I saw on CNN that while women make up 46% of the work force only 3% of fortune 500 CEOs are women.
Naturally, many people see this as a grave injustice. This could very well be the case-feminists have argued that women are systematically excluded from positions of authority. This is said to be done by secret policies, the creation of a hostile work environment, the power of the old boy network, and so on. People also point to the fact that little has been done to allow women to have both a high end career and a family. It has also been noted that women have been socialized to be less competitive and hence are less likely to end up in such positions.
Of course, some might say that there are more important things to worry about. After all, many people live in poverty and the fact that there are not as many super rich women as super rich women seems somehow less bothersome.
But, this situation does seem to indicate a deeper sort of injustice. While I’m not too worried that there are not that many female CEOs (after all, the overwhelming majority of people in the world are not CEOs) this disparity is mirrored all the way down the work force. For example, in academics woman professors often face serious challenges in earning tenure and promotions. This is because the years in which a professor goes up for tenure also are generally the same years when a family is raising children.
While there are many factors that explain the causes of this situation, a major factor seems to be that companies need to do more to enable women to work their way up the hierarchy while still being able to have a family. While much progress has been made, women still bear the majority of the burden of raising children and it is unfair that they have to “pay” for choosing to have a family by giving up career advancement. One reasonable way to deal with this is for employers to take steps to work with women (and men) to enable people to have both a family and a career.
It might be objected that this should not be done. After all, companies are in the business to make money. Since enabling women to have both career and a family would cost more than just sticking with men and non-family women, companies should not follow this practice. It might be replied that companies would be losing talented women by not following such practices. This, it might be said, is true-but other talented people can be found who would not need such accommodation.
To counter this, it would need to be argued that accommodating women (and perhaps men as well) is a social good and should be encouraged and funded by the state. This seems reasonable-society needs new people to continue to exist and hence the creation of such new citizens is something that should be encourage. Society also should not let talent go to waste and people should have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions. Hence, such accommodations make good sense.
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