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The one thing that really strikes me with your comments is that you seem to be convinced of the validity of socially constructed gender roles (ie a socially conservative view).  

There are really strong associations for people that limit aspirations and ambitions or push people into a particular direction or role in life eg men are good at maths and women are good at arts and humanities.  That kind of assumption in my view is as dangerous as your view of the change that activists try to create in society.  

There are some differences between men and women which manifest themselves in different ways but these are not set in stone and have plenty of exceptions.  The problem with laying gender roles or assumptions onto people or groups is that these exceptions to the rule then do not have have the full choice that should be available to them to live and work in the way that they want to.

Assuming that women as a group prefer to fit a particular role and not another, because they are women, is the very reason why women are put at a disadvantage when it comes to advancing their careers or taking up 'atypical' jobs.  It is part of the reason why women doing the same jobs as men or work of equal value are persistently paid less than their male colleagues.  Because these assumptions exist about gender roles and what women prefer or should do and therefore what women are capable of and what their worth in society is.  I don't in any way at all devalue the worth or role of women who want to stay at home and bring up their children.  But neither would I make the assumption that that is what women are 'meant' to do and that all women would want to do.

My type of activism is about breaking down those assumptions and not forcing gender roles on people.  Where proportions are unbalanced in certain job roles  we aren't making an automatic assumption that discrimination is the cause but we research to find out what possible causes there could be and discrimination in various forms comes up as a factor.

It usually is not direct and deliberate discrimination but more subtle indirect or institutional discrimination and it becomes much more complex to tackle.  Again and again the research is showing that there is discrimination involved where there are big imbalances.

And to go back to the example I gave of teaching, it is important to encourage more men to teach (not with quotas) because it has been proven to be of great benefit to boys to have male teachers and male role models in their lives.  There are these kind of examples where it matters to try to improve the proportions.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 05:03:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You won't even find one word in my comments about "socially constructed" roles. I never said women are best cooking hence they should stay in the kitchen.
I am completely for women's freedom to pick their jobs, careers, hobbies, or partners, according to their preferences, talents, desires, expectations.

And I am certainly more for freedom than you, who seem to want to push swathes of population into roles they don't choose, and punish those who choose them and are good at it. I am also, definitely, more liberal than those who continue to divide the society in classes and think the individual is nothing more than a little wheel in the big mechanism of his class or category, that his destiny is decided by the society or his class, that we can move him around, take and throw as we please, according to our own worldview that we made up for ourselves.
For when you leave someone out of work - and their family in danger - despite their competences, because they  don't fit this category whose presence you want to impose in this precise proportion that you know is the good one, that's just what you do.

Instead of decreeing that there must be 10% black MPs because there are 10% black people, we need to work on the base, on the education of - not black, but poor and/or immigrant populations; fair access to high schools and higher level jobs; above all, appreciation of and interest in the democratic game; and so on.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 06:51:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ValentinD:
And I am certainly more for freedom than you, who seem to want to push swathes of population into roles they don't choose, and punish those who choose them and are good at it.

That is not an accurate representation of my views. I have repeatedly said that I do not want people to be pushed into roles that they would not choose, and I do not want people to be discriminated against.  Nor do I want to punish people who are good at and choose to do more 'traditional' jobs or roles in society. It is about breaking down the stereotypes that prevent people from doing what they want to do across all groups and within all groups. I've repeatedly said that.

What I have discussed is where there is an imbalance and it is an important one to try to address, then I agree with trying to change attitudes and break down myths and stereotypes and to encourage those groups that are under-represented to become more involved.  I personally don't like the concept of having quotas but sometimes that kind of action has proved necessary in order to shift the balance. Denmark removed their quota on women representatives and it has continued to work with more women being involved in public life, but maybe having the quota was the catalyst that was needed for people to make more effort to create an environment where women who wanted to put themselves forward were able to succeed in doing so.  

I am deaf.  I have been denied access and opportunities and I have been directly and indirectly discriminated against because of that. I have also been discriminated against for being a woman.  Ditto for being young.  I have personal experience of the issues that discrimination within society has caused, throughout my life - in education, in accessing healthcare and employment and training and using services. As a union rep, I've seen the realities of discrimination on people in workplaces. That is where my motivation comes from for trying to understand and seek ways of tackling discrimination and inequality. I don't blindly follow essentialist feminist views or any other - I am trying to learn about the whole range of approaches which is exactly why I put my citizenship diary together.

In the citizenship diary I tried to explain different ways in which different countries approach citizenship and resultingly, equality issues.  You brought out a series of questions and criticisms regarding the British model and it's been a really interesting discussion.

Perhaps in the process of me trying to explain how the British view of tackling equality and discrimination has come about, I have not clearly separated my personal views from that.  I by no means agree with everything about the British approach and it is why I am glad that we are beginning to move to an approach that recognises that not everything or everyone fits into the categories that have dominated the equalities approach so far.

But for the record there is a huge body of research around gender and race, less so on disability and other areas.  Some research you can question the motives and methodology of (as with anything) but there is plenty of long term and robust research with findings that point to discrimination being a key issue for inequality.

