Category: gender inequality and care

Manifold Exploitations

Most of the Left continues to rely—implicitly or explicitly–on an outdated definition of exploitation that distinguishes “economic” differences based on class from “social” or “identity-based” differences based on race/ethnicity, gender, citizenship and other dimensions of socially-assigned group membership. From this perspective, unpaid care work can be considered unequal, unfair, or unfortunate, but it can’t be considered exploitative, because it doesn’t… Read more →

The Covid-19 Care Penalty

In the U.S., as elsewhere, essential workers have been rightly praised for their willingness to take on additional risk and stress. Their commitment to helping patients, students, and customers face-to-face went beyond the ordinary requirements of earning a paycheck. Yet some essential workers faced more serious risks of infection than others, and differences in pay among them were also significant.… Read more →

Pinko Economics

How colors mysteriously attain political significance. Pinko has a kind of vintage glow. Time magazine used it in 1925 as a snappy way of altering the term “pink,” long used to imply that leftist tendencies were effeminate, as in “parlor pinks,” a term the Wall Street Journal included in a list of derogatory adjectives applied to progressive politicians:  “visionaries, ne’er… Read more →

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 →