dependents or needy relatives would get paid less than those with more burdensome circumstances, no?

    So, then aren’t we back in the inegalitarian 1950’s just distributed differently?

  53. says

    It is a false comparison.

    No, it’s all labor that contributes to the well-being of our society. That we’ve convinced a bunch of people to do that labor for intangible (and uncertain) rewards doesn’t make it not labor.

  54. says

    Do we define what counts as this caring work?

    The Department of Labor already does this. That’s how they produced the numbers I used in the post. Note that hjhornbeck is not the only one who has crunched numbers here.

    So, then aren’t we back in the inegalitarian 1950′s just distributed differently?

    Would you kindly explain how distributing the income to the people doing the work would replicate the inegalitarian 1950s?

  55. Matt Penfold says

    No, it’s all labor that contributes to the well-being of our society. That we’ve convinced a bunch of people to do that labor for intangible (and uncertain) rewards doesn’t make it not labor.

    It was the realisation that pre-school children who have a parent stay at home to provide care tend to do better once they have started school that prompted Sweden to introduce the policy of minimising the financial penalty of a parent staying at home.

  56. Woodland Animal says

    shari: Yes, in an effort to be more clear, the way I look at it is that I work, or my husband works, or whatever combination thereof in a given situation, in order to do the other things. In my case that is to have children and the care of them. For someone else it might be helping out in a homeless shelter or reading to the elderly at the retirement home. Some people may not contribute anything that we could deem worthy to society outside of their paid work and generally behaving well as a citizen. I’m still flummoxed as to how society/government should iron all this out.

  57. jose says

    Thanks Stephanie. I still don’t understand why if difference of hours is the cause, the Lilly Ledbetter act was necessary. It’s a bill that enables women to sue for not getting equal pay for equal work. That must mean it’s a reality, no? Otherwise that bill is legislating a fiction.

    Furthermore there was a study on the pay gap in Spain that concluded 53% of the gap could only be attributed to plain discrimination.

  58. says

    jose, the fact that we can explain why women tend to be the ones to stay home or take time off when that’s required doesn’t mean that direct discrimination (due to implicit or explicit bias) is not also happening.

  59. Matt Penfold says

    Thanks Stephanie. I still don’t understand why if difference of hours is the cause, the Lilly Ledbetter act was necessary. It’s a bill that enables women to sue for not getting equal pay for equal work. That must mean it’s a reality, no? Otherwise that bill is legislating a fiction.

    I don’t think Stephanie was claiming it was THE cause, just A cause.

  60. says

    That, however, doesn’t mean that I should expect someone to pay me to clean my own house or raise my own child.

    Yeah, only that, in the context of a family it also means that I’m cleaning somebody else’s house, raising somebody else’s children, cooking somebody else’s and their children’s meals, doing their laundry and so on…
    If all that is on the shoulders of ONE in the family, that person who is directly responsible for the other person tp put in that many hours at work has less time to engage in paid work themselves.

    I spent the last two weeks at home taking care of sick kids (with the result that by now I’m sick myself). I didn’t get to write a word on my term paper, I’ll have to cancel work tonight and I didn’t get a decent night of sleep during the last 10 days. My husband, OTOH just went to work. And somehow his 8 hours count more than the 24/7 hours I put in. Because that’s the great thing about all that nice, unpaid “not work”: you still get to do it at 3am, you still get to do it when you’re sick, you still get to do it at 3am when youR’e sick…

  61. penn says

    No, it’s all labor that contributes to the well-being of our society. That we’ve convinced a bunch of people to do that labor for intangible (and uncertain) rewards doesn’t make it not labor.

    Are you arguing that people doing work in their own homes should be compensated? By whom? That point is really unclear to me. Is it still work when single people clean their house, or get groceries, or cook themselves food?

  62. Woodland Animal says

    Stephanie Zvan wrote: “Would you kindly explain how distributing the income to the people doing the work would replicate the inegalitarian 1950s?”

