December 9, 2008

Obama's "infrastructure" jobs program will mainly make jobs for men.

Linda Hirshman doesn't like it. Her solution?
Fortunately, jobs for women can be created by concentrating on professions that build the most important infrastructure — human capital. In 2007, women were 83 percent of social workers, 94 percent of child care workers, 74 percent of education, training and library workers (including 98 percent of preschool and kindergarten teachers and 92 percent of teachers’ assistants)....

Many of the jobs women do are already included in Mr. Obama’s campaign promises. Women are teachers, and the campaign promised to provide support for families with children up to the age of 5, increase Head Start financing and quadruple the money spent on Early Head Start to include a quarter-million infants and toddlers. Special education, including arts education, is heavily female as well. Mr. Obama promised to increase financing for arts education and for the National Endowment for the Arts, which supports many school programs....

The current proposal is simply too narrow. Women represent almost half the work force — not exactly a marginal special interest group. By adding a program for jobs in libraries, schools and children’s programs, the new administration can create jobs for them, too.
I think Obama must respond to this problem. If a huge federal jobs program is really what we need -- and I'm not willing to say it is -- then how can nearly all the job be men's jobs? Is it enough of an answer to say that it's up to women to take up the hard physical labor of building roads and bridges and the like?

75 comments:

1jpb said...

This is a sexist blame game, where women are blamed for our poor education system.

Cabbage said...

McArdle & Drizner have already looked this over: http://meganmcardle.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/12/womens_work_2.php

kalky said...

Cabbage, you beat me too it.

AllenS said...

And let's make sure there are an equal number of blacks, Latinos, Transgender, homosexuals, lesbians, immigrants....

AllenS said...

Oh, and the homeless community, too.

Hoosier Daddy said...

How can women be expected to handle these high pressure jobs and still take care of their kids?

Christ the next thing you'll know they'll be on VP tickets.

Methadras said...

Title IX for the new WPA?

Quayle said...

What a great idea! We are such an advanced society.

We'll pay women to leave their small children to go out and take care of other people's small children in day care and head start programs.

Then we'll pay some other woman to take care of the small children of the first woman.

Brilliant!

It's a perpetual nurturing motion machine: it generates more emotional energy than it uses to run.

cardeblu said...

I thought womyn could do men's jobs. They're only good for being teachers, librarians, and social workers?!

Hirshman (and Althouse?) seem to have set back "the movement" to the '70s.

Tibore said...

"Is it enough of an answer to say that it's up to women to take up the hard physical labor of building roads and bridges and the like?"

Yes. Equal opportunity is exactly that: Equal opportunity for employment.

If this jobs program goes through, why let jobs be definied by gender likelyhood? I thought the whole purpose of fairness and equality was to be blind to such criteria. Furthermore, would encouraging the creation of "gender-taken" jobs follow the actual demand for such work? Last thing I want to see are jobs created, whether by government or private business, in response to anything other than the need for such a job to be done. Apportioning jobs due to the likelyhood of gender taking it is anything but that. If roads need to be built, that's where the jobs should be created. Creating a "job" to fill some notion of gender quota doesn't guarantee that said job needs to be done, and it certainly doesn't contribute towards efficient use of payroll and (pardon the term; I can't help that it's gendered) manpower resources.

Henry Buck said...

We need a massive federal infusion of funds to create thousands of new book clubs for women, thus jump starting the need for book club facilitors.

Seriously thous, all of those infrastructure companies will need additional women to type up the orders, answer the phone, and make coffee for the supervisors.

John Stodder said...

The real problem with Obama's infrastructure jobs program is that, unlike the 1930s or the 1950s, in the 2000s it takes years for any medium or large-scale public improvement project to pass all the regulatory hurdles and survive all the NIMBY lawsuits so the project can actually begin. In an era where nimble and fleet are the highest business virtues, our government is anything but.

So while I support wholeheartedly the idea that we need to steer more money into fixing roads, schools, energy facilities, etc., by the time any of these projects are started, the recession will likely be over.

Nowadays, big projects are mostly full employment for lawyers and lobbyists, at least for the first couple of years. The good news is that there are lots of women lawyers and lobbyists.

cokaygne said...

I think she has a valid point as far as it goes.

It is interesting that Obama's program recalls Republican Eisenhower's Interstate program and not FDR's WPA. That is probably because Obama's advisers know that the WPA was a waste if money that did nothing to end the depression. Hitler and Tojo deserve credit for ending the depression.

The interstate highway system owes something to Hitler's autobahns. It was an investment that allowed faster movement of people and goods, including the military, around the country whilst putting thousands of young men, potential solders, to work.

