Pinker does more than dryly discuss the biology; she provides example after example of women who have succeeded in this “man’s world” and found it wanting. As Pinker explains, let’s move on past the idea that a woman can’t do the same work as a man, and discuss why she may not want to. Any woman who has wondered if her preferences run counter to the feminist cause should pay close attention here; believing that a woman should have every right to pursue the same goals as men is different from believing that every woman should want to. Time and again, Pinker points out how women have sought those goals, attained them, and then shifted their eyes to a different prize. These “opt out” women can be found, as Pinker states, “in every major university, law, engineering, and accounting firm in North America and Europe” (p. 64). Women are 2.8 times more likely than men to leave science and engineering careers for other occupations and 13 times more likely to exit the labor force entirely. This is not because they are overwhelmed with childcare, either. They leave their careers at every age and every stage of life, whether or not they have families. Pinker concludes with what seems to be an obvious yet ignored truth, that women are autonomous beings who know their own desires. As one woman put it, “…work is not the only thing I do. I have a life” (p. 90).Personally, I think "success" is a great goal for people who can't think of anything better to do with their lives, but something the rest of us might be better off to avoid. If you can be "successful" on your terms, doing something you like to do, great, but if making more money and climbing the career ladder means sacrificing the things you really love, perhaps you should rethink.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Here's a review of a book by Susan Pinker that advances a thesis I have been mulling over for some time: maybe women are less "successful" than men because they have better priorities: