Clearing up “opting out”

A Harvard economist does the math: Most women are not trading career for family.

Topics: Broadsheet, Love and Sex,

On today’s New York Times Op-Ed page, Harvard economist Claudia Goldin calmly debunks the myth of the “opt-out revolution,” the much-peddled (often by the Times) notion that highly educated women are leaving the workplace in massive the-hell-with-having-it-all droves. She cites a long-term study by the Mellon Foundation showing that only 7 percent of the 10,000 women tracked spent more than half their available time away from the job; on average, the women spent only 1.6 years outside the labor force. Sixty-nine percent of these women had at least one child — and they “opted out” for an average of just over two years. Did those who stayed at work just downgrade to less demanding jobs? The data on their occupations clearly suggests otherwise. And what about college-educated women currently in their 30s? The percentage who work dropped slightly only recently — but so did that of their male peers. (It’s the economy, stupid.)



Those women who do opt out provide juicy anecdotes for those who smell feminist blood. (As if, sigh, women raising children full time means feminism failed. Or as if opting out means life is easy.) Goldin suggests that the media leaps on these stories because (as a friend of hers put it), “many people have difficulty believing that ‘women can actually contribute professionally and participate meaningfully in the raising of a family,’” she says. “But the truth is that a greater fraction of college women today are mixing family life and career than ever before. Denying that fact is ignoring the facts.” So let’s hope that when it comes to misleading coverage of women giving “it all” up, the Times, henceforth, will opt out.

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of BreakupGirl.net. She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Rose Jay via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Labrador Retriever

    These guys are happy because their little brains literally can't grasp the concept of global warming.

    Hysteria via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    German Shepherd

    This momma is happy to bring her little guy into the world, because she doesn't know that one day they'll both be dead.

    Christian Mueller via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Golden Retriever

    I bet these guys wouldn't be having so much fun if they knew the sun was going to explode one day.

    WilleeCole Photography via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Bulldog

    This dude thinks he's tough, but only because nobody ever told him about ISIS.

    Soloviova Liudmyla via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Beagle

    This little lady is dreaming about her next meal-- not Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

    Labrador Photo Video via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Yorkshire Terrier

    This trusting yorkie has never even heard the name "Bernie Madoff."

    Pavla via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Poodle

    She is smiling so widely because she is too stupid to understand what the Holocaust was.

    Aneta Pics via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Boxer

    Sure, frolic now, man. One day you're going to be euthanized and so is everyone you love.

    Dezi via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    French Bulldog

    He's on a casual afternoon stroll because he is unfamiliar with the concept of eternity.

    Jagodka via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Rottweiler

    Wouldn't it be nice if we could all be this care-free? But we can't because we are basically all indirectly responsible for slavery.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>