The New York Times: We Have to Change How Many Hours You Can Work So Women Can Earn More Than Men

This piece in the New York Times is unusual in that it seems to acknowledge that the wage gap between men and women, at least in elite professions, has to do with women taking more time off from work to be with kids.

Just as more women earned degrees, the jobs that require those degrees started paying disproportionately more to people with round-the-clock availability. At the same time, more highly educated women began to marry men with similar educations, and to have children. But parents can be on call at work only if someone is on call at home. Usually, that person is the mother.

This is not about educated women opting out of work (they are the least likely to stop working after having children, even if they move to less demanding jobs). It’s about how the nature of work has changed in ways that push couples who have equal career potential to take on unequal roles.

“Because of rising inequality, if you put in the extra hours, if you’re around for the Sunday evening discussion, you’ll get a lot more,” said Claudia Goldin, an economist at Harvard who is writing a book on the topic. To maximize the family’s income but still keep the children alive, it’s logical for one parent to take an intensive job and the other to take a less demanding one, she said. “It just so happens that in most couples, if there’s a woman and a man, the woman takes the back seat.”

Of course, there are a number of reasons for this that the New York Times, being the New York Times, doesn’t discuss at all.

For one thing, women hate to “marry down.” So, a high powered female CEO isn’t going to marry a guy in a menial job who could conceivably stay home with the kids because she thinks guys like that are beneath her.  Women like that almost always pick a guy that at least has a comparable job & earning potential. So, when a baby comes along, something has to give.