Thursday, July 30, 2009

Women in the Ministry? What about Women in the Workplace?

Women in ministry within Apostolic circles seems to be a somewhat hot button issue. But I would like to look at the secular equivalent of this argument: Women in the workplace.

The Problem:

There is this idea out there that I have heard and still constantly hear to this day regarding equality for women in the work place:

That women earn 75 cents on every dollar that men earn. This can be evidenced here. Bill Clinton used the fact in his state of the union address in '99 when he said, "We can be proud of the this progress, but 75 cents on the dollar is still only three-quarters of the way there, and Americans can't be satisfied until we're all the way there." We say that men and women are equal, but yet this glaring number is staring us back in the face… how can such inadequacy exist in the 21st century? 60% of undergraduate college students are women (however this number greatly decreases in graduate school and doctorate programs). What gives?

There is of course the theory that there is a glass ceiling for women in the workspace and that there comes a point that men can get promoted to which women are not allowed. This theory is false. What I was lead to believe growing up is that if one man and one women were hired for the same position which paid 20 dollars an hour, that just because she was not a man, the women would be paid 15 dollars per hour by default. It is this belief that makes the above idea of women getting paid 75 cents on every dollar is so misleading.

The reality

I argue the main reason for this discrepancy is that women are wired differently than men and that means the jobs they take are different than the jobs men pursue. In this day and age, the American job market favors the male. Consider the fact that 80% of the jobs in the science, engineering, and technology development are held by men (only 9% of engineers are women). And these industries are the ones that pay well.

While many may argue that women are socially constructed to think engineering is a masculine industry, the actual reality is that women don't choose careers in engineering because they do not want to. Women simply are "not as fascinated as men in ohms, carburetors, or quarks" as Patti Hausman puts it in his 1999 book On the rarity of mathematically and mechanically gifted females. Hasuman added, "On average, women are more interested in dealing with people and men with things. Vocational tests also show that boys are more interested in "realistic," "theoretical," and "investigative" pursuits, and girls more interested in "artistic" and "social" pursuits."

Just like men tend to be more violent and competitive than women, men will have more interest in engineering than women. It is not that women cannot be engineers or professions in science, but generally speaking men prefer these over women. And in our economical system, the sciences pay higher salaries and are in higher demand than say a profession in the liberal arts (such as myself). Why do receptionists tend to be women and not men? Not because men can't do the job, but rather while women have the ability to multi-task and carry our many different tasks at once, the man would much prefer to do a few calculus equations.

God Created Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve

Steven Pinker points out in his book, the Blank Slate that, "On average, men's self-esteem is more highly tied to their status, salary, and wealth. Not surprisingly, men say they are more keen to work longer hours and to sacrifice other parts of their lives to live in a less attractive city, or to leave friends and family when they relocate in order to climb the corporate ladder or achieve notoriety in their fields. Men, on average, are also more willing to undergo physical discomfort and danger, and thus are more likely to be found in grungy but relatively lucrative jobs such as repairing factory equipment, working on oil rigs, and jack-hammering sludge from the inside of oil tanks. Women on average, are more likely to choose administrative support jobs that offer lower pay in air-conditioned offices. Men are greater risk takers, prefer to work for corporations whereas women for government agencies and non-profit organizations."

In closing, I want to emphasize that I am not saying men and women are unequal. I am just saying that women are genetically wired differently for men that will. We just need to stop saying that there are no differences between man and women, and value the differences and diversity of men and women. The reason women are paid 75 cents on the dollar is because they choose different jobs that regretfully pay less than men. When women and men have the same position, the women actually earns 98 cents on the dollar. (Lord knows where those two cents are coming from).

1 comment:

John said...

Well Joel we can see where you stand on the nature vs nurture debate.

It can be said that society has instructed our girls that they should not become engineers or scientists. I have been a chemistry TA for a few years now and I have see many capable students, mostly young ladies, blocked in their studies by a belief that they can't do science. They have been taught that they can't; they were not born with this irrational belief.

As to our boys they have been taught that empathy and nurturing are wrong and we wonder why fatherhood is in such a dismal state. We teach our boys that can do science but we laugh when Adam Sandler plays a nurse.

I challenge that many of the differences between sexes are made by the toys we give them, the stories we tell and the expectations we have of them as they grow up; not by their biology.

I have a friend that her pastier is trying to prepare her for the ministry. She is one of the best, most anointed preachers I have heard yet. However, I see the same fear in her eyes that I see in my students. I just hope that unlike my students that fear dose not stop her, for that would be a lose for all of us.