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Do Women Have Women’s Rights?

On Facebook, Knut Knutsen and I were discussing a recent study of unionized workers in the Boston transit system. The study asked who earned more, the men or the women.  After all, these were very regulated union jobs so presumably there was little gender prejudice  in the work place.  It tuned out that the female transit workers turn down overtime.  Why?  Is it prejudice or choice and if it is choice, is the choice because women do not feel equal?

Making a judgement that social mores must be discarded to have equality seems to me to be a bad choice.

Equality of rights for men and women can not ignore the reality of biological differences in life cycle.


Knut, We were talking about the Harvard report. You  and I agee, that the study of union jobs is interesting because it eliminates .. presumably … structural barriers.

That leaves a different question, actually two. 1. Why do women in the study make the choice to earn less? 2. Is this a good thing, based on their interests and desires, or is it a bad thing?

You have set out some reasons why women make these choices.  But, you seem to me to assume that these choices are bad. I disagree on three bases:

1. Equal opportunity laws for women rarely if ever accommodate the obvious life cycle issues. It is absurd to pretend that female biology is the same as male biology yet we do not create career paths that accommodate pregnancy. I will argue that the right o have babies is a unique female right and a job structure based in male biology can not be equal.

2. Mating behavior in all primates is innate. As social beings we can choose to ignore this but if we did that to a pet ape we would rightly be called cruel. While hard to do, we need to recognize, for example, that sexual advances in the genders are different as are choices of roles in regard to child raising.  Whatever this means, our social mores need to accommodate male and female innate differences in mating behavior.

3. While that balance between inherited differences between the sexes and differences developed within social structures can be debated, there is no reason  to judge either as bad. Personally, I feel a socitey that demands a protection for women and children should be lauded. I also think motherhood and fatherhood  … with all the socially loaded implications … are wonderful things. 


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