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Author Topic: Thoughts on discrimination against the long term unemployed
cherrypoptart
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I agree with President Obama that hiring discrimination against the long term unemployed is bad for the economy and the country and I also agree with looking for better companies for government contracts than companies who do this. I wonder if most of these companies that engage in this practice have actually tried hiring qualified long term unemployed and been burned by it or if they are just jumping on the bandwagon of not even being willing to give people a chance.

Many of these companies just don't even look at people. For instance, a stay at home mom whose children are now grown and is re-entering the workplace may try for a job as an office assistant but if she hasn't worked recently that's the end of the hiring process even for entry level jobs that require only a high school education.

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Gaoics79
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Cherry, there's no question that someone who has been out of the workforce for 10 years is a bigger risk and a less desirable candidate, all else being equal, than someone who was recently employed. This isn't very hard to understand. There is nothing arbitrary or irrational about this practice.

Rather than lament the logical consequence of long-term unemployment and lament the fact that employers behave rationally, it would be better to focus on the real problem, namely people being unemployed for long periods of time and try to transition them back into the workforce.

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Pyrtolin
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Except it's not rational behavior- it's cost shifting behavior. Ever employer wants some other employer to pick up the baseline education cost o getting workers up to speed with their responsibilities to meet shareholder pressure to maximize profits. So, where previously most companies would be willing to make the short term investment in getting those workers back into play, with the understanding (or, at the very least, with the prodding of unions that more clearly understood the need to maintain labor force quality) that the long term benefit of doing so is that they'll have a better long term pool of workers to pick from, they now bend to pressure to generate short term margins by deflecting those workers, even though that tends to weaken long term market health.
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Gaoics79
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A first year student fresh out of school is legitimately a different kettle of fish from a 20 year veteran who took a 5 year hiatus from the work force (the long term unemployed). I don't think lumping the two categories together makes alot of sense. I was generally speaking about the latter category, as I believe was Cherry.

And it is rational for an employer to prefer, all else being equal, an employee with a continuous history of employment versus one who has been out of circulation for years. Not sure how you could seriously suggest otherwise.

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cherrypoptart
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Jason's right that those are the people I'm talking about, such as the stay at home dads and moms who after a few years unemployed are trying to get back into the workforce and cannot do so even for entry level jobs for which even a recent high school or college graduate could apply but the applications are not even accepted for the long term unemployed. Perhaps the companies think it makes sense for them to do this but if I knew which companies did this I would avoid buying from them or doing business with them as much as I possibly could. I'd even like there to be a website where these companies are outed so people can choose whether or not to do business with them. Perhaps some people might even prefer doing business there if they agreed that the quality of the employees would be higher.
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cherrypoptart
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I will also observe that this practice fails the "what if everybody did that?" morality/is this a good idea test. If everybody did that then stay at home parents could never get back to work with any employer. I guess they could go hunt feral hogs or something, but that's about it.
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Pete at Home
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As someone who took a year out for rehab, I've been facing this long term resume gap multiple times a week whenever I get an interview. I think the only viable solution is more jobs period in the country.
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OpsanusTau
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quote:
If everybody did that then stay at home parents could never get back to work with any employer.
I submit that almost everyone does in fact do this, and stay at home parents in general have a terrible time attempting to re-enter the workforce. Often, they cannot re-enter the workforce at all (in the sense of "entering at a notional place similar to the notional place from which they left") - instead they have to take major cuts in seniority and pay, or even enter a new field altogether, if they want to be employed again.

That's why taking a few years off to raise small children can be a huge mistake in terms of financial security and work satisfaction. Even if the cost of enough infant and childcare to remain employed takes up one parent's entire income (or in some cases more) it can still be a better idea to do it - if the alternative is taking a $20K/year pay cut or never being able to work full-time in your chosen field again.

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cherrypoptart
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It seems like there is something fundamentally wrong with this. And I have a very hard time believing that stay at home parents really lose so much of their mojo during those years that they are truly less capable than someone just getting out of high school especially if they are trying to do something not so far up the corporate ladder anyway such as just getting into truck driving school.

I also wonder when was the last time some of these companies doing this really gave a person returning to the work force a chance and got burned by the experience. In other words, are companies doing this because of something that actually happened to them or are they doing it just because of a stereotype?

Jason, you seem to indicate that this isn't a false stereotype but it's more like a fact. I have a very hard time believing that when applying it to the lowest rungs on the corporate ladder such as entry level administrative positions. Sure I can see it applying to the high power executives or plant managers; nobody expects to start up right where they left off but not even being able to get your foot back in the door at all and then work your way back up is just ridiculous.

