The Bog of Lost Scholars

March 26, 2004

Affirmative Action I’d Love to See

Filed under: People, Culture, and Society — castiron @ 1:35 pm

For the record, I am generally in favor of affirmative action when it means “we make an effort to find applicants from groups and backgrounds that aren’t as well represented in our company or in a particular hierarchy of the company, and we do our best to focus on the applicant’s actual abilities and to ignore as far as possible their race, gender, orientation, ethnic background, class background, etc.”, and against it when it means “we must hire X% of Group A, Y% of Group B, etc.”.

That said, there’s one job sector that’s screaming for some gender-based affirmative action, and I’d probably cheerfully overlook it if the hiring company applied the second form of affirmative action.

I refer, of course, to the care of younger children, a field overwhelmingly staffed by women.

I want more male caregivers in daycares — my son’s daycare does a fabulous job on this front, but all kids in daycare should have the chance to interact with men as well as women during the day. I want more male elementary school teachers, especially in the lower grades. (I want more stay-at-home/work-at-home dads too, but that’s obviously not an AA issue.)

Yes, I know; besides the fact that caring for small children is often seen as UnManly, the pay for childcare and elementary education sucks. Men won’t move into these fields unless the pay sharply increases, but paying daycare workers better means daycare becomes less affordable to those who need it most, and paying teachers better means our taxes go up yet again. Still. If I ever walk by a display table for an anti-affirmative action group, I’ll ask them whether they think it’d be a bad thing to preferentially hire men as elementary school teachers, and see what they say.

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