April 1 2013
Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In has renewed a vigorous debate on women in the workplace.
A veteran of that debate, Christina Hoff Sommers, writing in the New York Times, said yesterday that there can be no serious dialogue on the subject until we “liberate ourselves from the widely propagated but utterly false assertion that women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns."
Activist groups “cling” to the supposed gap even though it fails to take into account different choices (such as choice of occupation and hours worked) that women make. The gender wage gap isn't the issue. There are more important considerations if women want to make it to the top.
Hoff Sommers writes:
It is certainly the case that career-minded women, precisely because they so often embrace greater domestic responsibilities, face distinct challenges. We should, however, be wary of claims that European-style policies—extended and fully paid maternity and paternity leave, subsidized day care, flexible work schedules, and the like—will result in workplace parity. Europe’s comprehensive family-friendly polices do bring more women into the workforce—but they tend to work part-time and remain in low-level positions. American women are more likely to work full-time and to achieve high-level jobs as managers or professionals.
Talented young women who aspire to be rich and powerful would be advised to major in economics or electrical engineering rather than psychology or social work. They should be prepared to work 60 hours a week at the office rather than combining shorter hours with home, family, and other pursuits they find fulfilling. Those who stick with this course will find that their W-2s are equal to those of their male counterparts.
Perhaps, if we stop indoctrinating college women with the myth that the workplace is rigged against them, more will try.
Hoff Sommers new book, Freedom Feminism: Its Surprising History—and Why it Matters Today will be published in June.