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NobleHunter
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I get the impression that employment gaps are a way for employers to easily screen out otherwise qualified canditates, in the same as education. If there's too many qualified applicants, you need "objective" reasons to cut down on the number of potential interviewees.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by cherrypoptart:
Jason's right that those are the people I'm talking about, such as the stay at home dads and moms who after a few years unemployed are trying to get back into the workforce and cannot do so even for entry level jobs for which even a recent high school or college graduate could apply but the applications are not even accepted for the long term unemployed. Perhaps the companies think it makes sense for them to do this but if I knew which companies did this I would avoid buying from them or doing business with them as much as I possibly could. I'd even like there to be a website where these companies are outed so people can choose whether or not to do business with them. Perhaps some people might even prefer doing business there if they agreed that the quality of the employees would be higher.

Even if Jason is right that such choices are rational, then he should have no objection to them being outed so that the long term unemployed don't waste their time on them.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
And it is rational for an employer to prefer, all else being equal, an employee with a continuous history of employment versus one who has been out of circulation for years. Not sure how you could seriously suggest otherwise.

Because if you do that, the overall pool of talent to choose from shrinks significantly and the overall average level of skill declines as well.

What's most rational is for all companies to agree to each offer a certain percentage of their positions to entry level and re-engaging workers, so that the overall cost of maintaining the work force and building experience is evenly distributed throughout he industry, instead of playing a self destructive game of trying to shift the costs of such training to other companies and then only harvest employees once someone else has invested in them.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
I submit that almost everyone does in fact do this, and stay at home parents in general have a terrible time attempting to re-enter the workforce. Often, they cannot re-enter the workforce at all (in the sense of "entering at a notional place similar to the notional place from which they left") - instead they have to take major cuts in seniority and pay, or even enter a new field altogether, if they want to be employed again.
If you are a single person who has remained employed continuously without taking a year or two off, or alternatively, a person with children who sacrificed time with your kids to avoid taking time off, you might have a different perspective on this, perhaps.

Why should a person who took, say, two years off to take care of children, be able to discount this gap completely and be in the same position as the person who worked continuously during that same period of time?

Not only is it logical for the employer to prefer those who remained in the workforce continually, it is also a matter of elementary fairness to those who didn't take the time off.

There is a cognitive dissonance going on between people who claim to love spending time with their children and inherently value their family time (in many cases saying overtly that they consider spending time with family to be a privilege and a joy) yet simultaneously expect to benefit from this privilege with zero sacrifice or consequence. It's having one's cake and eating it too or "having it all" as feminists seem to demand for women who are clearly making a logical and informed choice to prioritize family over career, yet are shocked that this rational choice leads to rational, predictable consequences.

I will agree that society has an interest in providing some ability of stay at home parents to re-enter the workforce and that it is not in our interests to shut these people entirely out of the workforce. But should they be able to just resume a year or two later as if nothing had happened? Hell no.

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OpsanusTau
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quote:
If you are a single person who has remained employed continuously without taking a year or two off,
Um, I am not single but I do currently live alone, have no children, and have been employed, pursuing higher education, or both simultaneously since I was seventeen (with a few months-long gaps here and there for various reasons not relevant to the current discussion). I also have no intention of ever taking an extended hiatus from work to pursue child-rearing; as noted above, to do so would be a terrible decision for me both financially and in terms of professional development. Also I don't want to.

I'm not sure who you're arguing with, but I'm pretty sure it's not me.

(I do think that if people are going to "temporarily" leave the workforce to perform child- or elder-care, they should be really sure they understand the long-term implications of that decision and not delude themselves that they are doing anything other than making themselves extremely vulnerable to future financial instability (in the event of a future divorce or spousal death, or even spousal layoff, for example). That the burden of child- and elder-care falls disproportionately on women in our society is an injustice of its own but that's an entirely different conversation. Another related conversation would be about how people who have no intention of leaving work to perform familial caretaking full-time are nonetheless often assumed to be available or planning for such and are penalized accordingly in hiring.)

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Gaoics79
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Ops, I wasn't actually arguing with you, just the point you made, which others have made in different forms since your post. Not suggesting anything personal about you.
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Gaoics79
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quote:
That the burden of child- and elder-care falls disproportionately on women in our society is an injustice of its own
I'm not sure that you're right about the elder care comment.