TBG has on a number of occasions made the very valid point that in many areas of life men are also discriminated against and in the way we discuss equalities in the UK, these issues are invisible and they are not acknowledged. It's quite right to be angry about that.  But I do believe it is beginning to change a bit.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 10:11:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"breaking down the stereotypes that prevent people from doing what they want to do across all groups and within all groups."

Sometimes they're stereotypes, or traditions, other times just plain old wisdom (it does exist, and it would spare us a lot of wheel reinventing). Sometimes stereotypes aid, other times act like breaks. The adult individual has a mind of his own though, and practical and legal independence. You're not considering people helpless against society, or family, do you, you don't think them little kids needing laws to know what to do with their life. Counselling (education) should be enough.

"maybe having the quota was the catalyst that was needed"

And do you think that normal? To make a catalyst to direct the society in one direction or the other? Who are "you" to judge which is the good way?

We can also discuss the politicians' competence and backbone in matters of rights. When civil rights have become a matter of political correctness due to intolerable pressure especially from certain elites, especially in the media, it's hard to say anything looking like implying to limit this or that right. No matter the situation, the arguments, the good will. After two exchanges, I've already been labeled a mysoginist by linca. This is how it works, there are born do-gooders (I'm speaking in general about the social-libertarian current) and detainers of the absolute truth, standing in defence of victims of the Society.

You're right, we're discriminated against for many reasons: being young, having little hands-on job experience, being a whimp, being a woman, an immigrant, stupid, not ambitious as a man and so on. Some cases are grave, others just life unfairness, which does exist.
We can't make laws for all the cases. A hyper-regulated society is either a nanny state, or a dictatorship. And when we do, it must be justified by more than a few stats (even the fact that we discuss methodologies makes me instinctively reluctant to "studies" - see medicine studies, or those relating cancer to aaaaall kind of factors, changing every week).

There must be a very careful balance between what is regulated, what is only educated, what is considered acceptable competition, what is simply inhumane.

I understand your viewpoint, and I hope you did mine too. I tend to favour the French point of view about races: speaking about races would be discriminatory in itself; the right way is to treat everybody as a citizen and address inequality impartially and exhaustively, without suffocating the society or the economy though.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 04:34:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sometimes they're stereotypes, or traditions, other times just plain old wisdom

Can you give us an example? where what would appear a stereotype is in fact Wisdom? If i'm understanding your argument correctly?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 07:04:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We're turning in circle here. In case you didn't read the discussion from the beginning, it was argued that women assume artistic or caretaking roles because the "society" would make them to, would format them and tell them this is the role for a woman.
Or it turns out that many still choose those roles by themselves, from various reasons. My conclusion is that the "society" knew better when it oriented women towards positions where they can put to better use qualities like empathy, emotion, flair, sensitivity, expressivity.

(no I do not think women are emotional and men logical, oh boy...)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 08:48:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And maybe the Saudian society is best, keeping women in the home where they can only assume the family caring role they are obviously best suited for.

Care to expand on that "from various reasons" ? We are giving you what we think these reasons are, but you don't seem to care about giving yours.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 09:04:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First, there has never been a Saudian type of society here in the West. Exaggerating and sending any argument, however measured, to the extreme, in order to enhance the opposite viewpoint, is pure rhetorics.

Secondly, I'm not quite ready to judge other cultures according to my own values. I don't automatically consider them inferior. I wouldn't try to impose my own culture, religion or values upon them.

Thirdly, there are quite a lot of examples of women aviators, doctors, journalists, teachers from the 19th century on. There was also a lot of exclusion, many cases when social pressure convinced women to assume certain roles against their will; and sometimes they made their own mind and their own life.
Women (people in general) should be helped to see all the possibilities and be free to choose, but not by vilifying other categories.

Fourth, I said that social environment orienting people is not always bad. I did not say the society forcing people into Procust-beds is good - I dont believe it is. This is what all this discussion is about, in case you forgot: avoid going from a rigid, formatted society, to vilifying anyone pointing out excesses. Or I say that in the past, excesses were made in assigning roles to people, and today we should not do the same by forcing statistical dispersion laws on people, but look at the real-life situation, pragmatically, without dogma and ready-made pre-conceptions.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Wed Nov 12th, 2008 at 07:19:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Read some history, as you seem ignorant about it. There has been Saudian type societies in "the west".

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Nov 12th, 2008 at 07:41:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Calling me ignorant is quite weak an argument.

Since you don't oblige me by showing your wisdom, I'll show you a bit of my (still humble) knowledge on the issue.

The separation of the church and faith in Europe has always been a fact. Since the Roman empire, since Emperor Julian who in 362 decreed freedom of religion, passing through Augustine of Hyppo who argued about the mystical world and earthly politics in Civitate Dei, through the London concordat, the chart of liberties, the Magna Carta, the concordat of Worms, al showing the continuous battle between church and state. The Italian wars amongst republics and papacy, the French kings, from Philip the Fair through the Valois and on, who asserted their independence of the church, through Luther, Calvin, Locke and other protestant philosophers who professed this separation and the free arbiter of the individual, until Thomas Jefferson in 1802 in the United States.
You'll find, all over the history signs of this separation, of the individual liberties and free thinking.

