Enough with the solidarity already.
From “Sisterhood is Powerful” to the new “Together Women Can” campaign launched by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg last week, it seems we just can’t get over this idea of seeing women as an oppressed minority who need to band together against The Man to get ahead.
Sandberg has many studies to back up her claim that women get interrupted more than men at the office, and that women don’t take enough credit for their work. But the notion that, as women, we should speak up for them because they’re women only undermines women’s credibility in the workplace.
Sandberg suggests telling your colleagues, “Hey, I’d really like to hear what Amy was about to say,’” if Amy is getting interrupted during office meetings. Fine — but what if you don’t actually want to hear what Amy has to say? And if you want to, as Sandberg suggests, tell your colleagues what great work “Amy” has done, go for it.
But please don’t do it just because she’s a woman.
Sandberg wants to use her campaign to “empower all women to achieve their ambitions.” But there’s no evidence women are failing at achieving their ambitions any more than men are.
Surveys consistently show that women, especially with young children, want to work part-time more than they want to work full-time. The same isn’t true for men. Indeed, more women work full-time than want to.
This means that, presumably, for many women achieving their career ambitions would mean working less, not being promoted to the corner office.
There’s little evidence women are the victims of systematic discrimination these days. The so-called wage gap is largely a myth. Women who choose the same jobs and make the same life decisions as men — that is, the ones who are childless and don’t take time off or work shorter hours to accommodate kids — earn what men do.
But there are reasons besides children that women on average earn less than men. One is the professions women choose. As AEI scholar Christina Hoff Sommers tweeted last year, “Want to close wage gap? Step one: Change your major from feminist dance therapy to electrical engineering.”
But that’s not all. Different professions also use different compensation structures. Harvard economist Claudia Goldin has noted that in many professions, part-time work is compensated much less per hour than full-time work.
As an article on Goldin’s research in the April issue of Harvard Magazine explains, this “prevails in the corporate sector, finance, and law, where employees are incentivized to work double or triple a traditional full-time schedule, because their time is better compensated per hour when they work longer hours. That compensation structure makes it more lucrative for one partner to work 80 hours and the other not to work at all than for both of them to work 40 hours each.”
Interestingly, the professions that have the most equal compensation structure for part-time and full-time workers are in science and health. There, “workers are more likely to be compensated at a constant rate for additional time worked, and the ratio of women’s earnings to men’s is higher.”
“Pharmacy has no part-time penalty,” says Goldin. Of course, our elite feminists are not interested in the experiences of women working in pharmacies — or as nurses, for that matter, despite the fact that these are the kinds of good jobs that pay well and allow women to balance work and family in the way that they’d choose.
Rather, the goals of our feminist thought leaders and policymakers is to get more women in the high-powered offices of Fortune 500 companies or Wall Street or Silicon Valley.
Goldman Sachs may not be able to convince clients that their workers are interchangeable — that they can hand off jobs from one employee to another regardless of whether that employee works part-time or full-time — but Goldin thinks an increasing number of firms will do just that. “As their labor costs mount,” she says, firms “will figure out how to make workers better substitutes for each other.”
In the meantime, smart, ambitious women will continue to gravitate toward companies that pay them fairly and allow them time for their children. They’ll look out for the interests of their family and friends. But chances are they’ll skip the crusades on behalf of womankind.
?Naomi Schaefer Riley is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.