But on child care I agree that the "burden" (your word, not mine) falls disproportionately on women. I don't agree that this is an injustice.

In my experience, most people I have spoken to consider spending time with their children a privilege and frequently describe going to work a burden. I hear of far more people using "burden" to describe work than those that use it to describe spending time with children. There is the common cliche that no one ever regretted spending not spending more time at work on their deathbeds. This is not true of everyone (I do know people who fall into the opposite pattern) but I feel comfortable saying that it is generally more often true than not.

I do know that it is socially acceptable for women to choose to stay home with their children for an extended period of time (or indefinitely) and not socially acceptable for men to do so. My wife will be staying home in July when our first is born. I will not. I am happy with this arrangement, but truthfully, I wouldn't mind being a house husband. This is not considered a socially acceptable option for a man in my position.

I myself was planning to take 60 days of pat leave (which would be 100% paid and covered at work by my employer) and decided on two weeks instead, in large part because I found out that no men at work did so, and no one I knew had done so. It isn't acceptable. Men who stay home permanently with children are the objects of derision, by women especially.

So to sum, women have the option to choose family over work and they exercise it, frequently, hence (to some extent) what we call the "pay gap". But despite the disadvantage to career, they just keep on choosing it, almost as if they prefer to be with their kids than to push paper at an office. But perish the thought that women should pay any price for this "sacrifice" of spending time with family rather than grinding at work.

Men have no option, thus they must choose work over family, and not surprisingly, do so. Spending time at an office working long hours away from their families, in this context, I understand to constitute "privilege" in some circles.

It is not "injustice" for women to have more options and consequently, to choose options that tend to benefit their families at the expense of their careers, certainly not if family is deemed more important than career (which it is to most asked).

It is, perhaps, an injustice that men don't have this option.

It is most definitely an injustice to give people who have chosen to prioritize family over career the same benefit as those who chose different priorities, perhaps even sacrificing family for the sake of career. It is, in every sense, expecting to have one's cake and eat it too.

[ April 15, 2014, 08:11 PM: Message edited by: jasonr ]

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OpsanusTau
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The "point I made" was a statement of fact about the price people (disproportionately women) pay for time out of the workforce spent raising children. And you didn't actually contradict anything that I said; you instead contradicted a value judgement that I didn't make about what I said. Your response to my statement that it is often an obviously poor choice in terms of money and career for women to take extended time out of the workforce was that this is logical behavior on the part of employers and that women should pay that price; you implied that I disagree, and seemed to base this implication in an assumption that I, as a woman of childbearing age, want to be taking time out of the workforce to raise children and think that I should be able to resume my career afterwards with no penalty. This is an incorrect assumption.

For the record: I think it is catastrophically stupid for anyone to intentionally take years off work if they think they will rejoin that field in a similar position and at a similar paygrade in the future. I also don't think it is particularly virtuous for any person to be a full-time stay-at-home parent. It's just another totally valid choice about how to spend time, and not one that society has any particular obligation to subsidize.

quote:
I'm not sure that you're right about the elder care comment.
http://aspe.hhs.gov/daltcp/reports/femcares.htm

Relevant: "...This is because most male caregivers are aged 65 and older. Fewer than 10% of PCGs [primary care givers] are males of working age; hence, the sample contained very few employed male PCGs."

(26.2% of PCGs were men of any age)

I'm not trying to be offensive here, but if you disagree that child care is a burden, I wonder if you have ever done much of it. Listen, I like kids and enjoy spending time with them, but it is WORK. Rewarding, sure, and I believe people who say that the work is even more rewarding when the kids are your own - but a rewarding burden joyfully taken up is a burden nonetheless. Denying this does nobody any good.

It is also not at all uncommon for women to be pressured towards becoming stay-at-home moms by spouses, friends, and family even if they enjoy their work and do not want to quit doing it.

Aside: do people really hate their jobs so much? or is it a grass-is-greener thing? I mean, I've had a lot of different kinds of jobs and I've never hated going to any of them, although sometimes I have been exhausted and would have enjoyed working fewer hours. But I mean I don't have a financial need to work - I do it because I like my work in particular, and in general need to perform useful work.

I am pretty sure that if I gave up my career in order to be a full-time parent, I would have an intense amount of deathbed regret about that. Moreover I am equally sure that this is also true of my partner. That's why neither of us will be doing that.