    In the 1950’s a married man with kids was paid in effect as a Head of Household. It is explicitly permissible to pay him more than a single man or, heaven forbid, a woman, doing the same job to account for this.

    If today we attempt to account for this “unpaid work” that benefits society we would surely have to distribute it in a more neutral fashion. If the work includes, as the OP states, “running a household” and “caring for those in and out of the household”, then”

    A single woman with ailing parents she must help care for should earn more than a single person with vibrant and independent parents. The divorced woman with three kids should earn more than the single man doing the same job who does nothing outside paid work except playing video games.

    I propose that a whole lot of people would find this just as inegalitarian as the 1950’s construct, although at a macro societal level it would all even out?

  63. says

    penn: Stephanie and others are not necessarily suggesting that people taking care of homesteads be compensated (because, yes, by whom?). They’re suggesting that this work actually be given a dollar value and factored into calculations, because this work does contribute to GDP and is, in effect, unpaid work (despite protestations that if you love it, and consider it a privilege, it’s not work UNLESS you get paid).

  64. says

    penn, is there a reason I have to make a policy proposal in order to point out a bad argument? Even if I were required to do that, is there a reason you keep asking me rather than engaging with Matt, who has discussed a model like this?

  65. jackiepaper says

    SAH foster and bio mom of four here.

    Lot’s of people enjoy their work. So do I. That does not magically change the fact it is work. It is sometimes disgusting (being a mom does not mean poop, snot and vomit stop being gross.) and often mentally and physically exhausting.

  66. penn says

    Jason, thanks for the response, but I don’t know what you mean by this:

    They’re suggesting that this work actually be given a dollar value and factored into calculations

    Which calculations?

    Is the takeaway from all of this that men should do their fair share around the house? Are their other recommendations implicitly being made?

  67. jackiepaper says

    I have a friend who is an artist. He loves his work.
    My husband is in social work. He loves his work.
    I have a friend who is a nurse. She loves her work.
    I have a friend in retail. She hates it.

    Those jobs do not stop being work when they are enjoyed.

    Neither does mine.

  68. penn says

    Yes, I am being serious. Are we arguing that we should recalculate the pay gap and include unpaid work? Are we saying that men should do their fair share at home, so women can work more? I guess I’m missing the point, and I’m sorry if I’m coming off as an idiot.

    The argument that men work more paid hours, and that explains part of the pay gap is completely true. The argument that this accounts for nearly all of the pay gap, or that this is due to women’s poor choices is false, but Stephanie explicitly left those arguments for the thread at Jason’s, so I’m missing what the implications of the unpaid hours worked comparison are.

  69. Matt Penfold says

    Yes, I am being serious. Are we arguing that we should recalculate the pay gap and include unpaid work? Are we saying that men should do their fair share at home, so women can work more? I guess I’m missing the point, and I’m sorry if I’m coming off as an idiot.

    To ignore the contribution of women in respect of unpaid work is to work with inaccurate data. Such work needs to be done by someone. To not include unpaid work in calculations is to make data about the contribution of men and women inaccurate. One reason GDP is often criticised is because it ignores all forms of unpaid work, yet think how important such work is to society.

    The argument that men work more paid hours, and that explains part of the pay gap is completely true. The argument that this accounts for nearly all of the pay gap, or that this is due to women’s poor choices is false, but Stephanie explicitly left those arguments for the thread at Jason’s, so I’m missing what the implications of the unpaid hours worked comparison are.

    It is true, but only in an unimportant and uninteresting way. To ignore the contribution of women in the home is to ignore their contribution to creating a functioning society,

  70. says

    Or think of it this way: to try and explain away one piece of evidence for inequality between men and women in the labor market, the wage gap (and not even all of it), you have to basically invoke a completely different type of labor inequality: Somehow, in our society, women ended up doing more of the unpaid work, and men ended up doing more of the paid work.

