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Old 08-26-2009, 08:53 PM   #1
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A feminist analysis of education and a critique thereof

In Western society, if girls do better in a given system, liberal/left reactions tend to be along the lines of "it's just the way it is" - or, indeed, viewed as a positive development and to be encouraged.

On the other hand, if boys do better in a given system, it is often said "girls are being oppressed" and something is inherently wrong with the system - with immediate change needed.

Case in point, the recent changes for entry to medical courses from the Irish Leaving Cert., which has brought to the fore articulations of this feminist analysis.

A letter in today's Irish Independent:

Quote:
Girls suffer for sake of more male GPs

The system for entry to medicine was changed not because there was a problem with the quality of Irish doctors, as there wasn't.

As I see it, the system was changed to get more boys into medicine, and especially into general practice, which was becoming predominantly female.

The only way to make it easier for the students to gain entry is to have more places. And please, don't tell me the nation's girls must be punished because they are more successful in the Leaving Cert than the boys.
Girls suffer for sake of more male GPs - Letters, Opinion - Independent.ie


An interesting counterpoint to this viewpoint can be found in the following piece from Sarah Carey, published in the Irish Times:


Quote:
Women who forgo careers in mid-life are not victims but strategic planners making free choices

NOT SO long ago correspondents to this fine paper got their knickers in a twist when I said that women choose to avoid standard career paths and full-time work. This week the notes from the shrill proclaim that women GPs have every right to choose part-time work. What fun. One week it’s not happening and the next it is but don’t even think about messing with our choices.

Quote:
Across the labour force there are undeniable patterns of behaviour that are clearly visible to our own eyes and in all the statistics. CSO figures show that in their 20s, women work more hours than men. In their 30s they start dropping hours until they almost tail off for the over 40s. In the professions more women qualify in medicine, law and accountancy but progress in tiny numbers to become partners, consultants or managers. That much is empirically clear.

What is not so clear is why – or what, if anything, should be done about it. The standard assumption is that this is a matter of coercion rather than choice. I dispute that analysis but, first, a quick word about doctors.

The high number of female GPs, many of whom opt to work part-time, is a legitimate cause for concern. It’s a public health issue if we are short of doctors willing to work weekends or make night calls. There is a strong argument that when the State spends several years and a lot of money training doctors, those doctors have a moral obligation to treat their patients even if they get sick at inconvenient hours.

But moral obligations are unfashionable and, since it’s a free world, doctors have the right to practise any way they want. As taxpayers and patients, we have a corresponding right to fret about the shortage of male doctors who will drive the streets after-hours while their female colleagues put their feet up.

Dissuading women from becoming GPs or compelling them to work full-time is, shall we say, problematic. However, when the State has to deal with the consequences of so many women exercising their right to choose office hours, the response from the usual suspects should be a little less chippy.

Why women just want to go home - The Irish Times - Wed, Aug 26, 2009
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Old 08-26-2009, 10:14 PM   #2
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I think that the comparison to law/accounting/business is a very faulty one, so that part of the article I easily dismissed. Aside from having to work similarly gruesome hours, there are significant differences. For example, in corporate law, where 80-90 hour weeks are not uncommon, it isn't just that women eventually have children and want to actually see said children grow up so that they end up lateraling into the public sector with a 9-5 schedule. It's also that women are at an enormous disadvantage when it comes to networking, and this is the bread and butter of the private sector. You see a lot of the men heading out to the bar or dinner with clients, etc, after work....well you can bet that their wife is at home with the kids, and somebody is running the household. Women with kids don't have that luxury, and they are hurrying every day to get home and do a million other kids. Moreover, it is still a lot easier for senior partners to invite younger males out for drinks, to smoke cigars, or go golfing than it is to invite young female associates along. Women therefore lose out on a LOT of social networking opportunities that way.

I'm also not sure that the argument that "the state has spent a lot of $ on training doctors" really carries that much weight since the same can probably be said for a number of other professions but we don't impose a moral obligation there. Do teachers have a moral obligation to continue to teach? That's one field with significant attrition rates, for example.
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Old 08-26-2009, 10:22 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by financeguy View Post
In Western society, if girls do better in a given system, liberal/left reactions tend to be along the lines of "it's just the way it is" - or, indeed, viewed as a positive development and to be encouraged.

On the other hand, if boys do better in a given system, it is often said "girls are being oppressed" and something is inherently wrong with the system - with immediate change needed.
I find it very fascinating that sometimes you can be very nuanced and think beyond headline and then other times it's this caricatured over the top stereotype with absolutely no nuance what so ever, and you seem to genuinely believe it...

Interesting.
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Old 08-26-2009, 10:40 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by anitram View Post
I think that the comparison to law/accounting/business is a very faulty one, so that part of the article I easily dismissed. Aside from having to work similarly gruesome hours, there are significant differences. For example, in corporate law, where 80-90 hour weeks are not uncommon, it isn't just that women eventually have children and want to actually see said children grow up so that they end up lateraling into the public sector with a 9-5 schedule.
Sure. But isn't that more or less the same point the writer was making?

