the average woman

Linnea Ista lkista at
Fri Apr 16 15:08:30 EST 1999

On 15 Apr 1999, Anne Meixner wrote:

> This is to follow up on Karen's comment about why men even those that
> are tenured might be threatened by having more women entering a field.
> As a graduate student I participated in a Gender/Science reading group
> and one of the members was trained as an anthroplogists.  In looking at
> studies of careers, it has been shown that when more women enter a field
> the salaries go down and the prestige of a job goes down.  Saracastically
> it's "If a women can do it, must not be worth much."
> Some classic examples are secretaries, at the
> end of the 1800's secretaries were men and it was a step up the business
> ladder.  As more women entered this job it became more of a dead end job.
> Teachers is another example.  

One thing that is largely ignored in the "women making less" is that
particularly around the turn of the century, there was a fair amount of
social engineering that went on to make sure they would be low. The
thought was that a woman with too much money would spend it immorally,
whereas a man needed it to support his family. Therefore women's salaries
were set to be just above subsitance in order to "protect" us from "moral
turpitude". Instead what happened is that women wanting to have fun had to
rely on a man paying for it -- with all the morass of expectations that
went along with it. I can send a citation for this if anyone is

This was reflected in some of the "rules" governing women's conduct if
they were employed. My grand mother was a teacher during the late 1910s
and early 20s. Her contract specified what she could and could not do
during her off hours. And of course she was expected to resign once she
got married (she did). 

> So unconciously, our male peers may be fearing this.
The sad thing is that the small increase in women's salaries that have
been made in the past couple of decades have been due not to an increase
in overall earning power, but a decrease in men's salaries in general.
This is partly why we are seeing less prosperity over all than we were,
say 30 years ago. Sadly, instead of placing the blame for this where it
belongs, companies that are willing to sacrifice workers for stock
profits, it has been leaked out that it is the fault of women entering the
workforce in large numbers. Grrrrr.

> Just an engineer lurking among biologists,
And I am a biologist lurking among engineers :-). Well technically I am
working with engineers

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