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Category: Feminism

Show Her the Money

December 9, 2008

That Warren Buffett's bio is called The Snowball inadvertently has application also to the gathering speed of women's intention to share the nation's economic pie. We already know that the economy's downturn disproportionately affects women. But a number of interesting articles lately have made the point that women are increasingly likely to say "Show me the money," to any politician or business mogul wanting their support. Linda Hirshman's (author of Get to Work: a Manifesto for the Women of the World, advising women from a strong feminist perspective to stay in the workforce for their own sakes and the good of the movement) op ed in today's New York Times, "Where are the New Jobs for Women" puts it directly to president-elect Barack Obama:

Mr. Obama compared his infrastructure plan [to create 2.5 million new jobs] to the Eisenhower-era construction of the Interstate System of highways. It brings back the Eisenhower era in a less appealing way as well: there are almost no women on this road to recovery. Back before the feminist revolution brought women into the workplace in unprecedented numbers, this would have been more understandable. But today, women constitute about 46 percent of the labor force. And as the current downturn has worsened, their traditionally lower unemployment rate has actually risen just as fast as men’s. A just economic stimulus plan must include jobs in fields like social work and teaching, where large numbers of women work.

The days when women would point out the injustices and then set about creating all kinds of safety nets for their sisters rather than changing the system appear to be on the wane, replaced with harder-nosed use of the facts and political clout to make their point that women should by rights be in the workplace and when there must receive equal compensation to men in the same or equally valued roles. From Lilly Ledbetter to Leslie Bennetts, we might look cool as cucumbers but actually be mad as hell and not about to take second place any more. As Hirshman concludes by nudging the reader, and presumably Obama, to look at the world through women's lens for a change:

A public works program can provide needed economic stimulus and revive America’s concern for public property. The current proposal is simply too narrow. Women represent almost half the work force — not exactly a marginal special interest group. By adding a program for jobs in libraries, schools and children’s programs, the new administration can create jobs for them, too.

Actually, given his long time support of women's empowerment, I imagine Mr. Buffett is sitting in Omaha nodding his approval of this rapidly gathering snowball.