Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News, Commentary and Blog posts from the Independent Women's Foundation.(...)IWF RSS Clinton Wants You To (Literally) Play Your “Woman Card”<p> Hillary Clinton is not only embracing the accusation that she is &ldquo;playing the woman card,&rdquo; she wants all of her women supporters to play the game with her.</p> <p> Clinton&rsquo;s women&rsquo;s outreach director Mini Timmaraju emailed supporters on Thursday&nbsp;advertising a limited time opportunity&nbsp;to receive their&nbsp;own literal &ldquo;woman card,&rdquo; <a href=";isd=No&amp;/&amp;utm_source=sp&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=20160429hfa2_fr&amp;utm_content=25368078-20160429-HFA-full%20(2)&amp;utm_term=Link%204&amp;spMailingID=25368078&amp;spUserID=MTE0MzE4MzI2Njc4S0&amp;spJobID=784531079&amp;spReportId=Nzg0NTMxMDc5S0">in exchange for a campaign donation</a>.</p> <p> &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve been hearing from supporters all over the country that they&rsquo;d like a &lsquo;woman card&rsquo; of their very own &mdash; to display proudly on a fridge or pull out of their wallet every time they run into someone who says women who support Hillary must not be using our brains,&rdquo; the email read.</p> <p> For anyone who missed it, earlier this week, Trump said the only thing Clinton has going for her in this election is her gender.</p> <p> &ldquo;If Hillary Clinton were a man, I don&rsquo;t think she&rsquo;d get 5 percent of the vote,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The only thing she&rsquo;s got going is the woman&rsquo;s card.&rdquo;</p> <p> Since this comment, plenty of female writers and social media users have joked that their &ldquo;woman card&rdquo; gives them access to lower wages, fewer job opportunities, and increased chance of harassment and sexual assault.</p> <p> Clinton has also taken hold of this idea to turn the political tide in her favor.</p> <p> &ldquo;If fighting for women&rsquo;s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the &lsquo;woman card,&rsquo; then deal me in,&rdquo; <a href="">she responded</a>.</p> <p> Of course, Trump was not attacking Clinton&rsquo;s positions on any of the above issues,&nbsp;rather he was pointing out that many people who&nbsp;support her&nbsp;do so solely because they would like to see a female President of the United States.</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;Hillary Clinton and her supporters have employed this line far too often suggesting that women somehow owe her their support just because she&rsquo;s a woman,&rdquo; said Carrie Lukas of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s ridiculous and, frankly, sexist. Donald Trump is right to point out that people should evaluate candidates based on their vision and experience. That&rsquo;s truly treating women and men equally. Voting for someone simply because she&rsquo;s a woman is as wrongheaded as voting against someone for being a woman.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> L. LukasFri, 29 Apr 2016 11:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPersonal Care Accounts Can Help People Who Need Time Off from Work<p> Americans are dismayed by stories about parents who can&rsquo;t afford to take time off from work when a new baby is born or a family member is hospitalized. We believe money worries shouldn&rsquo;t compound the challenges of stressful times that have such a profound effect on our personal health and happiness. That&rsquo;s why Americans overwhelmingly want policymakers to take action to help people who lack paid leave benefits through their jobs.</p> <p> This is a laudable instinct. Yet those who want to help people without benefits need to make sure that in seeking to solve one problem, they aren&rsquo;t creating new ones. Unfortunately, that&rsquo;s what often happens when government intervenes.</p> <p> A law requiring all businesses to provide paid leave, for example, sounds like a straightforward way to solve this problem. Unfortunately, however, such a mandate would backfire on many workers &mdash; particularly women workers &mdash; by making them more expensive to employ.</p> <p> Some businesses can absorb higher employment costs, but many can&rsquo;t. Businesses facing increased costs have to compensate by raising prices on consumers or cutting other spending. Managers often have to find savings in their workforce and either reduce base pay or consolidate jobs. That means that while some workers would enjoy a new paid leave benefit as a result of a government mandate, others will be big losers from the policy, seeing their take-home pay cut or their jobs disappear entirely.</p> <p> Ironically (but unsurprisingly), the people everyone most wants to help &mdash; those with the lowest pay and fewest benefits who are most vulnerable to significant hardship &mdash; are the ones most likely to suffer as a result of a mandate. Americans have witnessed this phenomenon with the minimum wage, as workers with lower education or fewer skills find their jobs eliminated and face high unemployment rates. Other employment mandates and family-friendly programs intended to help women have also been shown to lead to lower pay and less employment options.</p> <p> This doesn&rsquo;t mean that there is nothing that policymakers can do to help workers who lack family leave benefits. The Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum recently released Working for Women report calling for the creation of &ldquo;Personal Care Accounts&rdquo; (PCAs), which would allow workers to save pre-tax income, which could then be used when they take time off for situations eligible under the Family and Medical Leave Act.</p> <p> Employers could also receive a tax benefit for contributing to employees&rsquo; accounts.</p> <p> Unused funds in PCAs could eventually be rolled into retirement accounts, which would also increase financial security for these workers and encourage people to be good stewards of these resources, judiciously using their leave time.</p> <p> Of course, savings accounts won&rsquo;t solve this problem for everyone: Workers scraping by day to day are unlikely to find a way to contribute to a PCA. Younger workers who haven&rsquo;t had time to build up savings in their PCA accounts will also be vulnerable when they need to take leave.</p> <p> Yet Americans are up to the challenge of helping these people. Private charities could be set up to open and fund PCAs for lower-income workers in need.</p> <p> Consider that there are 4 million babies born each year in the United States. About two-thirds of the women giving birth are in the labor force. A $5,000 PCA for the poorer half of those mothers would require about $7 billion. That&rsquo;s a big number, but not so incredible when you consider that charitable giving in the United States exceeded $350 billion in 2014. Family groups and progressive philanthropists could make this a charitable priority.</p> <p> There is no magical, costless way to ensure that everyone has the time off that they need without harming people&rsquo;s employment prospects. All proposals have their benefits and their drawbacks. Personal Care Accounts have the potential to help many workers and wouldn&rsquo;t backfire on low-income workers by pricing them out of the labor market.</p> <p> And unlike sweeping one-size-fits-all mandates and government programs, they also wouldn&rsquo;t discourage companies from offering their own benefits or flexible work arrangements that can be win-wins for businesses and women. They are an option worth exploring further so that we can find ways to really help people who need time off from work, but who want jobs too.