An open letter to everyone who is concerned about the wage gap

First of all, a confession: I think the wage gap is fine. I am paid much less than men with my experience and track record, and I don’t care, because I want to be with my kids.

Still, I know many people are passionate about closing the gap. In this post, I will tell you what you can do to close the wage gap.

First of all, there are more women than men who are qualified to go into STEM but women are not interested.

Second, the gender gap in tenure-track STEM is not any bigger than the one in senior leadership in business. And we know that this gap is not because women don’t have equal opportunity. It’s because men are fine leaving kids home with nannies and women are not.

So men and women have the same choices in life but women want to care for kids more than men do.

And that’s a much bigger problem than a simple wage gap.

The problem starts in school. Teachers constantly reinforce the idea that kids go to school so they can grow up and get important, impressive jobs. They train kids from a young age that they are only as good as their report card. Which means kids lose their natural ability to determine what is valuable and important to them and what is not.

So by the time men and women get through school and get jobs, they have been trained to compete for external validation. That’s what work is.

Once kids come, women feel a drive so strong to take care of kids that they downshift their careers. Men do not feel that drive.

But why do men have to want to take care of kids? After age three it’s unclear if parenting impacts adult life, so the quantifiable benefit of having a parent at home is limited. Because there’s no data that says intense parenting is better than periodic parenting. In fact Judith Rich Harris has astounding research to show that most of parenting is pretty irrelevant. Income impacts adult life way more than parenting. And men are foregoing day-to-day parenting in favor of making money. It’s hard to argue with that.

So why stay home? To make memories. More nice memories of childhood make for a nicer adulthood because nice memories are nice. That’s all. Parenting is not complicated. It’s the choice to make life more meaningful by caring deeply for someone else. And parents can choose how much they want to do that.

It happens that women choose to spend more time parenting than men. It doesn’t mean men are lame for not spending more time with kids. Remember feminism? It’s about everyone getting to choose. It’s not about belittling people’s choices or saying it’s not really their choice but rather a result of societal pressure. In fact that line of thinking undermines feminism because it says there can be no genuine choices because all societies have societal expectations.

It’s a class system, maybe. Consider that a parent who has hired a nanny thinks parenting during the day is not important enough to doIf there is a nanny, the nanny will have playdates with other nannies. A parent who gave up their job to take care of kids sees parenting differently and does not want to spend their adult time talking with someone’s nanny; they want to be with families who share that value. So if your kid is with a nanny during the day, you kid will hang out with other kids who have nannies. And the kids with a parent at home will hang out with each other.

Maybe you are fine letting men choose to work and women choose to stay home. I’m fine with that. Not because I’m great at parenting: I actually suck at it. But it’s interesting and challenging and meaningful and it’s really only a short part of my life that I get to be with my kids.

Maybe you are not fine that men choose to work and women choose to stay home. Then you should push to change that. You probably want more men to choose to spend more time taking care of kids, right?

So if you want men to place higher value on taking care of kids, you have to stop brainwashing kids that the point of going to school is to get a big job. Schools motivate kids by creating constant competition but parenting does not have a competitive component. So we have to start by telling boys that they’re actually going to school to become good, kind people who are team players in a family. And if you want boys to think parenting is a great choice for adults, then be sure to tell your sons how much you admire the parents who have dropped out of the workforce to be a caretaker.

And you know what that means? You probably have to take your son out of school. If you are sending your kid to those classrooms year after year, you can’t say you are trying to raise a generation of boys who will make parenting a priority. Because school teaches the opposite of what you believe is right for boys — for eighteen years.

So if you really want to close the gender gap, you will homeschool, so your kid can learn to find internal validation that he needs to make parenting a priority. And for your family to homeschool, you have to have one parent staying home.

66 replies
  1. Mike Wilson
    Mike Wilson says:

    First comment? FIRST COMMENT?? I don’t see any other comments yet!!! I’ve never been the First Comment before!!!!
    Actually, I always read these posts a few times and then think about them, and I haven’t done that yet, so… But DAMN! FIRST COMMENT!

  2. MBL
    MBL says:

    I think it is becoming clearer by the day that sexual harassment is a previously unacknowledged major issue for (mainly) women in pretty much every industry. It has generally been known to be one in STEM and business fields.

