Saturday, March 18, 2006

Opt-Out Boom or Opt-Out Myth?

Claudia Goldin makes the case for the latter.

Her conclusion:
Women who graduated 25 years ago from the nation's top colleges did not "opt out" in large numbers, and today's graduates aren't likely to do so either.

And provides a variety of stats to back up that conclusion.

So why the rush to trumpet woman opting out of the workplace? Goldin doesn't attempt to answer that question at all. The obvous answer is somewhat conspiratorial in nature: perpetuating this particular myth will attach a little asterix next to the name of every female employee or applicant...thus lowering their competitiveness for both hiring and advancement once hired.

Is it just men who might consciously or sub-consciously buy into this myth. No it's not. Just last week BlogSister was talking to a female co-worker about her high-energy, high-maintenance boys. BlogSister made a comment, said with humor, but probably meant quite seriously, that if she stayed home with her boys she would go crazy. The co-worker said, without a shred of humor, "well, why did you have children then, if you weren't going to stay home and raise them?" Or something to that effect.

Do we think that female co-worker would ask BlogSister's husband the same question?

I, for one, do not.

I don't have the answers either as to why the existence of this "opting-out craze" is such a widely-held belief despite the lack of anything other than anecdotal tales in the New York Times Magazine to support it. And being childless I'm hardly in a position to make personal observations.

Consider it a thing that makes me go hmmmm.

Check out this article in the Columbia Journalism Review called The Opt-Out Myth ...
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