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Feminism - Pay and Power

From: Don W.
Sent on: Sunday, August 25, 2013 5:47 PM
Allison said, “Women on average earn only 70% of what men make in the same positions.”
 
Given my high levels of skepticism my guess is that much evidence will not confirm this overall reading with our current economy. Wikipedia cites “The female-to-male earnings ratio of 0.81.” However, there is ample data suggesting massive problems of this type. When I was working with the National Academy of Sciences I became heavily involved in hiring decisions for a number of roles but primarily programmer/analysts. We would come up with some notion of what we wanted in experience and ability for any new hire. We would also make our best guess about the salary level required to get the talent that we needed. We would literal go years hiring just women. There was substantially lower levels of existing compensation for the women being interviewed. That meant that we could get better talent at virtually every level by hiring a woman.
 
There has been research documenting that in large corporations there was significantly higher overall return on capital where there were more women in top management. This is defacto proof of sexist bias in the wider society that can damage any organizations ability to achieve its ends. It is more than just technical expertise. Women are better at listening and taking to consideration the views of others. The macho style of too many men just do not allow the diversity of input on issues to be fully considered. A huge portion of the remaining pay differential is not linked to a man or a woman in an identical job slot. The glass ceiling means that the huge increase in pay for top management is minimally accruing to women. Women are just not getting reasonable consideration for the roles that are getting the vast majority of pay increases. The net decline over recent years in real earnings of workers not in top management does not help the female-to-male earnings ratio.
 
I don't think we need to say much more about the role of religion in creating a patriarchal bias. This is certainly true in the more traditional religious groups. The quiverful movement and claims that women are just incapable of channeling the spirit of Jesus illustrate these views.
 
Our problem is changing the attitudes within secularism. We certainly had some strong MRA views posted here. Ron Lindsay is the head of the Center for Inquiry which is arguably the largest secular group on this planet. He gave opening remarks at the last Women in Secularism Conference that should be unacceptable to all of us.
 
Greta Christina said this:
“And as far as I know, it is unprecedented for the leader of an organization hosting a conference to use the opening talk of that conference to issue a patronizing scold to its attendees and speakers and financial supporters. I’ve certainly never heard of it happening before this. Opening talks welcome attendees and speakers, get people excited about what’s coming, take care of schedule changes and other logistical matters, let people know what else the hosting organization is up to, hustle for donations. They do not lecture the attendees and speakers and financial supporters on everything that they’re doing wrong. They don’t openly decline to welcome the attendees, in the name of supporting “substance not rhetoric.” I have been to a whole lot of conferences in my time as a public speaker… and I have never, ever, ever seen an organization leader open a conference by scolding and insulting the attendees and speakers and financial supporters… in the name of fostering 'conversation.'”
 
What Lindsay said was:
if for example, in a particular situation there are fewer women than men in a given managerial position, and intentional discrimination is ruled out, well, then privilege must be at work. But that’s not true; there may be other explanations. The concept of privilege can do some explanatory work at a general level, but in particular, individualized situations, other factors may be more significant. To bring this point home let’s consider an example of another broad generalization which is unquestionably true, namely that people with college degrees earn more over their lifetime than those who have only high school diplomas. As I said, as a general matter, this is unquestionably true as statistics have shown this to be the case. Nonetheless in any particular case, when comparing two individuals, one with a high school degree and one with a college degree, the generalization may not hold.
 
But it’s the second misapplication of the concept of privilege that troubles me most. I’m talking about the situation where the concept of privilege is used to try to silence others, as a justification for saying, “shut up and listen.” Shut up, because you’re a man and you cannot possibly know what it’s like to experience x, y, and z, and anything you say is bound to be mistaken in some way, but, of course, you’re too blinded by your privilege even to realize that.
 
This approach doesn’t work. It certainly doesn’t work for me. It’s the approach that the dogmatist who wants to silence critics has always taken because it beats having to engage someone in a reasoned argument. It’s the approach that’s been taken by many religions. It’s the approach taken by ideologies such as Marxism. You pull your dogma off the shelf, take out the relevant category or classification, fit it snugly over the person you want to categorize, dismiss, and silence and ... poof, you’re done. End of discussion. You’re a heretic spreading the lies of Satan, and anything you say is wrong. You’re a member of the bourgeoisie, defending your ownership of the means of production, and everything you say is just a lie to justify your power. You’re a man; you have nothing to contribute to a discussion of how to achieve equality for women.
 
Now don’t get me wrong. I think the concept of privilege is useful; in fact it is too useful to have it ossified and turned into a dogma.
 
By the way, with respect to the “Shut up and listen” meme, I hope it’s clear that it’s the “shut up” part that troubles me, not the “listen” part. Listening is good. People do have different life experiences, and many women have had experiences and perspectives from which men can and should learn. But having had certain experiences does not automatically turn one into an authority to whom others must defer. Listen, listen carefully, but where appropriate, question and engage.
 
consider the above from Lindsay to be as unacceptable as the worst insults to women (and feminists such as myself) that have been posted here.
 
Don

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