Oh, how I missed The Daily Pennsylvanian. Very few publications have writers that can make me shout obscenities in a crowded coffee shop. Lara Seligman’s column (“Femme but not quite fatale,” 7/29) made me do just that.
Seligman argued a single, simple point: Because women are smarter than men, women should be paid more. I agree that smarter people should be paid more. After all, I’m a pretentious prick with an Ivy League degree. But I was troubled by the glib acceptance of the validity of this argument’s premise, that “women are smarter than men.” Call me a chauvinist, but that statement struck me as sexist. Don’t believe me? Inverse it, and pretend it’s 1970: “Men are smarter than women.” Sorta makes you cringe, right?
Since those salad days of feminism, we’ve realized that societal norms, not biological differences, caused many of the disparities between male and female educational achievement. We stopped believing that girls couldn’t do math. We invited them to show their competitive side in sports. We realized that not every little girl dreams of being a housewife -- indeed, very few of them do.
The response has been wonderful, to a point. Seligman points out that girls are outperforming boys in school. Hell, she undersells her point by only noting that girls are scoring better in verbal tests and make up 65 percent of the National Honor Society. She could have said that girls received 57 percent of the bachelors degrees granted in 2008, according to the Department of Education. They snagged 59 percent of the graduate degrees, too. More importantly, these gender gaps are growing.
Why are girls going to college in such greater numbers than boys? It can’t be to find a husband anymore. Undoubtedly, the fact that girls graduate from high school in greater numbers contributes -- I understand it’s tough to get into college without at least a GED.
More likely, our outrageously successful efforts in erasing the old educational achievement gender gap have overshot the mark. Once overly focused on males, today’s teaching tactics are ill-suited for boys. Educators need to examine what’s causing this gap and solve it. There are both biological and sociological issues at work here, but we cannot accept that “women are smarter than men.”
There are biological differences between the genders. Guys (in the aggregate) will always be more aggressive and competitive than their more cooperative counterparts. The biological differences between the genders explodes around the same time hormones explode, too. Single sex class rooms led by teachers who can tailor their teaching methods to each gender will help both boys and girls learn more.
Now, I accept that there are more educated women than men in my generation. Like most inequalities, this is a sad one with seriously deleterious social ramifications. Crime rates are directly correlated to education achievement levels and employment levels. Men are already more disposed to committing crime than women: In 2009, 92 percent of prisoners were male, the Department of Justice reported. Fewer guys graduating means way more crime. After all, idle hands are the devil’s playthings. Since feminists are purportedly concerned about domestic violence, they should be leading the charge to correct this root cause of abuse and absentee fathers.
And, for what it’s worth, women will make more money then men, just give it time. Some labor economists like Diana Furchtgott-Roth argue that gender pay equity is here already, once you compensate for various career choices and hours spent working. Given the huge disparity now emerging in educational achievement, an equally large wage gap will come along soon enough.
Finally, comparing starting salary does nothing. A gender gap in average starting salaries is probably caused by more Penn alumnae eschewing higher paying jobs for jobs with better work environments, which is a trade off I can understand. But if two Penn grads get the same job at the same company, they will get the same salary, regardless of gender. Penn women don’t need to “demand” higher wages. They just need to pick higher-paying jobs.
Jim Saksa is a 2008 College alumnus and former Daily Pennsylvanian columnist. He is entering his third year at the Georgetown University Law Center. While working at Third Way last summer, he authored memos on educational reform. His e-mail address is email@example.com.Comments powered by Disqus
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