Sommers - lessons from a feminist paradise

Lessons from a feminist paradise

On the surface, Sweden appears to be a feminist paradise. Look at any global survey of gender equity and Sweden will be near the top. Family-friendly policies are its norm — with 16 months of paid parental leave, special protections for part-time workers, and state-subsidized preschools where, according to a government website, “gender-awareness education is increasingly common.

In a 2012 report, the World Economic Forum found that when it comes to closing the gender gap in “economic participation and opportunity,” the United States is ahead of not only Sweden but also Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

What explains the American advantage? How can it be that societies like Sweden, where gender equity is relentlessly pursued and enforced, have fewer female managers, executives, professionals, and business owners than the laissez-faire United States?

Sweden has gone farther than any nation on earth to integrate the sexes and to offer women the same opportunities and freedoms as men. For decades, these descendants of the Vikings have been trying to show the world that the right mix of enlightened policy, consciousness raising, and non-sexist child rearing would close the gender divide once and for all. Yet the divide persists.

I have another suggestion for Kristersson and his compatriots: acknowledge the results of your own 40-year experiment. The sexes are not interchangeable. When Catherine Hakim, a sociologist at the London School of Economics, studied the preferences of women and men in Western Europe, her results matched those of the aforementioned Pew study. Women, far more than men, give priority to domestic life. The Swedes should consider the possibility that the current division of labor is not an artifact of sexism, but the triumph of liberated preference.

AEI? Really? Whatever.

No, the reality is that women tend to take longer off to have kids, and then return to their positions, in Sweden. Given you know, they can without getting fired.

The entire flipping POINT is equality of opportunity, rather than forcing women to work. This raises questions, if anything, of exploitation of women in America.

The US ranked 8? Pah, Mongolia laughs in your face.

Aww come on, the US barely beat Mozambique. Though yes, with Mongolia, Burundi, Malawi and Lesotho doing so well too, I’d love to hear what AEI has to say on why they also so handily beat the US.

Hey, Christina Hoff Sommers, how’s Mary Rosh doing these days?

One of the things these propaganda outfits do is put two unrelated facts next to each other and then talk as if they conflict.

I don’t think you understood that article. What it was saying, is that given a supportive environment (a good thing) women will tend to prioritize family over careers. Obviously there are individual exceptions. Such priorities tend to result in less career advancement and lesser pay. As such, US and couple other countries where “supportive environment” doesn’t exist and choosing family isn’t as available, you have more career women and pay inequality is less.

This article isn’t saying Sweden = Bad, US = Good. It is saying that given an opportunity, women focus on family more than men. I don’t know why Western society went so far down PC hole that this becomes a controversial statement, even when supported by facts.

Okay. So what’s the point one is meant to take away from that, then?

It’s sort of a science-laced spearhead against the idea of socialization being the primary interest driver. The point is being made that the pursuit of 50/50 engagement in various disciplines is incompatible with current efforts towards gender egalitarian policies. The answer is either a greater degree of focus within the culture to either make it more attractive for women and men to occupy roles they aren’t occupying, or a more equal compensation of work considering gender lines (e.g. greater wages for socially oriented work).

My only takeaway is that Sinij is still so intimidated by women and anguished by his failures with them that he has to blame something like feminism so he can avoid confronting his own shortcomings.

Considering what Sinij has written in this thread, this is a completely inappropriate response.

Where are these facts? Someone didn’t actually go look at the underlying data did they? Mongolia did indeed place first you know? Hemalin wasn’t pulling that out of some nebulous body part. But Norway is why the author is just totally confused and unsupported by the very data they presented.


I like data. So, if you take the data, and remove top ten countries that were missing data for this sub category (see study disclaimer at the start: Bahamas, Burundi, Malawi, Luxembourg, Mozambique - so half of the top ten were statistical artifacts), that leaves:

  1. Mongolia
  2. Norway
  3. Lesotho
  4. US
  5. Sweden

Then group them by equivalent income (unless you think Lesotho and Mongolia are economically comparable to the US), the very data she uses would have this ranking on the one cherry picked sub-index:

  1. Norway
  2. U.S.
  3. Sweden

With the score differences between them being quite minor.

So, women in Norway don’t have the same opportunities that women in Sweden do? And that’s why they participate in their economy more than US women do according to this one weighted sub-index? But if what you say is true, why are women in Norway with as many socialist structures as Sweden participating more than US women?

I’m still looking for what this data proves. Half of the top ten on that sub index were missing 1 or 2 data points from that sub category of 4 points. So with 1/4 to 1/2 of the data missing to provide the score, they are not statistically reliable. That pretty much left Mongolia, Norway, Lesotho, US and Sweden of the top five statistically relevant in that order. Only Norway, the US and Sweden are higher income countries, with comparable social structures.

Though, if you know a little about Mongolian culture and its inheritance laws even going back to fairly older times, that one actually makes sense. Of course, the author could have written a lovely article on the social status of women in modern and ancient Mongolian culture, how it varied in the different ethnic groups in current Mongolia and how ancient inheritance and divorce laws were remarkably equitable for the times and carry over today, leaving women with more economic power than is usual in a country in that income bracket. But no, the author chose to infer the US placing between Finland and Sweden on a on a specific sub-index meant something about what educated western women with choices would chose today. She further tied this to both socialism and feminism, which makes no sense based on the data shown.[/spoiler]

tl;dr Ghengis thought women around him were capable of having babies and working/ruling …that this was not an “either or” proposition. Norwegian women, at least, seem to agree. Some of them know what modern socialism and feminism are, but Ghengis clearly died before their invention. Data actually supports this confusion about those being factors in country performance on one obscure sub index of some study that was supposed to prove everything about modern socialism and feminism.

