Wednesday, July 09, 2008

WickedA on Gender and Work

Anomie has a great post over at her blog

It's a vicious cycle of socialization. Men and women are socialized to consider the man's career to be the 'primary', or more important one. It's easy to see how. Just look around: men tend to have the careers which societies deem important. Men also tend to make more money. So it is quite likely that in any given marriage, the man's career is the more stable one with a better income. However, how did it get to be that way? One reason is that we're socialized into 'choosing' those career paths, with the expectation that such decisions will come in the future. And the more the woman gives up career-wise at each step in the process, the more her career loses value in comparison to her husband's...

But what happens when one half of a couple needs to move for their job? Similar to the solution many couples arrive at regarding housework, I expect that many take the traditional route (woman takes career loss for sake of husband), but convince themselves that this was their individual choice given their specific circumstances.

But there are other options. One growing trend is that of commuter marriages. This is especially common in academia, where the job hunt is national and competitive. It also doesn't help that academics have an odd tendency to marry fellow ivory tower inmates. I'll be facing this decision when I graduate (although my spouse isn't an academic). There are no research universities within a reasonable driving distance of where I live. My husband is currently not too amenable to the idea of moving--especially if it's out-of-state. If, in two years, he refuses to move, do I give up my potential to advance within my field (or leave my field entirely), or do I move without my family? It's the typical family versus career dilemma, but it's one that is disproportionately faced by women.

What I don't want is to be one of those people who convinces herself that she prefers the teaching or non-academic job, when really she's just avoiding the social costs of taking the job at the R1 school. All this is, of course, assuming an R1 would even take me. With the market being the way it is, it's quite likely I'll only get one job offer. Thus, the decision will be made for me.

Within this context, it's easy to see why women in sociology are so much less likely to be married or to have children (I'm both). According to a recent study male sociologists are more likely than female sociologists to be married or living with a partner (83 percent vs. 68 percent), or to have children living with them (62 percent to 50 percent). Also, among sociologists who are parents, women are much more likely to be divorced (21 percent vs. 1.4 percent). Women in academia also cite concerns involving subtle "deeply entrenched inequalities." Not so subtle is the 9% pay gap between men and women in research universities (though on the bright side, other institutions are essentially equal)...

Read the whole post. Sigh. My thoughts on this at some point when I am able to think about this without crying.


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