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Pseudofeminism, Gender Pay, and Skepticism

10 Feb

As a skeptic I’m used to asking for evidence behind claims, though sometimes—especially in areas surrounding social issues—criticizing arguments can raise thorny issues for skeptics.

I was recently reminded of this when I came across an interesting article by Jaymie Strecker on a Web site called The Floating Point Divide. It’s about the issue of the gender gap in pay and a book titled Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide, by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, published in 2003. The premise is that women don’t make as much as men because they don’t negotiate their salaries.

Strecker writes that “Reviewers drooled over the book’s potential to help women. The Ms. blog included it in their top 100 feminist nonfiction. In my field, computer science, Women Don’t Ask is recommended left and right — Geek Feminism, Grace Hopper Celebration, Anita Borg Institute. Valerie Aurora of LinuxChix even became so enraptured by the book that she ran a scholarship to help women buy it…. Parts of Women Don’t Ask wax very feminist. The authors genuinely want to help women get the money and power they deserve. They want women to be free.”

So what’s the problem?

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