Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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Para entender por qué las mujeres siguen sin formular las preguntas adecuadas

NUEVA YORK – En los Estados Unidos, estamos empezando a recuperarnos del jaleo totalmente previsible provocado por un lamento publicado por Anne-Marie Slaughter, ex Directora de Planificación de Políticas en el Departamento de Estado y profesora en la Universidad de Princeton, titulado “Para entender por qué las mujeres siguen sin poder tenerlo todo”. La respuesta era previsible, porque el artículo de Slaughter es uno que publica cada tres años, más o menos, y por turno un repertorio de diferentes mujeres poderosas (la mayoría blancas) en los Estados Unidos.

El artículo, sea quien fuere quien lo haya escrito, siempre se lamenta del “mito” de un equilibrio entre el trabajo y la vida en el caso de las mujeres que trabajan fuera de casa, presenta el techo de cristal y el agotamiento resultante del trabajo y la familia como una revelación personal y acusa al “feminismo” por ofrecer ese esquivo “ideal de tenerlo todo”. Y siempre se las arregla para esquivar los problemas más importantes que deberían abordar las políticas, cosa que resulta particularmente irónica en este caso, pues Slaughter estaba agotada de formular políticas.

Semejantes argumentos presentan muchos problemas. Para empezar, el equilibrio entre el trabajo y la familia ha dejado de ser una cuestión de las mujeres. En todo el mundo desarrollado, millones de hombres que trabajan y tienen hijos pequeños lamentan también las horas que pasan lejos de ellos y van a su casa a hacer gran parte de las tareas domésticas. Era una “cuestión de las mujeres” hace quince años, tal vez, pero ahora es una tensión ambiental de la vida moderna para una generación de mujeres y hombres que están comprometidos con la igualdad entre los sexos.

Semejantes argumentos pasan por alto también que las mujeres que trabajan y tienen una posición acomodada y sus parejas endosan abrumadoramente el desequilibrio entre el trabajo y la familia a mujeres con ingresos inferiores, la mayoría de las cuales son, por mayoría abrumadora, mujeres de color. Se puede abordar la forma de ser un empleador ético y sostenible de esas cuidadoras –las niñeras de Nueva York y otras ciudades se están organizando ahora para lograr un sistema de salario ajustado al mercado, con vacaciones y días de permiso por enfermedad– o, como con tanta frecuencia ocurre en una sociedad racista, se puede eliminar de la foto totalmente a las mujeres que cuidan de los hijos de la minoría selecta.

Además, un ambiente empresarial inflexible y desfavorable para la familia ya no es la única opción para las mujeres que trabajan. Muchas, en particular en los EE.UU., han abandonado ese mundo para crear sus propias empresas.

Lo más importante es que los americanos tienen una notable tendencia a reducir los problemas que otros abordaron mediante políticas públicas a un asunto de “elección” privada e incluso de psicología personal, pero la cuestión real no es la de si “las mujeres pueden tenerlo todo”, sino la de cómo una experta profesional dedicada a la política exterior puede pasar por alto pura y simplemente la existencia de países como el Canadá y los Países Bajos.

En el Canadá, las parejas con un niño pequeño pueden encadenar permisos alternos para faltar al trabajo durante seis meses con hasta el 90 por ciento del sueldo. En los Países Bajos –la mejor situación que conozco–, las familias pueden tomarse un día de permiso a la semana y el Estado subvenciona el gasto completo en guarderías. Esa solución no está considerada una “cuestión de las mujeres”, sino una prestación familiar. Y las mujeres holandesas han pasado, sencillamente, a ocuparse de otras cosas y a centrarse en otros objetivos interesantes en su vida personal y familiar.

En cambio, en los Estados Unidos la Cámara de Comercio y otros intereses empresariales ejercen intensas presiones para impedir que los políticos propongan jamás soluciones semejantes. Saben que se consiguen miles de millones de dólares contratando a mujeres con niveles salariales inferiores a los de los hombres y después procurando que un conflicto entre el trabajo y la familia desbarate las carreras profesionales de las mujeres antes de que lleguen a ser demasiado caras para recibir un sueldo justo.

Naturalmente, Europa no es un paraíso de la igualdad entre los sexos. En particular, el lugar de trabajo en una empresa nunca será completamente favorable para la familia hasta que las mujeres formen parte de los niveles de dirección en los que se adoptan las decisiones y los cargos ejecutivos de las empresas de Europa siguen siendo abrumadoramente masculinos. De hecho, las mujeres sólo ocupan el 14 por ciento de los cargos en los consejos de administración de las empresas.

