January 9 2013

Using “Equality for Women” As Cover for Bigger Government

Carrie L. Lukas

The Obama Administration has come under a bit of fire for failing to live up to its rhetoric and continuing to tap more men for top spots in government.  Here, for example, the New York Times details the Obama Administration’s record in appointing women. 

As IWF’s Karin Agness recently wrote, those who are pushing the hardest for getting greater numbers of women in office really don’t just want more women, they want more liberal women, because they assume that this will lead to more liberal outcomes. 

This is clear in the way that the discussion about the number of women is so often used to push liberal policies, that have next to nothing to do with the actual issue.  Take this from the New York Times piece:

Experts said that family-friendly policies, like paid maternity and paternity leave, might keep more women in administration jobs. "We're the only industrialized nation in the world with no mandatory paid leave," said Victoria A. Budson, the executive director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard. "This is about creating a better system of labor throughout the course of a person's career."

But really how would paid maternity and paternity leave change the dynamic that men and women face when considering or pursuing top jobs?

I bet that most government agencies, like just about all Fortune 500 companies, offer pretty generous leave packages for new parents.  Yet that really doesn’t do much in changing the dilemma that mothers face when contemplating a senior job with big responsibilities: Those very important, decision-maker jobs demand a lot of in the office time, which means those who take on those jobs are going to have to give up lots of time for their personal lives.  And fewer women are willing to make that sacrifice.

That’s really not a problem that government can or should try to solve, and it certainly won’t be solved by getting government in the business of mandating leave packages for all businesses. But it’s pretty obvious, that’s really not the point:  Advancing the cause of liberalism is.

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