April 29, 2009

"Do women earn less money than men for equal work?"

"It's nice to link to multiple studies and invoke the principle of controlling for variables. But if you ultimately cherry-pick the gloomiest-sounding figures you can find, and -- whoops! -- by the way, forget about those pesky variables, context, and alternate explanations based on factors other than sexism ... then you've given up any pretense to empirical validity."

47 comments:

rhhardin said...

you've given up any pretense to empirical validity.

Women tend to choose social life over empirical validity.

TMink said...

If the myth were true, men could not get a job! Companies would hire less expensive workers in order to reduce expenses.

Trey

The Drill SGT said...

The money quote in the GAO study:

Finally, it is important to note that this analysis neither confirms nor refutes the presence of discriminatory practices. The feminist hypothesis is that a large number of employers, given free choice, prefer to pay more for equally qualified men than they do for women in the same jobs.

On its face this doesn't make sense unless there are additional factors that are not captured in evaluating these apparently equal men and women.

The Drill SGT said...

trey beat me, and shorter as well.

he must type faster

Henry said...

Good for JAC.

My only question is why this story is still news.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

"If the myth were true, men could not get a job! Companies would hire less expensive workers in order to reduce expenses.

Trey"

Am I not reading that unemployment is a lot higher among men right now?

Here.

hdhouse said...

laura...cause more men have jobs to start with...

The Drill SGT said...

Am I not reading that unemployment is a lot higher among men right now?because all those underpaid women are working in those undercompensated professions?

you remember the comparable worth stuff, apples and oranges comparisons?

simple fact, man tend to be in manufacturing including building)and in raw materials production (e.g. mining, logging, farming,)

those jobs can be outsourced, off-shored or are subject to the ebb and flow on the markets more than the traditionally female jobs (health care, government, teaching, service industry), none of which face the same pressures in a downturn.

Joan said...

Nice job, Jac. This quote resonated with me: For example, some experts said that some women trade off career advancement or higher earnings for a job that offers flexibility to manage work and family responsibilities.

When I met my husband, I was earning substantially more than he was. Now, almost 15 years later, I'm earning a tiny fraction of what he's making, because he changed jobs and is making a lot more, and because I chose to stay home with the kids and work part-time. We feel lucky we were able to afford it, and I feel lucky that I don't have to go back to software development, where the money can be great but the work itself is rather soul-sucking.

rhhardin said...

and I feel lucky that I don't have to go back to software development, where the money can be great but the work itself is rather soul-sucking.Men like it.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Leisure time, or time free for other activities, is incredibly valuable, and it's not taxable.

The wife and I own a business, and our compensation is exactly equal; who cares which does what.

Since our customers are 90% female, guess what ... we pay good female employees far more than we'd ever pay a male for the same job, simply because customer interactions are an essential part of our marketing. Honestly, for that work I doubt we'd ever even hire a male in the first place.

The horror! Sex discrimination! It's our business: deal with it.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

I was responding very narrowly to this statement:

"If the myth were true, men could not get a job!"

Men are in fact having trouble getting, or perhaps keeping, jobs.

The Drill SGT said...

Men are in fact having trouble getting, or perhaps keeping, jobs...

Then there is no pay inequity issue at all. The market is working correctly and either:

1. when there are a limited number of positions and a surplus of equally qualified mixed gender applicants, the rational employer is hiring women

2. when there are lots of jobs, exceeding the number of equally qualified mixed gender applicants, salaries of women will be bid up to match men.

to the extent that one of both of these doesnt happen, perhaps there are other factors at work and the mixed gender workforce isn't interchangable and the employer values other factors, not fully captured in the survey

Laura(southernxyl) said...

"The market is working correctly... "

Yes.

It's kind of like how overpaid union jobs go away when companies get the option of hiring non-union folks. The market gets a chance to work. Eventually all of this will settle out - now that women aren't being artificially kept out of the job market for jobs they can do.

I am old enough to remember when the rank-and-file woman had four choices: stay-at-home, nurse, secretary, teacher. That was IT. Unsurprisingly, a correction has to take place when this heretofore unused labor pool becomes available. It's taking a few decades to shake out, that's all.

campy said...

to the extent that one of both of these doesnt happen, perhaps there are other factors at work

When laying off women risks a sex discrimination lawsuit, a rational employer will ____ ?

Laura(southernxyl) said...