Women in Norway participate more in the economy because Norway has granted socially oriented work, a traditionally underpaid class of labour in which it is more common for women to work than men, higher wages than Sweden.

Hechicera, very informative response. Thank you.

To me it is undeniable that US is a backward country in how it treats women with regards to maternity leave when compared to other developed nations. The fact that this does not translate into low ranking in pay inequality and glass ceiling suggests that current understanding of underlying causes is flawed.

I think there is a conflict in current thinking - we advocate for favorable treatment of women (good thing), but then when they take advantage of it (good thing) we act surprised that it also results in pay inequality.

Personally, I’d rather both genders enjoyed better work&life balance, but for as long as men are driven to succeed in very specific ways in order to validate their place in society as providers, it will be impossible for women to compete with this and have time for things outside of career.

Underlying problem is that career takes 80h/week commitment, if that changes, pay inequality will improve.

What career requires 11 hours per day, 7 days a week?

Or the answer could be that there are limits to what socialization is capable of?

If it should be the case that, in fact, given the opportunity and even encouragement otherwise, most women still weight domestic stuff more highly than employment stuff, what’s the problem?

In which case, why should 50/50 be the aim? Why not get a statistical sense of what the natural weighting would be and go for that? (Maybe 60 men, 40 women or whatever)?

Surely the ultimate aim of legislation ought to be to support peoples’ natural preferences, such that for women who do weight work more highly, there’s no barrier for them? What business is it of the State’s to be enforcing any other pattern of distribution other than the one that naturally falls out, absent prejudice and structural forces tending otherwise?

I think in the end it comes down to a distinction between social programmes which try to implement a particular social class or gender pattern, or distribution, and the individualist (or liberal, or what ought to be liberal) approach, which takes individuals as they are and removes obstacles in their way as individuals (not as members of social classes or genders or whatever).

Collective bargaining isn’t anathema to liberalism. I don’t think that there is an inherent problem in seeing a statistical split in chosen occupations along gender lines. The problem is when this split, accounting for other factors like education, hours spent working, risk of termination - has women come out losing economically. Is the work they are doing less valuable? Or is it considered less valuable? These are questions for analysis.

I was the on-floor on-call support for all the automated equipment which ran a 24x7x365 semiconductor fabrication plant. I’d say that qualified, and it wasn’t predictable, nicely scheduled overtime either.

The recent book Lean In did make one point on this that is interesting. The most important choice a career oriented woman makes is her partner. If you want to break glass ceilings, you need preferable a partner who has income (so you can afford high quality childcare and a maid) and even then you need a man who is willing to be a 50/50 partner on every domestic task.

Most men aren’t willing. Hell, most women wouldn’t do that stuff if society would let them out of it. There is a reason many well-off friends prefer to sip mimosa’s/beers on a boat while the maid cleans and the nanny deals with the kids, until they are old enough for boarding school. They manage the household usually though, which includes finances and overseeing staff at usually more than one location. None of them find being the maid rewarding. The difference isn’t their gender, it is their income level.

Women who are not in that income bracket do work. Hard, at work and at home. I have female friends across all income brackets. When I was working I hired a friend as my maid. Since its what she did for a living, she would probably have been insulted if I hired someone else. Not because she found it rewarding, but she needed the income. Many men I know in the solid working class (no college) refuse to marry a woman who won’t work full time, kids or not. Some don’t have a feminist bone in their body, they know they’ll need the cash. The US itself is complicated. There really is nothing comparable between the choices available to my friends with children in private boarding schools and my friend that dropped out of the alternative high school.

I’m waiting on legislation that will get men to do laundry, child care, heavy cleaning in the house, etc … That would solve the problem! Look, its not my “natural preference” as a female either, but society demands I do it if my husband won’t. Yes, I’m being snarky that legislation will accomplish that. But, as I mentioned in another thread, I did have a significant career and children. But I have a husband that had exactly the same education as I did, and decided that it would then be unfair to ask me to do anything he wouldn’t. So, everything … everything … was split 50/50 and if he didn’t want to do his half, he hired someone to do that part. He kept up that level of contribution even when his having to provide it clearly harmed his ability to climb the ladder at his jobs. That is why I had the flexibility to work a plant floor support job, and to go for the glass ceiling in pharma earlier. It wasn’t maternity leave. I never took even the six weeks I had either time … But my experience and options are just not relevant to the majority of women without multiple advanced degrees and a husband with the same and further with a husband who fully supports the fact you are going to not just work but have a career.

Now equitable legislation for men, and job pay scales, would help some. But it really is society, which is why Mongolia really is an interesting data point, since in this one case … Society needs to value men who are equal partners at home as heavily. I value mine! It was infuriating that his career suffered when he split all things equitably.

Italy was another interesting data point. I forget the article, but the marriage rates and fertility rates started plummeting. The article interviewed women and found that most had to work economically now, but most men lived with their mothers who did everything for them until they married and expected the wife to do the same. So they may date them, but wanted them to stay with the mom and wouldn’t marry as they didn’t have time. And, this was before children even entered the social equation.

Equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.