    Regarding: “First of all, there are more women than men who are qualified to go into STEM but women are not interested.
    Second, the gender gap in tenure-track STEM is not any bigger than the one in senior leadership in business. And we know that this gap is not because women don’t have equal opportunity.”

    For that to be entirely true there would need to be parity in what men and women are giving up to stay at home with their kids. If men are treated with respect at work, then being with children all day may not be all that enticing. If women are dealing with subtle and overt harassment day in and day out and seeing their contributions minimized, then it is MUCH harder to believe that spending their days in that environment is worth the trade-off of missing their children. Until the atmosphere changes, the choices that men and women make are not at all surprising and should not be viewed as “proof” that “their level of interest” is entirely innate.

    Oh, and thanks for the chuckle. “Parenting is not complicated.”
    (I can’t believe I am actually writing this) “But parenting done right is.”
    Seriously, if one believes that “More nice memories of childhood make for a nicer adulthood because nice memories are nice. That’s all.” How on earth can “a nicer adulthood” be minimized. Isn’t having the nicest life possible kind of the point?

    • J
      J says:

      thank god for your sensible comment!
      because I didn’t even know here to start on this one.

      These blinders-on, totally in denial blog posts from Penelope really frustrate me.

      • Theresa
        Theresa says:

        I’m with you. This is so bad I’m leaving the blog for good. Penelope should stop writing about STEM. This engineer has experience and data that she does not know what she’s talking about.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Read the nurture/nature studies. There is a huge body of evidence that parenting affects very little in adulthood. Twin studies. Thats how we know. For example twin studies show us parenting does not even impact the age that a boy first has sex.

      These studies assume basic levels of adeuqate parenting (you can read the books
      If you want to know that definition, but its low.) the Nurture Assumption is a good place to start. Also Bryan Caplan is an economist who gathered all the research he could find on the topic into The Selfish Reason to Have Kids: Why being a good parent is less work and much easier than you think.


      • Tatyana
        Tatyana says:

        Basic levels of adequate parenting ( I am too lazy to google for the operational definition used in any of the studies) can be wounding and harmful to children, just not enough to kill them. My suspicion that most of the parenting working parents (including myself) can provide revolves around keeping kids alive and somewhat functional. Stay-at-home parent and those with a very flexible work schedule can actually dedicate time to work on themselves, so the unconscious wounding is not passed down the generation and put time into helping their children grow into their best selves.

    • Julia
      Julia says:

      Huh. The “parenting is not complicated” line stuck out to me, too, but for the opposite reason. Parenting is not at all complicated. It’s there every day and I just do it. My kids are healthy and happy and as long as I don’t visit pinterest, I have no sense that I should be doing anything different.

      • MBL
        MBL says:

        My sincere side is truly happy for you. Truly.
        My snarky suggests that you write a parenting book since there is QUITE a market for them.

        I have no idea what your particulars are, but I do know that a lot of familial situations don’t fit the norm, thus things aren’t set up in a way that facilitates them. Again, I know nothing about your situation, but do know how it applies to mine and many, many others. And UGH!!! hormones! I may not survive her 12th year. (We unschool so I get to experience each and e.v.e.r.y. swing. Wheee!)

  3. Ro Lane
    Ro Lane says:

    I assume you assume women have the money to stay home and enjoy their kids when it is a known fact that one outa two relationships end in divorce. Women who have more than one child rarely have the option of staying home. Child support money rarely covers daycare. Women who stay married are usually expected to work, take care of the kids, house, cooking, etc. I’ve only ever known one woman who got to stay home while her husband worked. He was self-employed. If they divorce she will be forced into the workforce and do everything she is doing now and move to a location where she can find a cheap place to live and work.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      This is simply statistically not true. The numbers show us two-parent families do fine on one income. They just have to give up a lot – space in a house, vacations, two cars, etc.

      The biggest cost people have is living in an expensive city. And in expensive school districts. Its really easy to live on one income in Madison, WI. I moved there from NYC so I could do that. There is a cheaper city you could move to as well.

      (It’s also a lot cheaper to take your kids out of school than send them to school, but that argument is more controversial and at this point I can’t even convince you that basic, uncontested evidence is true.)

