A few weeks ago, the White House Council on Women and Girls released an inter-agency report titled “Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being.”
I learned a lot from reading it, like, for instance, the answer to the question: Do we need a White House Council on Women and Girls? The answer, many readers wont be surprised to hear, is no.
To be sure, the report has plenty of interesting data -- almost all of it indicating that women are doing very well indeed. Women are living longer than men, which probably explains why there are 4 million more of them in the United States.
They are less likely to be victims of violent crime or to be unemployed. These days, far fewer women are having children as teenagers. Instead, they are busy earning more high school degrees than men, taking more Advanced Placement courses and earning more college degrees.
Fifty-seven percent of todays college grads are female, and projections are that the number will reach 60 percent by the end of the decade. Women make up the majority of graduate students. They are also 51 percent of management and professional workers, though they make up only 47 percent of the work force.
Of course, as most people know, there is one area where women lag: They dont earn as much as men. The foreword to the report puts it this way: “At all levels of education, women earned about 75 percent of what their male counterparts earned in 2009.”
Look carefully at the body of the report and youll see the two primary reasons why: First, women major in fields that tend to lead to lower-paying jobs. They dominate the ranks of the humanities and education majors, while theyre relatively scarce in science and technology.
The second reason for lower female earnings is that women work fewer hours.In 2009, employed married women spent on average seven hours and 40 minutes in “work-related activities,” compared to employed married mens eight hours and 50 minutes.
Could discrimination still explain some of the wage gap? It could, but the evidence from “Women in America” is that women earn less because they work less and because they work as teachers rather than software developers.
The report doesnt tell us whether there is any evidence that most Americans see either of these tendencies as a problem that a government council should solve.That may be because there is no such evidence.
In fact, as the economist Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute has suggested, theres a stronger case to be made for a White House Council on Men and Boys.
A report from that imaginary council would begin by noting that 72 percent of girls get a high school degree, compared to 65 percent of boys. (Again, thats Sixty. Five. Percent.)It would go on to state that the percentage of men getting a college degree has not budged since the 1970s.
It would point out that the share of men in the labor force has hit historic lows, as they account for seven of every 10 jobs lost during the Great Recession.It would also show that the trends for young men are ominous, since single, childless women in their 20s are now outearning them in most major cities by as much as 21 percent.
And finally it would observe that all of these trends reduce the proportion of “marriageable men,” that is, men with steady jobs whom women might want to marry and raise children with.The irony is that the dearth of such men means more single mothers, which in turn means more female poverty and lower income for women.
Unfortunately, the Council on Women and Girls never makes that connection.
Original Source: http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/2011/03/manhattan-moment-what-america-really-needs-white-house-council-men-and-bo