Category: gender inequality and care

Revaluation not Devaluation

I  invoke a billionaire investor to call your attention to a particularly important divergence between value and price–the low wages of care.

In a recent foray to the meetings of the American Sociological Association in New York City, organized by President Mary Romero, I put together a powerpoint presentation linking the devaluation of care work to the weak bargaining power of care workers, in turn related to the specific characteristics of care work.

Sociologists tend to emphasize the highly-gendered cultural devaluation of care, along with the vulnerability of the low-wage workers (including many immigrants and people of color) who provide it. I agree these factors are important, but I think they need to be situated in a larger analysis of institutional mechanisms that affect the bargaining power of all workers. For one thing, such an analysis could help build sympathies, and perhaps even alliances, between relatively high-wage care workers such as teachers and nurses, and others, such as child care and elder care workers.




How to Make Nice

I had every reason to obey this sign, posted in the cafe where I sought refuge while my car underwent safety-recall repairs. I did not want to go away. While putting on my best smile, I started thinking about a session I attended at the Allied Social Science Meetings earlier in the month,  where Erin Giffin gave a terrific presentation on… Read more →

Professional Climate Change

Things have been heating up, gender-wise, in the economics profession. Last year, a UC Berkeley undergraduate named Alice Wu applied tools of text mining and machine learning to develop an econometric analysis of the language used on a website known as Economic Job Market Rumors. The results offered striking evidence of some very unpleasant–and highly sexualized–gender stereotyping. Explicit complaints of sexual harassment… Read more →

Care Work, Animated

Invited by Professor Smita Ramnarain, once a student of mine here at UMass, I agreed to participate in an Honors Colloquium at the University of Rhode Island last October. I really enjoyed my visit, and had great exchanges with everyone I came in contact with there. The students taking Smita’s course on Race, Class, and Gender were, not surprisingly, especially engaged,… Read more →

Heroine of the Noisy Revolution

Claudia Goldin famously described the dramatic movement of women into paid employment over the course of the twentieth century as a “quiet” revolution of cumulative labor supply decisions. But this revolution had its noisy moments, and its noisy advocates, among them the magnificently noisy Barbara Bergmann. Barbara never denied the relevance of individual choice. But she emphasized the institutional structures… Read more →

The Motherhood Penalty

Most women know that having a child is costly and leaves them vulnerable to poverty. But most probably don’t know how these costs and risks actually measure up, especially considering important differences across women and their families. Even as you read this, highly-skilled researchers are figuring out how to “do the numbers.” About ten years ago, a new genre of… Read more →