      Also it doesn’t make any sense to set up your family planning for a divorce. Why not also set it up planning for the apocalype and spend all your money on a bomb shelter?


      • Cáit
        Cáit says:

        Haha I always think that! People find out I stay home and ask “but what if your husband leaves?”
        I always think well what if he is arrested for murder or becomes addicted to crack or is abducted by aliens? At a certain point we have to just act like we are members of a family and not strangers hedging our bets.

  4. Nur
    Nur says:

    I admire this from you: you push further. Not only as a writer, but as a person.
    You’re leading an interesting life, tapping to the parts that are more difficult for yourself. I imagine the easiest thing for an ENTJ would be leading Amazon, flying from coast to coast, thinking that this is good parenting and convincing everybody to do the same.
    You’re still talking about doing the same thing, because you’re an ENTJ, but you’re doing the things that you think you’re not good at.
    I try to think how I can absorb this as an INFP but everything feels uncomfortable, so I might be easily dismissing things just because it already looks like I am pushing the farthest I can.
    Thank you for showing me the opposite.

  5. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    Your conclusions are more idealistic than I am used to reading from you. My parents were big on the whole memory making only experience, and I’m not exactly thrilled with the choices I made as a result, which also happened to be more of the memory-making variety.

    As a side note, my husband is a senior engineering manager whose company is huge on having at least 50% qualified female engineers. The STEM gap is a major issue, because many other big companies also want 50% quality female engineers in their departments. There currently aren’t enough female engineers to fill all the positions available to them. These are high paying jobs where nannies would be more affordable to them, and where they could have generous mat leave, and work from home options. Being an engineer isn’t even a “huge job”. It’s a 40 hour a week job. Oh and my husband can leave work at anytime to do stuff with the kids because they are cool with it. It’s amazing to me since we left the start up environment of SpaceX how established companies treat their employees a million times better, pay them more, and have them work less.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Having a goal of hiring 50% women engineers is mysongenist. We have data that shows more women than men are qualified
      FormSTEM degrees and wlmen donmt want to go into STEM. Why are companies saying we need more women in STEM? Women fought throughout the 70’s and 80’s so people would respect women’s ability to make good choices about their own lives.

      Where is the goal to get men to be 50% of preschool teachers? Why not focus on getting 50% of all harpists to be men? Because it is idiotic, that’s why. We let men choose whatever they want and don’t wuestion it. But when women choose not to go into STEM we decide society meeds to help women make good decisons.

      Separately: How did you make poor decisions as a result of your parents wanting good memories? I’m shocked to hear that, actually. I mean, you are married to a high earner, and you’re educated. Statistically you would be doing right now exactly what you are doing: staying home with kids. What negative impact did the way your parents raised you have?


      • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
        YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

        I didn’t mean to make it sound like a surprise, but I am an INTJ (this is not new information) and staying at home was not a choice I made for myself, and if circumstances had been different (my oldest child needing to be homeschooled for the last five years) I can tell you I would never have been a stay at home mom.

        But, I’d like to add that your comment regarding my personal life sort of sets me up to look like a pretentious prick if I argue with you, which is not fair. So let’s take a hard look at 99% of YMKAS “circle of friends” who are people that are all high-SES, quit our careers and our kids have stuff in common (which somehow means that we do too???) so let’s get together and drink at 11:30 am on a Tuesday at Carla’s place where she is sure to let us know that the “west wing” is off limits for now and the indoor basketball court is a mess. Marianne tells us she plans to sell her $2m home because the appliances are seven years old. Now let’s sit outside with the lake views and have a competition to see whose kid has the most diagnoses and compare all their medications. After that we’ll see whose traveled to the most exotic locations in the last 12 months. Then we’ll end it all with a survey on how often we have sex with our spouses. Does this sound interesting to any INTJ’s out there?!?! No…no it does not.

        So now that the kid who needed the homeschooling is trying school out, I am working with career coaches, networking, and finding a path so that I can have some memories that are satisfying on a different level (not saying that memories with my kids are not important). I don’t want to be Carla and Marianne.

