Forbes: Right on Shared Parenting, Wrong on Wage Gap Mythology

November 2, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

It’s a bit hard to criticize an article that cites research by the National Parents Organization and quotes our Chairman, Dr. Ned Holstein, but this piece gets a lot wrong (Forbes, 10/30/16). In the end though, however circuitous its route, the piece at least arrives at the right destination.

The good news is that writer Shellie Karabell concludes that, in order for women to gain equality in the workplace, men need to gain equality in parenting, including post-divorce. That’s nothing more than what former president of the National Organization for Women, Karen DeCrow, said 35 years ago and what I’ve said on these pages many times. The simple fact is that equal parenting following divorce would free women to earn more, advance more in their careers and save more for retirement. Saddled with 80% – 100% of the parenting time mothers find themselves hamstrung in all those categories.

One study, by the National Parents Organization, urged family courts throughout the US to “embraced shared parenting” – that is, joint custody – as a means of supporting equality in the workforce and one way to help close the pay gap between men and women.

The report claims that today the “sole custody model” accounts for 90% of parenting in divorce cases. That, says the report, limits the single parent’s time and ability to pursue career goals…or even to hold a well-paying job. “About 30% of ALL mothers are single parents who have sole custody and are doing perhaps 90% of the painting of their children,” NPO funder Dr. Ned Holstein said in an email for this blog.

Karabell’s bad spelling aside, she manages to grasp one obvious virtue of shared parenting – that it’s good for women intent on advancing in their careers.

Sadly, that’s about the extent of the good news on her Forbes piece. Her topic is the wage gap and its tendency to remain the same year after year, issues easily understood by anyone not in thrall to the gender-feminist narrative. As with so many gender feminists, Karabell takes it as an article of faith that what women want to do more than anything is get into the corporate rat race, claw their way up the management hierarchy and stand victorious atop the heap. That women’s actual behavior authoritatively contradicts that narrative at every turn goes as unnoticed by Karabell as it does by every commentator of her ilk.

The simple fact, noted time and again by everything from rigorous academic studies to collections of anecdotal evidence by journalists like Judith Warner, is that women are less interested than men in joining the rat race and, if they do, often exit pretty quickly. For the most part, they do so because the clarion call of motherhood seems infinitely more rewarding and less stressful than toiling for some soulless company. Plus, since men are programmed by eons of evolution and encouraged by culture to do the lion’s share of the wage earning, married women find they can have their cake (parenting) and eat it too (be supported). What’s not to like?

In Warner’s group, even the best academically credentialed women with the most powerful ambition, dropped out of work in favor of motherhood. And, even when the kids were old enough to no longer require constant supervision, those same mothers didn’t have the stomach for the high-earning, high-stress jobs they’d left. Many no longer earned at all and those that did tended to opt for easier jobs in non-profit organizations.

Again, all of that is obvious enough, but Karabell knows none of it. No, instead, she cites the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report. That alone lets us know she’s not a serious commentator. The GGGR’s ludicrous and astonishingly misandric approach to “gender equality” is to ignore entirely all aspects of society in which men hold the short end of the equality stick. It does so by grading countries in various areas of life (health, education, political involvement, etc.) on a 0 – 1 scale in which a 1 indicates complete gender equality. Now, guess what score the GGGR gives in all cases in which men trail women. That’s right, they get a 1, i.e. complete equality. According to the World Economic Forum, when men come in second, they’re actually tied for first. I’m sure George Orwell is responsible for this somehow, I just haven’t yet figured out how.

Moving on, Karabell doesn’t get any better.

The Institute for Women’s Policy research (sic) blames the disparity in wages on what it calls “occupational segregation” and claims, “during the last decade there has been very little progress in gender integration of work.”

Again, citing the IWPR doesn’t do Karabell any favors. It’s one of the chief purveyors of the wage gap myth and, needless to say, doesn’t disappoint when quoted by Karabell. We’ve known for a couple of decades now that there are two major reasons why women in the aggregate earn less than men in the aggregate; they work fewer hours and they work at lower paying jobs.

Now, desperate to keep the wage gap non-issue before the public and policy makers, organizations like the IWPR have turned to the concept of “occupational segregation.” According to them, the well-paying jobs are, in some undefined way, off limits to women. Frankly, that’s about as loony as it gets. Needless to say, there’s no evidence for the proposition that certain jobs are closed to women. And just as needless to say, even the attempt to do so would violate so many laws, we’d lose count. And then there’s the fact that the majority of law school graduates and medical school graduates are women. So, if “occupational segregation” were truly a thing, how is it that those two high-paying jobs slipped through the cracks?

But, thanks to the American Enterprise Institute, we have even further proof of how nutty the IWPR and Karabell are being. The AEI ranked college majors according to how much graduates earned during their first five years out of college. It also noted the percentage of each major represented by male graduates. Here’s the article and the handy chart (American Enterprise Institute, 10/19/16).

Nine of the top 10 earning majors were overwhelmingly dominated by men. Nineteen of the top twenty, and 26 of the top 30 were as well. Over 60% of those graduating in top-earning majors were men. And keep in mind that only 42 +% of undergraduate enrollees are male, so their huge overrepresentation in top-earning fields is even more noteworthy.

According to Karabell and the IWPR, I suppose, that’s more evidence of “occupational segregation,” but the reality is less sinister and more obvious. As so many studies have revealed, overwhelmingly, women tend to value things about occupations/careers over their potential to earn. So, many women cite flexibility of schedule, a job’s ability to accommodate childcare, low stress, etc. as more important than its ability to pay the rent or for a fancy car. Therefore, they tend to shun engineering majors, statistics, computer science and the like.

What we all, Karabell included, might want to notice is that the AEI’s data demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the wage gap in the U.S. will continue. College enrollees are doing now what they’ve pretty much always done; the men are aiming at a life of providing resources to their future families while women are aiming at raising those families and placing earning second. People like Karabell who apparently believe that what really motivates women is work, work and more work won’t like it, but the facts don’t lie. They leave that to organizations like the IWPR and the WEF and so many others intent on peddling their false narratives of women’s victimization. The truth is that women choose their paths in life and, as ever, they prioritize kids over paid work.

But as I said, even though Karabell arrives at her support for shared parenting via some tortured meanderings, at least she gets there.




National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization

National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.

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