DMI Blog

Maureen Lane

Helping Dick AND Jane succeed

Of late a few articles have appeared that made a correlation between progress made by women and the fact that men are not achieving at the same clip. The ramifications for the perceived correlation is demographic changes that leave public debate framed by a false dichotomy: women vs. men.

In a NYT op/ed yesterday, Jennifer Delahunty Britz, notes that there are more girls applying to her college than boys and she must therefore send out more rejections to girls who would normally be accepted if it weren't for the need to admit more boys.

Similarly, an article by Erik Eckholm in NYT on Monday, sites research that shows poor black men not doing well economically. There are large numbers neither graduating high school, neither going to college nor finding jobs. Eckholm quotes Ronald B. Mincy, "Over the last two decades, the economy did great and low-skilled women, helped by public policy, latched onto it. But young black men were falling farther back."

Too often fear and scarcity make up public debate. There is fretfulness to Britz's piece. She frets that the unintended consequence of the women's movement is women excelling at such a rate that it is hindering boys and she is loathe to make women suffer because of their own successes. She feels forced to send these talented female applicants rejection letters but that is only making things worse.

I read fear and scarcity in Dr. Mincy's words as well. Clarity is important if we want to construct positive policies that allow for poor men AND women to succeed. If Mincy is signaling welfare policy when he suggests that poor women have done better, then I take exception to his words. Studies of women leaving welfare over the past ten years do not show them doing well economically.

We must not foster false 'either/or thinking' and downright fear mongering -- the idea that if one group of us prospers another must suffer in this the most prosperous nation on earth -- makes no sense. Katha Pollit's great piece addresses this fallacy as well as how steriotypes have fed into that fallacy.

Our priorities are built on values. The value we want to lean into, big time, is that development of all our people is a societal good. If human development is a priority, we can make sure there is enough access to go around for all: women and men of all colors.

Maureen Lane: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 3:50 PM, Mar 24, 2006 in Education | Employment | Welfare | public services
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