        • Cáit
          Cáit says:

          I empathize with this, even though stay at home mom is my calling, I see how for a certain type of intelligent woman it could feel very limiting.
          I also feel very disconnected from moms circles.
          Let’s face it– women want to be in the work force because it’s more interesting to socialize with intelligent men than dumb women.

        • Bos
          Bos says:

          This is hilarious. When are you going to write a book?

          My stove is getting old. The burner that’s supposed to be the hot one isn’t the hottest one anymore. So maybe I should sell my house.

          And yes, I will validate your observation that stay-at-home parents do not want to go hang out with other people’s nannies. We don’t even want other people’s nannies dropping their kids off at our kids’ birthday parties. The proportion of nannies to parents showing up to a playground meet and greet affected my choice of school for my daughter.

      • Bos
        Bos says:

        I think it would be very nice to have 50% male preschool teachers. I was very happy to send my daughter to a preschool where 75% of the teachers in her classroom over two years were male.

        I think you have to pay them more, though.

      • Jane
        Jane says:

        Stop calling things misogynist emwhen they are clearly not, Penelope.

        Also, please spell misogynist correctly.

  6. pat sommer
    pat sommer says:

    Hmmm, imagined the piece would include necessary steps to obtaining the social stystem enjoyed in many developed nations whereby parents are offered a creche at work (esp for nursing mothers) and their jobs are held for them during parenting abscences.

    Make parenting integrate better with career and no gap.

  7. Emma
    Emma says:

    The thing is, I don’t have, nor ever will have kids, yet as a female I still suffer the huge unfairness of the wage gap.

    It’s hardly a choice of this feminist to be paid less, and yet, here I am, earning less than a man for the same work, even though I am just as dedicated and reliably available to my company as the stereotypical fob-the-kids-off-to-the-wife-or-nanny man.

    The twist is that I live in a European country where parental leave is mandatory, the men are required to take paternal leave, and can actually arrange to swap part of the maternal leave to increase their paternal leave.

    I work for an orchestra, so my immediate environment, although competitive, isn’t profit driven – all very different from private business.

    All of that, and I still earn less simply because I’m female, simply because that’s the way it’s always been.

    You can crap on about homeschooling eventually possibly leading to men who are aware of pay inequality, who might then possibly be motivated and engaged enough to support women who want to implement change, but for my generation and very probably the next two or three generations of women, whether we have children or not, we will earn less.

    Why on earth are you fine with this?

    Women shouldn’t wait for homeschooled men to be our saviors, that’s an absolute cop out to suggest it, and it’s a lazy article to suggest that what is true for most women (having children) means that ALL women should be systematically financially penalized.

    Devil’s advocate – do you think that if your two sons were actually your two daughters, you’d be less fine?
    Would it ever irk you to know that your daughters’ intelligence, creativity, drive, talent, dedication, status, would be worth less from day one because of her gender?
    Are you actually ok with this gap because you know, as a mother, your two boys will be fine?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I think you’re misreading the statistics on wage gap. Women in their 20s out earn men in their 20s. Nothing changes until there are kids.

      Men with kids earn more than women with kids. But also, men with kids earn more than men without kids. The wage gap is at the higher levels that people get to in their post 20s lofe – tenure track jobs, management jobs, artists represented by galleries, etc.

      These jobs are two-person jobs. You need a partner taking care of your personal life so you are not distracted. People who have a higher level job and a spouse at home do better than people who have a higher level job and no kids and an assistant instead of a stay at home spouse. The assistant isnt as invested as the spouse.

      So the reason you are not making as much as men with kids is not because you’re
      A woman, its because you don’t have a stay at home spouse.


      • Emma
        Emma says:

        Nope, don’t agree.

        If my partner were to retire right now and stay at home to full-time support me (and jeez, that’d take all of 1 hour a day maximim – bit of cleaning and tidying perhaps, dealing with home admin – generally, I have my shit together) will not make my wages jump up to be equal with a man who has kids and a stay at home spouse.

      • Bos
        Bos says:

        This comports with my observation as well. It was necessary, for my wife to reach the next career level, for me to stay at home. It would not have happened otherwise.

        I explain it like this: If the boss says “Can you go to Tokyo next Tuesday?” and you don’t say “Yes, of course I can,” then someone else goes to Tokyo, where they do a job you can’t do. If you have to take a day to ask your spouse for clearance, they won’t ask you first next time, and you’re on Mommy Track now.