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It's also that women are at an enormous disadvantage when it comes to networking, and this is the bread and butter of the private sector. You see a lot of the men heading out to the bar or dinner with clients, etc, after work....well you can bet that their wife is at home with the kids, and somebody is running the household. Women with kids don't have that luxury, and they are hurrying every day to get home and do a million other kids.
I think the whole after hours networking thing is hugely over-rated, to be honest. If people want to go out and get drunk at their employer's expense, then I'd say fair play to 'em, but I haven't seen, from personal observation, that it generates a heck of a lot in the way of extra business. I can well understand if women have a problem with going on nights out that might end up in trips to lap dancing clubs or whatever, but, again, I think this sleaziness aspect is over-rated and does not really happen that much in reality.

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Moreover, it is still a lot easier for senior partners to invite younger males out for drinks, to smoke cigars, or go golfing than it is to invite young female associates along.
If that's the case, then why so? Don't you think most of these senior partners would much prefer to be surrounded by a bevy of beauties? I bet most of them would rather invite young female associates along. Perhaps they perceive that they are less likely to be threatened with an harassment suit if they only invite younger males out for drinks, etc?

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I'm also not sure that the argument that "the state has spent a lot of $ on training doctors" really carries that much weight since the same can probably be said for a number of other professions but we don't impose a moral obligation there. Do teachers have a moral obligation to continue to teach? That's one field with significant attrition rates, for example.
But teaching doesn't have the 24/7 requirements that medicine may have. Teachers may often get involved in extra-curricular activities and work long hours - even as long as doctors - but that isn't necessarily a requirement of their jobs and is at least somewhat voluntary. Of course, there may a 'moral' expectation on teachers to help out with after hours sporting events and the like, but it isn't a life-or-death matter for teachers to do any more than the bare minimum, in the way that it is it in some branches of medicine.
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Old 08-26-2009, 10:48 PM   #5
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I find it very fascinating that sometimes you can be very nuanced and think beyond headline and then other times it's this caricatured over the top stereotype with absolutely no nuance what so ever, and you seem to genuinely believe it...

Interesting.
I am really not particularly interesting. Perhaps you should address the topic, rather than go on your little journeys of psychological analysis?
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Old 08-26-2009, 10:54 PM   #6
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If that's the case, then why so? Don't you think most of these senior partners would much prefer to be surrounded by a bevy of beauties? I bet most of them would rather invite young female associates along. Perhaps they perceive that they are less likely to be threatened with an harassment suit if they only invite younger males out for drinks, etc?
I don't think that they're obsessing over sexual harrassment issues, but maybe something more nuanced is at play - ie. how it may appear to third parties and so on. Aside from that, men still DO like socializing with other men. For example, we have a basketball night a week - well let's be honest, if you have one woman showing up with 20 guys, that's a lot. It just isn't something that women will go and do with a bunch of competitive jocks. Or take golf for example - maybe 10-20% of the women of my generation that I work with actually golf and own clubs, etc. They certainly don't belong to golf clubs, and don't make it a point to get out to the course. And they are not fit to go and play 9 or 18 holes with men who actually want to, you know, not spend 2 days out there on a par 3 hole.

So I think if you're looking at it from this sort of stereotypical "women will sue for being harassed!" view, it's waaaay too simplistic. And a lot of this stuff isn't malicious at all, but it is what it is, and it's what we cope with.

Also, make no mistake about it - if there is a corporate event and a few of the guys get drunk, they'll be the "funny party dude" but women who are similarly stumbling around are going to mainly get raised eyebrows. There is no doubt about that one at all.

ETA:

I think there are also some educational system differences at play. So when you are talking about the State spending a lot of $ educating doctors, don't forget that in North America, students spend ridiculous amounts of money to get that MD. Even in socialist Canada, my friends at med school are paying $20K/year tuition, another $1200-1500 in textbooks per year, nevermind living expenses. And this is their second degree, because it isn't direct entry like in Europe, so they likely already spent some $25-50K on their undergrad degree. So these are people who have spent well over $150K to become doctors, and I think the argument that they owe something to the State is very weak.
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Old 08-26-2009, 11:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
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I don't think that they're obsessing over sexual harrassment issues, but maybe something more nuanced is at play - ie. how it may appear to third parties and so on. Aside from that, men still DO like socializing with other men. For example, we have a basketball night a week - well let's be honest, if you have one woman showing up with 20 guys, that's a lot. It just isn't something that women will go and do with a bunch of competitive jocks.
So, you're saying the sexes aren't equal after all? A very reactionary viewpoint, surely? Almost a blasphemy against the liberal/left view of society?

