Due to some hurricane-related power problems, I’ll have to limit myself to just a few random comments.
Miedzian appears to believe that salaries should reflect some Platonic version of the importance, difficulty, and responsibility of a job. Sometimes they do, but not because a philosopher king got to determine things. It’s because of supply and demand. There are enough childcare workers available to keep salaries low; if there were not, workers would earn more. (Though let’s face it, if they did, fewer women would find it feasible to work outside the home.) I have no idea why parking lot attendants make what they do, but if parking lot owners could find capable men or women willing to work for less, they would hire them in a second.
To the question of research that purportedly proves gender discrimination: the studies in question do not stand up to a reasonably skeptical reading. The “statistical evidence” of discrimination by Wal-Mart does not consider hours, work experience, or other variables. The report originally referenced by Hess showing a substantial discrepancy in earnings between men and women straight out of business school was sponsored by Catalyst, an advocacy group for women in business. That fact by itself doesn’t disqualify its findings, but a close reading yields enough questions to do so. Why, for instance, does the study include subjects from Asia, Europe, the United States and Canada? The unexamined variables are immense. At any rate, the Catalyst study is at odds with this peer-reviewed Harvard and University of Chicago study.
Hess interprets my position as ”women choose and men follow,” or rather women make “individual choice” and men follow “cultural destiny.” This sets up an absolute distinction between individual agency and cultural influence that I don’t accept. Individual choice is always circumscribed by biology, by scarcity—and by culture. Hess herself seems to admit as much when she refers to “lowered cultural expectations” that make women avoid STEM fields. But if “lowered cultural expectations” make women choose to study education rather than physics—an open question from my perspective—then surely cultural expectations could make them choose to have children on their own—or not. Surely men too can face “lowered cultural expectations” as lovers, husbands, and fathers that influence their choices. This all means that women’s choices and men’s choices cannot easily be disentangled. Men choose in a way that affects women’s choices and vice versa. For the foreseeable future, at any rate, the sexes are interdependent.