  71. Beth says

    @Woodland Animal #61
    Some people may not contribute anything that we could deem worthy to society outside of their paid work and generally behaving well as a citizen. I’m still flummoxed as to how society/government should iron all this out.

    Government already does this to an extent through tax codes and a variety of assistance programs. Just not very well. I think a different approach would be worth looking into.

  72. says

    Thinking about it, most people who profit from this work-inequality wouldn’t be able to afford said work if they had to pay market prices for it. Imagine the father of a newborn paying the mother for 12 out of 24 hours (well, it’s her child, too) as a nanny/cook/jaintor.
    Or just my own father in law who comes home every day* to a clean flat, a cooked meal and clean and ironed clothes, for whom food grows in the fridge and who will turn his nose at the mere thought of convenience food…
    *not exactly every day since he retired and only works 2 a week… It’s not like he does the household the other 3 days…

  73. Nathair says

    No, it’s all labor that contributes to the well-being of our society. That we’ve convinced a bunch of people to do that labor for intangible (and uncertain) rewards doesn’t make it not labor.

    I never suggested that it wasn’t labour, I just disagree with your apparent position that being Paid In Dollars is the only valid reward for labour and thus Rate Of Pay is the only valid measure of whether or not something is labour or of the importance of the effort or of the people doing it. As Yoda famously asked “Value teachers by their rate of pay, do you?”

    despite protestations that if you love it, and consider it a privilege, it’s not work UNLESS you get paid

    “Work” already has a definition which doesn’t include the requirement that one is paid or that one hates doing it. It is kinda pointless to have a discussion if you’re just going to go all Humpty Dumpty on us.

  74. Nathair says

    @Giliell #65

    My husband, OTOH just went to work. And somehow his 8 hours count more than the 24/7 hours I put in.

    His 8 hours “count more” to whom? Answer me this: if your family were off-the-grid homesteaders would that mean that nobody in your family was doing anything that counted anymore or that now, as if by magic, everybody’s efforts counted?

    Given that that isn’t my position, I’m curious whether you can point to what specifically led you to think it is.

    I guess mostly your #3, 58 and 59 (Plus, you know, the usual amount of unfairly attributing to you things that were actually said by other people in the thread.)

  75. says

    His 8 hours “count more” to whom?

    To the people making the argument that it’s just fine that women women get paid less–even accounting for hours worked–because they work fewer hours for pay because they do more unpaid work.

  76. Nathair says

    Apparently to a society that erases the unpaid reproductive work from view, that belittles it and then claims that “men work more hours”

    So “society” (isn’t that us?) determines value and demonstrates that by the solely by the size of someone’s paycheque? Meaning that we think the CEO of Monsanto is more valuable to society than three hundred high school teachers? We think Glenn Beck counts more than seven hundred fire fighters? I think you’re giving the market economy way too much credit. (And you dodged my question.)

    To the people making the argument that it’s just fine that women women get paid less–even accounting for hours worked–because they work fewer hours for pay because they do more unpaid work.

    His 8 hours count more to them because penis, but Giliell didn’t say “Some douchebag MRA mouthebreathers think that his 8 hours count more” she said “his 8 hours count more”. My response is that no, they just earn more money from his employer. Not the same thing.

  77. says

    Nathair, do you really want to stake your reputation on whining about how precisely someone who’s second (at least) language is English said something that was the topic of the blog post on which she commented? If you do, let me know. I’m busy, and I rather like my regular commenters. They don’t need to put up with gratuitous crap just because I don’t have time to deal with it.

