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"'whether a domestic traditionalist can also be an organizational egalitarian?' The answer we posit is 'no.'"
July 5, 2012 2:32 PM   Subscribe

Researchers found [.pdf], after a series of four studies that "husbands embedded in traditional and neo-traditional marriages (relative to husbands embedded in modern ones) exhibit attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that undermine the role of women in the workplace." The potential resistors focused on are husbands embedded in marriages that structurally mirror the 1950s ideal American family portrayed in the “Adventures of Ozzzie and Harriet” sitcom.

"We found that employed husbands in traditional marriages, compared to those in modern marriages, tend to (a) view the presence of women in the workplace unfavorably, (b) perceive that organizations with higher numbers of female employees are operating less smoothly, (c) find organizations with female leaders as relatively unattractive, and (d) deny, more frequently, qualified female employees opportunities for promotion."

"we believe it is important to emphasize the nature of the attitudes and beliefs (and, perhaps even behaviors) that have been discussed. Ample theorizing and data indicate that the gender attitudes and behaviors we are concerned with can be thought of as explicit (conscious) or implicit (unconscious). Thus, the husbands we have posited to occupy a pocket of resistance should not necessarily be thought of as cold-hearted, calculated sexists; rather, it is perhaps more the case that they are unaware of their gender biases. "

Reactions from The Atlantic Monthly, Jezebel and the Eagle Forum.
posted by ambrosia (56 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Definitions:

employed husbands embedded in traditional (wife not employed) and neo-traditional (wife employed part-time) marriages compared to those embedded in more modern ones (wife employed full-time) are more likely to exhibit attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors harmful to women in the workplace
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:37 PM on July 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


Of course I clicked the link to the Eagle Forum.

The article does not go so far as to advocate workplace discrimination against men in traditional marriages. The obvious implication is that feminists will have to find some other way to destroy traditional marriage in order to achieve the Gender Revolution that they seek.

Aw man, now I gotta find *another* way to destroy the traditional family? But I'm already so busy, and we finalized the last round of plans just a couple of months ago!

Fine. Who wants to be chair of the committee this time?
posted by rtha at 2:38 PM on July 5, 2012 [30 favorites]


Can I apply?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:39 PM on July 5, 2012


"You've been noticed, Comrade."
posted by resurrexit at 2:41 PM on July 5, 2012


Aw man, now I gotta find *another* way to destroy the traditional family? But I'm already so busy, and we finalized the last round of plans just a couple of months ago!

The Homosexual Agenda has it scheduled for destruction by January. And the Homosexual Status Report still has it color-coded as "on target."

Jeez, don't you people coordinate?
posted by PlusDistance at 2:43 PM on July 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


so... people are comfortable with what they are used to, when what they are used to benefits them?
posted by b1tr0t at 2:52 PM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is saying that men who think women shouldn't work are likely to be married to women who don't work. Why is this surprising?
posted by Dojie at 2:52 PM on July 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


No, it's saying that men who are married to women who don't work, or who work part time, think women shouldn't work full time. There's a difference.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:53 PM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


This study is garbage. A statistical outlier and a headline grabbing press release is not science.
posted by humanfont at 2:56 PM on July 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is saying that men who think women shouldn't work are likely to be married to women who don't work. Why is this surprising?

It also suggests that when Trad dudes are called upon to aske whether J. Random Dude or J. Random Chick should get a cartain promotion, they'll be biased toward picking J. Random Dude, because of their belief that J.R. Dude is building a long-term career while J.R.Chick is marking time till she can procreate and quit. Since that's the lifestyle they're living and are down with.

What one could reasonably do about this is left as an exercise for the reader. And a boon for desk repairmen, who will have to fix all the head-shaped dents.
posted by Diablevert at 2:58 PM on July 5, 2012 [12 favorites]


No, it's saying that men who are married to women who don't work, or who work part time, think women shouldn't work full time. There's a difference.

