GRADUATION 2006: SEND YOUR DAUGHTERS TO WORK DAY.

GRADUATION 2006: SEND YOUR DAUGHTERS TO WORK DAY. Today is Harvard�s graduation day. While the politicians and pundits exhort the lucky few to lead their nation and give back to their communities, no one mentions that many of them will do nothing of the kind.

If current trends keep up, half of the graduates who are women are not going to lead the nation. They�re going to stay home and raise their babies. Harvard degrees and all. Many don�t want to wind up homeward bound. Often, social forces -- discrimination in the workplace, the long hours that top jobs require -- discourage them from trying to have family and career.

Almost half (PDF) of female college graduates with children do not work full-time. Although the census data shows around 76 percent of them in the �labor force,� about a 17 percent are working only part-time, with predictable loss of influence, and another 4 percent are unemployed and looking for work. Some of them admit they never liked working; others dream of returning, although studies show that that is dauntingly hard. That�s why, in the title of this post, I�ve use �Send� your daughters, rather than the feminist �Take Your Daughters to Work.� Moms can�t take them to work if they are not at work themselves. No wonder colleges keep their classes roughly half male, if they can. Nationwide, more than 56 percent of undergraduates are female, yet only half the Harvard undergraduates are.

These highly educated housewives cost their parents a lot. Tuition, room and board at Harvard is over $50,000 a year. Although a college education enriches any life, why spend $200,000 to train someone to do a job that someone without even a high school diploma does routinely and that pays relatively little? Should the whole society spend money educating people who end up devoting themselves to their few biological offspring?

The women face a tougher road than the guys sitting next to them in the Yard. When they take off their gowns, they don the ball and chain of expectations that women are responsible for the work it takes to make a family succeed. For forty years liberals have been suggesting that business and government solve the problem with day care and maternity leave. Ezra and Sam tell us that even bluest California couldn�t pass a universal preschool initiative this past week.

Meanwhile, there are also many things the girl graduates can do. A real commencement speaker would tell them how to get to work. Here�s the lesson in a haiku:

Go right off to school
Keep work ever in your sight
Don�t marry a jerk

--Linda Hirshman

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