It would be best if there were no "stimulus" program. If there must be one, she is right. Millions of women are now the sole support of their families, or, at the least, bring home an income that keeps the family afloat. That said, however, is not education too important to be the object of a make work program?

Christy said...

Great! Bridges to be re-built by PoMo scholars who think Statics are what's heard whenever a Republican opens his mouth, and Dynamics are all about interpersonal relationships. Please start work in solidly blue states first!

Yes, we have women who can design and, yes, we have equipment that renders upper body strength unnecessary. This kind of social engineering does nothing, however, to make the fields less hostile to women.

save_the_rustbelt said...

I don't know about every trade, but there are women in the operating engineers, and the OE is key to just about every infrastructure project.

And didn't I see that 80% of the job losses so far are men?

If the Democrats fail, it will because they form a circular firing squad of political correctness and special interests.

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Expat(ish) said...

The problem with building infrastructure out of women is that the drive is really bumpy. And it's hard to build bridges out of actual people.

-XC

Newtons Bit said...

Most of the jobs that have already been lost are from construction. Mainly home construction but also commercial as well.

Most of the people who do these jobs are men. What's wrong with restarting the construction industry with government work?

PatCA said...

Here we go...negotiating for the plums. "I got something ^%!# valuable here and I'm not gonna give it away for nothin'."

Meade said...

Not to worry. As long as we keep using endocrine disrupting pesticides, we'll all become female anyway.

Superdad said...

Is this supposed to be a serious question?

Dennis said...

What a disaster.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"Is it enough of an answer to say that it's up to women to take up the hard physical labor of building roads and bridges and the like?"

There is nothing too physically difficult about operating a backhoe, grader, paving machine etc. Lots of fat, beer gut laden construction workers can do it. So can a woman.

Sigivald said...

Is it enough of an answer to say that it's up to women to take up the hard physical labor of building roads and bridges and the like?

Yes.

(Not that I agree with the premise of a new WPA, but if there is to be one, picking jobs based on "gender impact" would be utterly asinine.

Unless we want to admit it's all just make-work rather than pretending it's "long-delayed infrastructure repairs and upgrades" or other really demanded or useful work.

The latter, being in the real world and its necessities determined by facts rather than politics, is almost certain to have "disparate impact".)

Maguro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Newtons Bit said...

Dust Bunny Queen said...
"Is it enough of an answer to say that it's up to women to take up the hard physical labor of building roads and bridges and the like?"

There is nothing too physically difficult about operating a backhoe, grader, paving machine etc. Lots of fat, beer gut laden construction workers can do it. So can a woman.


Alright, we'll give the 1% of the jobs on construction sites that don't involve tieing rebar, making forms, setting CMU, or either heavy labor to women. And after half of those women run someone over on the construction site because they have no expierence either operating such equipment or even being on a construction site we'll find something else for them to do.

Why don't we just let the government create the contracts, and the contractors will fill the jobs?

Freeman Hunt said...

Is it enough of an answer to say that it's up to women to take up the hard physical labor of building roads and bridges and the like?

Yes. If we have to pay for all these workers, it would be nice if we could get something for our money. A road is a road. A bridge is a bridge. An investment in "human capital" via the public school system is like having a greenback bonfire.

Freeman Hunt said...

And I hate this crap that supporting women is about giving them government childcare. Give us tax cuts to make it easier for us to stay home with our own kids.

Bender said...

Nevermind the women, at least La Raza will be happy.

I don't know about Wisconsin, but in D.C., 98 percent of construction jobs are held by Latinos -- and many of those are probably immigrant, and of those, not a few are day labor illegal aliens. Even the work recently done in the D.C. public schools was Latin labor, notwithstanding the fact that black unemployment has been high in D.C. for a long time.

Henry said...

"Obama's 'infrastructure' jobs program will mainly make jobs for men."

What? Is the money going to bloggers?

Taking Hirschman seriously, one interesting consequence of her gender-normalized plan is that it would move the money from jobs that have measurable outcomes -- such as building roads and bridges -- to jobs that don't -- such as social work. Typical is her claim that the "Harlem Children’s Zone" is the equivalent of a green engineering project because it will encourage people to live in inner cities.

How does one measure that?

One reason the WPA looms so fondly in memory is because of all those murals in post offices.

Obama has smartly focused his recovery on jobs with outcomes. That's his golden egg. Hirschman has her knife out and she's going after the goose.

Oligonicella said...

Ann --

"Is it enough of an answer to say that it's up to women to take up the hard physical labor of building roads and bridges and the like?"

