Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Could Women Thrive at Yale if They Could Respect Their Househusbands?

The current issue of the Yale alumni magazine explores how much having kids, or trying to have kids, contributes to the still-low numbers of tenured women at Yale. Yale (and Harvard and Princeton) famously give no advantage to their junior faculty when they come up for tenure – they still have to prove they are the best in the world. Getting a Ph.D. – now obligatory in the Ivies – and writing books and articles for tenure come at the same time as the baby-having window. Indeed, those fifteen years or so can completely obliterate the body's time to have kids.

Men do not have the same problem. Why? Because they have wives who take the lead with the little kids when their husbands are doing what it takes to get tenure in the Ivies. So why don't women find husbands who would act like those kinds of wives? The first reason is that such men are harder to come by. The more difficult reason is that, as a rule, women want to marry men who achieve at even higher levels than they do.

The most difficult reason, though, seems to be that it is just much harder for women to fully respect men who stay home and take care of the kids.

That is a deeper revolution than more childcare can solve.

2 comments:

sq said...

The most difficult reason, though, seems to be that it is just much harder for women to fully respect men who stay home and take care of the kids. I suspect it's that the men won't fully respect themselves for stepping out of their traditional roles and therefore don't offer.

Gruntled said...

Yes, respect is a difficult dance, because we do it with ourselves as well as others. I remember when my wife was supporting us when I was writing my dissertation. I always had a low-level sense that I should be out teaching, even though I knew rationally that it was much more beneficial for us all in the long run to focus on the dissertation now, and work later. On the whole I think it is a very good thing that men have a visceral resistance to being dependent. But sometimes you have to force yourself to rationally override that instinct for the greater good of the family.