</p> L. LukasThu, 28 Apr 2016 15:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMelissa Click: Being A 'White Lady' Made Her ‘An Easy Target’ <p> The craziness continues with Melissa Click, back to rant about&nbsp;her firing from the University of Missouri. &ldquo;This is all about racial politics,&rdquo; she claimed&nbsp;<a href="">in Monday&rsquo;s&nbsp;interview</a> with the Chronicle of Higher Education. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m a white lady. I&rsquo;m an easy target.&rdquo;</p> <p> In November, then-Professor Click prevented&nbsp;a student reporter from covering student protests at the University of Missouri. She called for&nbsp;&ldquo;muscle&rdquo; to help remove the reporter.</p> <p> Click <a href="">was charged with assault in January</a> and <a href="">fired in February</a>.</p> <p> The university curators voted to fire her because&nbsp;she &ldquo;was not entitled to interfere with the rights of others, to confront members of law enforcement or to encourage potential physical intimidation against a student.&rdquo;</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">For those&nbsp;comments on race, Click has the role as &ldquo;unintentional destroyer of college campuses&rsquo; PC edifice,&rdquo; Carrie Lukas, managing director of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum (IWF), </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">told</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">&nbsp;the New York Post.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">Lukas also believes that Click&rsquo;s lawsuit against the university for allegedly not&nbsp;following the rules in similar firing cases like hers &ldquo;may have merit.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">&ldquo;Where was Click when&nbsp;[Tom] Wolfe was being similarly sacrificed for political expedience?&rdquo; Lukas asked.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> To be consistent, Click would have to go further:</p> <p> If Click is serious about raising awareness about the unfair, quasi-judicial proceedings that pass for justice at American universities, perhaps she could lead a class-action suit with all the students &mdash; particularly men &mdash; who have been subjected to sexual-assault tribunals or tossed out over dubious Title IX violations for creating a &ldquo;hostile&rdquo; environment.</p> <p> It does not seem that that was the point of Monday&rsquo;s interview. &ldquo;Being Melissa Click&rdquo; is&nbsp;a sympathetic feature. Click was complaining about her firing in the way she knew how.&nbsp;While &ldquo;I wasn&rsquo;t the one in charge,&rdquo; Click claimed, she &ldquo;was the one held accountable.&rdquo;</p> <p> Click is looking for employment elsewhere and will be offering her prospective employers&nbsp;<a href="">a 10-page curriculum vitae</a>, citing her&nbsp;publications on &ldquo;femininity, affluence, and whiteness in the Martha Stewart phenomenon,&rdquo;&nbsp;Twilight,&nbsp;and&nbsp;Fifty Shades of Grey.&nbsp;A <a href="">compilation of </a>the nine &ldquo;most preposterous&rdquo; &nbsp;citations was published by&nbsp;the Daily Caller.&nbsp;</p> L. LukasWed, 27 Apr 2016 15:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMelissa Click Just (Accidentally) Outed The Campus-PC Gestapo<p> Melissa Click may not know it, but since being fired by the University of Missouri she&rsquo;s already taken up another important role: unintentional destroyer of college campuses&rsquo; PC edifice.</p> <p> Americans first met Assistant Professor Click in video clips taken last year during the campus protests roiling Mizzou. In one, Click called for some &ldquo;muscle&rdquo; to remove a journalist attempting to cover the protest. Another showed Click cursing at police officers.</p> <p> The university&rsquo;s Board of Curators voted to fire her, carefully noting that it wasn&rsquo;t due to her views or support for the protestors, but because she wasn&rsquo;t supposed to &ldquo;interfere with the rights of others, to confront members of law enforcement or to encourage potential physical intimidation against a student.&rdquo;</p> <p> That&rsquo;s a pretty low bar for employment at a state university.</p> <p> Yet Click has a point when she says she alone is being singled out for punishment. She contends: &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not a superhero .&thinsp;.&thinsp;. I wasn&rsquo;t in charge.&rdquo; True: she wasn&rsquo;t. She simply had the misfortune of being caught on camera.</p> <p> Click may be too modest, however, and is overlooking her superhero-like ability to embody everything that&rsquo;s wrong with campus culture. Her video clip, like Batman&rsquo;s emblem in the sky, ought to be enough to stir Americans &mdash; even those in power in higher education &mdash; into action to demand overdue campus reform, if we&rsquo;re paying attention.</p> <p> Start with Click&rsquo;s gymnastics on the issue of racial politics. Click was involved with protests stemming from anger over the events in Ferguson, Mo., where 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by police officers.</p> <p> Student protesters cited a handful of alleged racially charged incidents &mdash; swastika graffiti, the use of the N-word &mdash; to charge that the school was also a hotbed of racial injustice.</p> <p> They called on University President Tim Wolfe to resign, and he did, capitulating to the students&rsquo; demands, which were egged on by activist professors like Click.</p> <p> Click now claims her own dismissal is racially charged, meant to send a message that blacks aren&rsquo;t supposed to stand up against whites. Yet she also notes that being &ldquo;a white lady&rdquo; makes her an &ldquo;easy target.&rdquo;</p> <p> In other words, Click believes that although bigotry pervades the university&rsquo;s liberal halls, administrators are too cowed to fire anyone who isn&rsquo;t white, making her supposed white privilege also her biggest handicap.</p> <p> Click is suing the school for allegedly failing to follow the rules governing firings in cases like hers. Her charge may have merit. But where was Click when Wolfe was being similarly sacrificed for political expedience?</p> <p> If Click is serious about raising awareness about the unfair, quasi-judicial proceedings that pass for justice at American universities, perhaps she could lead a class-action suit with all the students &mdash; particularly men &mdash; who have been subjected to sexual-assault tribunals or tossed out over dubious Title IX violations for creating a &ldquo;hostile&rdquo; environment.</p> <p> Click is now looking for a new gig in academia. Like too many alumni today, she&rsquo;s qualified for little else. During her many years of schooling, she garnered degrees in Advanced Feminist Studies and studied the feminist implications of Martha Stewart, &ldquo;50 Shades of Grey&rdquo; and &ldquo;Twilight.&rdquo;</p> <p> That&rsquo;s a tough r&eacute;sum&eacute; to have in this job market. Yet Click can take comfort that she&rsquo;s in good company with the many students who saddled themselves with tens of thousands of dollars in student-loan debt to attend classes like hers: In fact, about half of all recent college grads are working in jobs that don&rsquo;t actually require a college degree.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s long been evident that something is seriously wrong with American higher education, but Click&rsquo;s case ties key pieces of the puzzle together: the absurdity of the racial- and gender-grievance game on college campuses, the politically motivated inquisitions that serve as university justice and the increasingly useless nature of so much of what&rsquo;s studied.</p> <p> American campuses need a heroic overhaul if they&rsquo;re going to prepare the next generation to be citizens and leaders in the real world. That&rsquo;ll require real academic freedom and open debate &mdash; which won&rsquo;t include safe spaces &mdash; as well as rigorous academic standards that require students to actually study and learn.