Actually, it's saying that men who are married to women who don't work, or who work part time are shitty to women who work full time. There's a HUGE difference.
posted by explosion at 2:59 PM on July 5, 2012 [12 favorites]


as a husband in a "traditional marriage", i find this whole thing disheartening. i don't *keep* my wife from working, i don't think that she's any less capable than i am, and i don't think that the women i encounter in my work day are any less competent than the men i work with. usually exactly the opposite, in fact, since i work in tech-focused workplaces and see the women in these environments step up and prove themselves, day after day, because of the bs that these types of men heap on them constantly.

you want to know who's a lazy sonofabitch? the gossip-mongering "gentlemen" who have so little regard for the work we're trying to do that they can take the time for debasing their coworkers due to their own insecruity. you know who leads teams exceptionally poorly? the manager who engages in the same.

i'm not trying to be all "rah! rah! ladies!" here, but honestly it boils down to "stupid and ignorant people are stupid and ignorant" every single time and the situations described in this post are no different. i think it's a shame that the marriage details are a signpost for general feelings on the place of women in the workplace, but i think it has less to do with how they view marriage and more to do with how they view women.
posted by radiosilents at 3:03 PM on July 5, 2012 [16 favorites]


So the key thing I think is that the world seems to be partly composed of stupid and ignorant people. What should be done about this?
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:07 PM on July 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


"No, it's saying that men who are married to women who don't work, or who work part time, think women shouldn't work full time. There's a difference."

Yes, but I'm a bit baffled why anyone would be even the tiniest bit surprised at this. The only thing I can imagine is that a lot of the people surprised by this are people in certain subcultures where women often don't work full-time. In that context, it might be possible to believe (because there's a psychological incentive to believe) that there's not a robust relationship between these things. But of course there is.

As the Jezebel writer points out, all things being equal of course being a stay-at-home parent or whatever should be as much a valid choice as anything else for women ("all things being equal" in my book would be a society that makes such a choice equally possible for men and women) but, alas, we do not live in a society where all things are equal. We live in a society where patriarchal gender roles and marriage arrangements are still prevalent and until this is not the case, then such traditional marriage arrangements will function partly as reification of patriarchal values, even when such values are not held by the individual people in the marriage.

And of course for many of the men in traditional or neo-traditional marriages, even when they're not deliberately or self-consciously sexist, the difference in the social status between themselves and their wives, and however that plays out within their own marriages and psychologies, will be reflected to some degree in how they think of, and treat, the women they work with.

The Jezebel writer talks about "benevolent sexism" which surprised me, really, because the notion of protecting and loving women as mothers is at the core of patriarchy and it's not really in any sense "benevolent", it's in some deep sense very dehumanizing. But, yes, a lot of men in traditional marriages have this kind of relationship to sexism — they will see working women as women to be, at best, indulged, like they're children playacting. And they treat their coworkers in accordance. They treat their wives in accordance with this paternalism.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:09 PM on July 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


> "One of the reasons why there aren't as many women at the top is perhaps men at the top tend to
> be benevolent sexists who tend to see women as people who should be shielded from danger and
> risks," says Desai. "They are probably thinking of women as fragile beings who need to be taken
> care of, that want to stay at home and raise kids and don't want to take risks and move to the top."
>
> Desai notes that so many of the attitudes her work unveils are of an "unconscious nature,"
> which makes beating them back particularly difficult. She says male leaders may think they are
> elevating women, not stifling them.

Or alternatively there aren't as many women at the top because perhaps women just aren't scary enough as competitors and rivals, and men already at the top probably don't feel the same need to placate them and buy them off with the big salaries and corner offices on mahogany row, while also keeping their knife hands safely in view at all times. This attitude would of course be of an unconscious nature.

Or, as Boromir said, "All that lies north of Rohan is now to us so far away that (with enough maybe-words) fancy can wander freely there."
posted by jfuller at 3:09 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, it's saying that men who are married to women who don't work, or who work part time, think women shouldn't work full time. There's a difference.
Is there?

Call the number of "modern" husbands who have sexist workplace attitudes "a", call the number of modern husbands with feminist attitudes "b", call the number of "traditional or neo-traditional" husbands with sexist attitudes "c", and call the number of traditional/neo-traditional husbands with feminist attitudes "d".

Then saying "sexist husbands are more likely to be in traditional or neo-traditional marriages" translates into math as "c/a > d/b". Saying "traditional or neo-traditional husbands are more likely to be sexist" translates into math as "c/d > a/b". These are all positive numbers, so just multiply the second inequality by d/a and you have the first inequality.
posted by roystgnr at 3:14 PM on July 5, 2012


No, it's saying that men who are married to women who don't work, or who work part time, think women shouldn't work full time. There's a difference.

Actually, it's saying that men who are married to women who don't work, or who work part time are shitty to women who work full time. There's a HUGE difference.


