Progressive. Queer. Feminist. Opinionated.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

It's sexy to stay at home!

I'm sure a lot of you heard about The New York Time's article that suggests many female Ivy League graduates plan to give up their careers and become housewives (ah, and what a loaded word that is!) Here's the article, in case you don't know about it, and use Bug Me Not if you're not registered, although I do recommend registering.

Anyway, this is a pretty controversial piece.

"My mother's always told me you can't be the best career woman and the best mother at the same time," Ms. Liu [the first subject in this study] said matter-of-factly. "You always have to choose one over the other."

At Yale and other top colleges, women are being groomed to take their place in an ever more diverse professional elite. It is almost taken for granted that, just as they make up half the students at these institutions, they will move into leadership roles on an equal basis with their male classmates.

There is just one problem with this scenario: many of these women say that is not what they want.

And here's a line that's very interesting to me:

"At the height of the women's movement and shortly thereafter, women were much more firm in their expectation that they could somehow combine full-time work with child rearing," said Cynthia E. Russett, a professor of American history who has taught at Yale since 1967. "The women today are, in effect, turning realistic."

Excuse me? For the moment, I'll avoid the entire discussion that this line could open: what are the historical and social reasons that led to women staying home, how oppressive is idea, why is unrealistic for a woman to want to be a successful person in her job pursuits, etc.

Oh, and here's another great line:

Sarah Currie, a senior at Harvard, said many of the men in her American Family class last fall approved of women's plans to stay home with their children.

"A lot of the guys were like, 'I think that's really great,' " Ms. Currie said. "One of the guys was like, 'I think that's sexy.' Staying at home with your children isn't as polarizing of an issue as I envision it is for women who are in their 30's now."

Oh, yes. I understand now. It's sexy.

Anyway, I've already digressed. Allow me to return to the point of this post.

It appears that Louise Story, the writer of this article, conducted a very faulty survey to get the results that she did. Here's the information about her faulty methods. As the article says,

Those who did not reply probably included some who were too busy or uninterested to spend the time to fill out the lengthy questionnaire. It definitely included people like Emily Holleman, a current sophomore who says she declined to fill out the survey because she thought it was flawed. "I felt that it was very badly phrased and strongly suggested that ALL women at Yale planned to a) get married and b) have kids. It also assumed that all women at Yale were straight," she told Gelf in an email. "It was relatively clear to me and several of my friends that she was either unable to construct a suitable survey or had already decided what answers she wanted to receive and constructed her survey based on what questions would induce these responses." (Gelf emailed Story to ask about the survey but haven't heard back from her yet. When we do, we'll post an update.)

The article also provides the survey questions. You be the judge. Do these questions seem unbiased and professional to you?

When you have children, do you plan to stay at home with them or do you plan to continue working? Why?

At what age do you think you’ll have kids? How many kids do you want?

How do you think college-age men at Yale feel about whether wives should stay at home with their kids?

I call bullshit. This isn't a study. The use of the word "when" is especially bothersome for me.

What a load of horse shit.


Anonymous C9 said...

Reminds me of when I used to play MASH as a kid. "How many kids." "Zero." "You can't put zero for all of them." "How about negative numbers?"

The hetero-breeding bias pisses me off to no end. The undergrads I teach (at a State school) are getting more and more conservative, and the ones that would have fit in at BMC are percieved as total freaks of nature. It's more than a bit disturbing.

On another note, it angers me because these people are taking resources (knowledge, grant money) and, IMO, pissing it away. Do some Family Studies stuff at a state or a community college if you must, but get out of the highly competitive stuff if you're not going to make anything of it yourself.

9:56 PM

Anonymous Johnicholas said...

If it is sexy, as your post suggests, might these women be lying?

Or to put it another way, might they be performing heterosexuality?

There are examples of elections where race was an issue (David Duke? someone else) where the poll was substantially different from the vote share. Basically people lied to pollsters about how they would vote because they didn't want to look racist.

10:17 AM

Anonymous thelatinist said...

Hee. It's push polling.

9:02 PM

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2:56 AM


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