</p> <p> The challenge is huge, and the stakes are high. Good thing a superhero like Melissa Click is showing the way.</p> <p> <em>Carrie Lukas is the managing director of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum.</em></p> L. LukasWed, 27 Apr 2016 07:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy European Children Are So Much Quieter Than Yours<p> The playgrounds weren&rsquo;t just beautiful. They were <em>quiet</em>. That was what struck me when I first moved to Vienna, Austria. Children there played and laughed, but rarely yelled across the park. Naturally, we Americans stood out. It wasn&rsquo;t just my young daughter yelling, &ldquo;Hey Mom, look at me!&rdquo; from atop the climbing gym. I was part of the problem: &ldquo;Time to go home!&rdquo; I&rsquo;d thoughtlessly yell from my bench, and then feel other parents&rsquo; eyes dart toward me in disapproval.</p> <p> European parents&rsquo; discipline about not shouting at their kids was all the more impressive since they also almost never followed their children from apparatus to apparatus, as is the habit of most of us hovering American parents. These parents sat at the edges of the sprawling playground, reading books, drinking coffee, and letting their tots explore on their own. When they had to talk to their kids, they got up and walked close enough that they could use a normal voice.</p> <p> I was baffled at first, and I&rsquo;d snicker with my fellow expats about the harsh disciplinary measures and lack of spirit that must explain the bizarre quiet. Yet now, nearly eight years later, I&rsquo;ve come to see a logic behind our different cultures, and understand why Americans&rsquo; reputation for being loud and boorish and the continental Europeans&rsquo; reputation for being cold and standoffish exist, but are ultimately incomplete.</p> <p> A root cause, it seems to me, is the very different roles that public spaces play in our lives and communities. Americans are less likely to <a href="">live in apartments</a> and generally have <a href="">bigger homes</a> and yards than <a href="">Europeans</a> do. That means American children typically play in backyards and parents enjoy quiet and a bit of nature on their own properties. So when Americans seek out a playground, we are looking for company. Our children go to find other kids, and we parents are often also looking for conversation, rather than just an opportunity to sit peacefully under a tree. For city dwelling Europeans, the parks and playgrounds are their backyards. They go there to let their kids run around, but also to enjoy a natural setting themselves.</p> <p> The differences in the use of public spaces explain behaviors outside of the playground too. Americans find it jarring when they are sitting at a European caf&eacute; or restaurant and someone takes the empty seat at their table. If someone is sharing our space, we assume we have to interact. Europeans presume that they and others will enjoy privacy even in close quarters. Just as American parents teach their children to look people in the eye and politely greet them, European children are taught how to interact quietly to avoid bothering people around them.</p> <p> We learn these skills from a young age. My daughter&rsquo;s 5th grade class (at a public school in Berlin, Germany) practices what they call their &ldquo;one meter&rdquo; voices: students are expected to sit with a partner and engage in quiet conversation. They are supposed to be able to hear each other, but not be heard more than one meter away. This allows other conversations to take place around them, creating an expectation of privacy and personal space in a crowded room.</p> <p> Americans often hear about how much more sophisticated Europe is: women nurse their babies openly, and people change their clothes in public parks or by swimming pools because they don&rsquo;t have our hang-ups about nudity. It may be that Europeans are just more comfortable with nudity, but this different relationship with public spaces also comes into play. In Europe, I may be in a public setting but the space around me is mine. I know that my neighbors at the playground, caf&eacute;, beach, or bus stop are going to do their best to ignore me entirely and give me whatever privacy I may want or need.</p> <p> At first, I mistook these customs&mdash;the failure to make eye contact or smile while passing on the street, the utter lack of chit-chat that&rsquo;s the background buzz of American waiting rooms and checkout lines&mdash;as evidence of a core coldness. Yet I&rsquo;ve come to see it not as a lack of friendliness or compassion, but an outgrowth of the Europeans&rsquo; respect for privacy in the public sphere.</p> <p> And the good news is that&mdash;while of course I&rsquo;ve heard European friends joke about the brash, guffawing Americans ruining the atmosphere of a restaurant or public garden&mdash;most of them also appreciate the upsides of Americans&rsquo; dispositions: our open faces and quick smiles, as well as our instinctive friendliness and willingness to talk and laugh with strangers. Just as I&rsquo;ve come to understand their lack of smiles, they understand that Americans&rsquo; loudness isn&rsquo;t intended to bother them (even if it sometimes does).</p> <p> My children are still noisier than their European neighbors, and I occasionally slip and holler to my kids across the playground. But I&rsquo;m trying to embrace these rituals of European public spaces, and not only because it&rsquo;s good manners to respect the customs of your host country when you are a guest. I find I also enjoy the privacy and the quiet. Even at the playground.</p> L. LukasTue, 26 Apr 2016 14:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPersonal Care Accounts Can Help More Than Just Savers<p> The family leave issue is a tough one.&nbsp;&nbsp; While <a href="">most businesses</a> offer full-time workers paid leave benefits (which typically can be used for maternity leave or other situations that fall under the &ldquo;family leave&rdquo; category), many workers&mdash;particularly part-time workers and those with lower-incomes&mdash;don&rsquo;t have any paid leave. And even those who do often don&rsquo;t have benefits generous enough to cover the recommended minimum of six weeks for recovering from the birth of a child.</p> <p> That&rsquo;s a real problem, and can create tremendous hardship for women and families.</p> <p> Yet solving this problem isn&rsquo;t as simple as declaring that all businesses must provide six weeks of paid leave to all workers, or even creating a government program to provide benefits directly. That&rsquo;s because such mandates and programs change the expected employment costs associated with workers, particularly female workers. Family leave mandate advocates often seem to want to shrug off such boring economic concept as mere excuses not help women. But these dollars-and-cents considerations really do matter and ignoring that reality can harm those who we all want to help.</p> <p> All businesses consider how much workers will cost, and make adjustments when employment costs change. Some businesses can easily absorb the higher costs that would occur from new mandates (whether it&rsquo;s a new leave benefit or a higher minimum wage). But not all of them can. Most have to figure out how to compensate for those costs, by raising prices on consumers or cutting other spending, which can include cutting base pay or consolidating jobs. As a result, while some workers are winners from these progressive proposals, others are losers who see their wages cut or jobs disappear. Ironically (but unsurprisingly), people with the lowest pay and fewest benefits before the introduction of a new mandate are the ones most likely to suffer after its imposition. We&rsquo;ve seen how this works with the <a href="">minimum wage</a>, as well as with the introduction of other <a href="">employment mandates</a> and <a href="">family-friendly programs</a> intended to help women, but that ultimately make women more expensive to employ.