April 10 2013

Hoff Sommers: Policies Backfiring in Feminist Paradise

Charlotte Hays

Okay, friends, Equal Pay Day, the feminist holiday supposedly celebrating how far into 2023 a woman supposedly must work to make what a man earned in 2012, has passed.

It was a bogus holiday, of course, as IWF’s new three-minute video “Straight Talk about the Wage Gap” makes clear. And I want to call your attention to a piece by Christina Hoff Sommers that shows how far the U.S. is ahead of Sweden, which on the surface appears to be a feminist paradise, and other countries praised by feminists.

Sweden has gone out of its way to be a gender aware country: 16 months of paid parental leave, state-subsidized preschools that teach “gender awareness,” and protections for part-time time workers. Hoff Sommers writes that because of an unofficial quota system women hold 45 percent of positions in Sweden’s parliament.

So American women should be far behind Swedish women in breaking the so-called glass ceiling, right? But that isn’t the case. A 2012 report from  the World Economic Forum found that the U.S. does better than Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland, and Germany, when it comes to economic participation and opportunity. Fewer U.S. women (68 percent) are in the workforce, but women who have chosen to work full-time are far more likely to hold high-level jobs as managers or professionals than the European women.

Why is this? It appears that feminist-mandated, government rules that are supposedly woman-friendly have backfired. Hoff Sommers writes:

A new study by Cornell economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn gives an explanation.

Generous parental leave policies and readily available part-time options have unintended consequences: instead of strengthening women’s attachment to the workplace, they appear to weaken it.  In addition to a 16-month leave, a Swedish parent has the right to work six hours a day (for a reduced salary) until his or her child is eight years old. Mothers are far more likely than fathers to take advantage of this law. But extended leaves and part-time employment are known to be harmful to careers — for both genders. And with women a second factor comes into play: most seem to enjoy the flex-time arrangement (once known as the “mommy track”) and never find their way back to full-time or high-level employment. In sum: generous family-friendly policies do keep more women in the labor market, but they also tend to diminish their careers.

According to Blau and Kahn, Swedish-style paternal leave policies and flex-time arrangements pose a second threat to women’s progress: they make employers wary of hiring women for full-time positions at all. Offering a job to a man is the safer bet. He is far less likely to take a year of parental leave and then return on a reduced work schedule for the next eight years.

Read the entire article.

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