But, maybe we are just some combination of different from other people and lucky in our career paths.

quote:
It is, perhaps, an injustice that men don't have this option.
A little bit of friendly mockery about your sentence structure here: this is such classic academic weaseling! If all you've got to say is that it might be an injustice, you might as well not. It either is or it isn't; take a stance and defend it.

That aside - I disagree that men don't have the option of taking parental leave or being stay-at-home parents. They absolutely do have this option. They just have to accept that their new social status is equal to that of a woman doing the same thing. You're right that most women doing these things don't experience much of a drop in social status, because it's the expected course of action (so their social status had been pre-determined accordingly); but of course a man doing the same thing could potentially experience a substantial social-status shock, especially if he were used to being treated with a lot of Educated White Male Privilege.

Of course in a perfect world nobody would be treated as lesser for taking a few months to care for a new child.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Why should a person who took, say, two years off to take care of children, be able to discount this gap completely and be in the same position as the person who worked continuously during that same period of time?
And, right there, you actively distort the issue. No one has said that they should be able to skip ahead in advancement, but rather than they should be able to pick up approximately where they left off, without having to start all over from less than the beginning again (because, as was pointed out above, a fresh graduate just entering the work force for the first time will generally be given preference over them, even though they bring more real work experience to the table than that grad does.)

quote:
In my experience, most people I have spoken to consider spending time with their children a privilege and frequently describe going to work a burden. I hear of far more people using "burden" to describe work than those that use it to describe spending time with children.
Anything, even something that should be fulfilling, becomes a burden if one is forced to do it by circumstances outside of their control.

Even more, the entire fundamental value of civilization, of productive efficiency through specialization and trade is that it serves to reduce the time and effort any given individual needs to dedicate to necessary survival tasks and frees them to freely allocate the balance of their time to pursuits that they find more fulfilling and useful. When you socially or economically deny them that social benefit, you actively breed resentment, regardless of what they're being coerced into investing their time on while other enjoy more freedom at their expense.


quote:
It is not "injustice" for women to have more options and consequently, to choose options that tend to benefit their families at the expense of their careers, certainly not if family is deemed more important than career (which it is to most asked).
A man is accorded less social status- social status, as OT points out that is about equivalent to that of a woman for choosing to invest time and effort into domestic chores and family. A woman, on the other hand is similarly knocked even lower for choosing to invest her time and energy in anything but that narrow specialty. And yet you somehow try to cast that as women having more options and not a very clear privilege accorded to men?
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Gaoics79
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quote:
I wonder if you have ever done much of it.
Some. I did change some diapers when my sister was a baby (I would have been 10) and I did take care of young children when I was a camp counsellor.

Not a huge amount of experience, admittedly, but while I do concede that taking care of kids can certainly be a burden (no argument there), it has certain rewards as well that most seem to value very highly. And no, I don't concede for one second that taking care of an infant is equal in work to, say, working 60 hours a week at an office. This false equivalency is a feminist fable designed to justify the female spouse stealing the assets of the male spouse on divorce and turning him into a debt slave, to "compensate" the female for the years she spent being supported by the male.

There was a time when child care and homemaking was a full-time job, back before the days of dishwashers, microwave ovens and other conveniences, and back when the average family was probably 4-5 children instead of the 1-2 it is today.

quote:
and, right there, you actively distort the issue. No one has said that they should be able to skip ahead in advancement, but rather than they should be able to pick up approximately where they left off, without having to start all over from less than the beginning again (because, as was pointed out above, a fresh graduate just entering the work force for the first time will generally be given preference over them, even though they bring more real work experience to the table than that grad does.)
Reread what I said:

quote:
Why should a person who took, say, two years off to take care of children, be able to discount this gap completely and be in the same position as the person who worked continuously during that same period of time?
Now re-read what you said. It appears I didn't misread your post, but you did misread mine as I never suggested that a person re-entering the workforce should "start all over from less than beginning". I stated that, all else being equal, this person should not be equal to the person who was continuously in the workforce.

quote:
Anything, even something that should be fulfilling, becomes a burden if one is forced to do it by circumstances outside of their control.

Even more, the entire fundamental value of civilization, of productive efficiency through specialization and trade is that it serves to reduce the time and effort any given individual needs to dedicate to necessary survival tasks and frees them to freely allocate the balance of their time to pursuits that they find more fulfilling and useful. When you socially or economically deny them that social benefit, you actively breed resentment, regardless of what they're being coerced into investing their time on while other enjoy more freedom at their expense.

