Imagining an Egalitarian World: A Response to Steven E. Rhoads

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Media Outlet: Institute for Family Studies

Brigid Schulte takes on an academic who argues that workplaces and social policy don’t need to change because women, not men, are biologically wired to be caregivers for the Institute for Family Studies blog.

It was a dizzying experience reading the recent IFS blog post by Dr. Steven E. Rhoads, asserting that universities and other workplaces should discontinue gender-neutral policies because most women, especially those with young children, don’t really want to work full time. I had recently written a piece arguing the opposite, The Case Against Maternity Leave, because the evidence shows policies aimed to “help” one gender typically end up disadvantaging that very gender.

I wanted to better understand Rhoads’ point of view, and the closing argument in his blog post that "proponents of ’leaning in’ have no reason to believe they speak for most women or that they have a better understanding than women themselves of what’s good for them. Why not try to accommodate the life preferences women in fact have?"


Brigid Schulte is the director of the Better Life Lab at New America. Schulte is an award-winning journalist and author, who writes widely for publications including the Washington Post, Slate, Time,  the Guardian, and others. Her book on time pressure, gender roles and modern life, Overwhelmed, Work, Love and Play when No One has the Time, was a New York Times bestseller.