  78. says

    I’m with penn, and utterly confused about what’s actually being argued. I’m assuming that you aren’t actually arguing that someone pay me a pay check each week (stay at home mum here), because that would be rather impractical. And I don’t think you’re saying that my husband’s company needs to pay him more because I stay at home. After all, if they were required to double his salary because of me he would have a much harder time getting a job.
    Surely you aren’t saying that women should earn a higher hourly wage for the same job/work? That means that *I* would have a hard time getting a job if I went back to work. They would just hire a man because they could pay him less for the same work. At a job, they aren’t paying me for what I do at home.
    So what you’re saying is that if we take the total about of work (effort) put in by men and women on a given day and compare it to home much money they make, there would be an even greater disparity. That’s true, since more women choose to stay at home than men. And part of the reason we do is that our spouses can make more per hour than us.
    The problem is that the way this is all written, particularly in the comments, it makes it seem like you think that someone should be paying me an actual paycheck to be a stay at home mom. Many of the comments really seem to suggest this, and that simply doesn’t make sense in any real world way.

  79. says

    Well, I don’t know about Stephanie, but I do frequently consider that childcare ought to be paid work. An automatic stipend awarded to all stay-at-home parents? Why not? What’s so outrageous about that? I mean, obviously, I can think of several snags we would run into in terms of determining who gets how much and how to pay for it, etc., etc., and I can also conclude that it may not be feasible, at least in the short term, but is it really such an unthinkable idea?

    I think that Matt is onto something more practical: not paying people directly for childcare, but heavily subsidizing paid leave for all new parents who take a year or two off to care for their infants.

    There are probably other options we could consider.

    Also, I think we should completely reform our entire economic system, precisely because it has so many externalities. Women’s unpaid childcare work is just the tip of the iceberg; consider the ecosystem services we benefit from every day. There are non-sentient beings out there doing “work,” as we’ve defined it, which contributes to the well-being of society. There are inanimate objects and processes that do “work” from which we benefit. Obviously we don’t need to be paying trees for preventing landslides, or sending paychecks to marsh grasses for cleaning our water, but when companies pollute and destroy these ecosystems, we need to stop letting them off the hook for taking value away from our community and imposing the cost of repairing the damage they do.

    I believe the real subject at hand here is accurate accounting and externalities. But a few doodz seem overly alarmed at the shocking–SHOCKING!–idea that we might compensate women for the work of producing a new generation of functioning human beings.

  80. says

    Ah, so you’re advocating a government subsidy for stay at home parents. Ok. I’m not sure about that one- I’ll have to mull the idea over. It’s certainly an interesting propitiation. Can I additionally suggest more training for parents, and possibly some sort of certification to qualify for the stipend? Nothing out of this world, just the basics. Safety, basic nutrition, early development education, that sort of thing. You’re going to need some sort of minimal standard of performance. (I’m not trying to throw up road blocks- just sort of brainstorming the idea. That might be a really handy way to get parents into more child care classes.)
    Erm, was all that the intent of the original article? Just curious as to exactly how shot my brain is today, because I felt seriously confused.

  81. says

    Ah, so you’re advocating a government subsidy for stay at home parents.

    I’m considering it. And I wouldn’t be the first!

    Ok. I’m not sure about that one- I’ll have to mull the idea over. It’s certainly an interesting propitiation. Can I additionally suggest more training for parents, and possibly some sort of certification to qualify for the stipend? Nothing out of this world, just the basics. Safety, basic nutrition, early development education, that sort of thing. You’re going to need some sort of minimal standard of performance. (I’m not trying to throw up road blocks- just sort of brainstorming the idea. That might be a really handy way to get parents into more child care classes.)

    Well, those sound like reasonable ideas to discuss. It just truck me that a few–penn, for example–were kind of acting like this is a TOTALLY OUTLANDISH thing to even contemplate, which is ridiculous.

    Erm, was all that the intent of the original article? Just curious as to exactly how shot my brain is today, because I felt seriously confused.

    No. The point of the OP was to critique the following argument:

    “There’s no gender pay gap! Everyone is getting paid exactly what they deserve regardless of gender. If women are getting paid less than men on average, that’s just because they work less hours than men!”

    That argument is bogus because it’s not true. Women work MORE hours than men, it’s just that they never get paid for a significant proportion of that work. Which blows the whole “there’s no sexism here, move along, move along” response to complaints about the pay gap out of the water.