Parliaments existed in Europe for 1000 years now, as did universities. I wont even mention the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.
The Christianism itself suffers no comparison with the Islam in terms of treatment of the Individual and dealing with the State.
Despite numerous exceptions and excesses, this is what dominated Europe for 2000 years.


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Thu Nov 13th, 2008 at 03:42:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The separation of the church and faith in Europe has always been a fact. Since the Roman empire, since Emperor Julian who in 362 decreed freedom of religion

Huh!?????

I can't believe referring to Julian the Apostate as evidence for separation of church and state, while glossing over the likes of Gratian and Theodosius, is not an intentional provocation from you.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Nov 13th, 2008 at 07:01:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry to disappoint.
Julian is an example, the first one come to mind. I don't have time to do a comprehensive research, so what you see here is my own knowledge - I welcome rational argumented criticism. What about Gratian?

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Fri Nov 14th, 2008 at 05:15:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Valentian was the sole non-Christian in a long line of intolerant Arian and Athanasian Christian Emperors (both Eastern and Western Roman), and also the sole seeking to re-establish freedom of religion instead of making imperial edicts to constrain this or that group. In other words, not the rule but the exception -- which is shown by his epithet in history books, "the Apostate".

Gratian was the Western Roman Emperor who, under the influence of the bishop of Milan Ambrosius, brought the final tilt of the balance of power between Athanasians and Arians with strict decrets. He found an ally in Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius, who would eventually become a joint Emperor, and start an unparalleled persecution also under Ambrosius's influence, which made the victory of the Athanasians (i.e. early Nicean Creed Christianity) final in the Roman Empire. (Though not overall: the Germanic tribes that would take over the Western Empire were converted by Arians, and it took more than two centuries for a real final victory.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Nov 14th, 2008 at 06:29:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(Upon checking, "Ambrosius" was a wrong guess at the English form -- it's "Ambrose".)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 14th, 2008 at 06:36:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Despite numerous exceptions and excesses, this is what dominated Europe for 2000 years.

It's rather the opposite -- despite numerous exceptions and moderations, utter religious intolerance ruled Europe for most of the past 2000 years. It was easier to be Christian in Arab-ruled Egypt, in Moorish Spain, and especially Ottoman Southeastern Europe than to be Muslim in the Crusader states, in the areas taken by the Spanish Reconquista, or the Habsburg one. Not to mention Jews, especially in Renaissance-time Spain and England.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Nov 13th, 2008 at 07:08:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I understood the expression "Saudian society" in terms of citizen rights, not rights of other religions.
The church was often putting pressure or being intolerant, but was in no way entrenched with the state as Saudian societies. There is a world of difference between a society ruled by church and one ruled by feudals (with the church rearing its head behind).

I'll be glad to discuss differences between Christianism and Islam when this thread ends, though.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Fri Nov 14th, 2008 at 05:19:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
was in no way entrenched with the state as Saudian societies.

How are the First Council of Nicea, Roman imperial edicts, royal anointments, land grants to bishops and monasteries, blasphemy laws, royal rules on churchgoing (especially at the times of [forced] conversions), the outlaw state of excommunicated, crusades, the 'division of labour' in inquisition, and state-proscribed religious education examplkes of lack of entrenchment with the state just like for the Saudis?

There is a world of difference between a society ruled by church and one ruled by feudals

Both middle age Europe and present-day Saudi Arabia is ruled by feudals and the church at the same time. In fact, in some aspects at least pre-Reformation Western Europe was worse than the Saudis today: there is no top religious authority in Saudi Arabia, allowing the feudals some leevay in playing one cleric against another. (The Americans also attempted that game in Iraq, though that did not bring them much in the end, did it.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Nov 14th, 2008 at 06:48:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In what way is the council an example of church entrenched with the state in oppression? That was all about faith and ecclesiastic issues.

Persecution of christians had barely ended a few years before, btw.

Royal anoitments? Well how about Philip the Fair sending Nogaret to draw the Pope outside by beard, or so I heard, after Boniface VIII declared his supremacy over the secular rulers. There was never no ayatollah in Europe.

Aspects, aspects. You're theorizing and picking what suits you. We should discuss this in detail. But then you probably did before.
You don't say a word about parliaments and univesities, they don't seem to interest you, or about the Rule of Law in Western Europe for a very very long time. Never governing by the Bible.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Fri Nov 14th, 2008 at 07:24:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In what way is the council an example of church entrenched with the state in oppression?

It was a council called for by the Emperor to establish a dogma, which can then be enforced as state religion. (Which he then ditched in older age, but that's another issue.)

Well how about Philip the Fair

You realise that the Avignon Papacy is in no way an example of a separation of church and state... not to mention the assembly of French bishops Philip IV called to support his position in that tax debate.

There was never no ayatollah in Europe.

There was, in the Papal State... but you are confusing Iran with Saudi Arabia there. There is no ayatollah with a political position above the Saudi royals -- nor is there in any other Muslim state other than Iran.

You're theorizing and picking what suits you.

