Monday, July 29, 2013

MWPC Response to NY Times' "Why Men Need Women"

Given our mission to increase the number of women working in politics, we at the MWPC inherently support arguments in favor of the importance of women in all realms of society. In particular, the function of women in the family exists as possibly the most evolved, and still debated, role, alongside their roles in the workplace. Still, the position of women in the household walks in step with their roles in the workplace as inevitably, more time spent in the office yields less time at home, and thus, the “where do we belong?” cycle continues to spin.
An opinion article in the New York Times, “Why Men Need Women” cites a recent study that shows an increase of monetary generosity from successful men whose family includes women. According to the study, chief executives in Danish companies paid on average $100 less in annual compensation per employee after having a child. Upon studying the data further, though, the economists found that this statistic fell through when the executives had a daughter. Alongside this find, there exist studies that show that American legislators tend to vote more liberally if they have daughters. Finally, a psychology study at the Free University in Amsterdam, which measured participants’ preferences by having them choose between two monetary circumstances (both of which gave one quantity to them, and another to a co-worker), found that participants with sisters were more forty percent more likely to choose the more generous option, one that gave them a smaller monetary amount in order to give the co-worker a larger amount.

The article cites the example of Bill Gates and how he was reluctant to share his Microsoft fortune with charitable foundations. It wasn't until he was about to marry his now, wife, Melinda and from continued pressure from his mother that he decided to become the great philanthropist that he is known as today.  He attributes a lot of the success of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the efforts of his wife. Gates has said that his wife “never stopped pressuring me to do more for others.” Although Melinda Gates was actively pressing her husband to be more philanthropic, the article reflects on men feeling the need to be more generous simply because of the presence of more women in their lives.

Concluding, “It’s often said that behind every great man stands a great woman. In light of the profound influence that women can have on men’s generosity, it might be more accurate to say that in front of every great man walks a great woman. If we’re wise, we’ll follow her lead.“ The article leaves one unsure whether to respond with rejoice in further establishment of the importance of women or with hesitation regarding the stereotypical connotations of being assumedly “nurturing” or innately invoking sensitivity in others. As women, and we at the MWPC, continue to fight for rights and to be taken seriously in the workforce, the article easily provokes the notion of taking a step backward, toward arguing that a woman’s place remains only as the role of homemaker or mother, if only to ensure the generosity of men. Yet, one must remember that the goal for women is not simply the CEO or the White House, but rather the right to choose, to use the word “and” instead of “or.” The importance of women as a means of helping men to think differently, both in the workplace and in the household, represents not a reiteration of a woman’s need to steer her man in the right direction, but instead reflects their ability to help make the world a better place simply by being present.