  8. Jw
    Jw says:

    Great post. As with all of this stuff, it is too complex to summarize in a quick blurb. One element that is lacking here is the fact that women generally aren’t attracted to men who earn less than them. It’s called hypergamy, and it’s well established. This is a constant across culture and time and is therefore biological in origin. … so, by home schooling boys, you wind up creating men who may well be perfectly balanced in their ability to self validate, but who may never be able to find a happy relationship as their mating options have been severely limited. The family down the street who trained their son to seek external validation ended up taking the good woman and leaving him alone. I would never do this to my son.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Oooh this is a new vocabulary word for me. I am so excited tonuse this in every post. Its lile my missing piece! Thank you.


    • Poppy
      Poppy says:

      Self-validation is not necessarily incompatible with earning money. Maybe the kid is able to validate himself AND values money and power because of his personality. People want what they want and from what I’ve learned about homeschooling from reading this blog, you can’t really change that, just support it.

      Plus, hopefully, you’ll be raising someone who’s able to make his own choices, so if he realizes that earning little money doesn’t get him the kind of woman he wants, he can change that.

      For me, it’s similar to a woman who would prefer not to shave or wear makeup, but she does because she wants to be attractive to the average guy. We all can, and live, with those contradictions. So maybe the way to solve the problem would be to help your sons self-validate and also help them realize as soon as possible how the world works so they can choose.

      And yeah, hypergamy is the coolest word!

    • Bos
      Bos says:

      You might want to check trends, JW. I think your needle is stuck in last century’s groove. Female hypergamy is on the decline in this country, quite significantly.

      Per the Pew Research Center, from 1970 to 2007 the percent of wives whose income topped their husband’s rose from 4% to 22%, more than five-fold (see the report “Women, Men, and the New Economics of Marriage).

      The average wife also became more educated than her husband (flipping from 28% and 20% to 19% and 28%) in the same time frame.

      If we consider educational trends to be a leading indicator of income, female hypogamy is likely to disappear in this country in my son’s lifetime. It would be silly to tell my children to distort themselves for a social reality that won’t even matter to him.

        • Johno
          Johno says:

          This only means that more women are making money than their husbands. It doesn’t say that views have changed about preferences (hypergamy).

          It’s hard to tell if there is any discernible relationship between this data and hypergamy actually. I think you’d have to interview people from the study to see if they would prefer their spouses income were higher than theirs, or if they are happy that theirs is higher.

          But you could just interview anybody and ask that. Thus my sense that this study isn’t any use for looking at whether or not there has been a change in perspectives on this point.

          I think if I were going to investigate this I’d ask people to respond to something like this:

          How much money do you need to be earning to feel like you are wealthy?

          Okay, let’s say you start earning that much tomorrow.

          Now that that’s your new salary, you get to set your spouses salary at either 5x your salary or 50% of your salary. which would you choose?

          I can imagine some people will think, “5x as it would make us super secure.” Others will think “.5x because we have plenty just from my new wealthy level income and I don’t want to feel like all my work is meaningless since I make in a week what my spouse does in a day.”

          Is there a difference between how men and women respond to this? I suspect there could be.

    • MBL
      MBL says:

      I love the way this came out with that large somewhat cryptic yellow circle and a short line. Because I have been to your letterpress site and have seen your lovely work I understood, but it still gave me pause. :D

  9. d
    d says:

    “First of all, a confession: I think the wage gap is fine. I am paid much less than men with my experience and track record, and I don’t care, because I want to be with my kids.”

    I had a STEM job; a programming job in a male-dominated industry, and I somehow managed to stick it out for 26 years. I have no kids, and yes, I cared about the wage gap because I worked damn hard at my job and put a lot into it. I can’t even begin to list the ways I was discriminated against. I don’t blame any woman for not wanting to be in a STEM job. The way you’re treated is terrible, and growth non-existent. You might not care about the wage gap because your lower pay means you can have time with your kids, but it’s not fair to place that on ALL women. After 26 years, multiple awards (non-cash because that’s how my very jealous male supervisor rolled), I was summarily dismissed (although it’s more complicated than that), because I became a woman of “that age.”

