Best columns: Business
Why we need talkative women
The Washington Post
“Ah, women. How does one bear their hysterical arguments and constant chatter?” asked Christine Emba. Usually such misogynist stereotypes are only hinted at, but it’s been a banner month for sexism in business and politics. A former Trump spokesman recently labeled Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) “hysterical” after her aggressive questioning of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The same week, Uber board member David Bonderman interrupted Arianna Huffington, the company’s sole female director, “to joke that having more female board members would simply lead to more talking.” Ironically, in both cases the qualities “being dismissed as excesses of femininity” are the ones business and politics need most.
More talking would have been an “incontestable good” at Uber, where workers didn’t feel comfortable taking their concerns about harassment and discrimination to management. Having more women on the board might also have compelled the company to address its toxic, hypermasculine culture “before it spiraled out of control.” As for Sen. Harris’ forceful questioning, “in men, such intensity is read as effectiveness.” In a 2001 survey of lawmakers, “the top reason female legislators ran for office was to effect social change.” For men, it was because “they had always wanted to.” Call me crazy, but “an emotional commitment to progress sounds better than dispassionate ego stroking any day.”
Paychecks aren’t getting bigger
The Wall Street Journal
“For anyone who collects a paycheck, there’s some bad news, and some worse news,” said Greg Ip. Although unemployment is at a 16-year low, wage growth is miserable, “clocking in between 2.5 and 3 percent for the past year.” Even worse, “if a labor market this tight can’t generate better pay, quite possibly it never will.” Policymakers have long blamed lousy wage gains on the glut of excess workers left by the recession, which robbed employees of their bargaining power. But “that explanation no longer washes.” Some 4 percent of jobs are now vacant, the highest rate since 2000, leaving parts of the country facing chronic worker shortages. You might think that desperate businesses would simply raise pay, but for wage increases to be sustainable, employers either have to raise prices or increase their productivity, neither of which is happening right now. Inflation is well below the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target, while productivity growth barely inched above 1 percent last year. This isn’t just a U.S. problem. Unemployment is at generational lows in Japan and Germany. Yet wages remain stagnant in both countries, which, like the U.S., are saddled with aging workforces and sluggish productivity growth. So, “if you just got a raise, enjoy it: It might be as good as it gets.” ■