Sunday, January 01, 2006

Only 38 percent of Female Harvard MBAs are working

In the American Prospect, a thoughtful essay by Brandeis professor Linda Hirshman--with data--about the unfinished work of feminism.

"Great as liberal feminism was, once it retreated to choice the movement had no language to use on the gendered ideology of the family. Feminists could not say, “Housekeeping and child-rearing in the nuclear family is not interesting and not socially validated. Justice requires that it not be assigned to women on the basis of their gender and at the sacrifice of their access to money, power, and honor.”"

I disagree that housekeeping and child-rearing are a priori boring, but I agree with the rest of the statement.
Here is the Generation Debt angle. Women are making up significant proportions of classes at elite colleges, graduate and professional schools. They have all the student loan debt that goes with that, but if few of them end up in the full-time workforce, they won't have the same earnings to pay it off. As the education finance crisis continues, how long before women start to receive a lower proportion of the scarce aid available? How long before they stop going to school at all?
A private student loan company I am writing a story about calculates loans based on a students' expected future income. That would probably mean that they loan women money at worse rates than men, because the risk is higher.
PS: Today's NYT Sunday Styles section features an anguished personal essay on the same question.


Anonymous said...

Love your work, Anya. However, your great ideas sometimes seem to contradict each other. On the one hand, you write that the younger generation is saddled with crippling debt. On the other hand, you write that you will be dissapointed if women are prevented from borrowing money they can't afford to pay back. It can't be both ways. If, indeed, women receive lower salaries than men, then I believe that women who intend to earn low (or no) salaries will be protected by having their borrowing restricted.

Anya said...

Thanks for writing. It is a contradiction. I agree with you that the student loan system could be rationalized by having debt better linked to probable future earnings--a financial aid officer suggests the same idea in my book. But I hate the idea of women failing to take the risk on their own education--or worse, being denied financial aid--because of a persistent cultural bias that may hurt their earnings. I think the solution, of course, is to reduce education debt for all.

Personal finance for women said...

This is so interesting to me! I was glad i took the time to read this article!