Yes, because those men marry women who don't work. Not seeing any difference at all.

From the study:

We found that employed husbands in traditional marriages, compared to those in modern marriages, tend to (a) view the presence of women in the workplace unfavorably, (b) perceive that organizations with higher numbers of female employees are operating less smoothly, (c) find organizations with female leaders as relatively unattractive, and (d) deny, more frequently, qualified female employees opportunities for promotion.

In other words, men with stay at home wives tend to think women should stay at home and act accordingly. I seriously don't understand why this is news. Did no one realize there are men who discriminate against women in the workplace? Is it not obvious that those men aren't likely to be married to women with careers? Granted, I just scanned the pdf & didn't read it thoroughly, but this all seems pretty solidly in 'no duh!' territory to me.
posted by Dojie at 3:35 PM on July 5, 2012


.
posted by caclwmr4 at 3:35 PM on July 5, 2012


Dojie: “Yes, because those men marry women who don't work. Not seeing any difference at all.”

I'm not sure we can say that the sequence was that way, can we? I mean: out of all the men who have wives who are not currently working, there must be some who married working women who subsequently quit, right? And even if their wives have never worked, there must be a lot of variation in situations: women who wanted to work, but were disallowed, for many possible reasons (environmental factors, pregnancy, domestic strife, etc); women who were offered the chance to work, but chose not to, for a variety of reasons (they simply prefer being in the home, they believe women shouldn't work outside the home, etc); etc. So it seems a bit unwarranted to assume that men whose wives don't work are men whose wives were not working when the marriage occurred, or that they are men whose wives otherwise would not work by disposition.

I don't know. I just think there are a lot of variables here.
posted by koeselitz at 4:02 PM on July 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


that's my traditional husband up there. i worked my tits off for 12 years solid, mostly working more than full time and often supporting my male partners. i'm with koeselitz, this is a subject with a lot of variables. bad science is still bad science even if it conforms to your world view.
posted by nadawi at 4:08 PM on July 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


There are a lot of variables involved, I agree.

I think that there's the direct relationship that is being discussed. But I also think there's numerous other indirect relationships that don't require an explicitly sexist man marrying a woman who doesn't work or who quits working. That's why I wrote about how such an arrangement, even when the people in the marriage aren't sexist, exists within a cultural context that sees such an arrangement in a certain light and how that may reflect back on how the people in that arrangement see themselves and see others. And also in how such an arrangement represents to the patriarchal culture an affirmation of its values, even when the individual participants may explicitly reject the patriarchy. It's complicated and has a lot of very difficult problems that are hard to untangle and know how to deal with.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:18 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


We are a product of our environment, and our environment is a product of who we are. So I suspect it cuts both ways:

1) (neo-)traditional marriages -> attitudes, beliefs, behaviours
2) attitudes, beliefs, behaviours -> (neo-)traditional marriages

In the case of 1), it's social conditioning that has a transformative effect. It cannot be denied that culture shapes people. In the case of 2), it's a preference that guides behaviour. It also cannot be denied that beliefs/attitudes shape behaviour. So what we have is a kind of feedback loop.

Some people are probably able to resist the pathway in 1), but I suspect that is not the norm. The average person, if they're not already aligned with the values of a (neo-)traditional marriage, but are in that kind of marriage, will probably witness changes over time in that direction.
posted by tybeet at 4:19 PM on July 5, 2012


I can think of people to whom it would be news, since they're politically progressive and very invested in the idea that they can have a "traditional"-style marriage without it affecting their beliefs about men's and women's roles in society.

Thus, the husbands we have posited to occupy a pocket of resistance should not necessarily be thought of as cold-hearted, calculated sexists; rather, it is perhaps more the case that they are unaware of their gender biases.

In other words, it's possible that these people are suffering unconscious bias that experience corrects better than theory does. This turned out to be Jezebel's point, too, once I clicked the link. I have no great faith in Jezebel's reporting so maybe we are both wrong here.

Yes, because those men marry women who don't work.

I mean, you're deciding this is the reason, but it doesn't have to be the case. It's possible that a man could marry a woman with a full-time job and still treat female coworkers horribly due to ingrained prejudice, or that men are married to women who don't work but in our modern times, it doesn't make a huge difference, and that discrimination against women is distributed evenly throughout men regardless of their wife's employment. Men who think women are incompetent won't necessarily marry a woman who doesn't work-- they might need a second income, or they might enjoy the income/"allow" her to work but be quite patronizing in their attitude about female employees. Not so much the case, according to this study?