</p> <p> This economic reality check doesn&rsquo;t mean that there is nothing that policymakers can do to help workers who lack family leave benefits.</p> <p> The Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum recently released <a href="">a report</a> calling for the creation of &ldquo;Personal Care Accounts&rdquo; (PCAs), which would allow workers to save pre-tax income, which could then be used when they take time off for situations eligible under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The <a href="">Washington Post&rsquo;s Danielle Paquette</a> wrote this even-handed article that laid out the issue, including this critique:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Jeffrey Hayes, program director of job quality and income security at&nbsp;<a href="">the Institute for Women&rsquo;s Policy Research</a>,&nbsp;questioned the effectiveness of IWF&rsquo;s proposal, saying&nbsp;more attention should be paid to young parents with the least&nbsp;financial security. Some work part time or for small firms that supply&nbsp;no benefits. Others carry thousands of dollars in student debt.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> &ldquo;Pregnancy tends to happen early in the life course,&rdquo; Hayes said. &ldquo;You don&rsquo;t&nbsp;have time to build up much money.&rdquo;</p> <p> This is certainly a fair point: Workers scraping by day-to-day aren&rsquo;t going to contribute to a PCA. Yet that doesn&rsquo;t mean that those with lower incomes couldn&rsquo;t benefit from such a system since private charities could be set up to open and fund PCAs for lower income workers in need.</p> <p> Consider that there are <a href="">four million babies born</a> each year in the United States. About two-thirds of the women giving birth are in the labor force. A $5,000 PCA for the poorer half of those mothers would require about $7 billion. That&rsquo;s a big number, but not so incredible when you consider that charitable giving in the United States <a href="">exceeded $350 billion</a> in 2014. Family groups and progressive philanthropists could make this a charitable priority.</p> <p> This isn&rsquo;t a magical solution and won&rsquo;t ensure that everyone has the time off that they need. Yet it would help many workers and won&rsquo;t backfire on low-income workers by pricing them out of the labor market. And unlike sweeping one-size-fits-all mandates and government programs, it wouldn&rsquo;t discourage companies from offering their own benefits or flexible work arrangements that can be win-wins for businesses and women. It&rsquo;s an issue worth exploring further to help more people have the time off they need, without putting their jobs in jeopardy.</p> L. LukasThu, 21 Apr 2016 07:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDebunking The Wage Gap Myth<p> On April 12th, feminist organizations across the United States acknowledged Equal Pay Day, a date which symbolizes just how far into the new calendar year a woman must work in order to earn what a man did in the previous year. The White House <a href="">reports</a> that a typical full-time working woman in the U.S. in 2014 made only 79 cents for every dollar that a full-time working man earned. Based on this data and &ldquo;decades of research,&rdquo; the White House has concluded that women face a &ldquo;real and persistent problem&rdquo; of pay discrimination across the country. But upon closer examination, the gender wage gap reveals itself to be based far more in fiction than in fact.</p> <p> First, the oft-cited 79-cent figure offers a woefully incomplete picture of the actual disparity or lack thereof between the wages of men and women. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) calculates the popular figure by taking the median annual earnings of all full-time male and female workers and dividing them into one another. Though this approach gives us a gross approximation of how much more men earn than women on average, it fails&mdash;as the BLS freely <a href="">admits</a>&mdash;to &ldquo;control for many factors that can be significant in explaining earnings differences.&rdquo;</p> <p> One of these factors is hours worked. Though the Bureau of Labor Statistics only includes full-time workers&mdash;those employees who work 35 or more hours a week&mdash;it does not distinguish between those who work beyond this cutoff. This difference turns out to be significant, as <a href="">men tend to work longer hours</a>. According to the Department of Labor, 25 percent of full-time male workers spent 41 or more hours on the job, while only 14 percent of female full-time workers did the same. And when only men and women who work more than 40 hours a week are compared, the wage gap <a href="">shrinks by more than half</a> to only ten cents.</p> <p> Differences in occupation and experience also explain the wage differential between men and women. In 2013, PayScale&mdash;an online compensation information company&mdash;conducted a survey of men and women across over 120 different occupational categories. The survey grouped the salaries of the respondents by occupation and level of experience and then found the median pay for each gender within each category, thereby isolating men and women with similar jobs and experience and comparing them side-by-side. According to <em>The Atlantic</em>, PayScale&rsquo;s <a href="">study</a> <a href="">showed</a> that the wage gap &ldquo;nearly evaporates&rdquo; when workers of similar experience and occupation are compared. As PayScale&rsquo;s chief economist Katie Bardaro noted, &ldquo;the gender wage gap disappears for most positions&rdquo; when education and management responsibilities &nbsp;are considered.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">PayScale&rsquo;s survey also uncovered a late-career wage gap between women and men. Though both sexes command similar wages at the start of their careers, female wages tend to fall behind those of men over time. But this differential is less evidentiary of pay discrimination against women than it is a result of men and women fulfilling different career preferences and making different life choices. For example, </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">an international study</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;"> conducted in 2013 by the career networking site LinkedIn found that nearly two-thirds of professional women view &ldquo;finding the right balance between work and personal life&rdquo; as their definition of success in the workplace, while less than half prioritize &ldquo;earning a high salary.&rdquo; And as Carrie Lukas from the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> But <a href="">according to Claudia Goldin</a>, an economics professor at Harvard University, men feel differently, preferring &ldquo;income growth&rdquo; to &ldquo;temporal flexibility&rdquo; in the workplace. This is part of the reason why the ten most dangerous occupations in the United States&mdash;all jobs which pay well relative to the education level they require but involve an extraordinary risk of bodily harm or death&mdash;are all male-dominated, with all but one of these jobs having more than a 94 percent male workforce. As Mark Perry from the American Enterprise Institute cheekily <a href="">notes</a>, males are so heavily represented in the most dangerous occupations that the next &ldquo;Equal Occupational Fatality Day&rdquo;&mdash;the day on which the number of work-related deaths of women will match the number which men experienced last calendar year&mdash;will be over thirteen years from now.