    What amazed me was after being dismissed, I discovered so many women having similar experiences. No kids, put all into their careers, hit a certain age, and they’re done for. So glad to hear you’re in support of those of us for whom motherhood did not work out. (/sarcasm)

  10. Michael
    Michael says:

    WOW !!! Had real mixed emotions starting with anger but read the whole post. You sure are hard hitting. Did you wake up in a good mood when you wrote this? Alot is true but your presentation to be quite frank sucked.

  11. C
    C says:

    I’m not sure you’re using the term “wage gap” appropriately here! It’s usually used to refer to the gap between women’s and men’s earnings *after accounting for hours and type of work*. So, while you may be fine with being paid less than men with your experience and track record because you want to work fewer hours (fine!), the wage gap actually means you’re likely to be paid less than men with your experience and track record even controlling for the number of hours you work (not good!).

    • JW
      JW says:

      That’s the definition of wage gap that men’s rights activists and macro economists use when they say it doesn’t exist. Shame on you! Remember to always do what people like Obama do and use aggregate statistics that don’t account for those things. Otherwise the feminist movement falls apart, and that is not what we want.

  12. The Contrarian
    The Contrarian says:

    I wonder if you realize how your opinions are swayed by first establishing a contrarian opinion and then validating it? For sure some of your points are part of the wage gap story, but you’re drawing conclusions from partial, selected, evidence. But whatever, the people reading this are predisposed to enjoy your reductionist pseudoscience vibe.

  13. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I’m not worried about the wage gap. I’m more concerned about this problem – “Teachers constantly reinforce the idea that kids go to school so they can grow up and get important, impressive jobs. They train kids from a young age that they are only as good as their report card. Which means kids lose their natural ability to determine what is valuable and important to them and what is not.” It’s an academic-centric race as described in the linked post titled – ‘We Present School As A Race So Adults Can Feel Like Winners But It’s Hurting The Kids’. Homeschooled children are more likely to know themselves better, have good memories of their childhood, enjoy their education especially if it’s self-directed, and are able to work more on their character development if homeschooling is done correctly as compared to children who are shepherded through a standard curriculum. Ever since I started reading your homeschool posts, I view school from a different perspective and in a new light. School has changed from when my parents went there, to when I went there, to now … and not in many respects for the better. If there were more children being homeschooled, there’s a good chance there would be less need for therapists and maybe life coaches.

    • Mark W.
      Mark W. says:

      This article titled ‘Resilence for Anxious Students’ addresses the harm children in school are experiencing because of the academic-centric pressure exacted on them by schools, peers, and parents – . Its subtitle is ‘How school counselors can manage and mitigate anxiety — by focusing on coping strategies and schoolwide supports’.
      The article starts off with the following – “Did I study enough for this test? Won’t my friends do better than me? If I don’t get an A now, I won’t do well on the next exam, and then will I even get into a good college?
      Anxious thoughts such as these aren’t always just passing worries. They’re becoming deeply rooted, widespread mantras for young people across America. Anxiety is the most common mental health challenge that young people face, and it’s the top reason why students seek mental health services at college today. In severe cases, anxiety is stopping teens from doing homework, reaching out to friends, and even leaving their homes, and leading to depressive and suicidal thoughts.”
      It is a serious problem. The good news is schools are becoming more aware of this problem and are diagnosing anxiety disorders. They are teaching students to overcome their anxiety by giving them the tools and skills to develop resilience over time.

  14. Stabat Mater
    Stabat Mater says:

    Wage gap… external validation…. the biggest problem I see with women today is that they themselves do NOT value the role of mother as assigned by God/nature (whichever your belief). Until we realize the importance and power of that role, out culture will continue this downward spiral.

    And my daughter is not going to college– her choice not to be in debt. She desires to work now, save, open a small business to be in the black for marriage so that she never risks strangers raising her future children. And most people ask what she plans to do if her husband leaves or dies. And they also want to know what she plans to do for herself because apparently it is impossible for a woman to be fulfilled as a wife and mother. So people think it noble to plan well for every circumstance except motherhood.

