Monday, September 22, 2008

On Race and Gender

A couple of interesting studies/polls to focus on this morning. First, a new AP-Yahoo poll on the importance of race and the upcoming election.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks -- many calling them ''lazy,'' ''violent'' or responsible for their own troubles.

The poll, conducted with Stanford University, suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004 -- about 2.5 percentage points.

Statistical models derived from the poll suggest that Obama's support would be as much as 6 percentage points higher if there were no white racial prejudice.
Not only is that number incredibly high, but some of the comments elicited in the poll are unbelievably blunt in terms of negative racial attitudes.
''We still don't like black people,'' said John Clouse, 57, reflecting the sentiments of his pals gathered at a coffee shop in Somerset, Ohio.
AP-Yahoo had to clarify exactly how they arrived at these conclusions in an update this morning. I can't find it in the data they present, but I would hazard a guess that the more stridently racist attitudes tend to come from older voters, while those 45 and under (the first generations born post-civil rights) are less likely to express such attitudes.

The poll also shows that despite the feel-good rhetoric of Obama's candidacy as being indicative of a "post-racial" world, we're nowhere near that utopian ideal, nor should we delude ourselves that race doesn't matter.

On gender, this new study explores wage disparities and gender from the male's perspective and comes up with some interesting results.

Men with egalitarian attitudes about the role of women in society earn significantly less on average than men who hold more traditional views about women's place in the world, according to a study being reported today.

It is the first time social scientists have produced evidence that large numbers of men might be victims of gender-related income disparities. The study raises the provocative possibility that a substantial part of the widely discussed gap in income between men and women who do the same work is really a gap between men with a traditional outlook and everyone else.

The differences found in the study were substantial. Men with traditional attitudes about gender roles earned $11,930 more a year than men with egalitarian views and $14,404 more than women with traditional attitudes. The comparisons were based on men and women working in the same kinds of jobs with the same levels of education and putting in the same number of hours per week.

"When we think of the gender wage gap, most of our focus goes to the women side of things," said Beth A. Livingston, co-author of the study. "This article says a lot of the difference may be in men's salaries."
It doesn't bode well, forty years after women's rights, that men who believe in gender egalitarianism would earn lower wages than men who hold rather traditional, patriarchal views of gender. As with the poll on race, I would like to see an age breakdown of the respondents, theorizing that this is more a function of age and post-feminist generational attitudes. It could also be more a structural problem (i.e. corporations or workplaces which still value the "old boys" networks) than an individual phenomenon.

Regardless, both these stories show that old-school attitudes about race and gender die hard.

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