Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sexism, Common Sense, and Capitalism

I was talking with someone the other day about why females are less likely to be hired than males, and why are they usually paid less. We actually came to many conclusions that might justify not hiring a woman, because of a matter of sheer economics.

For example in France and many other European countries, companies are required to give women maternity leave if they get pregnant. The companies are forced to leave the positions open, and the companies have to continue to pay them what they would make while they are on leave. In California, their positions are to be held during that period of time, and they still have to be given the same benefits they had while they are working. Since so many women have children in this country, doesn’t it seem like common sense to hire a man for a vital position? You don’t have to worry about losing your employee, and you don’t have to pay so many benefits. Granted not all women have children, however when try to make money isn’t it better to generalize to simplify things.

Is the motivation for not hiring the woman sexist or common sense or both? While it’s true that a company might intentionally choose not to hire a woman, its for the sake of making more money most of the time. The woman is not being not hired just because she has different sexual organs; she is not being hired because it might not create the greatest profit yield. It’s true a woman could choose not to have a kid, and she could choose to not raise it herself; however a good portion of the time, a company is going to get burned. You might argue that making these stereotypes that a woman needs maternity leave, etc. etc. is sexist, but it is profitable. I realize women in general get paid less, however keep in mind that many women also quit their jobs after having a child. With all this in mind it seems like hiring a woman for extremely important roles does not sound like the best possible investment. In a capitalist society all businesses attempt to gain the greatest long term wealth possible. If a company is in the business of making money, is it possible to have a capitalist society where women are treated equally? To me it seems like it is not possible.

Earlier in the year we mentioned how capitalism allows for women to be oppressed. The system treats women as unpaid labor in the home, and that the epitome of capitalist exploitation. However the book did not mention this little aspect of capitalism. Instead of fighting for feminism by changing our mindset about how we perceive our bodies and mindsets we have, maybe we need to change the way we perceive business and capitalism, like Rubin suggested.

I realize I may have offended just about all of you so feel free to post. No I am not an actual advocate of socialism. I just wonder if feminism and capitalism can work side by side.


  1. More food for thought. Wouldn't making sure that women recieve equal pay make companies much less likely to hire a woman, all things considered

  2. Your post is very thought-provoking. It brings about many issues, but I'll try to focus on one.

    A CEO, when hiring someone, will not only consider what that person may cost them, but first what benefit they'll bring to their company (skills, contacts, etc).

    Therefore, between a qualified female and a less qualified man, it'd be smarter, in that case, to hire the female for a job, just by considering their skills.

    If you think about things that may jeopardize the financial profits of the company, then you have to consider that hiring a straight single man can potentially lead to sexual harassment, or that hiring a racist person may lead to trouble, as well.

    I am using stereotypical examples on purpose, just to show that, if pregnancy has a (slight) financial impact on a company, other things may as well.

    It is just assumed that a woman (especially if she's young), will want children. A racist person can hide what they think during an interview, a woman can't hide her gender, and the stereotypes that go along with it.

    And just to correct something you said about France: Nicolas Sarkozy changed the law last year. Women can now decide whether or not they want to go on a maternity leave, and men have the right to take on a paternity leave as well. The law has become much more flexible, taking social changes into consideration.

  3. I could be wrong about this, but I think it's not only France but most if not all the countries in the EU that now make it mandatory to offer paid paternity leave. If it were mandatory in the US to offer men the exact same amount of paternity leave and all the benefits/compensation that go along with it, maybe (in an ideal world) more men would choose to take the leave, so employers would not be able to automatically assume that if a woman wanted a child, she would take off extended time or quit altogether.

    Also, you mentioned California's protection for pregnant women as employees, but I wonder about the rest of the country. As far as I know there is no federal law that requires employers to hold women's jobs or even pay them for maternity leave. (Please, prove me wrong if you can.) Aside from having to hire someone else, the company really doesn't lose anything if it simply chooses to not provide these benefits to its female employees.

  4. the rest of the country does not have to paternity laws claifornia does no. However im merely pointing out areas where it can be a poor decision to hire a woman. If a key position has to be left vacant, it could damage a company


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