Why not? Do you feel that type of work is beneath women, or above them?

Glen said...

Most of these new construction jobs will be going to illegal immigrants, all of whom will be male. The real problem here is how do we make sure our female illegal immigrants get their fair share of the whole enchilada?

rhhardin said...

I'd suggest jobs doing mathematical proofs.

It's knowledge that's real.

paul a'barge said...

First of all, it's the NY Times. Second of all, it's Linda Hirshman. Double clues that the analysis is bunk.

paul a'barge said...

You think I'm kidding about Hirshman being a moron?

Nope.

Michael_H said...

"Obama's "infrastructure" jobs program will mainly make jobs for men."

Men who will for the most part dutifully give their wives most of their weekly take-home pay. Those men.

John Lynch said...

Why are they 'men's' jobs? Why can't women apply for and take them?

TitusNeedsU said...

What about us mos?

We aren't going to be building no roads and bridges.

Although, when I was young I did work at my father's road construction company. I sat on top of a conveyor belt and picked out steel that was in gravel before it went into a crusher. The steel couldn't get into the crusher because it would damage it.

I also worked on the "shoulder" of the roads shoveling and digging holes.

I also sat in a little hut and weighed trucks.

My father tried to his darnest to work the gay out of me.

Didn't work.

jdeeripper said...

paul a'barge said...First of all, it's the NY Times. Second of all, it's Linda Hirshman. Double clues that the analysis is bunk.

Here's the data:

Losing jobs in unequal numbers
1,069,000 fewer men are working than a year ago. 12,000 more women are working.


Clearly, Linda Hirshman does not read this blog. What a sexist.

Which gender needs more stimulating?

Women's work

TitusNeedsU said...

There has to be little diners near those infrastructure jobs.

And strip bars.

And a bunch of other "female" jobs.

veni vidi vici said...

If this is really the "crisis" everyone says it is, I expect the government to start by suspending some of these rules and restrictions on who can work various jobs (all the union pork that's in gov't contracting rules, etc.) so that they can get as many people to work as soon as possible. Also, some executive orders or other avenues to suspending various zoning and other NIMBY regs should be forthcoming.

If the incoming administration does not accompany its
"emergency" jobs/spending program with such regulatory moves, I will consider that evidence that this is more vote-buying and not really relevant to thwarting an actual crisis.

The idea that the crisis is real will only be convincing if actions, not merely words, tell us that DC thinks so. So far, I see a lot of influence-peddling/meddling, but not a lot of convincing evidence that these doofuses are taking it seriously.

And no, I wouldn't feel any differently about it if we were expecting an incoming McCain administration. No one in the political establishment appears to be ready to make the decisions necessary to avoid a serious disruption. That being the case, it is not unreasonable to believe that a serious disruption is not on the horizon. The alternative, of course, is that the establishment is a bunch of losers voting "present" with their fiddle-bows while the rest of us (non-millionaires) get burned. And yet, here we are, electing the same ones again and again...

Is this what it felt like to the citizenry at the end of the Roman empire? I wonder.

TitusNeedsU said...

I love the Kate Bush song This Women's Work. Absolutely beautiful.

Duscany said...

I see women flying commercial airliners. There's no reason why they couldn't drive high-lifts, road-graders and bulldozers and all the other machines needed to build new infrastructure. Of course, many men graduate into those jobs after first paying their dues hand mixing cement, carrying rebar, and laying brick--all jobs that can require upper body strength. Hey, but that's what steroids are for.

TitusNeedsU said...

Kate Bush was a ballerina.

Maybe the "infrastructure jobs" can be in the arts.

We need more ballerinas. And celloists.

Infrastructure is a weird word-just look it for a moment.

commenter said...

i have a question about construction jobs, guys.

Is this a ridiculous idea?

see, if tyvek was printed with gridlines instead of those words tyvek allover it, would it be too hard to hang the tyvek plumb and then you would have a bunch of pumblines and horizontal and vertical while you are are building for a variety of purposes.

or is that a stupid idea and I should just go back to carrying bricks back and forth from the pallet to the scaffolding where the guys are laying them.

Signed,

backwards trummerfrau

TitusNeedsU said...

My father owned and worked in road construction his entire life.

The company was predominately men but there were women in jobs there.

The employees in the office offices were all women. Also women weighed trucks, some drove dump trucks and endloaders and rollers. My sisters both worked at the company while in high school weighing trucks. The jobs tend to pay good money too.

I don't think most women really want to do those jobs do they? But if they did there is opportunity. They would be considered a diversity candidate in that industry.

Big Mike said...

