Women’s History Month – A Dose of Perspective

womenMarch – Women’s History Month – is mostly observed by honoring trailblazing women who helped overcome challenges, triumph against sexism, and make our country what it is today. Feminists sometimes use the occasion to highlight how women have yet to achieve economic parity with men, but we should be careful to keep the right perspective when evaluating the status of women in the modern U.S.

It’s simply not accurate to think of all women as a marginalized victim class in today’s economy. Using the right measures, facts bear this out. Furthermore, when women accurately assess our own success and opportunities, we can see women and men in cooperation, not competition.

By nearly any measure, women are advancing and achieving greater success than ever before. Not only has the sheer number of women attaining higher levels of education increased, but women have overtaken men, earning the majority of associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees.

And according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the percent of working-age women participating in the workforce was 43 percent four decades ago. Today it is near 58 percent. In 2010, women comprised 47 percent of the U.S. workforce.

Modern day feminists sometimes point to the disproportionately low number of women in certain higher-paying professions, or at certain levels — i.e. corporate boardrooms — as evidence that American women still lack opportunities. They emphasize that women still have a long way to go before achieving parity with men.

But women don’t need to be equally represented in all facets of American life in order to prove that we are free and prosperous.

A better measure of women’s — and men’s — success is whether they are living the lives they want to lead, in accordance with their personal preferences. While each person is an individual, and will have individual preferences, the two sexes show substantial differences.

For example, Pew Research asked working moms if they would prefer part-time or full-time work. Fully 62 percent of working moms would prefer to work part time, compared to only 21 percent of working dads.  Considering this significant difference in the two groups, it’s not surprising that we see more men climbing the ladders of careers that require full-time work.

But a more important truth is this: Comparing outcomes between men and women is simply a useless exercise. This approach tells us little about the expectations and opportunities that men and women face. And these economic comparisons represent the misguided attitude that men and women are in competition.

In reality, men and women’s interests are tied, and we want the most freedom and greatest prosperity for all of our neighbors, regardless of sex.

Instead of slicing the pie between men and women, we should focus on the state of the whole pie: When the American economy is growing and strong, both men and women benefit. Conversely, if the economy tanks, that’s bad news for us all.

In fact, perpetuating the idea that men are the economic winners and women are victims may do harm. It may encourage young women to accept the status quo as if there is nothing we – as individuals – can do to better our own circumstances.

One favorite – and often misinterpreted – statistic on women is the “wage gap,” or the disparity in average wages between men and women. According to BLS, women earn 81 percent of men’s median wages. This statistic does not take into account different fields, professions, experience levels or hours worked. It’s an average.

If we want more young women to maximize their earning potential, we should encourage them to choose higher-paying jobs, spend more time on the job, or ask for raises more frequently. Really, we should just make sure women are informed about the tradeoffs involved in these choices, and then let each woman decide.

American women are strong, empowered and capable. When we consider women’s history, we see what great obstacles women overcame to shatter glass ceilings and reach new achievements. American women – like men – will continue to overcome, to learn and to grow.

But most importantly, we will seek happiness on our own terms, we will work with – and not against – men along the way, and we will not see ourselves as helpless victims in this modern era where we are more successful and free than ever.

Comments

Polititainment

Colbert's embargo on the Vatican

Colbert had to chide his audience Wednesday night for getting excited about making “Cuba more libre.”

Megyn Kelly on 'The Interview'

Fox News’ Megyn Kelly told Jimmy Kimmel she found Sony’s decision to pull “The Interview” after threats of a terrorist attack "deeply troubling.”

Romney's suggestion for 'The Interview'

Mitt Romney has an idea to turn "The Interview" movie fiasco into a win for everybody.

Sony cancels 'The Interview'

NEW YORK (AP) — Under the threat of terrorist attacks from hackers and with the nation's largest multiplex chains pulling the film from their screens, Sony Pictures Entertainment took the unprecedented step of canceling the Dec. 25 release of the Seth Rogen comedy "The Interview."

'The Interview' to drop in North Korea

Human rights groups are set to drop DVDs of "The Interview" into North Korea via hydrogen balloons, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

White House

District court declares Obama’s executive action on immigration unconstitutional
A federal court in Pennsylvania declared parts of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration unconstitutional Tuesday. Judge Arthur J. Schwab, sitting in the western district of Pennsylvania, said presidents do have the power to use discretion in deciding how to enforce laws, but found that Obama’s recent executive action went much further than that.  He said Obama was writing […]
Obama administration extends Pell grants to juvenile offenders
The Obama administration has set out new guidelines that allow for students sentenced to juvenile correctional facilities to be eligible for federal Pell grants. The U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice sent out a joint release Monday that clarified an earlier law. Congress in 1994 prohibited inmates at federal and state prisons from receiving Pell Grants […]
White House denies report that it wants to delay release of CIA torture report

The White House is insisting it wants the Senate Intelligence Committee to release its report on CIA torture practices, despite a report that Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to scuttle it.

Kate visits NYC kids; Prince William joins Obama

NEW YORK (AP) — Prince William's wife, Kate, wrapped Christmas gifts, helped preschoolers decorate picture frames and left an impression of a down-to-earth royal as she toured a child development center Monday with New York City's first lady.

The surprising opponents and backers of Obama’s net neutrality plan

Ted Cruz vs. Justice Scalia, and Obama vs. Jesse Jackson and the NAACP: The fight in Washington over "net neutrality” and has drawn up some strange battle lines.

Congress

Retiring DemHenry Waxman's farewell ode to govt

You'd think that, 40 years in, a congressman might grow cynical about the prospects of government meddling. Not retiring Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.)!

Senate Confirms Pro-Gun Control Surgeon General
NATIONAL JOURNAL — The Senate narrowly confirmed a new surgeon general whose nomination was delayed for months in a fight over his comments alleging that guns are a public health issue. The confirmation represents a victory for gun-control advocates, even as recent polling has shown Americans moving in the other direction toward gun-rights protections. The […]
Congress gave DOD $3 billion in extra funds

Christmas came early for the Pentagon (and Lockheed Martin.)

Rand Paul's bill to repeal Obama's exec order

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has filed a bill to overturn President Obama’s executive action on immigration.

Congress sends Obama $1.1 T spending bill

Congress cleared a $1.1 trillion spending bill for President Barack Obama's signature late Saturday night after a day of Senate intrigue capped by a failed, largely symbolic Republican challenge to the administration's new immigration policy.