Gail Collins, a columnist for the NY Times, has written WHEN EVERYTHING CHANGED The Amazing Journey of American Women From 1960 to the Present. The NY Times review provides vignettes from the sixties that can see bizarre, even to those of who lived through that period:
in 1960 … a secretary, Lois Rabinowitz, went to court to pay her boss’s speeding ticket … Rabinowitz was rebuked by the judge for wearing slacks. … He sent her home to change her clothes, instructed her husband to use a tighter rein and told reporters that it upset him to see “women tearing themselves down from this pedestal.”
In a 1964 Congressional hearing, when airline executives testified that it was imperative for businessmen that attractive women light their cigars and fix drinks, Representative Martha Griffiths said, “What are you running, an airline or a whorehouse?” and the conversation began to change.
And what’s this have to do with philosophy? Consider the following:
Or that glorious day in 1963 when a quarter of a million people gathered to hear Martin Luther King’s extraordinary speech, “and very few people noticed that black women had been almost completely cut out of the event.” Though no women were on the speaking list, the men “kept pointing out that they had, after all, asked Marian Anderson to sing.”
That was 46 years ago, and the comparable situation is only just getting attention in philosophy.
There is one troubling remark in the review:
More women [in the 80's] than men attended college; the gender gap in pay began to narrow. (If you don’t want any gap at all, remain young, single and childless.)
It looks like a simple fact that young, single and childless women in major metro areas have pay parity, but just about no other women. And we know a lot about why this is so, including the extensive burdens with families that mostly only women shoulder. In Colllins’ book , though, it seemed less clear to me. It may be the case that she still sees many women’s lack of opportunities for full devotion to their careers as somehow significantly implying that it’s down to women’s choices, as though we really have the unweighted alternatives that men have always had.