I recall their being a study about how citizens of countries with female heads of state had significantly better opinions about women on the whole, as well. It's actually kind of heartening, IMO.
posted by stoneandstar at 4:19 PM on July 5, 2012


The average person, if they're not already aligned with the values of a (neo-)traditional marriage, but are in that kind of marriage, will probably witness changes over time in that direction.

i strongly disagree. being in a "traditional" marriage in no way, shape, or form predicts the belief that women are inferior or valueless. if a person genuinely believes that a housewife or a stay-at-home mom works less than an office drone, that's a larger problem than the inherent misogyny in that person.

a person, when entering into an arragement described above as a "traditional marriage", will years later be in the same place they were in before that marriage began. if they were ignorant misogynists going in, they will be coming out of it, too. the act of being half of a partnership that has chosen to bear their cumulative load in whatever way they feel is best has absolutely nothing to do with developing the belief that women are inferior and it's absurd to posit that.
posted by radiosilents at 4:28 PM on July 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


to be clear : peoples' opinions can change over time, i grant, but the simple act of being in a particular type of marriage, whichever it is, is not the deciding factor there. changing your beliefs is a thing that happens, but almost never by simply existing. it takes consideration and effort.
posted by radiosilents at 4:34 PM on July 5, 2012


I completely agree that there are a lot of variables. I have four variables running around my house right now that keep me in a "traditional marriage" myself. I'm not by any stretch saying that all sexist men have stay at home wives or that no men with working wives are sexist. But the paper is talking about tendencies, and it seems completely obvious to me that men who believe women shouldn't work tend to be married to women who don't work.

And reading further in the pdf, I see my point made for me:

We acknowledge that our analysis has its fair share of limitations. First and foremost, is the concern that men may be self-selecting simultaneously into traditional marriage structures and non-egalitarian attitudes and behaviors towards women in the workplace. Because we could not randomly assign men to marriage structures, nor could we directly observe their actions via any field studies, we need to exercise some caution in interpreting our results. While our results are consistent with the proposition that being in modern marriages, as opposed to traditional marriages, activates more egalitarian values in male employees, we do not have any longitudinal data to support this hypothesis.

In other words, they don't have any evidence that having a non-working wife impacts men's attitudes toward women rather than the other way around. Hardly the "social Molotov cocktail wrapped in academic brown paper" that the Atlantic claims it is.
posted by Dojie at 4:38 PM on July 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


First, you will notice I did not say anything about inferiority or value of women. I merely said you will exhibit the beliefs of the environmental structure you inhabit. If that environment places women in a position of sub-ordination, then the average person in that environment will come to believe that that is how it should be, because that is how they've been conditioned.

Second, you're greatly underestimating the power of environment and exposure on shaping beliefs. This is typical, as most people like to believe that humans are more rational than they actually are, and have more willpower than they actually do.
posted by tybeet at 4:38 PM on July 5, 2012


i strongly disagree.

You and nadawi are taking this personally when you should note the careful qualification "average person" (and the prior qualification that some people will resist the social messaging).

It's not really those who are very aware and self-aware about sexism and patriarchy and all that who are going to be examples of the correlation we're discussing. Indeed, they're possibly the ones most likely to resist these influences (though, I do think you have to deal with what living that lifestyle means in terms of what it represents to other people). It's more the people who are nominally not sexist and are egalitarian but not very aware and self-aware about these issues who would likely be subject to the kind of osmotic social pressure that tybeet describes.

Also, I think that if you suddenly inverted your arrangement, and you didn't work while your partner did, you'd find that a bunch of things you weren't aware of would be exposed. Certainly with regard to family and friends and the working partner's coworkers, but possibly even in the case of how you regard yourselves and your arrangement.

The thing about culturally-endorsed, status-quo social arrangements is that by their nature it's almost impossible to participate in them in a fully self-aware and self-directed manner. Like yourself, I strongly believe that some things (such as marriage itself) which are traditional and sanctioned by the majority culture have inherent value and/or are entirely valid choices on their own terms. Even so, that these traditional institutions and arrangements come with a lot of associated negative baggage is something that you can't just deny and you have to attempt to deal with it. That baggage exists. It influences you, unfortunately.