...is what I can tell about you. First you take the only non-Christian in the middle of dozens of mad 4th-century Christian Emperors to prove separation of church and state, then take Iran among dozens of Muslim countries as representative (even while the debate got narrowed down on Saudi Arabia after a previous cherry-pick of yours), and you also cherry-pick Philip IV as a(n ill though-out) 'counter-argument' against the generla practice of royal anointment by clergymen (and the principle of religious justification for feudal power that's behind it).

You don't say a word about parliaments and univesities

I could, but what I said suffices to negate your denial of Saudi-style ties between church and state in Chistian countries.

Parliaments emerged as institutions of the feudal class, and similar institutions existed in the Muslim world, too. Their democratisation coincided with the church's loss of influence (something that happened against its own will and with its active opposition), e.g. for example the French Revolution. Universities on the other hand emerged in a religious context, and for a long time participated in establishing and guarding church dogma. (Their roles in combatting 'heresies' is well known, also for example in the case of Joan of Arc.)

Rule of Law

I did in fact refer to laws. Read back. In fact, the rule of law until not long ago in most places and the Saudi situation today is very similar: it exists in theory, but less in practice, with a fight for its application in courtroom cases. In fact, internationally, the rule of law still doesn't hold -- or else, a lot of kidnapping CIA agents, not to mention Bush et al would sit in prison.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Nov 15th, 2008 at 08:38:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The council you mentioned had nothing to do with the state being Christian-fundamentalist in its oppression of the society, in the sense certain muslim ones are.

The Avignon papacy and the concordat of Worms are examples that it was the secular power ruling, and not the church, it was the rule of law in the sense that there were written rules and Common Laws in place.
The way you bring the argument to extreme by claiming there is no rule of law today is an exaggeration of the same kind as linca's bringing into discussion the Saudian society.

Because we are not debating all aspects of society, but the relation of the individual (women in particular) with the religious authorities.
The original comment was about the situation of women  and mentioning the Saudian society in that context.
I said that this was fallacious argumenting.
The situation of women in Western Europe cannot be compared to that of the women in certain muslim states, like Saudi Arabia - or Iran.

I'd like a few examples of universities, parliaments, or renaissance enlightenment in the Saudian societies. A few links will suffice.
(claiming that they exist and I am the ignorant will not suffice though, I'm beginning to get a bit fed up with lesson giving and patronizing from your side).

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Sat Nov 15th, 2008 at 10:34:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well plain old wisdom is common sense and we need no evidence to back it up or unpick that because it just is.

And you've picked up on one of the key things that has bugged me about this debate - in that where I've discussed outcomes in terms of proportions of men and women (and other groups) affected by certain issues, I'm not actually assuming homogenity within the groups in terms of characteristics and preferences.  Therefore I'm not willing to accept 'old wisdom' without verifying and evidencing it.  Where I pointed out previously that reference was being made to socially constructed gender roles - they may not have been referred to as that - but numerous examples given have indeed alluded to it.

So the way that that big ambiguous 'society' I talk about has developed over hundreds of years, gender roles based on old wisdom ie mothers are the best ones to care for their children and women shouldn't go out to work or it should be 'gentle' and not too complex if they do, and men should be the main breadwinners and men fix the cars and do the DIY and women cook and clean and do the laundry - these socially constructed gender roles are still deeply ingrained in society and as Linca has pointed out, they constrain the choices available to people.

Let's take work and childcare.  The men wants to be at home to raise his kids and the woman wants to work. Are they really that free to choose to do that?  Who earns more, or has the greater career prospects and is less likely to find a glass ceiling bashing their head as they try to get a promotion or move to a better job?
Usually (in a middle class household) - the man.  In a working class household where nothing is well paid or secure then the likelihood is both will still need to carry on working.

So when you need a secure income to raise your family and you know that 'women of child bearing age' are more likely to face discrimination at work and less likely to advance (there are stats for that and attitude surveys), and the man already earns slightly more and is more likely to increase that over the next 3 years - what choice is there really?  

And when a woman wants to come back to work on a part time basis, and she ends up doing low paid admin even if she has a degree, that is because employers are inflexible about considering job shares at higher level or reduced hours for higher level and better paid jobs.  A case that went through tribunal a few years ago that was backed by significant research showed that there are very few jobs that cannot realistically be turned into a job share (ie 2 people working part time to fill a full time role).

And things like lack of free childcare and direct discrimination from employers who don't want to hire young women and the more subtle prejudices against women as being less capable, less assertive with clients and just generally not as good as the man standing next to her who is pushing for the same promotion (we go back to our old wisdom and socially constructed gender roles that people still take as the truth)... these are the things that need to be tackled in order to give everybody more choice to do and be whatever they want to be.

Yes, people need to be educated but where, how? At school certainly, in unionised workplaces reps can help to educate but many workplaces are not unionised.  Employers won't change their attitudes for no good reason.  So a programme to educate needs to be backed up by legislation that either encourages or forces employers to give all staff diversity training, or to have fair employment practices.  

