Bush's War on Women, Part Two

The Myth of Progress

You'd think the entertainment industry would welcome both sexes, but stereotypes limit the jobs women get. Only four of last year's 100 top-grossing films were directed by women, and only one of those movies had a female cinematographer. You're as likely to find a female record producer as you are to find a woman behind the camera. Some corporations, such as AOL Time Warner, have an impressive front-office hiring record. But a liberal image is no guarantee that a company will be an equal-opportunity employer when it comes to management.

Nor does a hip image mean female executives. Apple has only one, Levi Strauss none. Think about that the next time you buy jeans.

If it's tempting to believe women are doing just fine, perhaps that's because so many guys hold to this idea. Only 8 percent of men think women are paid less for doing the same work that they do, according to Catalyst. A whopping 51 percent of women disagree. This perceptual gender gap is crucial when you consider that most people who hire and promote are men. If they don't see the problem, how can it be solved?

The answer is government. Monitoring makes the truth more evident; enforcement makes the penalty for prejudice more severe. So, when Bush withholds a report that documents sex discrimination, or stymies the agencies that keep track of workplace bias, he sets a standard of laxness. Every industry will soon reflect this stay-put attitude—unless women refuse to buy the myth of progress.

A few cents is no real change.

Research assistance: F. Timothy Martin

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