But that's pretty much true simply about living in society, anyway.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:41 PM on July 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


tybeet - but in order for your hypothesis to be true, one must believe that being a housewife or stay-at-home mom is an inferior position. otherwise you would not "end up" in that position after time.

what i'm saying is that believing that is not a factor in the dynamics of marriage, regardless of the type of marriage. full stop.

"the beliefs of the environmental structure you inhabit" are something you're projecting, currently. you do not need to believe that women are inferior to be in a traditional marriage, and a traditional marriage is not the vehicle by which one will come to believe women are inferior.
posted by radiosilents at 4:42 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


i'm not really "taking it personally" so much as thinking this is bunk with a misguided premise.
posted by radiosilents at 4:44 PM on July 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


"but in order for your hypothesis to be true, one must believe that being a housewife or stay-at-home mom is an inferior position."

No, not really. It's called a power dynamic, and every relationship, situation, etc that we participate in has it. Women who are placed in a position of relative powerlessness, are structurally inferior, and this is sufficient to influence attitudes.
posted by tybeet at 4:45 PM on July 5, 2012


ok tybeet, this is all i'll say about that and then i'll walk away and let you all get back to your discussion - being a housewife or stay-at-home mom is not "a position of relative powerlessness" in and of itself. you're putting that baggage on it; it's not inherently there as a result of the marriage itself.
posted by radiosilents at 4:49 PM on July 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


There are different kinds of power, yes. A stay at home mom, for example, is low in public power, and high in private power. This is why you would expect men who come from traditional marriages to perceive women as inferior in context of public roles, like the role of a working woman.
posted by tybeet at 4:54 PM on July 5, 2012


"i'm not really 'taking it personally' so much as thinking this is bunk with a misguided premise."

So your argument is that, to the degree to which there's a causal relationship, it goes only in the direction of male sexists preferring traditional marriages and therefore they're also sexist at work, and not that some people who are not nominally sexist are influenced in their attitudes by conforming to a social norm that is associated with sexist beliefs?

Because that's just as simplistic as the strawman you're criticizing.

This is like asserting that no one who moves to, say, Lubbock, Texas, and isn't already conservative, and who moves there for reasons independent of the area's conservatism, will become more conservative over time.

Which is obviously false.

Of course because some of those people will become more conservative and far fewer will become less conservative, then in aggregate the entire class can rightly be described as becoming more conservative as a result of their move to that area.

Again, not all of them. A small number of those who weren't very politically aware will become less conservative as a negative reaction. But a larger number will become more conservative as a positive reaction. And a very small number who were politically aware will remain either as non-conservative as they previously were, or become even more liberal. But they will be swamped by the greater movement in the opposite direction.

Anticipating some of your objections, I'll argue that that's a better example than you probably think it is. Because certain kinds of social arrangements strongly correlate to the kind of subculture one participates within. A traditional or neo-traditional marriage requires a certain set of socioeconomic conditions that are increasingly rare in this country and that socioeconomic context corresponds to a subcultural context with a lot of associated values.

For example, married couples with children who live in the suburbs can have any kind of politics, of course. But the socioeconomic prerequisites for being in that category push toward a particular set of cultural values that any such family lives among. It's not easy having a contrary set of values. It's never easy having a minority set of values in a majority culture. There's always pressure to conform.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:08 PM on July 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


if a person genuinely believes that a housewife or a stay-at-home mom works less than an office drone, that's a larger problem than the inherent misogyny in that person.

...

you do not need to believe that women are inferior to be in a traditional marriage, and a traditional marriage is not the vehicle by which one will come to believe women are inferior.


Why don't we say instead that men in traditional marriages (on average -- we all know that there are exceptions) are more likely than other men to believe that women are less capable of the kind of work required for an "office drone" job. I'm sure they believe that women's role in the home is in no way inferior. But for a woman who does in fact want to work in an office, these attitudes will place her in an inferior position at work. If I am a French translator, and my co-workers or superiors believe that I would really be better suited to chemical engineering, based on my demographic characteristics, I will not receive the same opportunities as others, regardless of whether they think chemical engineering is the inferior discipline.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 5:25 PM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


being a housewife or stay-at-home mom is not "a position of relative powerlessness" in and of itself

God it really is. I have been one. There are work-arounds, but having no money is powerlessness in this society.
posted by communicator at 1:45 AM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


In a traditional marriage, the husband doesn't get embedded until the wedding night.
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:49 AM on July 6, 2012


PlusDistance: The Homosexual Agenda has it scheduled for destruction by January. And the Homosexual Status Report still has it color-coded as "on target."