Equality is about fairness (and yes the legislation is flawed) but frequently the things that get put in place to minimise discrimination for women, such as flexible working, can be extended to the whole workforce and provides benefits for everybody.  Better access for disabled people means better access for everyone else too.

So how that translates to me not being for freedom for people, I really don't know.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 12th, 2008 at 04:32:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"I'm not actually assuming homogenity within the groups in terms of characteristics and preferences.  Therefore I'm not willing to accept 'old wisdom' without verifying and evidencing it."

That's all I cared about all along. When there is discrimination, there is nothing more to add.

As to mother role, judges today leave the child with the mother in a large majority of cases. Even with the best resume, men often don't stand the slightest chance. Being a rational moderate, I don't draw the conclusion that courts are sexist and men discriminated against, but that mothers are acknowledged as best fit to care for the children.

As to a woman's role, it is a fact that women are in general biologically and spiritually more sensitive and in a way weaker, despite many exceptions. On the contrary, by calling all this a constraint you're forcing women to get out there and try tougher jobs (in degree of competitiveness, physical force required - like bin collectors, aggressivity, and so on).
All I say is, let there be fairness. Open the society, but don't vilify categories and don't push people where they are weaker than others and where they don't want to go. You say women go towards certain jobs mostly because of society imprinted roles? I say that they go there anyway. You're not for freedom when you impose quotas, no matter where. Competence, responsibility should be the only criteria to jobs.
You'll see more and more women in many professions as the job requirements change, but not by activist laws.

Caretaking is another built-in role for most women. If you call this an imposed role, I'm sorry, but you exaggerate by far, IMHO. But don't force them either way, just educate people they can do other things as well, and let them choose. Just don't let them break their neck, and don't lower profession standards either.

As to childbearing and parenting, I think it's a heavy responsibility, to be taken carefully and wisely, with the interest of the child first. Personally knowing many working families with child, I am more and more against provided childcare in order for both parents to work. I do believe mothers are best with children, fathers are necessary too, and it is the careers that should go on lower on the priority scale.

Also, you can try to see the business' viewpoint too. They're not there to provide childcare and benefits, but to do business. When you know someone will soon ask more and more flexible hours, and lose a good part of dedication towards work, you tend not to hire them. It is normal behaviour, I understand these companies, as I understand those mothers too.
None should be forced or feel forced into anything, but things put clearly from the beginning and agreement on parttime reached.
In Holland for instance, from what I know, part time is quite widespred and accepted and the society more egalitarian. In France, the view is that part time is a "précarisation", weakening of the worker's condition, because of much lower salaries.

Many women tend to be less assertive, this is common sense. I assure you shy guys have exactly the same problem. You have to be aggressive, dynamic, assertive, to do long hours and be on call. Men too happen to get totally fed up with it, it's what ThatBritGuy was saying.
This is a bigger problem, I do believe excessive competitiveness and run for efficiency in business should be moderated somehow.

Education - mainly at school yes. Business people should be sensibilized too. I know it may sound naive, but this actually does work, just like the Green revolution does, practically without laws. Education is one of the greatest things to the european civilizations, with freedom of thinking and parliamentarism.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Thu Nov 13th, 2008 at 04:43:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you ever been discriminated against?

I worked as a physical chemist for a long time and was used to working in a male dominated environment, I was comfortable there too. It was only when I started to try to progress in my career that I understood for the first time what all these hysterical extremist feminists that you loathe so much had been going on about.  That was my lightbulb moment, and I'm ashamed it didn't happen sooner.

The glass ceiling is real. Institutional discrimination is real.  But it is very difficult to see, especially when you have not been on the receiving end of it, causing you personal disadvantage.

And still, you keep referring to socially constructed gender stereotypes as if you don't need to question them. It is exactly this practice that perpetuates the societal discrimination that you are so adamant doesn't exist.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 13th, 2008 at 06:09:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Listen, I got that from the very beginning, the other thread already.
That said, I am still giving my citizen opinion (which is I dare say quite informed) - while I'm still allowed. By the way I wonder if disability laws should be made by the disabled alone, or anti-racial laws by blacks alone. We're all entitled to an opinion. I understood your viewpoint, I know glass ceilings exist. Some say there is institutional racism in France, and all media make a lot of education about it, yet no one thinks of cancelling the race-neutral laws.

It is not that I don't need to question gender stereotypes. What I really question though is the compulsion to systematically question preconstructed roles. Let us stop and think a bit before demanding companies to address gender discrepancies only based on number monitoring.

Women doing housework or child care taking can also be because women are much better at it. Your reasoning leads to putting cleaning ladies to carry and empty bins, just because you want to enforce egalitarianism at all cost.
They should be given the possibility, but not pushed into it by quota laws and feminist activist discourse, which is just another kind of that societal pressure you denounce.

Like I said, most professions value involvement and dedication. Companies and managers are thus not discriminating per se, but acting in accordance to their business interest, which is just as valid for the society. I agree one should not take precedence over the other and push the other side behind a glass wall.

