A Long Road: The Quest for Career and Family

Date: 

Thursday, February 7, 2019, 11:45am to 1:00pm

Location: 

Ellwood Democracy Lab, Rubenstein 414

Claudia Goldin, Henry Lee Professor of Economics, Harvard University  

"In 1963, Betty Friedan wrote about college-educated women who were frustrated as stay-at-home moms, noting that their problem “has no name.” Today, a half-century later, female college graduates are largely on career tracks, but their earnings and promotions—relative to those of the men they graduated with—make them look like they’ve been sideswiped. According to many, their problem goes by many names and has various solutions. We should coach women to be more competitive and train them to negotiate better. We need to expose managers’ implicit bias. The government should impose gender-parity mandates on corporate boards and enforce an equal-pay-for-equal-work doctrine.

Although the public and private discourse has brought important issues and concerns to light, we’re all guilty of forgetting that the problem is enormous in scale and that it has a history. A single company slapped on the wrist, one more woman who makes it to the board room, a few progressive tech leaders who go on paternity leave—such solutions are the economic equivalent of tossing a band-aid to someone with cancer. They haven’t worked to erase the differences in the gender pay gap. They will never provide a complete solution to the twin problems of gender inequality and couple inequity because they treat the symptoms and not the disease. We must unlearn our many names for the problem and travel the long road to see it for what it is."

An excerpt from a forthcoming publication by Claudia Goldin.