Jeez, don't you people coordinate?


The interior design and fashion department are on holiday at the moment, we've had some shocking wardrobe faux pas in their absence. Purple with green, what were they thinking?
posted by lith at 3:03 AM on July 6, 2012


I'm not seeing the "statistical outlier" here, only statistically-checked correlations. The issue (as pointed out by others above) is that the correlations could well be cause by men who have negative attitudes towards working women self-selecting partners that don't work; or confirmation bias: that men who have non-full-time-working partners justify it by saying that women shouldn't work full-time.
posted by FrereKhan at 3:31 AM on July 6, 2012


But the real issue here, which holds whatever the other shortcomings of this research, is that men who believe women should not work full-time push that attitude on to women who CHOOSE to work full-time, to the detriment of those women. I think the relationship to marriage is just an indirect indicator of those beliefs.
posted by FrereKhan at 3:39 AM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


So if one selected against men who are in trad relationships (an observable phenom) for employability fitness, one could produce a more equitable working environment.

Just thinking out loud.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:00 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can think of people to whom it would be news, since they're politically progressive and very invested in the idea that they can have a "traditional"-style marriage without it affecting their beliefs about men's and women's roles in society.

See, that's also a danger. There are a lot of people in "traditional" marriages who do not then discriminate against women, and lots of women who would enjoy the ability to not work. By making it a "your traditional marriage continues the patriarchy," you're taking those choices away from them. It's like Jezebel, saying if all things were equal it'd be fine, but since they're not, it's not. A real problem.

So if one selected against men who are in trad relationships (an observable phenom) for employability fitness, one could produce a more equitable working environment.

Congratulations, you have now just proved the crazy commentators who believe there is a war on traditional marriage right. This is quite possibly the worst take-away there could possibly be from this article.
posted by corb at 5:48 AM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


...out of all the men who have wives who are not currently working, there must be some who married working women who subsequently quit, right?

Yep, one right here. I work, wife doesn't. We sat down 28 years ago and decided it together. She was working at the time, and she kept working until we had kids. We had 4 boys and she stayed home in the traditional Mom's role. It's a cliche, but she worked harder than I ever did. And I think our kids got a lot of benefit out of it. All of them are in college or through college and doing well. We were very fortunate that I have a job that allowed us to make that choice. If I didn't, we would have decided differently.

I look on this research as one of the suspected suppressors of women and just have to call BS. I have hired and fired hundreds of men and women over the course of my career, and if there is a sexism effect in such decisions, it is much like race or religion in that I know those biases exist in the workplace and want to do my part to counter it. But it's always about intelligence, skills and work ethic anyway. There has never been such a thing as two "equally qualified candidates" in my experience.

I have no doubt the authors have a valid point that the issue of gender bias still exists, and that some men in traditional marriages are guilty of it, but I do have to take issue with the conclusion that we are all somehow powerless victims of our culture. The question raised in the headline above, where the author decides "no", is deliberately offensive (likely to stir interest) and represents an unwarranted conclusion from the facts cited.
posted by JParker at 6:01 AM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Read the methodology sections. It's not an accident that the first section is the abstract (where the authors get to give their preferred conclusion), the second is the introduction (where they get to give it again) and the third is theory (where they get to give it again).

This isn't science. It's bad statistics with an agenda.
posted by gd779 at 6:49 AM on July 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I look on this research as one of the suspected suppressors of women and just have to call BS. I have hired and fired hundreds of men and women over the course of my career, and if there is a sexism effect in such decisions, it is much like race or religion in that I know those biases exist in the workplace and want to do my part to counter it. But it's always about intelligence, skills and work ethic anyway. There has never been such a thing as two "equally qualified candidates" in my experience.

Well, yeah. But bias affects all of us, and it's not conscious, that's the whole point. It's rarely going to be the case that people will out and out think, "well, this candidate appears qualified on paper, but it turns out if you examine the evidence, she has a vagina! Totally unsuitable, obv."

