This week, I was fascinated with the history of marriage and family life and how it compares my own family and upbringing. In Stephanie Coontz’s lecture, she examines how in the past (and perhaps still in the present in some parts of the world), marriage had little to do with love, and more about politics and protecting women and children (2016). We can see examples of this in arranged marriages for the purpose to securing alliances, status, etc. It is a relief that marriage today has become more about passion, sincerity and love. In fact, her research shows that marriages that have been orchestrated where men and women take on certain gender roles such has having a breadwinner, leads to higher rates of divorce. I think marriage that is based on love and passion deters from such happenings because the marriage is driven by a force that is separate from occupation or family background, where each spouse can pursue their own goals rather than live up to others expectations. Furthermore, another article that I found to be intriguing from this unit was Hoschild: The Second Shift. The idea of a second shift for women at home taking care of their children and maintaining a house was a concept I had never thought of before. The article suggests that “women were working an extra month more than their spouses every year” (2014). I can definitely believe that based on how my house is run, however, I realize it is because my father usually spends longer hours at work to make more to help support the family. I do, however, have a greater appreciation for my mother who does a lot of unpaid work supporting the family, I think that really shows her love and dedication to us. I am sure my father would do the same thing if in the same circumstance, but the reality is that my mom is fulfilling a stereotypical women role to take on the second shift, which explains why it is her, not him doing the unpaid labor around the house.
In AAUW: Simple Truth About the Pay Gap, several of my thoughts and ideas about pay gap were reaffirmed by the statistics offered in the article. It seems silly to me that I have had to argue with my friends over whether the pay gap is even a real thing. And even when they do fess up to the reality, they often proclaim that it is no big deal, it’s only a few cents different. The article states that “families increasingly rely on women’s wages to meet ends meet.” Suddenly, those couple cents turn into thousands of dollars difference per year. This pay gap means poorer living conditions for mothers who are the breadwinners in their families. I think just because we (and I mean my peers that I grew up with) don’t experience the effects of pay gap because we come from very cookie cutter families where both parents make a comfortable income, doesn’t mean we can overlook those where those few cents really do make a difference.
Lastly, I enjoyed reading about different experiences and outcomes from education for boys and girls. Buchmann and Diprete: Gender Inequality and Education depicts young girls in a very positive light in academics, touching on their organization and motivation in their studies. I can relate to several of the experiences they describe, where I had many boys in my class who were older than me because parents opted to have them start school later, or repeat kindergarten. In addition, I can admit to having a more difficult time with standardized tests than my male counterparts, but having slightly higher GPA simply because I put in more work outside the classroom. I justified this thinking that I just wasn’t a good test taker, but I find it fascinating (and relieving) that this trend expands beyond my own experience. I can’t help but wonder now that this means boys are naturally smarter and that is why they excel at standardized tests? It seems that the implications are that standardized tests showcase natural talent whereas GPA showcases hard work and drive to succeed. If this is the case, it appears that females have to work harder to get to the same place, paralleling the extra work that women have to do in their career paths to get to the same place as men.
Coontz, Stephanie. 2016. “The Way We Still Never Were: Another Quarter Century of Family Change and Diversity,” Council on Contemporary Families. (https://contemporaryfamilies.org/the-way-we-still-never-were-brief-report/).
Shulte, Brigid. 2014. “‘The Second Shift’ at 25: Q & A with Arlie Hochschild,” https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/wp/2014/08/06/the-second-shift-at-25-q-a-with-arlie-hochschild/