La Unión Europea está preparando ahora una legislación para obligar a los consejos de administración a mantener cierta proporción de mujeres: hasta el 60 por ciento. Esa propuesta se debe a la frustración. El año pasado, la Vicepresidenta de la Comisión Europea Viviane Reding hizo un llamamiento en pro de la adopción de medidas voluntarias. Pidió a las empresas que aceptaran objetivos de equilibrio entre los sexos para que hubiera un 40 por ciento de miembros femeninos en sus consejos de administración. La Fundación Forte de los Estados Unidos ha seguido su ejemplo con su lista de “mujeres candidatas al consejo de administración”, pero en Europa el llamamiento de Reding fue un fracaso: sólo 24 empresas aceptaron.

¿Necesitamos cuotas para velar por que las mujeres puedan seguir subiendo equitativamente en la jerarquía de las empresas, al equilibrar su trabajo y su familia?

“Personalmente, no me gustan las cuotas”, dijo recientemente Reding, “pero sí lo que se consigue con ellas”. Las cuotas obligan a actuar: “Abren la vía a la igualdad y rompen el techo de cristal”, según Reding, resultado visto en Francia y otros países con disposiciones legales obligatorias a fin de que se nombre a mujeres para cargos ejecutivos.

Comprendo la renuencia de Reding… y su frustración. A mí tampoco me gustan las cuotas; son contrarias a mi creencia en la meritocracia, pero, cuando tenemos en cuenta los obstáculos para lograr el ideal meritocrático, sí que parece que durante un tiempo se debe imponer por mandato un mundo más justo.

Al fin y al cabo, durante cuatro decenios ha quedado demostrado que las empresas de Europa, como las de los EE.UU., están eludiendo la contratación meritocrática y la promoción de las mujeres a cargos ejecutivos, por muchas que sean las “presiones suaves” a las que se las someta. Cuando las mujeres se abren paso hasta la cumbre del poder empresarial –como, por ejemplo, Sheryl Sandberg recientemente en Facebook–, concitan una enorme atención precisamente porque siguen siendo la excepción de la regla.

Si hubiera políticas públicas para ayudar a todas las mujeres –ya fueran consejeras delegadas o cuidadoras de los hijos de éstas– y a todas las familias, Sandberg no sería más noticia que cualquier otra persona capaz que viviera en una sociedad más justa y lamentos como los de Slaughter no serían necesarios.

Traducido del inglés por Carlos Manzano.

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  1. CommentedEthical _

    Women aren't yet asking the right questions. Because if women are to "have it all" men will have to work harder to give it to them.
    http://www.the-spearhead.com/2012/11/16/the-missing-ingredient-to-womens-happiness/

  2. CommentedMiles Robhoto

    Today's feminism is playing the victim card like any other minority, no matter how well off that minority is now.
    It pays off to portray oneself as a victim, because there will always be the occasional bleeding heart to lend an ear and cast a vote in favour of the minority. It's better than nothing.
    And it pays even more to play the "two victims" card like the author of this article: women, and women of colour are the victims of the "evil white man", the usual suspect.

    What the players of the victim card don't realise, though, is that they are fueling resentment towards themselves.
    Asking for recognition and respect is one thing. Milking it to the last drop is dangerous, just like sitting down at a casino table and not knowing when to leave it while you still have your shirt on and some chips in your hand.

  3. CommentedSteven Leighton

    I seem to remember when I moved to the US from the UK I was surprised to find the American woman´s idea of being a feminist was to be a man.
    In mainland and northern Europe (not so in the UK and catholic Europe)) being a feminist meant special attention had to be paid to the ability of women to reproduce and to the tradition of women caring for children. Special emphasis was placed on men being able to and even wanting to care for children.
    So it is American(but not only American) women and MEN who need to ask the right questions and one of those is: What is "it all"? And another one might be: How can we all "Have it all"?

  4. CommentedGary Marshall

    What a pile of dung!

    Men still work far longer hours than women, which is why they earn more. Women are generally guilt ridden after having children about working. Which is why they choose to work less and less. Men have no such guilt or at least never let it bother them as much.

    Women are just walking law suits, so one is best to hire men who rarely sue for anything.

    Governments bend over backwards with all these costly policies to move women into the workforce so they can pay for all these new and costly government services. And governments will even look after your children.

    Just a bunch of the thoughts of Wolf assembled without proof or even specious stats in defense. So typical of the feminist set. No wonder women don't win Nobels. Imagination is not truth, Naomi!

    GM

    1. CommentedGary Marshall

      Hello Moctar,

      When I said that I may say anything I like, I meant that I may say anything I like in response to an argument based upon assertions, many of them contemptible or inane.

      I did not mean that if Wolf, who is now at an advanced age and should certainly beyond childish absolutes and immature declarations, presented coherent and defensible arguments, that I am free to offer any response, no matter how absurd.

      When Wolf does 'mature' and offer a sound and logical argument, she shall certainly expect and receive one in rebuttal.

