Monday, May 10, 2010

The Continued Ghettoization of Women's Labor

This list of the worst paying college degrees from the Huffington Post is making its way around the web. I enjoyed reading the list of highest paying college degrees a few weeks ago as well.

I suppose nothing is terribly surprising on those lists but it is sad to see that the value of work generally done by women has not changed at all. We can intellectualize about how raising future generations of engineers is just as important as engineering itself but we passively accept that teachers and social workers make significantly less money than almost any other profession (for which they were formally educated). Seriously, look at both of those lists and it will be clear that men's work is more valued than women's work. And it is clear that the Huffington Post realizes that low paying jobs are women's work and high paying jobs are men's work based on the images they chose to accompany the text. In the article about the highest paying degrees only one out of fourteen of the people pictured appeared to be women. In the article about the lowest paying degrees six out of the eleven people pictured appeared to be women. This is no accident.

What I wonder about these articles is whether they will deter the next generation of college students from choosing social service related majors. If we are to discourage young people from going into social service professions, who is going to do that work (will it even matter with all of the social service cuts)? Moreover, who can afford to do that work? Who can afford to take out over $80,000 in student loans (seriously I know this person) to get an MSW only to find the best paying jobs in that field are in the $40,000s and that is if you can find work at all.

I don't have to be an accountant to know that that investment will never pay off.
And that is depressing because I am in that same situation only my major wasn't directly on that list.


MrNarci said...

I'm also quite frustrated by the fact that the highest paying degrees were mostly concerned with the stream of science!!! What happened to Humanities!!!

Cortney said...

The humanities have never paid well but that being considered those degrees should not cost so darn much!

It is unfair to require someone to pay nearly $100,000 to become a social worker who will be lucky if she ever sees a salary close to $40,000.

I guess we have to get creative with these degrees, I certainly never thought I'd end up in this type of education field with an MA in Women's and Gender Studies.

DK said...

This resonates with me, I've often thought the same thing, but many people just take it as 'the way things are'. Well I dont think it's acceptable at all. Generally speaking men tend to think that what they do is more important than what women do. And it's ingrained in our society to think that way. Even women in the same fields as men still make less than the men do at the same jobs!! We need to finally start paying women equal pay for equal work. And we need to change how so many people are locked into one way of thinking that results in sexism and gender polarization/discrimination.