Women have different priorities than men, says report
Men and women have different career aspirations, priorities, and life goals so many ideas around gender equality in the workplace are built on faulty evidence, says a social policy specialist.
Although she says that equal opportunity policies have been successful, Catherine Hakim, an LSE academic and author of Feminist Myths and Magic Medicine, says feminists are wrong to say that the gender pay gap and sex differences in attainment at work are proof of widespread sex discrimination and sex-role stereotyping. Instead they are down to personal choices and preferences she says.
She says demands for further change rest on "faulty assumptions and dated evidence" and that most of the theories and ideas built up around gender equality in the last few decades are wrong.
Hakim contends that many men and women have different career aspirations, priorities, and life goals and that policy makers should therefore not expect the same job outcomes.
For example, she says, there is no evidence that the sex segregation of occupations is an important cause of the pay gap between men and women.
Similarly, she argues, a study of nine OECD countries has shown that the link between occupational segregation and the pay gap is coincidental, not causal. She argues that the reason is that higher levels of female employment produce higher levels of occupational segregation (as more unskilled women join the labour force) and thus a larger pay gap.
She adds that sex differentials in the professions are due primarily to substantively different work orientations and career choices among men and women.
She recommends that policy makers should learn that quotas – and many other proposals intended to promote sex equality – at best have little impact and at worst are counter-productive and a waste of public funds; should resist the temptation to impose more regulatory burdens on business which aim to achieve equality of outcomes; and should drop "modish aspirations" designed to encourage equality of outcomes (such as the target to increase the number of women on public boards) which she says is not a priority in the current economic situation.
Feminist Myths and Magic Medicine: the flawed thinking behind calls for further equality legislation by Catherine Hakim is published by the Centre for Policy Studies.
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