July 2, 2011

On the occasion of the Wal-Mart sex-discrimination case, looking back 30 years to the Sears case.

Cathy Young brings the historical perspective:
[In the Sears case,] a feminist historian, Rosalind Rosenberg of Barnard College, testified as an expert witness for Sears. Men and women, Rosenberg argued, generally have different expectations and preferences regarding work -- and, however, desirable more equality in the workplace may be, it is "naïve" to see the [statistical] disparities as proof of discrimination. (She was, of course, branded a traitor to the sisterhood.) Sears won the case in 1986....

Women's traditional preferences don't negate the existence of sexist barriers or subtle biases....

Yet legal action is far too blunt and heavy an instrument to deal with these issues. Sometimes, as with the ban on racial segregation or on overt sex discrimination in the workplace, law can change culture in the right direction. But for the law to intrude into a complex web of human relationships and attitudes is an overreach likely to cause more harm than good. For one, we live in a time when state intrusion into private actions is viewed with suspicion. To say that women's advancement requires the government and the courts to micromanage business decisions -- to the point of telling a corporation that it cannot let local managers control promotions and pay -- is to invite a backlash.

18 comments:

vet66 said...

Whether shopping at Sears, Walmart, Lowes or any other retail store I don't care what the gender of the representative is. Can they answer my question or do they run in the opposite direction with their walkie-talkie or cell phone in their ear.

Keep the government out of micro-managing the private sector. The shoppers will have the ultimate say in whether the business survives or not.

ndspinelli said...

MLK sought change through laws. Malcolm understood this is a nation of laws, but first it is a capitalist society. Malcolm taught the key to success was not through laws but via education, discipline, hard work and entrepreneurship. You need laws to be the framework, but Branch Rickey didn't hire Jackie Robinson because of any law. He hired Robinson for a competetive advantage..to win. This is how equality is achieved in our culture.

Pogo said...

The author carries the wisdom borne of her first 17 years having been spent in the Soviet Union.

TML said...

is that comma after however supposed to be there? It's throwing me off.

Jim said...

1) I was just some interviews with hiring managers the other day in which they pointed out that the men to whom they offer jobs are much more likely to refuse the initial offer and ask for more money instead while women are far more likely to simply accept the initial offered salary without attempting to negotiate at all.

Therefore, for the same job women are often paid less - at least initially - than men simple because of a choice that they tend to make when accepting it in the first place.

2) Women tend to trade security and benefits for salary. For example, men are much more likely to take a straight commission sales job at Company A than they are to take a lower salaried position with good benefits at Company B with the expectation that they have a much higher-end earning potential by working for Company B. Women are more likely to choose Company B for the income and benefits security.

3) Similarly, women (at least until the last few years) have been overwhelmingly more likely to be the second income in a family than the primary income. That means that when one parent has to take off work because the kids are sick or another family emergency arises, they are more likely to have been the one who takes off work. Therefore, they have chosen lines of work/positions with certain companies where they traded scheduling flexibility for career advancement opportunities/higher salaries.

4) For similar reasons, men have been more likely to put in extra effort such as working unpaid overtime, taking work home, etc. Which means that, although a man and a woman might be "doing the same job," they have not been putting forth equal amounts of effort in the eyes of an employer. This, of course, leads to higher pay raises at annual reviews and faster career advancement.

5) Studies on male/female employment have never taken into account career breaks which can lead to wide disparities. For example, let's take a woman who worked in her field for 5 years and then left it to go raise a family for a decade. She then re-enters the field and has to start at or near the bottom because she's been out of the field for 10 years. Meanwhile, the guy who has been working in the field for 5 years is now earning more than she is. Feminists scream "PAY INEQUALITY!!! THEY BOTH HAVE 5 YEARS EXPERIENCE!!" But the reality is far different and logically leads to far different pay levels.

And on and on...

The pay inequality myth has been a myth for decades. But as long as there are professional feminists, there will ALWAYS be "pay inequality" no matter how much reality differs from their claims.

The Drill SGT said...

statistical disparities must be proof of discrimination

except where those disparities favor the preferred party, such as women in nursing/teaching, or blacks in sports. In those cases, it is clearly the result of innate differences which must be celebrated and encouraged. No affirmatuive action needed in those areas.

The result of this line of thought is that women predominate in half the areas of work (their traditional favorites) and will be mandated by quota a 50% share of the work araes they have not favored.

Then feminist professionals will bemoan the lack of high quality mates...

kimsch said...

@TML - Althouse should probably throw a [sic] in there. That comma was throwing me off too. I had to read the sentence three times.

wv: clips

Almost Ali said...

I smile whenever I read about a Rosalind Rosenberg, because I grew up around Jews and married a Jewish girl. And I rarely if ever met a Jewish girl who needed to be liberated, who needed feminism. The very thought was and is laughable.

The irony, of course, is that Jewish girls/women often led in the cause of feminism, but most if not all eventually returned to their own unique, individual identity - virtually unscathed. To them the whole movement was a social affair, an opportunity to meet new people, to share mother-angst, to park their shoes under the bed of a stranger.

Big Mike said...

To say that women's advancement requires the government and the courts to micromanage business decisions -- to the point of telling a corporation that it cannot let local managers control promotions and pay -- is to invite a backlash.

She's got it. The lady understands.

edutcher said...

"it is 'naïve' to see the [statistical] disparities as proof of discrimination. (She was, of course, branded a traitor to the sisterhood.)"

I'll just bet.

With the exception of organized homosexuals, no group is more doctrinaire than organized Lefty women.

El Rushbo don't call 'em feminazis for nothing.

William said...

If I were a five year old with a skinned knee (and I'm not saying I'm not), I would prefer to seek solace in the soft bosom of someone who smelled nice. If I were a twenty five year old moving furniture up five flights, I would prefer my companion to be a hairy brute. There are sexual differences, and in some fields they matter.....I don't know if sexual differences matter all that much in the professions of medicine and law. Perhspas some of the differences even favor women, but, more than women, most guys stake out their ego in professional advancement. If some are playing slow pitch softball and others are playing hardball, guess who gets the long term contract in the majors. hardball.

MikeinAppalachia said...

So, if we were merely living in another time, then state intrusion into private affairs would cause more good than harm? The nature of the outcome is a result of the prevailing (suggested as being temporary) view? I'm confused, which is not that unusual, but still.

GMay said...

"For one, we live in a time when state intrusion into private actions is viewed with suspicion."

Woefully incomplete observation.

After "suspicion", it should read "by some, yet welcomed by most who call themselves 'liberal' or 'progressive'.

Patrick said...

Walmart produces an economy of scale. When it it's fundamental driving force. If it can't be sued because that force is too large. Then that force should be shrunk and made more competitive.

Patrick said...

Capitalism only reaches it's effective zenith when the market is regulated to ensure the most variety of choices in buyers and sellers. The closer the buyer/seller ratio is to 50/50 the healthier the market is. IF there is one seller and a billion buyers, that is a sick market.

dick said...

Patrick,

How do you propose to shrink Walmart then = specifically and legally.

ampersand said...

I'm surprised reading Sears was sued for discrimination. When I worked there, the company was an early adopter of affirmative action. Back in the early 70's there was a heavy push to promote minorities and, but especially women.

If the EEOC needs someone to go after ,it's the federal and state prison system. Only 6.6% of the population is female. You gals aren't holding up your end. Time for some government run equalization.

ampersand said...

The Government produces nothing When it it's fundamental driving force.
If it can't be sued because that force is too large. Then that force should be shrunk and made more competitive.
FIFY