Difference in pay is a consequence of involvement. Period. If a woman involves more than I, I am all for her earning more.
Pay should be function of competence, involvement and responsibility, not social engineering. You should not mix this with what happens on personal and family level.
You can work so that both spouses support the other (by "educating" them) but not force "equality" by law.
Like I said, it works perfectly for the ecological stuff.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Fri Nov 14th, 2008 at 05:32:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ValentinD:
Women doing housework or child care taking can also be because women are much better at it. Your reasoning leads to putting cleaning ladies to carry and empty bins, just because you want to enforce egalitarianism at all cost.

In that particular example I explicitly said that it wasn't about making men be cleaners and making women be bin collectors, it was about ensuring they are paid equally since the jobs and roles have been rated as being equivalent.

Where I discuss things such as male dominated areas of work - it is about making those environments more accessible for women so that thos ewho want to go there, can. eg I know of a fire station that has no female changing facilities - is that acceptable? Is that going to make women feel comfortable about going into that profession or working in that station?

I worked as an accountant in a garage once - the owner thought it was ok to open up a magazine full of pornographic images and show them to me.  There were no female sanitary facilities there. Would any female mechanics want to work in that environment every day? But maybe they'd like to be mechanics, but don't want to put themselves in those situations.

I pointed out in another post that I worked as a physical chemist and have no problem per se working in a male environment, but as soon as I realised that I would never be taken seriously as a young woman, then I knew I could never reach my potential there. Those attitudes that Linca has mentioned - that women will have kids and they will be the ones to look after the children - these assumptions about a woman's intentions, whether correct or not, put barriers in her way.  

I worked in a place where I repeatedly tried to get myself more responsibility, better and more challenging projects and my manager wouldn't give me anything more than monkey work. All the good work went to a colleague who initially had the same job spec as me, who was the same age, with almost identical qualifications but I had more experience than him and was equally capable of doing the work he was given. So I never had a chance to prove myself or progress, and in the space of months he got promotion after promotion until his salary was 10k more than mine.  This is the kind of thing I am talking about.  It was nothing to do with my inability to negotiate a better contract, it was down to my manager preferring to give the good work to a man and this is not a one off, rare example. It happens repeatedly to women. It happens to black people and disabled people too, and it comes down to prejudice, even if not conscious.

Where I talk about higher profile action to get more women involved, I am referring to the places where it is important to have a more representative or at least a higher proportion of women involved - key decision making and policy making roles, political representative roles.  

The absence of women there is damaging to our societies.  I don't like the fact that we need quotas and call them artificial if you like but they create change.  If there was nothing to say 'you must increase the proportion of women in X' then nobody will make the effort to look into why women are not getting to those positions, and nobody will try to remove those barriers and encourage women in. It isn't about creating a disadvantage for men or forcing women to do things they do not want to do, but it is about making these options available in a way they haven't been before and making people think about these things rather than ignoring it and saying 'women don't want to do it'.

This 'acting in business interests' is not just as valid for society because it is this practice that sees women overwhelmingly ending up in low skilled and low paid jobs, which affects how they can care for their children, which affects the social problems that we end up with in society. We aren't only looking at number monitoring, we are looking at research, attitude surveys, things that tell us why and how the imbalance occurs and whether it is an important one that needs to be tackled.

You make the point that disability laws for example should involve non-disabled people and not be made by disabled people alone (as if that would ever happen) but the reality here is that disabled people are barely involved in feeding into consultation on developing such laws, let alone being represented at the top decision making levels. It isn't like they are not trying to get there. Do you see the significance of that?

One more thing - going back to stereotypes around disability and gender - I got written off from the start.  My brother and sister were given a private education.  I was not. Because what is the point in investing money in a deaf kid who is never going to be able to achieve anything?  

This attitude is the same one that works against girls, against black kids, against disabled kids, against kids from working class families.  It affects their life chances from the day they are born.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 14th, 2008 at 06:08:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"eg men are good at maths and women are good at arts and humanities.  That kind of assumption in my view is as dangerous"

It's quite unfair to pick that precise example, choosing to forget my complaints (that are very real) about extremely low numbers of women during all my maths/science studies and job path. We didn't want to be just between men, neither in college or uni, nor at work - it's just as boring as being all day long, for years to go, only between women :)

"It usually is not direct and deliberate discrimination but more subtle indirect or institutional discrimination and it becomes much more complex to tackle."

Of course, which is why you don't solve this with policies and laws, but education. I already gave you the example of far-right people still managing to pass a message. At some point, when ugly words are avoided, you go into process of intention, you assume evils and ill will automatically, because it fits some activist mood (or worse, feeds activist funding, or serves some political purpose).

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 07:09:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's depressing that these arguments always seem to come down to questions about who earns more and is allowed access to 'proper' jobs.

If you had one gender with a life expectancy ten years shorter than the other gender's, with three times the suicide rate, and which generally had much poorer mental and physical health support, which would you say was being discriminated against?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 07:26:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know some who will respond that the former gender might also happen to lead a more careless kind of lifestyle than the latter, so somehow it gets what it deserves :)

My whole point was precisely against this kind of statistics and generalizations, and then crafting policies to "correct" the lack of "diverseness" or "inequality", none of which is always due to unfair causes.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 07:51:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am an innocent victim of social pressure
You are not assertive enough
They get what they deserve

My point was that the equality industry has very little interest in male experience. If you have a superficial baseline like 'Men earn more' - which is only half true anyway - it ignores more complex questions about quality of life and freedom of choice.