What layoff doesn't risk a lawsuit nowadays?

You can't lay off women just because they're women without risking a lawsuit. You can't men because they're men either, or black people because they're black, or old people because they're old.

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

You can't lay off women just because they're women without risking a lawsuit. You can't men because they're men either, or black people because they're black, or old people because they're old.Huh. Try filing a discrimination suit as a white male (of any age)- the laughter from teh court will deafen you.

The Drill SGT said...

I think his point is that to the extent that your workforce doesnt match the demographics of the population as a whole, and your applicant pool, you will get somebody making a legal comparison against some cherry-picked metric to prove you are discriminating against somebody

Laura(southernxyl) said...

"Try filing a discrimination suit as a white male (of any age)- the laughter from teh court will deafen you."

Yeah, they're laughing in New Haven, Conn. right now.

Synova said...

"laura...cause more men have jobs to start with..."

More women work in education and government jobs that are not subject to economic downturns.

More men work in construction.

Though, probably, women who work as Realtors are hard hit... and hair dressers too.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

"With the recession on the brink of becoming the longest in the postwar era, a milestone may be at hand: Women are poised to surpass men on the nation’s payrolls, taking the majority for the first time in American history....The proportion of women who are working has changed very little since the recession started. But a full 82 percent of the job losses have befallen men, who are heavily represented in distressed industries like manufacturing and construction."

per the article I linked to.

Why are manufacturing and construction distressed? Maybe because labor costs have gotten out of whack?

Don't get me wrong, I wish we all could get $40/hour to turn screws or whatever.

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

"Yeah, they're laughing in New Haven, Conn. right now."

Yeah- Over the Hispanic and the dyxlexic; how much credence is being given to the other white males?

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Well, enough that the case went to the Supreme Court.

Why do you assume that the "hispanic and the dyslexic" are the only reason the case is getting attention?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Comparing women's wages to men's wages across the board is really misleading. As already pointed out, you need to compare men and women in the same careers, same occupations to really get a handle on the disparities.

Not all women are interested or capable of working in certain occupations. Carpentry and other construction trades for example. And as Joan said, not all women are interested in intensive career (soul eating) occupations and are willing to trade off family time for advancement in their professions.

Employers are not obligated to pay everyone equally if they are not equally qualified for the job or if they are not equally dedicated to the job.

As for outsourcing....my job can easily be outsourced. However, my husband being a plumber, not so much. Hard to re-plumb your house from India.

rhhardin said...

Oursourcing works both ways. I was an outsourcee for a while.

The magic of telecommuting.

srfwotb said...

Controlling the variables works both ways. They also need to control for opportunity - which is next to impossible to measure accurately. It's improving all the time, every day, but of college, a lot of women still get hit with more limited opps than the guys - being shoved - let's say 'guided' - into different tracks right off of the starting block. Might be subtle with compounding effects, might be obvious.

If they can't overcome the undertow they often, yes, end up with less years work experience and/or are more inclined to look for satisfaction elsewhere (family, artsy career, whatever) which compounds this particular *variable*, but life is more than a variable in an equation.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

"Not all women are interested or capable of working in certain occupations. Carpentry and other construction trades for example."

Sure. You won't find many men who want to be preschool teachers, and even if they did they'd probably be suspected of being pedophiles. And honestly, I can't say that carpentry is easier than taking care of 20 3-yr-olds, or more important, or that it takes more skill to do a good job at it. Quite the reverse, actually. Given the choice and the physical ability, and assuming equal pay either way, I'd choose carpentry b/c I suspect that one week as a preschool teacher would just about kill me. Still, carpentry pays more.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

"carpentry is easier "

meant "harder"

Sofa King said...

Given the choice and the physical ability, and assuming equal pay either way, I'd choose carpentry b/c I suspect that one week as a preschool teacher would just about kill me. Still, carpentry pays more.

So, according to you, carpentry is easier and pays more. Why aren't there more female carpenters then?

Laura(southernxyl) said...

To quote myself quoting Dust Bunny:

"Not all women are interested or capable of working in certain occupations. Carpentry and other construction trades for example."

Sofa King said...

If women are not interested or capable of being carpenters, then that means that around 50% of the possible supply of carpenters is eliminated, without a corresponding decrease in demand for carpentry. Doesn't it make perfect sense, then, that carpentry pays more?

