Economic Woman

Econometrics, gender, equity and more.

Archive for June 2008

Happy Pride!

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image Pride in Toronto is a pretty big deal, spread out over more than a week and apparently involving a million people. Today I marched, and checked out Mariko Tamaki, the fabulous Ember Swift, uh huh her and The Hidden Cameras.

The organizing committee brings in great entertainment, and it’s all free. A lot of straight folks have caught on, and they come for the concerts as well as the usual have-your-picture-taken-with-a-drag-queen novelty. I think it’s good for the community, because while the straight public might come to see Melanie C. for free, they’re also exposed to us at our most outrageous.

Also, I’ve noticed an interesting thing about food prices at Pride. Usually special events involve very high prices for food, drink, etc., but Pride doesn’t seem to clamp down on street vendor competition the way so many festivals do. All the convenience stores, hot dog stands and take-out restaurants in the gaybourhood do well during Pride, and there are some pretty good deals to be had – today I noticed one restaurant advertising sushi, spring rolls and a pop for $4.99.

Of course, within the official beer gardens, drinks are ridiculous, and the most popular restaurants on Church street bring in special “Pride menus” and enforce a $10 per person minimum, as a sort of rent for on sought-after tables.

Written by Allison

29 June 2008 at 1:35 am

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Labour takes a stab at workplace inequity

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Feministe has a link round up on women and work. The Times has a number of recent articles on similar topics: here are some strangely context-free statistics on the wage gap. I think it was supposed to be a sidebar for this article, about a the Equalities Bill. I’m no expert, but that Bill seems sort of hastily patched together. Take this stab at affirmative action:

The section likely to prove the most controversial encourages companies to favour female and ethnic minorities candidates if there is tiebreak for a job vacancy. Critics say that this will discriminate against white men – supporters of the measure say that the balance is already tipped in white men’s favour.

That criticism is daft, of course, but maybe I can make a couple from the other end. How do we define a “tiebreak” in something as amorphous and instinct-driven as hiring? Even if we can, what if, god forbid, there is more than one “minority” (a stupid and inaccurate label, by the way) tied? This sort of vague policy will just never be implemented. Maybe affirmative action is called for, but it needs to be better thought out…

Finally, another Times article speculates that new programs to help mothers stay in the workplace may be cut in the current “economic turmoil.” (An aside – it’s funny how the media has to talk itself in spirals describing this maybe-it’s-a-recession, especially in Canada where it’s barely shown up in our economic indicators at all.)

And with that, I am bored of writing women in the corporate world. Help me out, dear readers: what would you like to learn about next?

Written by Allison

26 June 2008 at 11:29 am

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Wall Street is a bumpy ride for women

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Jessica Wakeman writes about women on Wall Street as two high-profile female executives are fired. Despite the negative headline, it’s kind of a good news/bad news story. The bad:

They may make up 46% of the workforce, but women held only 15.4% of Fortune 500 corporate officer positions in 2007… According to Gail Evans, former executive vice president of CNN (TWC) and author of the book Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman. “There’s so few women [that] when one of them gets fired [from an executive position], the percentage drops 10 percent.”

What’s the good news? The consensus is that these two executives deserved to be let go for straightforward professional reasons. And as far as I can tell, Wakeman is relieved that the coverage of the demotions wasn’t sexist:

The headlines were all about the Lehman firings, not about the “lady executive” getting the axe.

(Hat tip to Feministing.)

Written by Allison

24 June 2008 at 10:29 am

Paid family leave

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In case you’ve missed it, Kathy of The G Spot has a post up on The American Prospect’s Tapped about the economics of paid family leave. I haven’t had a chance to go over it in detail, but it looks exhaustive and interesting. 

Written by Allison

23 June 2008 at 6:00 pm

The doublethink of personal opportunity

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This is my third post in response to a single post from weeks ago, but bear with me – I have three unrelated thoughts. In a reaction to this blog and feminist economics generally, Peter Boettke articulates a common reaction to identity politics:

Women, like men, let alone minorities, should not accept any artificial barriers to pursuing their goals.  If people get in your way, don’t let them — either side-step them or run them over.  Don’t ever let others define you, you define yourself; you are in control of your own destiny.  The cream always rises, is what my father always taught us.

I think this is something we need to believe on some level in order to function. Certainly, as I work towards my goals it helps to imagine that I am in control of my own destiny, that my “cream” will rise if I work hard enough. But the social scientist in me also sees barriers, institutional and otherwise, which put others like me (women, queer women) at a disadvantage.

I’d suggest that, broadly, people on the left are more likely to experience this disconnect. That got me to wondering if this is why conservatives are happier than leftists. Lo and behold, that study’s authors argued something similar.

Written by Allison

22 June 2008 at 11:36 pm

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On collision

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In the Austrian Economists post that I just linked to, Peter Boettke eventually concludes: “economics and feminism do not collide.” My tagline has attracted a fair amount of attention, as was intended, I suppose. So I’d like to say that I roughly agree with Boettke on this one.

If I thought that the discipline of economics and the politics of feminism were fundamentally opposed, I’d have difficulty practicing both. Note that I’m defining feminism as a political orientation right now – if you’d like to argue that it’s a social science in and of itself, well that feminism may well be incompatible with economics…)

The tagline is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. I think that economists and feminists often collide. But when we make an effort to listen to each other, I think both sides benefit. Or, more whimsically, you could say that when economics and feminism collide little sparks of insight spray everywhere.

I should also say that there has been remarkably little of the wrong sort of collision in these comment threads since Economic Woman started up a few months back. Thanks for that, folks. It’s great fun reading your responses.

Written by Allison

22 June 2008 at 10:57 pm

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Boettke and McCloskey on feminist economics

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Here’s something I’ve been meaning to link to for awhile. Last month, The Austrian Economists’ Peter Boettke linked to this site with some friendly, if sceptical, thoughts on feminist economics:

I ask “don’t demand curves slope downward regardless of gender or sexual orientation?”  For example, hasn’t there been significant studies over the years that have attempted to control for various factors (e.g., occupational choice, job tenure, educational choice, etc.) in the wage gap, and once these are taking into account the gap closes significantly.

I did not respond at the time, in part because I was a little starstruck – the post mentions me alongside Deirdre McCloskey – and also because I figure this blog is a sort of long, gradual response. But briefly, controlling for the factors Boettke mentions does close the gap somewhat, but not completely, as I’ve written before. In a broader sense, we can also be interested in why women make occupational and educational choices differently than men, and what welfare effects result.

In any case, the post is worth reading, and so are the comments. McCloskey herself has dropped in with better points than I could have made:

Sure, the technical points about Max U go on holding regardless of who wields the bordered Hessian matrix. And to push one step back from that formal point, sure, demand curves slope down, regardless of gender. […]

But as some here have suggested, there’s a wider context, yes? In The Bourgeois Virtues I suggest that an economics that works only with the virtue of Prudence is going to, sometimes, get into trouble. Not always, but sometimes, and those some times are pretty important. A feminist economics admits other virtues and vices beyond Prudence Only. With economic results.

Written by Allison

22 June 2008 at 10:36 pm

Posted in Uncategorized