</p> <p> The different preferences of males and females manifest themselves in other ways too. In college, women tend to select majors which lead to lower-paying careers, while men do the opposite. According to <a href="">research</a> by Georgetown University economist Anthony Carnevale, only one of the ten lowest-paying majors&mdash;&ldquo;theology and religious vocations&rdquo;&mdash;is chosen more often by men, while &ldquo;pharmacy sciences and administration&rdquo; is the only one of the top ten highest-paying degrees which is majority female. But as I mentioned before, women <a href=";context=articles">tend to value having a meaningful job more</a> than earning a high income, which explains their dominance of social work professions, like psychology and education, which generally are less lucrative than other professions.</p> <p> The most significant difference in preferences between men and women, however, has to do with children. Because women opt to stay home and raise their children more often than men do, the median wage of women late in their careers does not keep pace with that of men, who usually decide to become or remain the principal breadwinners of their household. But when a man voluntarily exits the workforce for several years to raise his child, he cannot reasonably expect when he returns to command a wage equal to or higher than that of a woman who stayed at her job during the man&rsquo;s absence and continued to acquire experience. The same holds true for the working woman who decides to leave her job in favor of rearing her child. Leaving the workforce to have and raise a child is a <em>choice</em>, a choice which carries foreseeable economic consequences and a nondiscriminatory impact.</p> <p> Having accounted for the various variables which contribute to the wage gap&mdash;hours worked, occupation and experience, and different preferences&mdash;we now turn to the critical final argument made by progressives with respect to the gender wage gap. By this line of reasoning, the earnings differential between women and men is reflective of a &ldquo;real and persistent problem&rdquo; of pay discrimination in the United States which, as the White House puts it, &ldquo;continues to shortchange American women and their families.&rdquo; Even if economics can explain some or even most of the wage gap by &ldquo;factoring in the kind of work people do&rdquo; or &ldquo;qualifications such as education and experience,&rdquo; discrimination is the cause of whatever pay disparity remains. Therefore, the argument concludes, pay inequity must be addressed through even more sweeping government mandates and wage controls.</p> <p> Single, childless women and men are the ideal sample with which to evaluate this claim. If systematic pay discrimination actually exists, women who have not yet raised a child or made any particularly dramatic life choices which can alter their earnings should have lower wages than men. But according to <em>Time Magazine</em>, an analysis of 2,000 communities in cities across the United States <a href=",8599,2015274,00.html">revealed</a> that the median full-time salaries of unmarried, childless women &ldquo;are an average of eight percent <em>higher</em>&rdquo; than those of similarly situated men. In Atlanta and Memphis, this wage gap increases to a whopping 20 percent. In New York City, it is 17 percent. Coupling these figures with PayScale&rsquo;s finding that &ldquo;the gender wage gap disappears&rdquo; when the education and responsibilities of young workers are considered, the claim that pay discrimination against women is a persistent problem which requires dramatic federal remedies simply does not hold water.</p> <p> Equal Pay Day embodies a disingenuous and misleading narrative about the gender wage gap in the United States. The oft-cited 21-cent wage gap figure does not account for a multitude of factors such as occupation, experience, career preferences, and major life choices which, when combined, virtually eliminate the wage differential between men and women. And with no substantive evidence of systematic pay discrimination against women in sight, it seems that January 1st would make for a much better date for Equal Pay Day.</p> L. LukasTue, 19 Apr 2016 08:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIWF Says 'Equal Pay Day' Short-Changes Us All<p> Comments and disagreements about equal pay in the workplace will continue long after Equal Pay Day.</p> <p> Speaking Tuesday in Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama said that if we truly value fairness, then America should be a level playing field.</p> <p> A level playing field, he said, is where everyone &quot;who works hard gets a chance to succeed.&quot;</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">The President&#39;s remarks coincided with Equal Pay Day, which Carrie Lukas at </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;"> calls a feminist creation.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;It&#39;s definitely true. On average, men earn more than women do,&quot; Lukas says. &quot;But when the feminists try to blame it all on discrimination and make it sound as though two co-workers, one man and one woman are being regularly short-changed, that&#39;s just misleading.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">According to Lukas, the real cause of the wage gap is the different choices that men and women make when it comes to work and family life.&nbsp;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">On Tuesday, IWF launched a report on these and related issue entitled, &quot;Working for Women: A Modern Agenda for Improving Women&#39;s Lives.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;We also want to help women, and we think that we need some policy reforms to improve women&#39;s prospects,&quot; Lukas tells OneNewsNow. &quot;But we believe that we can do that by following conservative principles.&quot;&nbsp;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">IWF recommends policy makers focus on greater job creation, facilitating job creation and cutting red tape, among other things.</span></strong></span></span></p> L. LukasThu, 14 Apr 2016 07:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIWF Provides 20 Policy Solutions To Improve Economy For Women In New Report • American Family Radio L. LukasWed, 13 Apr 2016 15:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumEqual Pay Day's Misleading Math<p> Earlier today, I wrote about the false premise of Equal Pay Day.&nbsp; Feminists championing this pseudo holiday imply that the wage gap statistic compares two coworkers, one man and one woman.&nbsp; But that&rsquo;s just not the case.&nbsp; Men work longer hours on average, work in different industries and in more dangerous and unpleasant conditions, spend more years on the job, and commute longer to work &ndash; all of which help explain why they tend to have higher earnings than women.</p> <p> But this year, feminists are abusing statistics even more than usual.&nbsp; Take this column at CNN, which cites statistics provided by the liberal AAUW. &nbsp;The numbers are meant&nbsp;to dramatize the wage gap, by highlighting not just how much less woman earn overall, but by breaking it down further by race.&nbsp; CNN&rsquo;s Dana Ford&nbsp;writes:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Women&rsquo;s earnings as a percentage of men&rsquo;s earnings vary a lot depending on race.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Asian American women, for example, earn 90% of what white men do, the American Association of University Women reports.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> African American women are paid 63% of what white men are, while Hispanic or Latina women earn just 54% of what white men do, AAUW says.</p> <p> But why is the AAUW comparing all these groups of women to white men?&nbsp; If the point is really to identify the role that sex plays in earnings, then it makes no sense to compare across races.