I suspect not all men are truly happy working very long hours, or forcing themselves to be ambitious when they'd rather have a more relaxed approach to life.

There are plenty of surveys tabulating who earns what, but not so many surveys asking what defines that need to earn, and whether it's really as much of a benefit as it seems to be.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 08:25:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly, that was my point too, I just didn't want to focus on men, but speak about the principle of taking such simplistic surveys as the holy word and bringing policies based on that.

The equality industry is not really interested in Equality or fairness, I suspect. Being an industry, like any professional, they pick their favourite cases - usually blacks and women - portray them as "victims of the society", put a lot of pressure on politicians (very sensitive to media exposure and noisy victimization). In the end all this antagonizes honest people and harms minorities and true victims (sometimes women, otherwise men etc).

If I was a civil rights or inequality organisation, I would really worry about a return to traditional values, due to the aggressive and unfair way they promote - or rather impose - their merchandise.  

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 09:33:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are surveys talking about the need to earn - but there aren't pressure groups defending men ; or rather, there were, and they are called unions. They have lost a lot of their power lately.

And look at Scandinavia, where the solutions that indeed provide the possibility for men to work less - for example the compulsory male parental time off work - have been implemented. The UK's equality industry isn't the only one.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 09:48:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
People differ in many ways: in gender, talents, preferences. Geographically and ethnically too, physically and intellectually as well. People are equal in rights, not in qualities. You can't compare genders outright, nor can you compare nations. In the northern countries egalitarian moods were always quite more present than in southern Europe - I don't know whether it's ethnical, because of protestantism, or simply the cold winters :) Just like you hear far less women complaining of sexual harrassment in France than in the US (and not because they don't dare to).
Just to say that one can't just transplant solutions regardless of the differences in situations and culture, drawing overarching conclusions from some superficial correlations.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 10:36:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you have anything to prove your assertion that it is only because they dare not to ? A CDI in France, with all the guarantees it provides - and how hard it is to get -, means people are much less willing to change jobs. Also, there is no class action lawsuit, which makes it much harder to sue for sexual discrimination as has happened in the Walmart case in the US. Finally, studies in France show that a female CV is less likely to be answered.

And saying you can't transplant solution - well, such transplants have been made, and very often. Even France did end up granting women the right to work, despite people arguing until the 30's that France was different and solutions couldn't be transplanted

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 02:17:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sorry, that's not what I said.

Studies show... ok, I can accept that; did the study look into the causes too, or just inferred automatic sexism and mysoginy?
That's all I'm saying.

Are you denying that northern society is different from the French one, the american one, and the italian one? As is the culture? I can also like the flex-security, even if imported from Denmark. Will it work in France? Let's hope so. What would be the problems in France, compared to Denmark?
If we go into this, we'll debate for weeks.

The point I'm trying to make is that things must be well thought out and carefully checked before launching on state policies and laws.


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 03:29:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sorry, I forgot this one:

"It is part of the reason why women doing the same jobs as men or work of equal value are persistently paid less than their male colleagues."

Or maybe they're paid less because they don't negotiate their contract well. Less assertive guys or those less involved in their job have exactly the same problem. And before you say I minimize discrimination of women, just tell me if there is any study going beyond simply crosschecking gender with salary. Such simplistic correlations are dangerous and no serious proof of discrimination, but only of the incompetence of those who make them.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 07:17:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The UK has a long running body of research looking at pay inequality between men and women. It looks in detail not only at salaries although that is what the headlines boil down to - but it looks in detail at occupational segregation, and the gender proportions at different levels of responsibility, and across different sectors.  It uses case studies to draw comparisons between men and women doing the same jobs, or like work, or work of equal value (as set out in the legislation).  

It's fine to say that less assertive men may not negotiate higher salaries as the more aggressive and dominant ones but the way it all averages out - in some sectors in the UK there is a 40% pay gap between men and women. How do you explain that?  The average is about 14%. That is not purely down to men on the whole being better at negotiating their contracts than women are. And in fairness should an individual's contract be down to how well that individual can negotiate it?  Because then it opens up for unfair practice and favouritism for each individual, not just within the groups we've been talking about.

For all to be fair, for all people, within genders and between genders, a systematic pay scale and grading and job evaluation methodology should be used.  So people who do similar jobs with the same levels of responsibility, should be paid the same for that.  What UK research shows is that even with these 'fair' pay systems there are still numerous examples of women being paid less than men who are doing the same jobs.

An example that is a hot potato right now is with local councils - cleaning staff are much more likely to be women, the bin collectors are more likely to be men.  It's widely established that the jobs are equivalent in terms of level of responsibility and it constitutes work of equal value - yet the bin collectors get paid significant enough sums more than the cleaners. So for all to be fair, the cleaners should be being paid the same or closer to the amount the bin collectors earn.  There's no question of trying to make more men be cleaners or more women be bin collectors but where it can be shown that the work is equivalent, they should be paid fairly.

