The Gender Wage Gap Starts at Home: A Review of “Career and Family: Women’s Century-Long Journey to Equity” by Claudia Goldin

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I recently got engaged, which means that I have been very concerned lately about how marriage will change my life. Although I fantasize about my future health insurance, I prefer to imagine the romantic moments. I rarely stop to wonder how marriage will affect my professional life, but, according to feminist economist Claudia Goldin, I should. In his stunning new book, Career and family: a century’s journey of women towards equity, Goldin analyzes a staggering amount of data on female college graduates in the United States, seeking to understand the wage gap that, she points out, begins to widen among heterosexual couples soon after the moon ends. honey.

Career and family: a century’s journey of women towards equity

by Claudia Goldin

Princeton University Press, 324 pages, $ 27.95

Goldin has devoted much of her 50-year career to studying the gender pay gap, which she considers to be fully linked to the inequality of couples. Unsurprisingly, the strongest predictor of the latter is the presence of children. Having a career often takes a long time; have children too. This point is so obvious that it would hardly seem interesting to make it, on my part or that of Goldin, were it not for the fact that American employers and policymakers do not seem to have understood. According to Goldin, the biggest obstacle to gender equality in the United States is the “time constraint” created by what she calls “greedy work”: jobs that require enormous amounts of time, energy. and humanity of their employees and who do not let employees set their own hours or refuse overtime. In high- and low-income fields, stable hours and 40-hour work weeks are, too often, distant dreams. As a result, couples with children often have to divide and conquer: one partner is “on call” at work, the other at home. The partner who chooses to work loses precious time in raising their children; the partner who chooses the house faces wage cuts and professional setbacks; the relationship ceases to be egalitarian. In short, everyone loses, but few couples have a better option. “In a world of greedy jobs,” writes Goldin, “couple equity is [too] expensive ‘for much to achieve.

While couples experience divisive pressure to rule regardless of gender or sexuality, Goldin focuses on heterosexual partnerships because, in heterosexual households, women are much more likely to prioritize home than work – and, indeed, are likely to plan to do so, which may explain why gender pay gaps appear in heterosexual marriages before children are born. Goldin also limits her data to women with a bachelor’s degree, according to the theory that college graduates face fewer barriers to career success than other women; essentially, she limits her pelvis to women who already have some advantage, assuming that any problem she identifies in that population will be magnified for women who have a steeper incline to climb. Career and family is, therefore, somewhat limited in scope, but it is generally true that Goldin’s observations have some application to people outside of his datasets. After all, its central argument is that the United States must “change the way work is structured”, which would affect – indeed, benefit – everyone.

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