    The idea that maybe we should stop assuming that taking care of your own children should never be compensated with money is just something that naturally follows from that discussion.

  82. says

    Nathair

    So “society” (isn’t that us?) determines value and demonstrates that by the solely by the size of someone’s paycheque?

    A) I guess you understand the concept of “society” and “societal values” as concepts, yes?
    B) Lots of straw there, no substance. Where did I talk about paychecks? There is more than one type of value. Recognition of doing some important work is also something. That’s why in most places there are ceremonies to honour people who work for charities: Because they’re doing a job that is vital for society. Reproductive work doesn’t get that kind of recognition.

    Meaning that we think the CEO of Monsanto is more valuable to society than three hundred high school teachers? We think Glenn Beck counts more than seven hundred fire fighters? I think you’re giving the market economy way too much credit. (And you dodged my question.)

    A) Again you are operating on a very narrow definition of “value”
    B) I saw you move that goalpost and it stays right where it was. I was very specifically talking about the different values assigned to different typed of work, not people.

    My response is that no, they just earn more money from his employer. Not the same thing.

    So, you think that societal recognition is the same for those types of work? If you think yes, then how come that generations of viewers know that Peggy Bundy was lazy?

    Stephanie

    Nathair, do you really want to stake your reputation on whining about how precisely someone who’s second (at least) language is English said something that was the topic of the blog post on which she commented?

    Thank you, but please don’t do that. If I’m unclear in something it’s because I’m unclear, not because I’m not a native speaker.

    WellYesYouMay
    Right now there already IS a bonus for married men, especially with children and a malus for women. It is not codified, but if you and a guy hand in the exact same application, him having small children will mark him down as “reliable and dependable” because “he has a family to feed” while you will get a malus because “she needs to take care of the kids”.
    A young woman without kids automatically gets a malus because “she might want to have kids one day”. Tell me that men get treated like that. And that initial malus adds up throughout her entire life even if she never has a child.
    I don’t think anybody here is arguing for an individual solution, but many people have provided examples of how politics can actually make a difference, by
    -providing subsidized daycare
    -reimbursing parents during parental leave in a way that makes it feasible for the still usually higher earning father can take time off
    -taking the financial risks for time-off for sick children off the backs of parents and companies
    -providing incentives for companies to have family-friendly policies.
    Combine that with an ongoing change in culture towards more equally shared duties around the home.

    Sally

    Well, I don’t know about Stephanie, but I do frequently consider that childcare ought to be paid work. An automatic stipend awarded to all stay-at-home parents? Why not?

    The problem with that is that it will, under the current system, lead to a further exclusion of women from the workplace. German conservatives are trying to do something like that (because it’s much cheaper giving people 150€ a months instead of providing daycare for under 3 year olds) and it is rightly criticised as “Herdprämie” (kitchen-bonus).
    Apart from the ample evidence that daycare is actually better for children than being at home with either parent.

    I believe the real subject at hand here is accurate accounting and externalities. But a few doodz seem overly alarmed at the shocking–SHOCKING!–idea that we might compensate women for the work of producing a new generation of functioning human beings.

    I would already be happy with not being punished for doing so. Some things are being done around here, so I get 3 years of average payments towards my pension for each kid.

  83. Beth says

    Giliell @93 Apart from the ample evidence that daycare is actually better for children than being at home with either parent.

    This is news to me. Could you provide some links to this evidence? Thank you.

  84. DeepThought says

    Stephanie, I’m not denying there is a gender wage gap, and you make some very good points about unpaid labor. However your argument here leaves me unconvinced, as I will explain.

    In the first place, I entirely agree with

    …explain how you though[t] bringing up the contribution of unpaid work to the problem of gendered pay disparity was anything but a full concession to the idea that women are not treated equally. …

    …this is an argument for more standardization of pay and benefits across a work force so that more than just a company’s interests are represented in its policies. It is also, perhaps an argument that it’s time our society stood up and said that it’s critical that the people doing this important work not lose by it economically.

