08 January 2015

parents staying at home

This is an interesting article by a young man named Ryan Park who chose to take a year off to stay at home with his daughter. Many times statistics are quoted about women taking a future pay cut by having children, but men getting a bonus for the same. This article points to research that indicates a different cause:

"The fatherhood bonus also dissipates when men become more involved at home. ... Men who decrease their work hours for family reasons suffer a 15.5 percent decline [in future salary], while women’s salaries decline by just 9.8 percent. In other words, having a family helps men in the workplace only if they submit to their traditional gender role."

Park was a clerk for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I really enjoyed the video interview with Justice Ginsburg. Here is an interesting excerpt:

Park: "You mentioned your work at the ACLU women's right's project. ... Many commenters, the first thing they talk about was the tactical brilliance of bringing these cases where men were complaining about gender distinctions in the law that they believed harmed them. Can you talk a little bit about that strategic choice? Was it a strategic choice? Do you think the course of jurisprudence would have been different had you only brought cases with a female plaintiff?"

Ginsburg: "I have been complemented for mapping out a strategy, in truth it's the cases that came trooping into the ACLU.

"The turning point case, Reed v Reed, was a woman plaintiff. A law that discriminated blatantly against a woman, said 'As between persons equally entitled to administer a decedent's estate, males must be preferred to females.' Great first case.

"But then, let's talk about Stephen Wiesenfeld case, because that's a perfect example of what's wrong with drawing rigid lines based on gender. So Stephen was married to a teacher who had a very healthy pregnancy. She was in the classroom until the ninth month. She went to the hospital for the birth of the child. The doctor came out and told Stephen you have a healthy baby boy, but your wife died of an embolism. So he at that moment decided that he would not work full time until the baby Jason was going to school full time. And he had heard that the social security system has benefits for a sole surviving parent with a child under the age of 12 in his care. He applied for that benefit and was told, well we're sorry Mr. Wiesenfeld, these are mothers' benefits. Why mothers? Because mothers take care of children.

"Where did this discrimination begin? It began with the woman as wage earner. She paid the same social security tax as a man paid, but her family did not get the same protection that a man's family would. That was the majority view of the court, that it was really discrimination against the woman. And then one, who later became my chief, he was then Justice Renquist, said, this is utterly irrational from the point of the baby. Why should the baby have the opportunity for the care of a sole surviving parent if that parent is female, but not if the parent is male? So that was my example of how these rigid gender lines in the law hurt everybody."