  15. Jim
    Jim says:

    I can’t speak to homeschooling. I can speak to your comment that it is unclear if parenting after age 3 impacts adult life. My mother beat the crap out of me until I was a teenager and got strong enough to stop her.
    That was one heck of an “impact.”

  16. Jw
    Jw says:

    Yes, the stats you mention must be true, as women’s wages have increased remarkably over that period. The ratio of average wages per couple has no option but to go that way unless women altogether give up on men on the principal that they would like to “marry up”. This says nothing about the underlying biological drives, and only speaks to the fact that given the choice of marrying down vs being alone and childless your whole life, women choose the former. It is not by choice, however. You can see this in the increasing number of articles that state sentiments like “where have all the good men gone?” And the like. You can check the guardian or other such papers for these things.

  17. GenerationXpert
    GenerationXpert says:

    I happen to agree with you Penelope. It IS about making choices. My girls are 16 and 13. For the first five years of motherhood, I downshifted to 20 hours a week. And I made less money. My best friend has been much more career oriented than me. We have the same degrees (both BA in journalism and MA in public administration). We had our first kids the same year. And she runs a department with hundreds of people because she ALWAYS choose the career. I also have a good job, but after the five years of part time, I went back to full time telecommute. It’s been 11 years. If I had gone to a big company and put on the suit with shoulder pads and “leaned in,” I too would be managing hundreds and making twice as much money. But I didn’t. I chose what worked for me.

  18. Christopher Chantrill
    Christopher Chantrill says:

    First there was hunter-gatherer, and the men only did war.

    Then agriculture where the men did plowing, because women got miscarriages. And they also did war.

    Then the industrial era, when the idea started that men should have careers (from the French carrière, racetrack), plus war if drafted.

    Now we have the idea that women should have careers and run around racetracks. This is progress.

    But don’t forget that the whole point of men and women is to have children and keep the game going. Except that the most important thing in the world is for the rich and/or educated to differentiate themselves from the poor.

    Per Judith Rich Harris, it is the kids’ peers that have the most influence on them. So choosing a school is a big deal. Should your kids go to a fancy private school and get upper-class culture? Or an inner-city school and learn the world of the criminal gang? Or go to a nice liberal school in North Seattle and walk to school past #WeBelieve yardsigns?

    What’s a mother to do?

    • carmen santiago
      carmen santiago says:

      Christopher Chantrill,

      It’s also the rich differentiating themselves from the rich.

      For example, not wanting to contribute resources to, say, unhealthy or toxic jobs or industries, or anything that’s bad for the environment or people.

      It’s you and your kids fitting in with your own kind of rich. It’s raising the invisible bar so we don’t destroy the planet, and then the other kind of rich that’s destroying the planet and making money on ways to fix it after the fact. Kill lives first, then make money saving them. A lot of people with resources do not want to be involved with that.

  19. Karelys Davis
    Karelys Davis says:

    I am an immigrant. Having dual citizenship does something to you.

    Having grown up super poor does something to you.

    Basically you realize that if you really really really want something, like being with your kids more than the external validation of work, you can make it happen.
    Like I could move to Mexico and live in a tent and buy food by trading and doing minimal work.

    Everyone can.

    You could even be illegal in Mexico if you wanted to.
    There are so many ways to do it.
    So if we continue to chose our lives as they are with all their difficulties, it’s because we’re not willing to pay the price of the many alternatives.

    This was very liberating for me.

  20. Tom
    Tom says:

    Penelope, please check your email. I never got my login info for your INFJ course and the Quistic phone number has apparently been disconnected.

  21. Kim
    Kim says:

    It’s like you are a completely different person than the one who wrote the post, “I hate David Dellifield. The one from Ada, Ohio.”

  22. Jumpin Jeehosaphat
    Jumpin Jeehosaphat says:

    Thank you Penelope! I have fallen in love with you all over again! You say what is, and what you have discovered. Not what people want to hear.

    Great work.

  23. Deanna
    Deanna says:

    If you can stay home and raises your own kids, thats Great, but in the end both parents have to share the responsibility, of their up bring!

  24. Maria Gomez
    Maria Gomez says:

    Living in the society where many men don’t want even to have kids, it’s very interesting for me to read this article about parenting.
    Probably this is one of the consequences of what you are saying – seeing career prioritization (but not family prioritization) in their families in the past.
    After reading this article I will definitely treat choice between staying with my kids or working more thoughtfully in the future.

