Women Are the Social Safety Net

Connecting the Dots – #YesThisIsAnArtsStory Repost from Ellevest Magazine

Sallie Krawcheck | 17 November 2020

“Other countries have social safety nets. The US has women.”

Oof. What a gut punch those words are, from sociologist Jessica Calarco, in an article by the same name last week.

Other countries have affordable child care. Other countries have universal preschool. Other countries have paid sick leave. Other countries have greater access to health care. Other countries — in fact, almost all other countries — have paid family leave.

The US has women.

In the US, when whatever carefully constructed family arrangements we’ve each made fall apart — say, when a parent or child gets sick, or when there’s a global pandemic — it’s not a social safety net that kicks in. It’s women, and their careers, that bear the brunt.

Because we have internalized “her” as the caregiver. And “him” as the breadwinner.

Because we still value her work less.

Because that means she earns less.

Because work inside the home is valued less than work outside the home.

Because we’ve convinced ourselves that paid family leave is an expense, not an investment — and ignore that it’s an investment that very quickly pays for itself through greater economic (and household income) growth.

Because as women we’ve been taught that we’re not good with money, that we’re not good investors, that that’s the responsibility of the men in our lives.