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Or take golf for example - maybe 10-20% of the women of my generation that I work with actually golf and own clubs, etc. They certainly don't belong to golf clubs, and don't make it a point to get out to the course. And they are not fit to go and play 9 or 18 holes with men who actually want to, you know, not spend 2 days out there on a par 3 hole.
So most women aren't interested in playing golf. If that's the case, I'd say they have good taste - but, again, so what - unless you're arguing that after hours work events are very important for advancement in the corporate world - which quite honestly isn't my experience, but if it is yours, then fine.

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So I think if you're looking at it from this sort of stereotypical "women will sue for being harassed!" view, it's waaaay too simplistic.
I'm suggesting one of several possibilities why these male senior partners might be more inclined to invite male rather than female employees out on social occasions. You suggested that it was because of male bonding or whatever, so I suggested an alternative explanation.

But, speaking of stereotypes, why is it, I wonder, that such stereotypes come into being in the first place? Isn't it sometimes the case that female employees of large law firms and large investment banks have actually sued their employers for extremely large sums of money, and that this tends to happen less frequently with male lawyers, bankers, etc, so that perhaps the risk as perceived by the senior partners is not an imaginary risk but a very real and proximate one?

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And a lot of this stuff isn't malicious at all, but it is what it is, and it's what we cope with.
In many Western countries, males have to 'cope with' high suicide rates, poor educational achievement, lower life expectancy than females, and unfriendly divorce and family law courts - but mentioning any of these things on FYM gets you labelled a misoygynist. Some would say that these issues are a little more significant that not being invited to play golf with the lads - but there you go.

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Also, make no mistake about it - if there is a corporate event and a few of the guys get drunk, they'll be the "funny party dude" but women who are similarly stumbling around are going to mainly get raised eyebrows. There is no doubt about that one at all.
Well, that's very much a subjective judgement, so I'm afraid there is indeed doubt about that one.
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Old 08-26-2009, 11:23 PM   #8
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I think there are also some educational system differences at play. So when you are talking about the State spending a lot of $ educating doctors, don't forget that in North America, students spend ridiculous amounts of money to get that MD. Even in socialist Canada, my friends at med school are paying $20K/year tuition, another $1200-1500 in textbooks per year, nevermind living expenses. And this is their second degree, because it isn't direct entry like in Europe, so they likely already spent some $25-50K on their undergrad degree. So these are people who have spent well over $150K to become doctors, and I think the argument that they owe something to the State is very weak.
Point taken, but in her article Sarah Carey was clearly talking primarily of the Irish situation, where entry to medicine degrees is indeed based on direct entry following secondary school, and the fees aren't anything like as high as 20k a year - only a few thousand a year, excluding text books, as far as I am aware. In other words, medical degrees are heavily subsidised by the taxpayer(which I have no issue with)
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Old 08-26-2009, 11:27 PM   #9
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So, you're saying the sexes aren't equal after all? A very reactionary viewpoint, surely? Almost a blasphemy against the liberal/left view of society?
Is that what you gathered from her post?


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But, speaking of stereotypes, why is it, I wonder, that such stereotypes come into being in the first place? Isn't it sometimes the case that female employees of large law firms and large investment banks have actually sued their employers for extremely large sums of money, and that this tends to happen less frequently with male lawyers, bankers, etc, so that perhaps the risk as perceived by the senior partners is not an imaginary risk but a very real and proximate one?
Do you really, honestly, deep in your heart believe this?
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Old 08-26-2009, 11:32 PM   #10
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Do you really, honestly, deep in your heart believe this?
It is nothing to do with what I do or don't believe, there have been plenty of these cases, especially in London. I think some have validity - not all, though.
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Old 08-26-2009, 11:38 PM   #11
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It is nothing to do with what I do or don't believe, there have been plenty of these cases, especially in London. I think some have validity - not all, though.
Well I guess I was asking about the validity factor...
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Old 08-26-2009, 11:40 PM   #12
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Well I guess I was asking about the validity factor...
I will try your debating technique.

Do you think all such cases are motivated by noble sentiments?
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Old 08-27-2009, 12:18 AM   #13
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I will try your debating technique.

Do you think all such cases are motivated by noble sentiments?
Look, I'm not trying anything here, I was honestly just curious...

To answer your question I think ALL types of cases have their opportunists.
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Old 08-27-2009, 08:17 AM   #14
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again, so what - unless you're arguing that after hours work events are very important for advancement in the corporate world - which quite honestly isn't my experience, but if it is yours, then fine.
That's exactly what I'm saying.

You're probably not aware of the multitude of things like "women's initiatives" at major corp firms that deal specifically with this issue. We're not all sitting there imagining this stuff.
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Old 08-27-2009, 08:19 AM   #15
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It is nothing to do with what I do or don't believe, there have been plenty of these cases, especially in London. I think some have validity - not all, though.
Given that almost all of the management is old, white and straight, it would therefore be a simple matter of common sense that you would have more instances of male-on-female allegations of harassment than male-on-male or female-on-male. Statistically speaking, that would probably go a longer way to explain things than the implication that women are more litigious in this manner.
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