&nbsp;</p> <p> Presumably, they made this choice&nbsp;because comparing men and women of the same race undermines their narrative that sexism is what drives differences in earnings.&nbsp; According to this 2015 Department of Labor data, the difference between average earnings is most pronounced among whites and Asians (with women earning 80 percent of what men earn in both these groups).&nbsp; The difference is less among Hispanics (with women earning 84%) and far less among African Americans (with women earning 92%).&nbsp;</p> <p> This data isn&rsquo;t surprising.&nbsp; We know that education impacts earnings and that African American women are more likely than African American men to graduate from high school and college. Factors like these &ndash; educational backgrounds, choice of industry, years of experience &ndash; play the biggest role in&nbsp;determining&nbsp;earnings.&nbsp;</p> <p> The data on the differences in earnings by race certainly speak to other issues we have in our society &nbsp;&ndash; particularly the need to improve educational opportunities for African-Americans and Hispanics so that they can have the opportunity to earn more.&nbsp; These issues deserve more attention; misleading statistics like those coming out of the AAUW don&rsquo;t. &nbsp;</p> L. LukasTue, 12 Apr 2016 16:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumOn #EqualPayDay, What Conservatives Offer Young Women – Yes, Really<p> Young women often hear about a Republican &ldquo;War on Women&rdquo; during campaign season.&nbsp; They are told abortion rights are under attack and hear clumsy white male candidates make awkward statements about women that sound vaguely sexist.</p> <p> These sound bites miss the big picture of what&rsquo;s really at stake in the election. Young women shouldn&rsquo;t accept cartoonish characterizations of the political parties but should recognize that they have a real choice between two competing philosophies that tend to be represented by Democrats and Republicans.&nbsp; Conservatives and Republicans aren&rsquo;t anti-woman or anti-progress;&nbsp;rather, conservatives support a different approach to government and economics because we think it will help women and create a better, fairer, stronger, richer, and safer country.</p> <p> For example, just this week the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, the leading women&rsquo;s group on the right,&nbsp;released <a href=""><strong><em>Working for Women: A Modern Agenda for&nbsp;Improving Women&rsquo;s Lives</em></strong></a> that presents a conservative&nbsp;slate of policy reforms&nbsp;to help more women&nbsp;thrive without growing government. The report advances ideas that give&nbsp;women more control over the most important parts of their lives so that we can all pursue our own vision of happiness.</p> <p> Here is just some of what the conservative agenda offers women:</p> <p> <strong>More Job Options:</strong>&nbsp; Today, too many people who want to work can&rsquo;t find jobs or are stuck in positions that don&rsquo;t pay enough or offer the chance for advancement.&nbsp; This is in part because the government has layered on regulations that make it costly for businesses to hire workers.&nbsp; The lack of jobs particularly harms young people, who need a foot in the door to gain on-the-job skills. That&rsquo;s why IWF advocates for rolling back government red tape, eliminating expensive and unnecessary licensing regimes, and breaking down other barriers to job creation so that people have better opportunities to find work they want.</p> <p> <strong>True Workplace Flexibility:</strong>&nbsp; Women have different preferences when it comes to work and compensation.&nbsp; Many want the highest salary possible, but some prefer part-time schedules or flexible hours so they can go to school or care for family members. Democrats&rsquo; proposals for more government mandates for leave benefits and overtime pay are presented as a boon to women, but this ignores how these measures backfire on women by reducing take-home pay, preventing flexible work arrangements, and even discouraging employers from hiring women. IWF instead recommends eliminating regulations to allow people to negotiate work and compensation arrangements that fit their unique situations.</p> <p> <strong>Better, More Affordable Education:</strong>&nbsp; America&rsquo;s education system is saddling young people &ndash; particularly young women who are more likely to attend college and take out substantial student loans &ndash; with tremendous debt while too often failing to provide useful skills and training.&nbsp; Part of the problem is government policies that shower resources on a university system that spends that money on expensive administration and high salaries for college executives instead of lowering tuition costs for students. Our education system (both higher education and K-12) needs to refocus support on students, rather than giving money to a wasteful education bureaucracy. Empowering students will encourage schools to lower their costs and provide a real, useful education.</p> <p> <strong>Less Government Corruption, Lower Taxes and Lower Prices:</strong>&nbsp; Conservatives aren&rsquo;t just curmudgeons when they oppose greater government spending and regulation. We recognize that money taken in by Washington is too often wasted and given to politically-connected entities &ndash; big businesses and industries that befriend politicians to get government grants that aren&rsquo;t in the public interest. This not only wastes taxpayer money, but often also puts small businesses and entrepreneurs at a disadvantages. Regulations also often really act to protect favored industries and big businesses that can afford to follow these costly rules, while bankrupting their smaller competitors. The result is wasted money, higher prices, and less variety for American consumers. Americans should recognize the inherent corruption of these backroom deals and support a streamlined government that creates a level playing field for business while returning money to hardworking taxpayers.</p> <p> <strong>More Affordable, Personalized Health Care:</strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;One of the benefits of the modern age is we can customize the services we buy to meet our unique needs. Unfortunately, when it comes to healthcare, government regulations&mdash;in particular, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare&mdash;take us in the other direction toward one-size-fits-all health care. By requiring all Americans to obtain the same insurance coverage, Obamacare forces us to pay for coverage we don&rsquo;t want. Doctors, hospitals, and drug makers don&rsquo;t have to compete to provide high quality at a low price, which is why premiums are continuing to increase and we end up paying more for less quality service.&nbsp; Removing these onerous regulations to allow insurance companies and medical providers to directly offer people real choice will bring down costs and improve quality and accessibility.</p> <p> <strong>A True Safety Net:</strong>&nbsp; Everyone wants to make sure that people who need support&mdash;when they lose their job, face an illness, or can&rsquo;t make ends meet&mdash;get the help they need.&nbsp; We need to make sure that government support programs are targeted to those in need so they are sustainable, and create on-ramps into the job market so that people can start moving back up the economic ladder.&nbsp; Our safety net must not just Band-aid over poverty, but help people transition to sustainable work so they can live flourishing lives.</p> <p> In short, conservatives want to focus government on its most important jobs, helping those who truly need it, but while putting more power into individual people&rsquo;s hands.&nbsp; We reject the idea that Washington knows best and that we should have to let politicians manage most of the country&rsquo;s resources and micromanage our lives with more rules and regulations. Conservatives&rsquo; vision of less government and more freedom isn&rsquo;t a war on women.