Furthest Right

It wasn’t discrimination, after all

Women tend to choose non-math-intensive fields for their careers — not because they lack mathematical ability, but because they want flexibility to raise children or prefer less math-intensive fields of science, reports a new Cornell study.

“A major reason explaining why women are underrepresented not only in math-intensive fields but also in senior leadership positions in most fields is that many women choose to have children, and the timing of child rearing coincides with the most demanding periods of their career, such as trying to get tenure or working exorbitant hours to get promoted,” said lead author Stephen J. Ceci, professor of human development at Cornell.

Science Codex

I thought it was oppression. If I can ever find it, Anne Fisher of Fortune/CNN Money wrote a great article about how women are not behaving as aggressively as they need to in order to get equal results.

I think that women’s unwillingness to “rock the boat” is a big reason why, according to the Economic Policy Institute, the wage gap between college-educated women and their male counterparts has actually gotten bigger since the mid-’90s. A decade ago, women earned 75.7 cents for each dollar paid to a man. Now it’s 74.7 cents.

“Talk to your sister and help her try to figure out why she puts up with this,” suggests Barbara Stanny (, a writer and speaker based in Port Townsend, Wash., who specializes in women’s pay issues. “Women often get paid less because we allow it. Why doesn’t she value herself enough to mind that she’s making less money than her peers?”

Encourage her not to put off dealing with this. At one of her speaking engagements, Stanny says, “I met one woman who tolerated being paid less than the men she worked with for decades, until she was 48. When she finally got around to confronting her boss about it, he said, ‘You’re right.’ This woman said to me, ‘Just imagine how different my life would be now if I’d done that 20 years ago.’ ”

Ask Annie

Another point she makes — women aren’t as comfortable with the idea of hierarchy:

The fault could lie, in part, with the way girls are–or used to be– brought up. “Men grow up in hierarchies and understand how power is wielded,” notes Pat Heim, author of a book called Smashing the Glass Ceiling. “Girls grow up sharing power equally. There never was a ‘boss doll player.’ ” Well, in my neighborhood there was, but Heim makes a good point.

Ask Annie

I always had a similar problem in the workplace; waves of apathy followed by a tendency to let idiots rush ahead and ruin things so I could fix them. Now I’m more aggressive without being a soulless manipulator devoid of ethical or natural selective considerations: I smash idiots wherever I find them.


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