The Feminist Dilemma in a Nutshell

Check out this provocative piece by Alexis Coe in The Atlantic, bemoaning the fact that “Being Married Helps Professors Get Ahead, but Only If They’re Male.” In a nutshell, it manages to capture many of the dilemmas of feminism in the present day.

At the outset, let’s set aside the “diversity” irony — that is, the fact that female professors often carry a heavier “service” load than their male counterparts. This is in part because “diversity” requires women on each committee, and given their lower numbers, this translates into more hours away from research and writing for female junior faculty. So a preoccupation that’s supposed to benefit women (i.e., keeping an eye on “gender balance”) often ends up disadvantaging them. (Who’d a thunk?!)

Otherwise, the big “problems” as laid out in the piece are that (1) smart women are more likely to marry smart men than vice-versa, and smart men are less willing to want to follow their wives to new jobs; (2) men are more likely than women to have stay-at-home spouses, thereby allowing them to devote their full energy to their careers; and (3) women experience greater demands in parenting than men do.

Modern feminists can bemoan these facts all they want, but until they can: (1) Convince smart women enthusiastically to embrace men who are less intelligent and/or accomplished than they; (2) Force all women into the workplace, thereby shoving at least some unwilling women out of the home and upending the otherwise economically rational decision to let the higher-earning partner maximize (most often) his income; and (3) Figure out a way for men to give birth and experience the rush of maternal feelings that (most often) accompany motherhood, it’s not clear to me how the “root causes” of this gender disparity can be alleviated.

Yes, of course, universities can tinker around the edges, and no doubt they will. But like the “diversity” preoccupation set forth above, such tinkering can often have undesirable, unintended consequences of its own.

What am I missing?