      GM

    2. CommentedMoctar Aboubacar

      Hello,
      Thank you for an informative answer to a couple of my questions.
      However I have a slight doubt about the essence of what you’re telling me: “I can say anything I like to shake the claims of the proponent.” You essentially say that I should be asking Ms. Wolf for her statistics, but not you for yours.
      Certainly you are right to ask her to back up what she says. If she simply provides provocative statements without a shred of proof, then it is as you say, one is simply spouting out whatever biased and discriminatory nonsense that goes through one’s head, regardless of whether it’s true or not. Someone ought to call her out on that, and point out the ridiculousness of any such argument. I commend your efforts toward that.
      However you yourself are not free of the burden of proof and cannot as you maintain, simply “say anything” you like. While it is up to the ‘prosecution’ (running with your nifty metaphor) to sustain their claims, the ‘defense’, in making their own claims must support them. Thus does no one simply take the defense attorney’s word for it that his client is insane; they have him checked.
      Similarly, we have to have ‘checked’ or verified your claims about women working fewer hours than men, suing their employers more than men (a little more specific, if possible, than “look at all those class action lawsuits”), etc.
      But once you provide those proofs I think you will have well established that what you are saying is important and worthy of debate.

    3. CommentedGary Marshall

      Hello Moctar,

      Well, each of my points addressed a comment by Naomi Wolf.

      ###
      In America, by contrast, the Chamber of Commerce and other business interests lobby hard to keep politicians from ever proposing such solutions. They know that billions of dollars are made from hiring women at lower income levels than men, and then ensuring that a work-family conflict derails women’s careers before they become too expensive to compensate fairly.
      ###

      This comment showing that women earn less than men really translates to women work less than men. I was simply trying to clear up the confusion and outright deception that Wolf can't refrain from injecting into every statement she makes. Never trust anything a feminist says because it is invariably a lie or deliberate distortion.

      Now you seem to be very inquisitive about stats and such. Why not ask Wolf where she got hers. She wrote the story and must have all the data to back up her ridiculous statements, right? Seems the target of your curiosity is badly chosen.

      In case you did not know, I'm the defense. I can say anything I like to shake the claims of the proponent. Its up to the prosecution to prove their case or bizarre theory. Asking me to provide proof of the contrary position is like asking a defence lawyer to defend his client by supplying the true culprit of the crime.

      So you run along and ask Wolf for proof of this outlandish conspiracy by business interests throughout the US and beyond to deprive women of their true income.

      Now, women do not get ahead in private corporations because as they approach levels of managerial advancement in their late 20's and early 30's, they decide generally to have children and devote the rest of their lives to them.

      So the principles of merit often conflict with the principles of reluctance for many women. Look at Walmart where women comprise 72% of the company's workers and only 32% of managerial staff.

      If you seek statistics on women suing their employers, look at all those class action lawsuits filed in the US for all sorts of discrimination based upon sex. Now tell me how many men filed similar suits or any kind of class action suits against their employer.

      But Wolf does not like to offer such stats and proofs for her commentary. If she had to, she would have little to say about anything.

      Best of luck.

      GM

    4. CommentedMoctar Aboubacar

      Un petit rappel à l'ordre:

      It would greatly add to the discussion to include proof (or even specious statistics) to support these claims. While what you are saying is certainly outside the scope of Ms. Wolf's piece in its assumptions, it would lend credence to your ideas and permit a more substantive back-and-forth.

      I for one would greatly appreciate some sort of objective proof of, or even elaborated argumentation on the following points:

      1. In what country do men work longer hours than women? How long is this "far longer" number of hours on average? How is this distributed in different sectors?

      2. How is the guilt that women experience after having children measured, and by whom? What is the difference between 'having' guilt and being "guilt-ridden"? How is this same guilt measured in men? You also say that "Men have no such guilt or at least never let it bother them as much" which suggests that dealing with guilt or repressing it is a question of will. It would be great if you shared the demonstrations for that as well.

      3. What mechanism has shown the relationship between this guilt and the choice to work "less and less"? Does women working "less and less" mean that as time advances, fewer women enter the workforce? Is this in absolute or relative terms? Where might I find the relevant statistics for that?

      4. What are the statistics of men versus women when it comes to filing lawsuits against employers? How does one objectively determine that a higher incidence of filing lawsuits against employers in a population backs a normative claim on hiring one sex over the other?

      This seems like a good amount to start with. Again, a response including answers to these questions and any links to proof/statistics to strengthen your claims is much appreciated.

  5. CommentedFrank O'Callaghan

    Beautifully lucid. The great unspoken truth is that the greatest inequality is not between the sexes but between those who can choose to have others do the less rewarding functions of parenthood simply because of economics and those who cannot.

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