    But, you and virtually all of the commentators seem to be assuming, without argument, that it is just the natural order of things that men should be doing most of the paid work, women should be doing most of the “unpaid” work (e.g. housework/childcare), and that somehow finding a way to make it paid will result in greater gender equity, and the sole argument is over how and whether this could be feasible. I’m going to challenge all these assertions.

    Granted, there is societal pressure on men to be the primary breadwinner and a general societal attitude that men are borderline inept when it comes to childcare, but these are things feminism is and should be fighting. Men should be expected to shoulder half the burden. I know the term is thrown about by MRAs so much it has lost some meaning, but the term “misandrist” is aptly applied to those who think men incapable in this regard.

    But if these attitudes aren’t going to change, then I seriously doubt whether making “unpaid” work paid will make any difference in the long run. It’s been noted before that prestige of (previously predominantly female) professions rises when more men enter (example: nursing), while the prestige of (previously predominantly male) professions falls when more women enter (example: secretary, teacher). If “unpaid” work is all of a sudden remunerated enough to make any difference, this will simply result in more men choosing to do it and not choosing to do other things, which will then become the professions whose prestige (and pay) fall as the proportion of women in them rise.

    Your argument as stated also involves special pleading. You state:

    Men worked 6.29 hours on average. Women worked 4.98 on average. That is a fair-sized gap, assuming that more hours worked equals more productivity. (It doesn’t.)

    (As an aside, your link doesn’t say what you imply here. Yes, businesses get more productivity on a per-hour basis when they have more employees working fewer hours per employee, but no one is seriously disputing that in absolute terms productivity correlates with hours worked, just not in a linear fashion for each employee.)

    But then you state:

    If you look at almost every other kind of work that makes our civilization run, women put in more hours per day than men do.

    Implying that more hours worked correlates with more productivity here, which you specifically denied above. This is special pleading, and not necessary to make your case that

    Total all that up, and employed women worked–paid and unpaid labor–9.93 hours in 2011 to employed men’s 9.68. Women are doing equal work for, not merely unequal pay, but grotesquely less pay than men.

  85. hjhornbeck says

    Yeesh, I wander away for a day…

    Nathair @51:

    Serious skills! You could Strawman for America at the 2016 Olympics.

    I’d take your charge more seriously if you didn’t make the same argument I accuse you of one paragraph later:

    My point is that in a discussion with MRAs over the injustice of unequal pay discussing what people do with their time out side of work and whether it has value is beside the direct point.

    An economy is simply the trade in items of value. By arguing child-care and housework are irrelevant to the main point, when the main point is “work” and what we place value on, you are indirectly arguing they have no value.

  86. hjhornbeck says

    Woodland Animal @57:

    hjhornbeck: I seriously love that you are number crunching this. I was being sloppy – I did not mean to propose paying the men more to account for their families a la the 1950′s, but rather bring up the concept to be applied across all people.

    I think I can challenge that. In the 1950’s, men were not paid significantly more than they were paid today. I’ve got two arguments:

    1. Gary Becker proposed in ’57 that there would be less pay discrimination against minorities in a competitive situation, as employers could not afford to discriminate; this theory has been well validated in subsequent studies. From 1939-45, we were in a labour shortage situation where female labour especially was in demand. It plausible that the wage gap would have dropped considerably by the end of the war. So to have society do an about-face and switch back to a massive pay gap, within the span of a decade, is stretching it.

    2. The value of male labour has been flat for forty years, if I recall correctly. If male wages have been pretty stable over all the economic changes since the 70’s, why would we expect them to take a sudden dip between 1950 and 1970, then level off?

    I’ll have to sit down and crunch the numbers to be certain, though. Hopefully I’ll have something over the weekend; if I do, I’ll announce it in this thread.