It's more like, when you make that judgement, when you ask yourself "how reliable do I think this person is? How hardworking?" then your judgement is pushed a little, tipped one way, when you know that one candidate is a mom with young kids --- or even a young woman who's likely to be having kids soon --- and one's a young man. Because your understanding of how willing one's going to be to pull overtime and come in early or be on call or just even how much of a priority their work is in their life is affected by your own experiences, your own life.

Now, when I say "your" I don't mean you personally, I don't know how you think. And obviously there are Tracy Flicks and Seth Rogans, there are tons of individual personal differences in any given set of candidates. But I don't think it's possible for anyone's idea of "what women are like" or "what men are like" to not influence their judgement of the likely future behaviour of a woman or man they don't know well, like a job candidate, or even a colleague.
posted by Diablevert at 8:25 AM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I guess either my wife needs to go get a job or I need to go tell the two ladies I just promoted into management positions that I need a redo.
posted by fusinski at 8:30 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Read the methodology sections. It's not an accident that the first section is the abstract (where the authors get to give their preferred conclusion), the second is the introduction (where they get to give it again) and the third is theory (where they get to give it again).

That's how all scientific papers are structured.
posted by hydropsyche at 11:16 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess either my wife needs to go get a job or I need to go tell the two ladies I just promoted into management positions that I need a redo.

Duder, I don't know you. Maybe you're awesome.

But you did miss my point. Which was not, "and therefore, every man with a stay at home wife will never promote a woman." It was, "our own life experiences unconsciously bias us in ways we're rarely aware of."
posted by Diablevert at 11:26 AM on July 6, 2012


"I guess either my wife needs to go get a job or I need to go tell the two ladies I just promoted into management positions that I need a redo."

I'm sure those ladies are very grateful for the opportunity you've given them. You deserve praise. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to recognize your virtue.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:31 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's how all scientific papers are structured.

The point stands. Most scientific papers aren't science either. They're career advancement tools. Correspondingly, i have a theory that you can sometimes (very roughly) tell the good papers from the bad by whether methodology comes before results/discussion. Which section did the author think was more important? Probably the one they put first.

That said, you're not correct. Generally, scientific papers don't require a discussion of the "theory," which in this case is being used as a synonym for "ideology."
posted by gd779 at 11:59 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Correspondingly, i have a theory that you can sometimes (very roughly) tell the good papers from the bad by whether methodology comes before results/discussion.

Scientific journals have style guides and rules about what goes where. And in what size font. With what size margins. Etc. Unless you're doing all your science paper reading on the author's own website, the layout of the article is likely nothing the authors had any say in.

For instance: Please provide a Methods section with subsections detailing all the methods used in the paper. The Methods section should be no longer than 2000 words and should be placed at the very end of the manuscript, after the Acknowledgments, Author Contributions, figure legends and tables, but before the references.
posted by rtha at 12:34 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


The only publications that I am familiar with in which methods come after results are Science and Nature, and that is a formatting issue, not priorities.

Most scientific papers include some discussion of the theory behind the hypotheses with which they are working in both the introduction and the discussion. I am not familiar with any science that doesn't have underlying theory.

Perhaps if you were more specific regarding what you view as particular problems with their methods, we could discuss that further, because I'm not seeing much to criticize in their formatting, especially as that general determined by the publisher, as rtha notes.
posted by hydropsyche at 12:39 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


"theory," which in this case is being used as a synonym for "ideology"

It seems to me that this paper satisfies the criteria for a scientific theory. Care to elaborate?
posted by tybeet at 1:59 PM on July 6, 2012


What about the scorn and misogyny heaped upon women who choose a different path than a straight climb up the career ladder? Especially if they choose to return to the workplace at a later date, to be greeted by at least some coworkers who think that they're brain-dead because they've been staying at home for a period of time? Isn't that at least as harmful to women, and women workers specifically, as the purported attitudes of men whose wives stay home?
posted by Ruby Lennox at 9:35 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ruby Lennox: I am sorry for your experience. That sounds awful. But I'm not sure why you are presenting it as an either/or situation. It sucks that you were treated badly by people who don't respect women who stay home for awhile and it sucks that, as this study found, men who expect women to stay home treat women in the workplace poorly.

The patriarchy is multi-faceted, and it hurts everybody whether they are male or female and no matter their career.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:57 AM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Thanks for giving us the opportunity to recognize your virtue."

Yeah, that's what I was doing. Not pointing out that this study is absurd.
posted by fusinski at 9:09 AM on July 18, 2012


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