So you concede that something is less likely to be a burden if it is chosen freely and not coerced. Thus, it is men who seem to bear the burden in this case, of full-time employment, whereas woman, by contrast, have the benefit of choice. Not sure if your comment was a rebuttal to anything I said, or if you intended to support my argument.

quote:
A man is accorded less social status- social status, as OT points out that is about equivalent to that of a woman for choosing to invest time and effort into domestic chores and family. A woman, on the other hand is similarly knocked even lower for choosing to invest her time and energy in anything but that narrow specialty. And yet you somehow try to cast that as women having more options and not a very clear privilege accorded to men?
This is false. There is no corresponding loss of social status for a women choosing to be a stay at home mom. My wife is doing it, several of my friends' wives are doing it. I have not heard of any judgment or anger or derision directed at that decision. Envy is more common.

If I chose to be a stay at home dad, the result would not be nearly so nice. Men who stay at home are seen as unmasculaine, pussy-whipped, weak and sponges.

The big irony is that I do most of the cleaning and all of the cooking in my household, by choice. I like this kind of work. I would make a good house husband. But as a men, it's just not a choice. I have to go to work and earn a living, period.

[ April 16, 2014, 06:13 PM: Message edited by: jasonr ]

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MattP
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quote:
And no, I don't concede for one second that taking care of an infant is equal in work to, say, working 60 hours a week at an office.
How are you measuring work here? Calories burned? Net productivity by some metric?

Personally, I am less drained doing the latter and my wife is less drained with the former, which makes our current arrangement where I have a career and she does not work out well.

quote:
This is false. There is no corresponding loss of social status for a women choosing to be a stay at home mom. My wife is doing it, several of my friends' wives are doing it. I have not heard of any judgment or anger or derision directed at that decision. Envy is more common.
I think you are misreading. The claim was that men have lower status for doing "woman work" and that women may have even lower status for doing "man work". So her status starts below the man but goes even lower if she doesn't fulfill the social expectation.

"that narrow specialty" = "domestic chores and family"

I don't think that's a universal experience, but it's roughly how things work in a conservative community like the one in which I live.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
That aside - I disagree that men don't have the option of taking parental leave or being stay-at-home parents. They absolutely do have this option. They just have to accept that their new social status is equal to that of a woman doing the same thing. You're right that most women doing these things don't experience much of a drop in social status, because it's the expected course of action (so their social status had been pre-determined accordingly);
You are fudging things by comparing women who never worked who stay at home to men who worked and then stopped to stay at home. Clearly the relevant comparison was between women who worked and then stopped to stay at home compared with men who worked and stopped to stay at home.

If working confers greater "status", then a woman who works, but then chooses to stop and stay at home, should experience a similar loss in status to a man who works, and then stops and stays home. Clearly, this is not the case. Women who stop working to stay home, are not derided or judged by society for staying home. Men are.

This is called comparing apples with apples.

quote:
but of course a man doing the same thing could potentially experience a substantial social-status shock, especially if he were used to being treated with a lot of Educated White Male Privilege.
I'll just ignore the "educated white male privilege" trash, as it contributes nothing to the argument. Getting back to the point, I think it's clear that women have superior choice, by virtue of the fact that both roads are socially acceptable to them, whereas for men only one road is socially acceptable.
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Gaoics79
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quote:
How are you measuring work here? Calories burned? Net productivity by some metric?

Personally, I am less drained doing the latter and my wife is less drained with the former, which makes our current arrangement where I have a career and she does not work out well.

Everyone is different. I can get up at 6:00 a.m. to bake bread all day and be less drained than, say, sitting in a chair deposing a witness for the same period of time.

But all else being equal, there is no doubt in my mind that caring for an infant is not equal to a full-time job, even in an office. It just isn't. I don't need to be a caregiver to know that. That some might prefer one or the other is a matter of personal taste, but doesn't change the overall metric.

quote:
I think you are misreading. The claim was that men have lower status for doing "woman work" and that women may have even lower status for doing "man work". So her status starts below the man but goes even lower if she doesn't fulfill the social expectation.

"that narrow specialty" = "domestic chores and family"

I don't think that's a universal experience, but it's roughly how things work in a conservative community like the one in which I live.

And in the liberal, urban educated community I live in, it works in the way I described. Women can work full-time in jobs like medicine, law and business, and they have high status. Women can then choose to become full-time mothers, and their status stays the same.

You're saying that in your community, female accountants and neurosurgeons are accorded low status compared to homemakers because they don't conform to female stereotypes?

[ April 16, 2014, 06:41 PM: Message edited by: jasonr ]

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