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Leave Women Alone Already

They’re still at it. Everyone wants to understand why New Zealand’s prime minister,  Jacinda Arden, resigned from her post before her term was over. For some odd reason, they can’t seem to accept that the woman may have chosen family over career.

Have we, as a society, become so regressive in nature that we find it odd that a woman puts family before a high-powered job? When men leave the workforce to raise their kids, it’s met with fanfare. We praise men who take the time to raise their children. But when a woman makes the same decision, something must have gone wrong somewhere.

It’s easy to blame the workforce, the current political environment, or whatever other forces that seem to be “holding” the woman back. Why else would any female, who has finally won the right to make her own career choices, want to return to the kitchen full-time, change diapers, and smell like infant vomit for a majority of the day.

Relax, folks. The women’s rights movement was never about forcing women out of their homes and into the workforce. It was about giving women the opportunity to decide their own fates, even if that meant they take a break from their careers. No one ever said that every woman should be out of the kitchen and sitting behind a desk. All we said was that she should have the right to choose.

It’s understandable that the problem with taking such a break will only make it more difficult to narrow the wage gap, but it shouldn’t be an excuse. Women and people of color shouldn’t be paid less than men because they decide to put family first. There must be another benchmark that can be used to decide salaries.

Besides, it’s common sense that the only companies who try to punish a woman for taking time off for family are those who hold high expectations for their employees. We’re talking here about long hours and cut throat atmospheres that lead to higher profits, all expectations that many women were never interested in anyway.

The problem with the wage gap is that it’s ubiquitous. Research has found that males are likely to earn more even in careers infiltrated by women, such as education and nursing. What needs to happen is that society must stop perceiving men as the sole breadwinners. That is the real issue. You can have any man take years off from the workforce and chances are he’ll be wooed back with a cushiony salary – one that is, according to the latest research, now 82 cents more than what any woman will be promised. Which adds up to big bucks when you run the numbers.

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