I think the hangup here is the notion that how much a job pays is or should be directly tied to how "hard" it is. But that's not the case, and it shouldn't be.

campy said...

If women are not interested or capable of being carpenters, then that means that around 50% of the possible supply of carpenters is eliminated

Ah, but the possible supply of preschool teachers is also reduced by 50%, since the men don't want to be accused of pedophilia. So everything should balance out.

Sofa King said...

Not if there are more jobs that women shun than jobs that men shun. "Men" and "women" are aggregates, so you have to look across aggregate jobs.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

"Sofa King said...
Not if there are more jobs that women shun than jobs that men shun. "Men" and "women" are aggregates, so you have to look across aggregate jobs."

So how can you find out if there are more jobs shunned by women or by men?

Sofa King said...

I suppose you'd have to conduct some surveys. Find out what premium would be required for men or women to take jobs typically shunned by their sex. Why do you ask?

Big Mike said...

Professor, I think you should be congratulated on raising a son who can analyze objectively. It seems a rare trait among his generation.

Penny said...

Henry asked, "My only question is why this story is still news."

This story is still news because our current president is a supporter of comparable worth. Based on his first hundred days, we already know he thinks the government is better prepared to deal with inequalities than is the free market.

Comparable worth is a bogus concept. Just read some of the assumptions made in these studies that JAC linked.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

"This story is still news because our current president is a supporter of comparable worth."

Uh huh.

On gender pay equity, Obama only talks the talkObama's commitment to federally mandated pay equity stretches from the Rockies to Wall Street and beyond. And yet it seems to have eluded his U.S. Senate office. Compensation figures for his legislative staff reveal that Obama pays women 83 cents for every dollar his men make....On average, ... women in John McCain's office make $1.04 for every dollar a man makes.

Of course, McCain's staff had more women at the top end of the food chain, hence their higher pay. Obama surely would have had more women at the top too, if he could find any who were qualified ... sigh.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Oh - and look at this!

"Then [Obama] belittled the 72-year-old McCain for vowing to take on the old boys network. "In the McCain campaign, that's called a staff meeting," he sneered."


How Obama Applies Alinsky's Rules
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY

Mike said...

Screw the Pay Gap. What about the Infant Mortality Rate Gap.

According to the CIA Factbook
total: 6.26 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.94 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.55 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

How come nobody cares about the fact that male babies die at about a 25% greater rate then females? Obama is of course going to sort out this inequality in no time. I can't wait for him to start going after hospitals that aren't taking the Infant Mortality Rate Gap seriously.

fivewheels said...

More significantly, and more on-topic, I suppose this is the point in the thread where some jerk like me points out that 92 percent of workplace fatalities are suffered by men. And that these are the types of jobs that women shun: well-paying but dangerous ones.

And that when assessing how society "values" men and women, maybe aggregate income is not the only measure, although it's the only measure someone like Nancy Folbre will acknowledge.

At least until the pay gap turns in the other direction, at which point it will be completely ignored.

Kirk Parker said...

"... software development, where ... the work itself is rather soul-sucking."

Whoa, speak for yourself! Of course there are soul-sucking places to work in software development, just like there are such places in every other type of job. But there's nothing inherent about it in software development per se; in fact I find the ability to create something from nothing but pure thought to be wonderfully fulfilling.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

"And that when assessing how society "values" men and women, maybe aggregate income is not the only measure...."

oh yes. I love you. I value you. Now take this minimum-wage paycheck. What, you're not happy? What the heck do you want? You women are never satisfied, are you?

commenter said...

92 percent of work place fatalities…

now let's see. look up
• maternal mortality
•sleeping with the devil to save a child (battle/militaristic rape)
•standing in harms way to save a child

that ninety percent must be a little off in labor standard. oh, you are talking about work place with pay. I see there is a difference.

fivewheels said...

Yes, it's such a shame that in this day and age women are still consigned to minimum-wage jobs only and aren't even allowed to go to college. What's that? More women than men end up in college?

Don't be ridiculous, Laura. No one's saying, "Honey, you can only be a waitress" anymore. Honestly, if you're under 40, and probably if you're under 50, no girl has heard that. We're pretty far beyond the point when women didn't get the opportunity or encouragement to do whatever the heck they want. They have to own up to their choices -- choices that seem to take them away from long hours and dangerous work.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

fivewheels, I was responding to this:

"And that when assessing how society "values" men and women, maybe aggregate income is not the only measure...."