  87. jackiepaper says

    I’m a SAHM. My husband is always ask about his family in job interviews. According to him, prospective employers positively brighten in an interview when they find out about me. To them, it is assurance that he will not miss work, despite having a gaggle of kids.

    How could anyone argue that that isn’t an advantage for him professionally?

  88. hjhornbeck says

    DeepThought @96:

    But, you and virtually all of the commentators seem to be assuming, without argument, that it is just the natural order of things that men should be doing most of the paid work, women should be doing most of the “unpaid” work (e.g. housework/childcare)

    LOLWUT? From the OP:

    Then explain how you though bringing up the contribution of unpaid work to the problem of gendered pay disparity was anything but a full concession to the idea that women are not treated equally. Explain to me how, “No, it’s totes fair to pay women less when they do more work”, is any kind of reasonable argument.

    That renders your entire argument moot, as you’re arguing against something neither Zvan nor most of the people in this thread are making.

  89. hjhornbeck says

    jackiepaper @100:

    To them, it is assurance that he will not miss work, despite having a gaggle of kids. How could anyone argue that that isn’t an advantage for him professionally?

    Let’s look at an extreme example, a man who does nothing but work and sleep, married to a woman who does nothing but childcare and housework. What sort of home life would they have? A horrible one, I’d argue, as there’s no interaction between the two spouses and no relationship can be built without interaction. How likely is this couple to divorce? That depends; if the woman was financially dependent on the man, had few prospects, and would be forced to take care of the kids, then the odds are rather low. But how is her situation any different than that of a slave from a few hundred years ago? Conversely, if she could be financially independent, why would she hang around with a person she has no relationship with? A divorce would be quite disruptive to this man’s work, far more than occasionally running home to help with the kids.

    Time for the other extreme, a perfect 50-50 split between a man and a woman. I’ll happily concede this man will miss some work time, more than the average working male. What are the odds of this man being faced with a divorce? Very low, as there’s plenty of interaction between the couple and nearly every other potential suitor for the woman would take away from her career outside the home. Unlike the first man, who focused only on his career, this one is capable of juggling both work and home life, making him a good multi-tasker. He’s also going against what society says, what barriers are in place to discourage men from managing a perfect 50-50 split, which suggests he’s willing to go above and beyond to do what’s right.

    So who would you hire? The man who’s either reliant on slavery or likely to divorce, or the man who’s a great multi-tasker with a strong sense of ethics? The fact that most business would prefer the former, and not the latter, shows just how deeply sexist thinking is embedded in our society.

  90. says

    that somehow finding a way to make it paid will result in greater gender equity, and the sole argument is over how and whether this could be feasible

    Shorter DeepThought: “I cannot read!”

  91. jackiepaper says

    HJhornbeck,
    Fuck you for suggesting my home life is horrible or anything like the garbage you just invented on the spot.
    You did not address the point I made from a real life situation. You just made up a situation nothing like mine by adding in details I did not suggest and that in fact do not exist.

    My husband does not just sleep and work. I do not do all the childcare and house work. Our relationship has not always worked the way it works now. I’ve been in school and at work. We do share chores and family responsibilities. Oddly enough, there are plenty to go around. Both my husband and I are people with lives, not weird examples from your Orwellian nightmare family. Maybe that’s why we’ve been married 20 years with no signs of impending doom for our marriage. As a matter of fact, we’re in the process of adopting 3 of our kids now. So, do not presume to know how my family operates beyond what I tell you, since you don’t have the foggiest and we are not caricatures or hypotheticals. We’re real. So was my question.

    So instead of playing make believe, why not actually answer my question?

    I’m a SAHM. My husband is always ask about his family in job interviews. According to him, prospective employers positively brighten in an interview when they find out about me. To them, it is assurance that he will not miss work, despite having a gaggle of kids.

    How could anyone argue that that isn’t an advantage for him professionally?

