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Where the women are: The inequality map

A couple of days ago I read a column by NY Times columnist David Brooks called The Inequity Map. He riffs on the issue that since we have so many different kinds of inequality, how we can tell which are socially acceptable and which are not. For example:

Technological inequality is acceptable. If you are the sort of person who understands the latest hardware and software advances, who knows the latest apps, it is acceptable to lord your superior connoisseurship over the aged relics who do not understand these things.

Cultural inequality is unacceptable. If you are the sort of person who attends opera or enjoys Ibsen plays, it is not acceptable to believe that you have a more refined sensibility than people who like Lady Gaga, Ke$ha or graffiti.

Interestingly he says that "On the other hand, ethnic inequality — believing one group is better than another — is unacceptable (this is one of our culture’s highest achievements)" and says nothing about gender.

Too bad because there is one really acceptable inequality that we so need to speak about. It is that it is totally acceptable to pay people less just because they have the "misfortune" to work in a field with more women in it. Doesn't matter about skills or education needed.-- more women in a field means less status and value.

The most recent example is Where the Women Are: Biology. So who cares that biomedical research is like saving our lives and those of our parents and our children. Since there are too many women in it; it has got to be close to worthless.

The (sigh female) economist explains "Young women don’t realize they are limiting their pay and job options by flocking to the same field." The acceptance that fields with more women or that become more feminine are less valued is just the way it is and that the answer is to go into a male dominated field made me want to crawl into the bed, put the covers over my head and not get out. Luckily my second response, as I hope yours is, is to fight back



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