Houston, do you copy?

by Maria on December 15, 2009

Time was when I associated Houston with space travel and dire urban planning. That’s all changed. Houston has now elected its first openly gay mayor, Annise Parker, who seems a very capable administrator. Secondly, I was recently lucky enough to transit successfully through Houston’s George Bush International Airport from a late flight to a tight connection. If it weren’t for the good people of Houston (and my fellow passengers from Costa Rica), I’d never have made it. So, thank you Houston, very, very much.
[click to continue…]

Gender Equality

by Harry on December 15, 2009

During Ingrid’s visit to Madison she was surprised to find that Gender Equality: Transforming Family Divisions of Labor (UK) has already been published, mainly because she expected me to organise a book event on it in a timely fashion, or at least announce it on CT. Mea Culpa. The book came out of the conference I wrote about here. Gornick and Meyers previously published Families That Work, a comprehensive discussion of family policy in various European countries with a view to recommending a mix of subsidies, leaves, and regulations for the United States; after a visit to present the work in Madison, Erik Wright pressed them to develop a more general set of recommendations for moving toward a dual carer-dual breadwinner system, which is the lead essay in the current book. The commentaries all take off from the lead essay, with varying degrees of criticism: commentators include Nancy Folbre, Johanna Brenner, Heidi Hartmann, Rosemary Crompton, Ann Orloff, Erik Wright and me, and not one, but two, former CT-guest bloggers, Kimberly Morgan and Lane Kenworthy. Oddly, given that her essay is more critical of the kinds of policies that I’d like to see (some variant of what Gornick and Meyers recommend) than any of the others, my own favorite commentary is Barbara Bergmann’s. As will be no surprise to anyone who knows her work, Bergmann argues against a system of leaves, especially paid leaves, on the grounds that, since men will not take the leaves, increasing the opportunities and incentives for women to take the leaves will, in fact, entrench rather than overturn the gendered division of labor. I’m not persuaded, and it’s not because I am more optimistic about men taking on more child-caring (though I am, but that’s because Bergmann is pessimistic in the extreme) but more because I don’t see childcare becoming a well-paid career, or a significantly male one, in the foreseeable future. But what I liked about her commentary was the sensitiveness to context — the way that she makes clear that any commentary on proposals like this cannot be “for” or “against” but must take into account the likely effects which will vary depending on the historical circumstances of the society being considered.

Anyway, this post is the announcement Ingrid had been expecting, and I’ll tardily try to put together an event about the book before too long.