Today, I'm going to get to talk about interesting and important stuff from my book that the press has not asked about: female-dominant primates, Christmas shopping, and business school bad guys.
At 5pm Central/6pm Eastern in the US, I will be having an hour-long conversation about The Double X Economy with Professor Marianne Bertrand under the auspices of the University of Chicago's Booth School. The event is online, free, and open to the public.
I am especially pleased because Professor Bertrand and I plan to discuss the science behind The Double X Economy, the 80% Christmas, and the gender politics in American business schools. These are all things that I expected to be asked about often when I wrote them, but in the US, journalists have focused almost exclusively on the parts they believe they already know about, like equal pay and unpaid labor. Those topics, too, are in the book, but they are explored in light of other material—about the nature, history, and scope of women's economic exclusion—that frames the familiar issues rather differently.
The Double X Economy is short-listed, along with five other books, for the Royal Society's 2020 Best Science Book Prize. I am honored to be recognized in this way, especially because the first criterion for inclusion is that the book has to be based on a solid understanding of science. When writing The Double X Economy, I felt that I had to address all the allegedly scientific rationalizations for gender inequality, so I studied what science today has to say about claims like "male dominance is necessary for survival" or "female brains can't do math" or "it's natural for mothers to stay home" or whatever. It meant covering several scientific disciplines, from primatology to neuroscience. I worked really hard and was very careful, but obviously it's daunting to get that much science right when you yourself are not a scientist. With the Royal Society recognition, I'm feeling I have won some quality control approval—so now I want to talk more about the science.
I have long been dismayed by the women's movement's continued reliance on strikes and marches to push their cause. I think marches are very important for demonstrating numbers and promoting solidarity, but after a while, your adversaries can just ignore them. Last week, there was a fourth Women's March, for instance, and I doubt it will have any impact on the current crisis over reproductive rights. Strikes simply are not suited to women's predicament, since so much of the inequality is personal, familial, and sexual in origin—and too many women are not in paid employment. Instead, I have thought that women should use the one site of power they have in the economy—consumer purchasing—to press for fair treatment in all their areas of struggle. In The Double X Economy, I proposed an action called "the 80% Christmas."
In the second chapter of The Double X Economy, I compare the struggles of two seemingly unrelated groups of females: girls in rural African schools and female professors in American business schools. In both cases, women are being held back and mistreated by males who behave very badly. In both cases, the communities won't challenge the wholly unacceptable behavior of the men. In both cases, the weapon of choice is the traditional role of women in marriage.
Please join us tonight for what I think will be an interesting conversation. The event is sponsored by the Harry L. Davis Center for Leadership and you can register here.