I'm not trying to make you agree with me (extremely unlikely!) but to give an understanding of how I have come to my viewpoint and how the British system has developed the way it has.

Another thing to mention is that there is evidence of a pay gap for certain ethnicities compared to white people.  This can't be explained by a difference in educational attainment.  I don't think it could be reasonable to suggest that black people are less good at negotiating their contracts than white people so it leads us to wonder what could be the cause of a pay gap between black and (some) asian groups compared to white people.   There is much less research available on that to be able to discuss it in detail.  This is where the motivation for more research comes from - is this a real issue, is there a race pay gap and if yes what could be causing that?

There is very clear evidence of a disability pay gap too, again which is not explained by a difference in educational qualifications or level of experience and nor by things like sickness absence - when all those have been accounted for, there is still an unexplained factor as to why there is a pay gap and a significant different in employment rates between disabled and non-disabled people.  I think it's worth trying to get to the bottom of, not by making assumptions one way or the other but through robust research.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 10:39:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"in some sectors in the UK there is a 40% pay gap between men and women. How do you explain that?"

No idea. Between the two of us, it might be discrimination. Otherwise, I'd look at the job profiles and at the whole process. Just by looking at the average, I can't make an anti-discrimination law.
Wide averages show men life expectation is 10 years shorter than women's (TBG). What does that tell you? Shouldn't we send the men to retirement 10 years earlier? What's the actual situation?

Bottom line: sector or industry wide average is not enough, you've got to look into it, to the root causes. Or else, you're doing statistical experiments on the society's defenceless body. Frankenstein. Or Stalin.

"And in fairness should an individual's contract be down to how well that individual can negotiate it"

I admit it can be unfair, on the other hand we should know how to "sell" ourselves, I guess... I don't know.

"a systematic pay scale and grading and job evaluation methodology should be used.  So people who do similar jobs with the same levels of responsibility, should be paid the same for that"

Now you're speaking my language - just when I was thinking it extremely unlikely! :)
It looks like my previous proposition for a standardised CV. (unapplicable, that is :P )

"There's no question of trying to make more men be cleaners or more women be bin collectors but where it can be shown that the work is equivalent, they should be paid fairly"

I totally agree on principle (SEE!!! :) ). About this precise case: I'm wondering, maybe bin collecting is considered much more physical a job?... I'm not trying to excuse the system.

"a pay gap for certain ethnicities compared to white people"

Personally I know cases where immigrants hesitated to ask for standard market salaries. But it's hard to make a process of intention for that. Salary is negotiated, not imposed by the state. So one is offering, the other accepting, or the other way around. Now maybe some companies systematically propose inferior salaries to non-whites. Maybe they have reasons (I'd like to hear them), or just taking advantage. The others should not accept. I know it's easy to say - just the case with women. Employment market is extremely delicate, mixing arbitrare criteria with economic ones with human ones.

In any case, it doesn't work as easily as you expressed it in the statement I originally replied to:

"With recruitment the monitoring forms gives an idea of the numbers of people from different groups who apply and who get appointed in an organisation.  So it helps to highlight whether they are getting no applications from ethnic minorities or if they get a high number of applications from women but no women are getting appointed. Therefore the organisation needs to make changes to be more inclusive or to address any causes for there being a poor diversity of applicants or appointees."

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, you probably simplified the process.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 04:01:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ValentinD:
Personally I know cases where immigrants hesitated to ask for standard market salaries.

I'm not talking about migrant workers - that is a separate issue.  I'm talking about British black/asian people.  In the same way that a woman doing the same job as a male colleague on apparently the same pay scale and with pretty much the same job spec can prove she is being paid less, there are examples of that between black and white people.

Migrant workers typically take the low paid and low skilled jobs because it is still better money than they were getting at home.  Unfortunately language barriers and lack of awareness about rights means that they are a group that is especially vulnerable to exploitation, often not being paid the minimum wage and working long hours under terrible conditions - this is largely because they are being threatened with dismissal if they don't agree to this and they cannot afford it - especially if their accommodation is tied in with the job.

The vulnerable workers group also overwhelmingly includes women who get placed in the same situation and not knowing their rights, they put up with terrible conditions and pay because they can't afford to complain and lose their jobs.

See the Vulnerable Workers Report for more.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 12th, 2008 at 04:41:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've got very little to add to this. Coming to the aid of vulnerable groups is a truly noble and justified cause. These groups by definition include people who are weaker from one reason or another - women, immigrants, people from bad neighbourhoods. I also agree that women in particular were in large majority suffocated by what it was a mostly men's society in terms of political and economical power. The generalization of women education has had fantastic results in the evolution of their condition.

But when it comes to laws, I don't think categories or category-biased laws are the right way (be it by gender, race, origin, or other criteria). IMO the way France treats citizens uniformly concerning race and origin is a better method, which must be doubled by even stronger efforts on education and support of the vulnerable individuals.
And my dream is to see this kind of moderation, punishing proven discrimination, not inferred by statistics, and a general preoccupation for fairness to all associations active in this effort.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Thu Nov 13th, 2008 at 03:56:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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