Where are all of the women?


Today, the front page of the New York Times declares boldly:

“Across the country, women in their prime earning years, struggling with an unfriendly economy, are retreating from the work force, either permanently or for long stretches.

They had piled into jobs in growing numbers since the 1960s. But that stopped happening this decade, and as the nearly seven-year-old recovery gives way to hard times, the retreat is likely to accelerate.”

Initially depressing? Yes. But not quite cause for despair - it doesn’t sound like we’re entering some sort of strange 1950’s timewarp, wherein we’ll need to consult our guide to being a good housewife and learn how to set a dinner table properly, just yet. In fact, it’s the opposite: women are realizing that they deserve better jobs and better pay.

The interesting thing about this article is that, while some women are giving up working to spend time with their kids, for many that’s not the reason (though it makes for a good cover). The current state of the economy has lead to stagnant wages, so many women are quitting to go to school, so they can find a better job, or quitting because they think they deserve a higher-paying job, and they refuse to settle. Even more interesting, the Times says, “the pattern is roughly similar among the well-educated and the less educated, among the married and never married, among mothers with teenage children and those with children under 6, and among white women and black.”

“Joyce Call, 39, of Howell, Mich., near Detroit... took an accounting job in January 2006 at Forming Technologies, which supplies plastic to auto companies.
The pay, $14 an hour — more than $25,000 a year — was acceptable, she said, but not the raises, which came to only 28 cents an hour over two years, or the Christmas bonus: $150 the first year and nothing the second.
‘I was treated poorly,’ she said, explaining her departure.”

So, it’s sort of an unintentional, unorganized strike, and it’s also sort of awesome - women are willing to pull out of the workforce if jobs can’t live up to their standards. But will it work? We’re not experts on the economy, but the prospect of better jobs turning up for women (or men, for that matter) anytime soon seems bleak. But what do we know?

Read: Women Are Now Equal as Victims of Poor Economy

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