Gender, schmender. How do we guarantee that the jobs are taken by US citizens in proportion to their share of the population? I'll be darned if I want my tax money going to support them rotten Canadians!

Lem said...

then how can nearly all the job be men's jobs?

Femenist bailout, get in line ;)

TitusNeedsU said...

The guys that worked at the company had nicknames like:

Sparrow
Indiana
Schmidey
Ziggy
Moose

There were other funny ones but I can't remember them all.

I am afraid of what my nickname was which of course was never said around me because my dad was the boss but I am sure there was one.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

In 2007, women were 83 percent of social workers, 94 percent of child care workers, 74 percent of education, training and library workers (including 98 percent of preschool and kindergarten teachers and 92 percent of teachers’ assistants)....

It looks to me as though women are already far too much on the public tit.

Ya wanna job? Haul your emotion-driven asses out of your soft little worlds and get a real job.

You've done a demonstrably shitty job of "educating" children, training them instead to value feelings over reason, and to pretend that intentions are somehow more important than results.

I don't much care for government make-work projects, but if they have to go that route I'd far rather have new bridges, water distribution systems, and fibre networks than yet another series of programs for building the self-esteem of children (of any age) who no longer know how to create wealth, but only redistribute it.

TitusNeedsU said...

I was hoping that when I worked at the company there would be some hotties but there weren't.

Some of the office gals had nice tits though.

Bummer.

Meade said...

"I am afraid of what my nickname was which of course was never said around me because my dad was the boss but I am sure there was one."

Logically, it would have been something like "Sonuva sonuva"

Methadras said...

Look, no one wants a passenger seat builder.

commenter said...

see, i only ask because my parchment papers when i was stuck in the kitchen in the old country baking cookies, yea, it always was printed with a grid and circles and other geometrical purposes because , you know, when you are working with your hands and shoulders and rolling pins and stuff like that... well you knead those thinks around and it's right there on your parchment paper.

So why don't guys have that kind of stuff printed on their tyvek? Heck, you can even print the geometrical proofs on them for proofing right angles and stuff. and things like pythagerus would write on a chalk board.

1jpb said...

Commenter,

1) It's possible to reference off the words, as long as they're level/plumb

2) Making that stuff level/plumb can be a hassle.

3) Running a chalk line (or several) really isn't that hard.

4) This is 2008: get a self leveling rotary laser with a plumb line, a remote, and a tripod. You'll never stop thinking up new uses for the thing.

1jpb said...

To clarify; a simultaneous level and plumb line.

chickenlittle said...

Most of these new construction jobs will be going to illegal immigrants, all of whom will be male. The real problem here is how do we make sure our female illegal immigrants get their fair share of the whole enchilada?

I think you know the answer to that question.

commenter said...

yea,

okay hanging it plumb would be a hassle. still, aren't there plenty of times on a job site that you wanna draw or reference something and graph paper isnt available.

I mean, when the stuff first came out, i understand getting the brand name out, but now don't we all call it tyvek, even if there is. so why not print something useful on it.

heck, all that stuff i can't get. i am still looking for a good price drill with some quality bits (at goodwill) that works as my first power tool. that advanced lazer stuff is years away, 2008,9 or not.

commenter said...

oops didn't finish

We all call it tyvek even if there is another alternative. is there another brand?

1jpb said...

Even fairly small lumberyards and builders get that stuff printed with their own names on it.

So, if you come to run a decent sized company you can get it printed w/ anything you want.

commenter said...

then we can print it with

language lessons for all the spanish speaking illegal immigrants

with translations of phrases in social engineering, too.

Pogo said...

Proposed headline:
"1 million men unemployed. Women hardest hit."

Cedarford said...

Obama has smartly focused his recovery on jobs with outcomes. That's his golden egg. Hirschman has her knife out and she's going after the goose.

Hirshman is yet another lawyer and academic who has never done a manual labor job....and thinks that it would be fair if the money is split between men repairing structurally deficient bridges, and hiring women to "assist" other women "nurturing" children in a variety of no or little stress office and school jobs.

If reports are correct, 80% of the job losses have been of men with a fair measure of skills in construction, welding, heavy equipment ops that would readily be put to work investing in repairing and building the nations neglected infrastructure. But with those 80% of jobs lost being men, Hirshman wants the new jobs to be 50-50 male-female. Moreover, the existing long-term unemployed workforce tilts heavily male in shuttered factory towns, and inner cities - where in some locales - 35-40% of black men between the ages of 18 and 30 are jobless.

