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Sat Jun 18, 2022, 02:14 PM

Caring Work and Its Discontents

(a lengthy, thought-provoking read)


Caring Work and Its Discontents
6/16/2022 by Rickey Gard Diamond
The basic problem in many fields today is the discounting of so-called feminine skills we all count on—but generally fail to acknowledge.

It’s time to talk about women’s economics with attitude. It’s time to laugh at what is often absurd and call out what is dangerous. By focusing on voices not typically part of mainstream man-to-man economic discourse, Women Unscrewing Screwnomics will bring you news of hopeful and practical changes and celebrate an economy waged as life—not as war.
. . . .

Nursing—with its emphasis on encouraging health via fresh air, exercise, nutrition and kind care—was very different from doctoring, which took an interventionist approach to the body’s ailments, relying on technology, surgery and drugs. Teaching—with its faith in young children’s malleability and an endearing need for academic and social guidance—was likewise notably different from becoming an administering principal in charge of budgets and punishments. You already know which of two genders took which path, and which path led to better wages and more authority. In recent years, more women have become doctors and school principals, but by definition, those in charge still must depend on frontline workforces with the emotional intelligence and creative flexibility that people with wombs first pioneered.Today, both professions are endangered. More than 200,000 education degrees were granted at their peak in the 1970s, but numbered fewer than 90,000 by 2019, according to a 2022 study from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE). As a result, schools report staffing shortages that the National Education Association (NEA) has called “a five-alarm crisis.” Meanwhile, the American Nurses Association (ANA) has urged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to declare nurse shortages a national crisis. In 2020, the median age of registered nurses (RNs) was 52, and within five years, a fifth of them planned to retire. Then what?

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How do we recalibrate our measures of worthiness to include all that we need, including time to care and pay needed close attention to ourselves, our families and our neighbors?
. . . .



The basic problem in both fields, and possibly in many fields today including politics, is the discounting of so-called feminine skills we all count on, but generally fail to acknowledge by anything more than annual flowers and apples. Both nurses and teachers of any gender are paid as little money as possible, and command too few resources for taking care of their tasks. Because they care, this matters. Both fields might have been helped by hazard pay and student loan forgiveness. Instead, too little pay, and work overload typifies both occupations. And now safety on the job is another issue. Back in the ’60s, hospitals didn’t need to post signs that said, “No firearms allowed.” During COVID, emergency room visits saw firearm wounds increase by 34 percent. In the first year of the pandemic there were 62,500 firearm-related injuries reported, and many competed for ICU beds.


. . . .

The trouble with caring is its imposition on our time. Close and caring attention isn’t efficient; it isn’t straightforward. It is luxury that money alone can never provide. Given we each have only 24 hours in a day, only eight of them paid if we’re lucky, how do we recalibrate our measures of worthiness to include all that we need, including time to care and pay needed close attention to ourselves, our families and our neighbors?

Will providing nurses and teachers the money they are due as professionals make a difference? Of course. But will that alone stop this hemorrhaging of essential emotional services that any civilization requires? Unexamined, money and professionalism alone may only further encrust a cultural silence about the real economic value of passionate attention, of motherly parenting and mentoring, and a universal need for emotional brainpower and love. We’ll know we’ve broken new ground when Siri and Google sometimes speak in an attentive and caring male voice—and when kind and loving men called ‘soft’ understand it’s no critique of their lower anatomy but high compliment.

https://msmagazine.com/2022/06/16/women-nurses-teachers-care-work-pay-gap/

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