    He rarely has to miss work for family reasons that don’t involve a death. I’ve got that covered. I am available to attend meetings and make/take calls with social workers, therapists, lawyers, teachers, doctors, etc. I’m the school reading buddy. I pick up and tend any sick kids. So without making shit up, can you tell me how that does not help my husband’s career, especially since his employers suggest that it made him a more attractive hire?

  92. says

    If missing the point were an Olympic sport, I think Jjackiepaper would have just medalled.

    Yes, hjhornbeck made up a hypothetical situation. At no point did xe imply that xe was talking about jackipaper and not a hypothetical situation. I.e., it was not about jackiepaper at all.

    And then there’s the part where jackiepaper quotes someone making a point, and then makes the exact same point, but seem to think she’s contradicting the original point.

    Uh… better luck next time, jackie?

  93. hjhornbeck says

    jackiepaper @105:

    Fuck you for suggesting my home life is horrible or anything like the garbage you just invented on the spot.

    There’s been a bit of a misunderstanding. I wasn’t arguing there were only two strict choices, I was laying out the ends of a continuum, and pointing out that we’d prefer one side of the continuum. Your situation seems closer to the “better” side of the continuum, in fact, which supports my argument:

    We do share chores and family responsibilities. Oddly enough, there are plenty to go around.

    I’m also a feminist, more specifically I oppose strict gender roles. I do not condemn stay-at-home-moms, I condemn a system which forces some women to be stay-at-home-moms against their will or ability. I suppose I could have been a bit clearer on that, and for that mis-step I do apologize. No offense or attack was intended against your present situation.

    But:

    So instead of playing make believe, why not actually answer my question?

    I did. I pointed out that flexibility, multi-tasking, and a strong ethical code are highly desirable for businesses, and that this comes automatically from implementing feminist policies. You have not refuted this, and in fact your own situation supports my argument. Would you like to try again?

  94. jackiepaper says

    Sorry. I guess I misunderstood. It seemed to me that you went way out of your way to twist the situation I suggested in order to make your point. I mistakenly thought that you were answering my question (which was about my family) and did not understand the point of offering an “extreme example”. I don’t understand why people make up those situations when discussing abortion, rape, harassment or anything else. So yes, I took offence. Maybe nobody else here has ever gotten this, but SAHMs do get told what horrible lives they lead by people who don’t know the first thing about their lives. That would be a big reason why I left the local feminist community after years of volunteering. That left me with some raw feelings on this topic. I apologize for my knee jerking.

    Maybe I should let other people talk about the pros and cons of houswifery/husbandry from now on.

    Quick correction. We haven’t been married 20 years, but we have been together that long. Sometimes those little details slip my mind.

  95. says

    Well, if I were in your feminist group, I’d be pretty damn pissed if you insisted that housework isn’t work, as you have been in this thread.

    Interestingly, the other day I noticed @gynostar tweeting a couple of images from old anti-suffrage campaigns. In one of them, there’s a picture of an unhappy man washing clothes and looking after a baby. The caption reads, “Everybody works but Mother. She’s a suffragette.” Obviously the fear was that once women had political rights, they’d no longer be interested in doing the unpaid work of childrearing and housekeeping.

    So the people who opposed women getting the vote seemed pretty clear on the fact that what women did around the house was work. It’s strange that we seem to have gotten to the point where staying home and taking care of children can be cast as a pleasurable hobby to pursue rather than what it is: essential labor that keeps our entire economy functioning. It seems as if, once it became acceptable that women could leave the home and take paid labor, then the work involved in housekeeping was downgraded from “women’s work” to “not actually work at all.” Meanwhile, there are millions of women of color who are getting paid a pittance for doing extremely hard work in taking care of other people’s children and cleaning other people’s houses – do you think that this intense devaluation and denigration of the activities of housekeeping as lower-status work or not work at all has ANYTHING to do with the fact that they really do not get a fair wage for the work they do?

    I guess it’s good you’re stepping back, because it sounds like you need to think about this a bit more.

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