1. The big problem with job loss is with men...while women have gravitated to safe, modest pay government and clerical jobs not impacted as much so far. Hirshman is being a "woman's advocate", trying to advance the interest of her own kind. But that is not where the job losses and long-term unemployed problem is the worst.

2. Hirshman neglects to mention that we have neglected roads, bridges, Ports, modernizing water systems, upgraded sewer facilities, waterways, levees, installing broadband precisely because cities and heavily female government and medical care unions screamed for "urgently needed" caregivers. For The Children! The Children! and government spent on those "urgently needed services jobs" which don't seem to provide much better service or constitute a better investment for the future when 40 years ago the per capita number of such "service providers was 75% lower. It was easier to push off physical plant investments and take advantage of the engineering margin in older systems..but in some areas, like road use, the doubling or tripling of the US population has strained that 50-100 year old physical infrastructure badly.

3. Far more than paying for present day "service-providing " - funding physical infrastructure has better future investment return, boosts productivity more, has a greater local economic multiplier per dollar spent, and is far more useful to providing a 1st step on a good career path to men (and women) entering physical trades. A dollar spent on a dam or bridge or modern water main can pay off in added benefit to society and a better standard of living/quality of life - every year for 80-150 years in the future.

4. Obama was talking about investing part of that stimulus in energy infrastructure. I would prefer he and Congress spent it on things that would increase our domestic energy supply, making energy cleaner and affordable - rather than spend it on "nurturing careproviders" paid to console "emotionally vulnerable people" upset that their electric, gas, sewer, home heating tabs are going the roof.

EnigmatiCore said...

Unemployment is hitting men harder so it is only fair that measures to benefit men are enacted.

chuck b. said...

Obama creates jobs--women and minorities hardest hit?

paul a'barge said...


So why don't guys have that kind of stuff printed on their tyvek?


Dang, why didn't I think of that?

Just why don't they print ads on Tyvek? Half the time, that Tyvek is in full view for days before they put up the siding.

You could make a bah-zillion.

Jim Howard said...

I had some hope that Obama wasn't really an idiot, he just talked like one to get elected.

Clearly I was wrong. He's an idiot to think these make-work 'infrastructure' projects will do anything but drag the economy further down.

This is just the broken-window fallacy writ large.

If Obama cared about anything other than gathering power for himself and his cronies he'd reduce taxes by the amount he proposes to piss away with these make work projects.

These projects will be yet another bonanza for lawyers from day one, but it will be years before the first ditch digger turns a shovel.

In the meantime taxes, regulation, and packs of lawyers will continue to destroy real jobs by the thousands.

If 'infrastructure' jobs could boost an economy then California, Michigan, and Massachusetts would not be bankrupt.

Donna B. said...

My father always preferred to hire female equipment operators when he could. He said they learned easily, paid attention to instructions, and were "easy" on his equipment.

My husband has worked with several female pipefitters and welders.

My mother attended a school run by WPA to teach women how to weld. She got kicked out though... no one would ever tell me the whole story.

We have WAY to many social workers who should grab a shovel and head out to construction site, just to see what a day's work is actually like.

In fact, I doubt they could make it through an 8-hour shift at Denny's -- any job.

10ksnooker said...

As the failed President FDR has already proved with his Raw Deal, all gubbermint make work jobs end in the same place, the unemployment line.

Ronald Reagan had the correct formula for the economy.

Lyle said...

Women can dig ditches just as good as men can.

AJ Lynch said...

Where is the jobs program for the Wall Street types? They are suffering too!

commenter said...

you could make a bah-zillion.

I don't want to make a bah zillion. I want my house to have perpendicular corners, I want the construction crew to be professional, and i don't want ads buried in its soul. I want it to be "tiny" by today's standards, and i wanna help build it.

I would rather build the shell out of cinderblock instead of wood construction, thus eliminating the use of Tyvek, but I don't know if they do it like that anywhere in this country

campy said...

I don't want to make a bah zillion. I want my house to have perpendicular corners,

The corners are built before the Tyvek goes up. No printed lines are going to help at that point.

commenter said...

the point is to subliminally instill some geometry into the beginning construction workers head over the long haul. You know lernin without all those university credits.

I've worked next to some temp workers on home building construction sites. Maybe not now, in 2008 in our present economic environment, but in days when construction labor was short at hand and the only question asked before getting hired was "can you use a hammer?" Then they get graduated to a hammer gun.

Have you ever seen a whole row of nails on floor boards that miss their aim on the entire chalk line? That's just the start of quality home construction.

commenter said...

not only that..

are you living in flatland?

there are more corners then just the four corners on the ground foundation.

think back to euler, kinda, in a way.