Despite the provocative headline that got you this far, I'm sure there's something to it.

So few women top executives exist that I'm sure there's some "boys club" reason behind it in the board rooms of major corporations where, not coincidentally, there are relatively few women.

But what about female line workers: the female clerks, saleswomen, scientists and engineers. Not the woman who aspires to being the CEO, but the woman who, like most men, just wants to earn a living.

I've often wondered about the statistics and have yet to find an answer to this question: are the statisticians comparing apples to apples or apples to oranges?

Here's what I mean: 

Most men are ready to travel or even relocate away from friends and family if it will improve their career opportunities. I strongly suspect that while many woman are also ready to improve their careers in this way, most women are not. 

I strongly suspect that many women still head toward careers in line with natural feminine inclinations to nurture: teaching, nursing, veterinary care and assistantship jobs, art and craft-oriented jobs.

Add to this some of the disadvantages of women in the workplace such as, greater absenteeism (female health and family commitment reasons), more likely to be a smoker (less likely to give up a break in a crisis situation), and less likely to accept a career move if it means leaving office friends behind, and...

...I wonder what the stats about advancement opportunities and pay would look like if one compared the women who were more like men against their male counterparts.

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The study is limited to young people. Plenty of time for them to discover reality. When I was young I was a Christian, a communist, and then an anarchist. Just because someone is young and believes something doesn't mean it's good or true. Quite the opposite as it turns out.

Now, as to my assertion that I think a lot of studies showing a "glass ceiling" may not be comparing men and women who are equivalent in terms of aggressiveness, setting aside family commitments, willingness to relocate, etc., I note that your quoted study isn't a glass ceiling study and I can't see how to relate it to my thesis.

Are you saying that attitudes don't change from one generation to another? Even if "when faced with reality" those young women who want more responsibility change their minds, we can't say why. Perhaps they wanted both but encountered bias and gave up, perhaps they found that their husband could make more and child care was too expensive, perhaps they found that the workplace was unwelcoming, perhaps a combination of their husband's attitude towards "women's work" and pressures at work made it impossible to do both, or perhaps they just had a change of heart. I believe that we can and will change many of these "realities."

The article is related to your reasoning and the generalities you purport to be true.

I have no problem with the proposal of a study with more controls, but given evidence of bias that still exists (in the second article). I think it likely that there will still be a gap.

I'm saying attitudes toward familial duties have a certain inertia and people make certain realizations as time goes by. Many of the girls who are getting tattoos and piercings and hooking up on Friday night now will be stay-at-home soccer moms in their 40's. And that's by choice, not because anyone is forcing them to. 

Men make themselves more valuable to their company by being a little less concerned with family duties and a bit more concerned with advancing themselves. I contend that women who do so will be more competitive with men and probably don't, as a class, earn 30% less. They may earn less, which wouldn't be right, but it might be not nearly 30%. Once the comparison is apples to apples, then we will know how far such women have to go, but 30% sounds to me like a statistic conjured up by women's advocates and not by actual statistical scientists with no bias of their own.

The second link you gave was more of a panel discussion than a study. And I never doubted there was a bias out there, only how much. I think better research is needed to determine if the differential is, say, 5% instead or 25-30% when you compare women and men of equal value to their organization.

Don't take the subject line of this post too seriously, it was designed to draw people in. Also, I don't know how long you've been around here but I'm an inveterate devil's advocate. I like to shake people up regarding the beliefs they hold most dear, because people who hold beliefs dear may be doing so by not really considering other views.

FYI, when my daughter was born, my wife and I watched her in shifts. I went to school morning and through mid-afternoon and she went to school and then to work after I came home. My parenting shift was actually longer for she got home after midnight. When we got divorced (daughter age 10) we started doing joint custody on alternating weeks. We lived in a bi-level on different floors so our daughter didn't even have to change bedrooms weekly, just who put food in front of her, who drove her around, etc.

I do recognize there are other kinds of arrangements than the old Ozzie and Harriet kind, but couples sort those things out on their own. 

Well we do agree on a few things: I can agree that some women (not necessarily all or most) choose to take themselves out of the workforce simply because that's what they want, and I can agree that better and more research is needed.  I also agree that couples figure out what models work best for them and we don't need (nor should we have) a one size fits all mold.

Here's where it seems we disagree: I'm less concerned with how big the effect is and more concerned with what we are doing to change things.  I think research needs to focus more on explaining why the effect exists rather than describing the effect.  The conversation does not end at pay discrepancies or statistics on the number of women in the workforce.  I think that research in the way you are describing it would have an obvious slant.  We would need a more objective way to select for certain characteristics.  Perhaps a collective interview of employers.  We'd likely find that this list varies by field.  I also believe that many workplaces are becoming more dual-centric and both men and women are choosing this path in greater numbers.  Companies should be and are interested in these models because psychology is showing that they foster happier and more productive employees (I can dig up some research on this if you'd like).  There's also been a lot of talk lately about how we talk to little girls vs. little boys and how this can make a difference in what they spend their time doing and the skills that they develop for work later in life.  One study I recall looked at the way parents spoke to boys and girls about math (I'll dig it up if you'd like) and found some significant differences.  I hope that things like this are just isolated cases, but I fear that it's just an exaggeration of what many families unknowingly perpetuate.  I'm not saying that this explains all differences between men and women, but it's definitely an important place to look if we want a more gender-balanced society.

