Saturday, March 07, 2009

'Wingnut' Revisited: RebelMom Asks A Good Question

Earlier this week, I posted a bit about a Missouri legislator who wanted to give at-home moms -- but not dads -- money for school, arguing that women are nuturers and should therefore get a leg up. It's a silly argument, grounded in outdated and discredited notions of what men do versus what women do.

But RebelMom had a question:
Curious, RebelDad -- would your stance change if she said the bill was for women only because of the strong statistics showing maternal barriers to paid workforce re-entry as well as the mommy wage gap, which endures throughout mothers' careers? That's the harder question ...

(BTW, A first year law student could see that her bill based on her support is unconstitutional.)
My initial reaction was one of support: if this is about remedying discrimination against moms and boosting their ability to re-enter the workforce without paying an undue penalty for their time doing the childrearing, I'm all for it. And the data is pretty compelling that moms take a huge hit when they leave their career for kids. 

But the more I thought about it, the more I worried that this isn't airtight. Though the data isn't as robust, the anecdotal evidence is that at-home dads re-entering the workforce have a tough time, too. I guess the question is whether the wage gap is due more to gender or more to caretaking status. If's a question of gender (and therefore sexism), I'm all for remedying the problem with a gender-specific program. But if it's about society looking askance at at-home parents, generally, then my objections still stand ...


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