  25. Omaha1
    Omaha1 says:

    Our family is weird. My son is kind of unsuccessful so he is staying home raising my granddaughter. And that is working well for him and his daughter. However his wife is not too happy. The house is never clean enough and she works a lot as the manager of a successful business. I’m hoping they can move in with me so I can do all the housekeeping to make my daughter-in-law happy and still have a happy son and happy granddaughter (who we intend to home school). Maybe I can be the “wife” in the relationship…

  26. John Gilmore
    John Gilmore says:

    I like this post. It’s like, ENTJ using introverted intuition to paint the shape of this issue for society, and proving that the issue itself is not an issue; the issue of “pay gap” is a symptom of a system made up of a huge amount of decisions individuals make, few if any of which are oppressive or discriminatory toward women.

    I remember my colleague confided in me that she was offended that our manager had offhandedly mentioned to her that after she came back from her maternity leave, she might feel differently about something or other. She felt it was sexist and I think it technically was. He also ended up being right. She confided in me, a bit sheepishly, after her maternity leave, that she really really really wanted to go down to 30 hours a week. She couldn’t help laugh at the situation.

    THIS PROVES NOTHING of course, except that it’s possible we don’t know what it’s going to be like having kids. I know I had no idea how difficult it would be, or how much I would find it impossible to both take care of kids and do any valuable work in the same 24 hour period.

    The article that both destroyed my belief in the Wage gap and destroyed my tendency to read VOX was this one:

    Problem with this article is that it gets the right answer, which is that the appearance of a wage gap rises from the fact working hours/location flexibility is a job benefit that trades out for cash, and men are more likely to take the cash over the flexibility, and then it provides the dumbest possible proposal, which is, lets change the world to make it so there is no cash benefit to working long hours and handing all flexibility over to your boss. Which is like, the best display of leftist stupidity I’ve ever seen and half the reason I think I shifted to the center politically. It was Vox’s fault.

    If you want flexibility, you’re going to earn less. If your lack of need for flexibility can enable your boss or your bosses boss to have more flexibility, you’ll earn more. Because you’re more valuable to your boss and your bosses boss.

    I used to make a lot of money. I thought it was because I was good at some stuff. Then I started trying to work from home, and started parenting about 40% of the time. I stopped earning money. I have had this experience of trying to figure out what it was I was so good at in the past. And I figured out what it was. I was good at always being available to work. I was good at working on Thanksgiving. I was good at jumping on a plane. I was good at never having to say no, and always being able to be the guy who flew out to see the angry client. That’s the only thing I was really any good at. I was good at being 30 without kids, not sleeping, working 7 days a week. One person has to do shit on Sunday for the company. Is it you or your boss or some person over in another department? Who is that person? That person earns more. Period.

    The only way to stop this from happening is to force everyone into set wages and set hours at threat of physical harm. You can call it whatever you want—union, rights, anything you want. It’s forced set wages, tracks, levels, hours, and threat of physical harm backing it. ENTP hell in other words. Like literally in a totalitarian regime with this setup, where the wage gap would disappear, I would still make more than you, until I would be killed for breaking the rules. I literally could not survive that society. Which is why I care a bit about how stupid the wage gap argument is. It’s bad data, bad everything. End to end. It hurts my ears when I see someone smart like Clinton talking about it.

  27. Product person
    Product person says:

    My definition of hell would be to be a stay-at-home mom. Nothing against women who want to do that — it’s just not for me and would drive me crazy.

    I’m in engineering, and over my career saw many women who like me love math and outperformed her peers leave the field because she didn’t want to have to deal with the mysogyny/having to constantly prove themselves.

    Penelope, I thought I’d leave two links here that perhaps can inspire future posts:

    Why aren’t there more women in science? The industry structure is sexist

    So here’s a little story of the time @nickyknacks taught me how impossible it is for professional women to get the respect they deserve:

  28. morg.
    morg. says:

    I never read the comments on any article or post from any source.

    But I did this one, and boy was it as eye-opening as anything else.

    Penelope, Thanks for coming back.

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