A couple of additional points:

1) I understand that behavior and attitudes change over a lifetime, but the study compared individuals under the age of 29 in different decades.  I would think that this could potentially show an overall trend rather than simple idealism in youth.  I'm genuinely curious what other explanations you have for the youth of 30 years ago holding significantly different attitudes than the youth of today?  I, personally, would like to see a couple more data points in a couple more decades to better describe the trend.

2) The panel did discuss a particular study:

panelists discussed the findings of the study, which showed that male candidates were preferred by science faculty members of both genders.

The study surveyed over 130 faculty members from top research universities, who were given one application for a lab manager and told they were helping in the hiring process. The applications were identical except for the name of the candidate — half of them were from an applicant named John, and the other half were from an applicant named Jennifer. Both male and female science faculty members were more likely to rate the male candidate as very competent, were more likely to hire him and rate him as worthy of their mentorship and paid him an average of $4,000 more than the identical female applicant, the study found.

My point is simply that the effect is still there, and it's still important to address.  As stated above, I believe that we accomplish more by exploring the why or the causes than by just continuing to describe what is in different ways.

And no worries Unseen, I know a devil's advocate when I see one :).  I also appreciate the practice in hashing out and fine-tuning ideas.  It sounds like your daughter had two parents who really cared about her, and that in my opinion is wonderful.

Nice, Colleen.  I wonder if the male role of doing the dangerous hunting was related to the fact that they were more disposable than the females of the tribes. 

By that, I mean that for the species to continue, the female has to survive a year after conception to effect a realistic chance for the baby to survive, but a man could be mauled by a savage animal just moments after insemination.

Ha - just spotted a similar comment above.

I don't think women and men are the same except for merely their physical bodies as Colleen seems to believe. Putty in the hands of society. 

In the '60's and 70's feminists managed to convince women there must be something wrong with them if they weren't excelling at both a career and mothering. Supermom.

Colleen's ilk seems bent on creating a new unrealistic standard for women. There must be something wrong with you if you're not in a relationship where all duties are done 50/50. In her world, there are no trade-offs or bargains in relationships. If duties aren't shared, the relationship must be defective and oppressive of the woman.

You know that's hogwash and so do I and most people.

Unseen, I have no problem with you playing devil's advocate but I'd appreciate if you'd stop twisting my words.  I clearly stated that these are not my beliefs.  Stop using me to vilify your view of feminism.  This is not an all or nothing debate.

Stop assuming I have a "view of feminism." I do prefer some feminists over others, but that isn't a general "view of feminism." You imply that feminism is one thing, but there's a wide range from Camille Paglia to Andrea Dworkin. 

If you clearly stated that 50/50 isn't the gold standard for couples, I must have missed that post. Sorry. I think I detect a distaste for couples fitting a more traditional mold where the mom is more committed to the home than the father and the father is more committed to putting bread on the table.

I think my contention is true that women like that in the work force does skew the statistics in a way that makes whatever differential in pay and opportunities does exist appear larger than it actually is, were one to compare men and women equally valuable to their employers.

I only mentioned feminism because you did, and this is the first time I mentioned it.  To address your points, stating that culture is an important factor is not the same as saying that culture is everything and biology is nothing. I also have no distaste for couples fitting a more traditional mold if they so choose.  None whatsoever.  I have also never said that equality means that everything must be split down the middle.  There are many ways to balance a scale.  I also don't think that women need to "do it all" to be wonderful productive members of society.  I simply want women who choose or desire to choose less traditional models to have a fair chance at doing so. 

I don't necessarily disagree with your contention that the results are skewed, but I do disagree that these differences are static/unchangeable.  I don't understand why this point is so important to you.  If a bias remains (and it does), why not study the causes and do what we can to change it?

Colleen, I don't have a horse in this race (raised four daughters by myself), but clearly you haven't played this game with Unseen to the extent that I have - he asked me "devil's advocate" questions on another thread, and each time, I nailed him, but did I get a, "You know, you're right!"?

Noooooo - he simply moved on without response.

Sometimes if you give him a cookie, he'll go away, but no guarantees.

No kidding!  I do love baking.  What's your favorite kind of cookie Unseen?

Oh, come on. Nobody here actually throws in the towel and says, "You're 100% right. I was totally wrong."


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