The inequality of gender roles persist in part because women support wide ranges of public policy, according to a submission to the New York Times’ “Room for Debate” by Frances Rosenbluth, deputy provost for social sciences and faculty development.
The Times asked her to reflect on why women are not more outraged that women are still over-represented among low-income earners, she said in an interview with the News. In the piece, she said the diversity of women’s identities cause them to support different initiatives:
For one thing, women have conflicting interests: they may feel attachments to their husbands, to their children, to their class, or to other aspects of their identities that limit their solidarity with other women. A woman who chooses not to work outside the home is more likely to vote for policies that protect her husband’s disposable income than to mandate paternity leave or to raise taxes to subsidize someone else’s childcare. An economically successful woman who can afford a nanny for her own children may also oppose public subsidies for childcare.
Rosenbluth added that long-term labor contracts in Europe have led to lower participation rates in the workforce by women. Since women often interrupt their careers to bear children, they are risky human capital investments for employers. The United States has less of this problem, she said, since the labor protection laws are not as stringent. Still, she said, men will continue to earn more than women on average while the costs of childrearing are not equally shared.