&nbsp; Far from it. It&rsquo;s a way to give women more control of their lives and create a more dynamic economy and innovative society that helps all of us pursue our own vision of happiness.</p> L. LukasTue, 12 Apr 2016 09:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumA Conservative Alternative To Equal Pay Day<p> Each year, a conglomeration of feminist&nbsp;groups declares a day in April &ldquo;Equal Pay Day,&rdquo; supposedly the day when&nbsp;working women have finally earned enough income to make up for last year&rsquo;s wage gap.&nbsp; These feminists want people to believe that women are routinely paid 77 percent of what men earn for doing the same work.&nbsp;</p> <p> Yet that&rsquo;s not at all what the statistic tells us.&nbsp; The Department of Labor statistic underlying the Equal Pay Day premise simply compares the earnings of the average full-time working woman to the average full-time working man, ignoring the number of hours they work each day, their industry, specialty, years of experience and all the other factors that impact how much someone earns.&nbsp; Economist June O&rsquo;Neill shows that when this&nbsp;relevant information is taken into account, the wage gap shrinks to a few percentage points.&nbsp;</p> <p> Why do feminists&nbsp;want people&nbsp;to think that the workplace is overwhelmingly hostile to women?&nbsp; The Left wants to grow government&rsquo;s power and micromanage how businesses must compensate all workers.&nbsp; That easier to justify if people believe that discrimination and abuse is commonplace.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p> The policies promoted in the name of eradicating the wage gap would largely&nbsp;backfire on women, by creating a more one-size-fits-all employment structure and discouraging true workplace flexibility.&nbsp; Research shows that women are often willing to trade extra salary for extra flexibility; they won&rsquo;t have such&nbsp;options if the government is given more power to dictate compensation practices.</p> <p> Conservatives have better policy ideas for helping women, by creating better, more diverse employment opportunities.&nbsp; The Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum just released a new report, Working for Women:&nbsp; A Modern Agenda for Improving Women&rsquo;s Lives, which details conservative policy reforms to give women more workplace flexibility, job opportunities, and more resources and better options for balancing work and family life.&nbsp;</p> <p> Women need to hear more from conservatives about these important issues.&nbsp; Conservatives must show that we don&rsquo;t simple reject the Left&rsquo;s government-growing ideas, but we have a positive vision of our own for how to help women.&nbsp; This report can help start that conversation.</p> L. LukasTue, 12 Apr 2016 08:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAre You Afraid Of Big, Bad Barbie?<p> Holiday shopping season is usually the time we hear handwringing about &ldquo;gendered&rdquo; toy traditions&mdash;trucks, action figures, and building blocks for boys, and princesses, stuffed animals, and, worst of all, dreaded Barbies for little girls. The White House Council on Women and Girls appears to be coming late to this game and is hosting a daylong conference Wednesday to highlight their <a href="">concerns about children&rsquo;s toys</a>. Tina Tchen, the executive director of the Council, explains:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Research shows that the toys kids play with and the media they consume has a real impact on the skills and interests they develop over their lifetimes. We think it&rsquo;s important for children&rsquo;s media and toys to expose kids to diverse role models and teach them a variety of skills.</p> <p> Tchen&rsquo;s stance is hardly a profile in courage: The entire Western world pretty much agrees that the toys and media kids use matter, and that kids should see a variety of role models so they feel free to chart their own life course. It makes one wonder who, exactly, Tchen thinks needs this lecture.</p> <p> If you turn on any cartoon station aimed at little kids, you are guaranteed to see a rainbow of characters sharing, caring, and defying gender stereotypes. Yes, you can find plenty of pink princesses and Bob the Builder busy with construction work, but from Dora the Explorer to Mulan, there are plenty of active female heroines going on adventures, fighting, winning, and engaging in activities that those paranoid about gender roles would label as stereotypically &ldquo;male.&rdquo;</p> <p> Girls&rsquo; toys also offer plenty of variety. Certainly there are shelves of overly made-up Bratz and Barbies; crying, crawling, pants-wetting baby dolls; and cloying unicorns in a nauseating variety of pastel colors. Yet parents of daughters also have the opportunity to buy construction sets (some of which are offered in colors meant to appeal to girls, but also gender-neutral sets) cars and trucks, science kits, and a multitude of other educational toys meant to build skills as well as entertain.</p> <p> Given the range of options already available, it seems that those voicing concerns about &ldquo;gendered toys&rdquo; really aren&rsquo;t interested in balance and offering alternatives, but want to rid the world of toys that are too traditionally girly. Women&rsquo;s activists seem frustrated that girls stubbornly seem to like not just Barbie (whose long legs and generous bust seems designed to provoke feminists&rsquo; ire), but the entirely wholesome, high-end American Girl Doll series (which Mattel reported generated <a href="">$106 million</a> in gross sales in just one quarter in 2015), and other nurturing play-acting toys.</p> <p> Women&rsquo;s advocates argue that girls are effectively cajoled into practicing mothering by our patriarchal culture that&rsquo;s committed to perpetuating the idea that females are meant to serve as helpmates while males construct the world around us. Feminists unconvinced by talking to actual parents&mdash;including parents committed to raising their children free of gender stereotypes&mdash;who attest to the clear differences in their sons and daughters&rsquo; preferences for toys and style of play, should consider research showing that even monkeys display the same sex-based preferences. As this <a href="">National Institute for Health</a> report explains:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Sex differences in juvenile activities, such as rough and tumble play, peer preferences, and infant interest, share similarities in humans and monkeys. Thus if activity preferences shape toy preferences, male and female monkeys may show toy preferences similar to those seen in boys and girls. We compared the interactions of 34 rhesus monkeys, living within a 135 monkey troop, with human wheeled toys and plush toys. Male monkeys, like boys, showed consistent and strong preferences for wheeled toys, while female monkeys, like girls, showed greater variability in preferences. . . . The similarities to human findings demonstrate that such preferences can develop without explicit gendered socialization.</p> <p> If the real goal of the White House Council on Girls and Women conference is to get girls to stop playing with dolls and other traditionally feminine toys, then they are wasting their time. They would do better to refocus their efforts on harmful cultural messages that we can change, such as the marketing tactics employed by too many retailers that encourage young girls to sexualize themselves.</p> <p> The Council could do a real public service by calling out those in the fashion industry and Hollywood who promote unrealistic expectations for bodies and encourage girls to believe being sexy is the end all be all. Sadly, such a needed message seems unlikely at a conference dedicated to demonizing girls&rsquo; healthy and natural instincts to nurture.