To the Editor:
I agree with Lise Eliot and Richard Whitmire, the authors of the recent Commentary “Common Ground on Gender” (March 31, 2010). We must focus serious attention on boys’ literacy skills. Providing an excellent and equitable education to all students is too important to be viewed as a gendered, either-or proposition in which helping one sex automatically harms the other.
Yet, to summarize the labor-force participation of women today as simply a sign of women’s workplace achievement is a dangerous oversimplification of economic realities. More women are primary breadwinners because men have borne the brunt of job losses in the current recession.
Job loss among men is no victory for women, however. Women workers are still concentrated disproportionately in lower-paying and service jobs, where cuts have been fewer. On average, women earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.
A focus on boys and literacy must not preclude continued attention to education and career opportunities for girls, as well as for boys.
Susan McGee Bailey
Wellesley Centers for Women
Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Education
A version of this article appeared in the April 28, 2010 edition of Education Week as Job Loss Among Men Is No Victory for Women