</p> L. LukasMon, 11 Apr 2016 14:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumA Burdensome Benefit, San Francisco-Style<p> A new mandate in San Francisco proves that what some call a benefit, others consider a burden.</p> <p> Following a unanimous vote by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, employers in the city are now <a href="">required</a> to offer six weeks of fully paid leave for new parents.&nbsp;</p> <p> &quot;It is better for everyone involved when parents have the ability to take time with a new child, not to have to rush back to work,&quot; said San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener in an interview with The Associated Press.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;I think it sounds very costly,&quot; Carrie Lukas, of the </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">, tells OneNewsNow. &quot; &quot;And, unfortunately, the people who end up paying the biggest price are workers themselves, particularly lower-income workers who tend to lack benefits.&quot;</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;I&#39;m sure the people who are championing this idea hope to benefit and help those people,&quot; Lukas explains, &quot;but actually, by raising employment costs, this may lead to fewer job opportunities and lower take home pay.</span></strong></span></span>&quot;</p> <p> Even so, individuals, think tanks and special interests <a href="">argue</a> the paid leave is vital to families&#39; economic security, not just in San Francisco but the entire country. They also argue that many countries offer such benefits, including European countries.</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;People point to Europe as kind of the mecca of family leave benefits,&quot; says Lukas, when in fact studies show women&#39;s income drops and their job opportunities do, too.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;And particularly they&#39;re less likely to reach leadership positions,&quot; she adds, &quot;and a lot of that is because of the generous family leave proposals that they offer.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> Earlier this week, New York <a href="">passed</a> a law requiring up to 12 weeks of partially paid time off for new parents. That law will be funded through a weekly payroll tax.</p> L. LukasThu, 7 Apr 2016 13:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIs Siri Sexist?<p> Just as smart phones went from being pricey, specialty gadgets to ubiquitous today, some tech industry leaders believe artificially intelligent personal assistants (IPAs) could be the next innovation to transform society and further embed technology into the fabric of our lives. Major companies are competing to design the most appealing IPA, and commentators are taking note of a trend: IPAs are commonly given female names and voices.</p> <p> Unsurprisingly, some detect the vile stink of sexism in this phenomenon: Americans&mdash;particularly all those white men at the helm of major tech firms&mdash;still see women as inferior, there to serve as men&rsquo;s helpmates and do the chores others won&rsquo;t. Writing in <a href=""><em>The Atlantic</em></a>, Adrienne LaFrance describes how these digital assistants work, with users commanding the machines to do their bidding, and wonders: &ldquo;if we&rsquo;re going to live in a world in which we&rsquo;re ordering our machines around so casually, why do so many of them have to have women&rsquo;s names?&rdquo;</p> <p> LaFrance rejects the machine creators&rsquo; explanation that people tend to prefer women&rsquo;s voices, and considers how it may be an attempt to make the technological devices less threatening. Yet she seems to suspect that the real culprit is the patriarch&rsquo;s fierce grip on our culture. She writes:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> &quot;. . . Perhaps this is an example of the objectification of women taken to its logical extension. . . . Even without teasing apart all the possible reasons for the tendency to assign gendered names to machines, it&rsquo;s reasonable to suggest traditional power structures have a lot to do with it.&quot;</p> <p> On one level, LaFrance is right: Certainly, the trend of feminizing these helpful devices isn&rsquo;t an accident. Presumably it is an outgrowth of age-old expectations about the different roles of men and women. This could accurately be described as sexism&mdash;in that it stems from different perceptions about women and men based on their sex. But that doesn&rsquo;t mean that it&rsquo;s necessarily nefarious, limiting women&rsquo;s prospects or creating an expectation of women&rsquo;s inferiority.</p> <p> In fact, our preference for women to be involved in the more intimate aspects of our personal lives could be seen as bias against <em>men</em>, rather than the other way around. In his book, <a href=""><em>Why Men Earn More</em></a>, Dr. Warren Farrell makes this case:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> &quot;The combination of women&rsquo;s fear of male sexuality and men&rsquo;s desire for female sexuality leads to discrimination against hiring men&mdash;not only as massage therapists and ob-gyns, but as nurses, dental hygienists, nursery school teachers, and, apparently, even as elementary school teachers.&quot;</p> <p> This phenomenon was captured in a <em>Seinfeld</em> episode: George and Jerry recoil from the idea of a male massage therapist, and Elaine doesn&rsquo;t want one either. The 1990s-sitcom&rsquo;s homophobic subtext seems outdated today, but the general bias still rings true: If an artificially-intelligent device is going to share our bedrooms, play music at our request while we shower, listen to us talk, and help us find treatments and cures for whatever unpleasant medical condition afflicts us, most people will feel less inhibited if the entity seems feminine rather than masculine.</p> <p> Our instinct to associate men&rsquo;s voices with authority and a potential threat may be a symptom of our history of men controlling the reins of power. But that&rsquo;s not always an asset. Given that many <a href="">customers already are uncomfortable</a> about the Big Brother, omnipresent, spying aspect of these intelligent devices, it&rsquo;s no surprise that a woman&rsquo;s voice would be used in the hope of ameliorating those concerns.</p> <p> These preferences, and their association with male and female characteristics, may shift over time. Fathers today are more involved in hands-on parenting than they were a generation ago&mdash;changing diapers, giving baths, applying bandages, and soothing rashes. Perhaps the next generation will be just as comfortable with a male voice in the bathroom as a woman&rsquo;s. Already, many of these devices allow users to select an alternative voice and name, and as they develop further, greater levels of customization are sure to follow, which will probably mean there will be more &ldquo;male&rdquo; IPAs in the mix.</p> <p> In the meantime, women shouldn&rsquo;t presume that anytime people associate a technology or event with the feminine that it&rsquo;s evidence of an evil form of sexism that degrades women and holds back our progress. Women are associated with positive qualities, after all: with kindness, compassion, understanding, and resourcefulness. Recognizing the value of these traditionally feminine qualities doesn&rsquo;t mean the public can&rsquo;t also accept women as strong, smart, and tough. We simply like our mothers and the nurturing qualities we associate with women. It&rsquo;s no wonder&mdash;and certainly not an insult&mdash;that marketers are trying to associate their products with such a powerfully appealing brand.</p> L. LukasThu, 7 Apr 2016 09:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum