Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 8.28

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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66 Comments

  1. Gah – cartoon is aggravating, and doesn’t really present useful information…

    Can somebody explain again why, if a job would cost me $100k to fill if a man were to take it, but only $75k to fill if I were to hire an equally qualified woman, I as a business owner couldn’t get an advantage over competitors by hiring women? Seriously – if the pay gap were that pervasive, wouldn’t there be companies out there staffed almost entirely by women, with a significantly lower payroll as a consequence?

  2. @sowellfan: The underlying reason for not paying women equally is an irrational prejudice. If employers who do that took the time to think and choose on rational grounds like those you set forth, then there wouldn’t be a problem. But some don’t, and there is.

  3. “Riner said Wednesday that he is unhappy with the judge’s ruling. The way he wrote the law, he said, it did not mandate that Kentuckians depend on God for their safety, it simply acknowledged that government without God cannot protect its citizens.”

    I wasn’t robbing the bank, I was simply taking money from it that wasn’t mine.

  4. I’m always surprised when Christian ministers demand that we rely on God for our protection. Haven’t they read the Bible? It’s pretty clear that protecting his chosen people is not high on his list of priorities.

  5. Ok, first of all, let me say I’m not trying to start stuff, but, I question the validity of the studies which state men make more than equally qualified women.

    First of all, do these studies compare pay rates of all men versus all women, or is it industry specific. This is important as women are less likely to go into physically demanding skilled jobs, such as the construction and plumbing trades. If out of 5 men and 5 women, three men and two women go into construction and three women and two men go into nursing, there is going into to be a pay difference.

    Additionally, even if it is industry specific, does it also take into account the willingness to work nights and weekends, or the nessecity of the job to travel for days at a time? These are all things which may be reflected in the salary, even if two people are equally qualified.

  6. @Jen: Just so we’re clear, though – it’s your position that if I were in business school, putting together a model business plan, I could legitimately model my business as hiring almost all women. In this business plan, I could model myself as paying women, say, 82% of what equally qualified men with equal experience would make (the 82% is so that women who were making 75% at other companies would have a pretty good incentive to move to my new company), and if this plan were carried into reality at an existing company, it could succeed?

  7. @infinitemonkey: “Additionally, even if it is industry specific, does it also take into account the willingness to work nights and weekends, or the nessecity of the job to travel for days at a time? These are all things which may be reflected in the salary, even if two people are equally qualified.”

    And if women weren’t expected to bear the majority of child-bearing and housekeeping duties then maybe they’d have the willingness and ability to work odd shifts and travel. Or maybe if men weren’t expected to be nose-to-the-grindstone workaholics with no personal lives in order to succeed, they’d have a chance to help their female partners with child-rearing and housekeeping.

  8. @Amanda: Therein lies the problem with trying to fix this sort of inequality. We tend to focus on output measures like income, whereas they are merely convenient symptoms of the problem. The root causes lies in inputs. In this case, those inputs mostly take the form of social expectations.

  9. @Amanda:

    And if women weren’t expected to bear the majority of child-bearing and housekeeping duties then maybe they’d have the willingness and ability to work odd shifts and travel. Or maybe if men weren’t expected to be nose-to-the-grindstone workaholics with no personal lives in order to succeed, they’d have a chance to help their female partners with child-rearing and housekeeping.

    This is very true, and I feel this is an example of sexism towards men. I’m not blaming this sexism on women, as SOME women share this idea, and a lot of men share this ideal, directed both at them, and other men.

    Additionally, I reviewed the information supplied by @durnett: , and it just compares median salary to women to median salary to men. It has a list of the most prevelent occupations, and the highest paid occupations for women. It would like to point out that the two lists share no occupations. Also, it does not compare median pay of all these listed occupations held by women to the median pay of the same occupations held by men. With the information presented there is not strong evidence that women are being discriminated against with pay rate.

    If someone is aware of a comparison of median pay for occupations held by men and women, which shows there is a stastical difference (I’m setting the bar at a difference of greater than 5%), I can reasonably conclude there is pay discrimination.

    I have not had a chance to review the information presented by @marilove: . Let me review that, and if it fits the criteria I’ve laid out, I will change my decision.

  10. @infinitemonkey: Yeah, I hadn’t had a chance to look at that first link.

    For the record, when I searched “wage gap” on feministing.com, I came up with a bunch of stuff. Those are only the first two I saw. Feministing.com is perhaps one of the better feminist blogs out there, because they discuss stuff like this *a lot* and are great about resources and stuff.

  11. @Amanda: And if women weren’t expected to bear the majority of child-bearing and housekeeping duties then maybe they’d have the willingness and ability to work odd shifts and travel.

    It sounds like @infinitemonkey and @amanda are in agreement. Add me to this list. In my experience, on average, men in my industry (computer development) approach the job with a different attitude and different restrictions. They are more inclined to burn the midnight oil and less inclined to beg off travel for family reasons. Men are also less likely to take a few years off to raise a child and then reenter the work place. As such men tend to gravitate to positions of more responsibility and better pay. On average.

    Some may claim it is unfair that a person’s role in a company is based partly on what they do with their free time, but this is the way it is, and likely always will be. Now if men, as @amanda suggests, were to share more child raising and household responsibilities I’m certain roles and responsibilities and pay would equalize… at least in my industry.

    Part of the problem here is defining “equal qualifications.” Some people think you can look at a handful of objective criteria such as education and length of service and determine someone’s qualifications. That’s pure ignorance. The guy that sits across from me on paper looks about the same as I do and we share the same title. We both get excellent reviews. Actually I’ve been doing computers a few years longer, but he’s paid about 150% of what I am and deservedly so. The guy is just scary smart and everyone knows it including me yet by any objective measure we are “equally qualified.”

  12. Just came across this article in the Washington Post from 2006 – “American women earn substantially more money and narrow the long-standing gender gap in income if other women in their workplaces reach the ranks of senior management, according to a new national study presented here.
    By contrast, the study found, increasing the number of women managers in junior positions makes no difference to the gender gap — women on average continue to earn about 20 percent less than men.”

    Hm, very interesting.

  13. @infinitemonkey: Well, even the stuff that’s been presented so far isn’t that great, as far as data-breakdown goes. I mean, in the skeptical community, we talk a lot about controlling studies properly, to make sure that you’re comparing apples to apples, like when you look at retrospective studies where they look at the effects of various behaviors, they have to make sure that the study group and control group have had *everything* else accounted for. Being that strict about medical evidence is absolutely correct, and I’m not sure it’s totally out of line to ask for the same type of strict analysis when people make claims in other areas.

    Now, some of the studies presented do break the stats down on the level of profession, like, “Male nurse wages vs. female nurse wages” – but I see no indication that such studies have fully corrected for years of experience, specialization, type of degree (for nurses, it would be BSN vs. ASN), work shifts that may pay more (night shifts, holiday shifts, etc), type of employer (for nurses, hospitals pay more, docs pay less, I believe), etc.

  14. @Amanda:

    This study is equivocal at best:

    Cohen said the study of gender and income disparities is more complicated than it looks. For example, while it is true that employees who work for women seem to be penalized, compared with those who work for men, that is largely because women tend to become managers in professions that have a lot of women to begin with — and those professions usually pay less than professions with a lot of men.

  15. @sowellfan : That is something I have always wondered about. If I owned a business, and could cut a quarter of payroll expenses and maintain the same output, why wouldn’t I? I would think this would make it harder for men to find jobs.

    Also, isn’t discrimination based on gender illegal? If these people are earning less for the same job, why don’t we hear about more of them suing their employers?

  16. @rustypouch: “Also, isn’t discrimination based on gender illegal? If these people are earning less for the same job, why don’t we hear about more of them suing their employers?

    If I can find a link (there is a case I am actually thinking about), I will, but there are many factors that make this very difficult. You have to have PROOF. But you can’t ask your fellow employees how much they make. And to successfully sue, a lot of the time you have to find out within a certain amount of time, or you can’t. So if you find out years later that, hey, Jeff is making much more than you in the exact same position … well, you’re screwed.

    Sueing for this kind of stuff is near impossible, because getting proof is near impossible.

  17. @Catch22: And Rome only fell after the Christians took over.

    @Amanda: The gender wage gap is significantly higher in most every European country and the number of women in management and CEO positions is also much lower in all European countries. I do recall reading that more women hold elected offices in some European countries but not in southern or eastern Europe. I can’t recall where I read the statistics on this but if I have time I’ll try and find them later today.

  18. @rustypouch: And then I found this. Can’t research it more to find out if it is still relevent (it’s from 2007, so it probably is):

    http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-168180600.html

    A Supreme Court ruling issued in May 2007 will limit the ability of many workers to sue for wage discrimination. The 5-4 decision prohibits an employee from legally challenging a case of wage discrimination more than 180 days after the original discriminatory act occurred. The ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. will virtually eliminate an employee’s legal recourse against wage discrimination after the statute of limitations has ended, even if the discrimination is ongoing. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 established the statute of limitations

    Which refers to this case:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ledbetter_v._Goodyear_Tire_&_Rubber_Co.

  19. Quoting from some wikipedia page:

    For 2008 the U.S. Labor Department reported women’s median wages to be 79.9% of men’s, while women who have never married earn 94.2% of their unmarried male counterparts’ earnings.[2] This statistic does not take into account differences in experience, skill, occupation, or hours worked, other than meeting requirement for “full time” work.

    So, even taking the worst view of it, the index card thingy is wrong. It should be $79,900 vs $100,000. Taking the more accurate statistic, it would be $94,200 vs $10,000. And that still “does not take into account differences in experience, skill, occupation, or hours worked, other than meeting requirement for “full time” work.”

    These data don’t seem to be wildly out of line with the expectation that people should get equal pay for equal work with equal experience. A more careful look at the data would be needed to determine if there really is a problem here.

    I am a Hedge

  20. @Amanda:

    Okay. So then we all already understand that the premise of the comic is flawed, but we are discussing as though it is not? Do you think the author of the comic intends for the readers to think the 75% figure is accurate?

    I am a Hedge

  21. @sowellfan: While I agree with you, in that its not properly controlled, I would think that, by chance, education would be close. The rest is personal performances and gender disparaties. I did notice that on performace based careers, the disparity was greatest. To some extent, you can chalk that up to the limits women have to perform, with household and child rearing responsibilites. This, in and of itself, is evidence of sexism, both in the workforce and at home. Realistically, how often do fathers say “I can’t work late tonight, the babysitters close at 5.” I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but the responsibility is shifted highly on one end.

    Another evidence of sexism is that during a divorce, it is much harder for the man to take the kids than the women. Often, it seems, (possible confirmation bias) the father has to prove the mother is unfit.

  22. I would just like to add that the tone of the conversation in this thread is very nice to read through. Everyone is citing articles, following up with new info, changing opinions based on new information. It’s so nice to see because the comment thread from the original post is an effing flame war!

  23. @Amanda: “When asked if she was surprised by these findings, Correll, who is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at Stanford University, says:

    I was not surprised to find that mothers were discriminated against, but I was very surprised by the magnitude of the discrimination.

    Showing wage inequality is very different from showing discrimination. This same fundamental error appears in everything cited so far.

  24. @infinitemonkey: Hey, even a deity needs a day off now and then for laundry and stuff! ;-)

    @jen: 100%. It’s an inherently subjective process. I know of no company that goes strictly by resumes without interviews, for example. Judging from an interview is subjective. QED, I think.

  25. @davew: “Showing wage inequality is very different from showing discrimination. This same fundamental error appears in everything cited so far.”

    Not necessarily. As others have pointed out, it’s not really as simple as straight-forward discrimination. A lot of it is just ingrained sexism in our society (mothers are primary care givers, etc), which includes discrimination but not always.

  26. @Marilove ““Also, isn’t discrimination based on gender illegal? If these people are earning less for the same job, why don’t we hear about more of them suing their employers?”

    Because companies don’t typically publicize how much they’re paying their employees. Especially for salaried/non-union employees. I honestly have no idea how much my co-workers are paid. When employees do talk to each other and find out they’re getting screwed then it’s lawsuit time.

    Why do employers pay their female employees less? Because the women accept it, it’s that simple.

    Anecdote time : I have been involved in three hiring decisions at different times for my department. All three were offered the same deal. The one male negotiated a better deal, the two females just took the offer.

  27. @NoAstronomer: “Why do employers pay their female employees less? Because the women accept it, it’s that simple. ”

    Well,they accept it, and it’s not “that simple” because they probably *wouldn’t* accept if if they really knew how much their male peers were making. But they don’t, and they can’t legally find out unless it’s “by accident”. And so the cycle continues….

    Some women to negotiate, but it I have seen studies where women are less likely to negotiate. But that’s not the only reason women are paid less, and likely not the major reason. It’s just all really complicated.

  28. @Amanda:

    The subject is serious but expecting a comic to have full backing references and citations is a little silly.

    I’m not really familiar with the “Indexed” thing. The impression I got was that the author is trying to make a serious point through humor. This is a great idea, and some very heavy stuff can be brought home more effectively with humor than with a dry treatise. I also had the impression that the inclusion of the item in the ‘quikies’, in the manner it was included, meant some tacit endorsement of both the content and the presentation of the comic. The problem is, the comic is based on a commonly believed and repeated, but false, idea. The serious point the author is trying to make is false. So I don’t think it’s too silly for people to point this out. Seems to be in line with the “mission statement” around here.

    It looks like the idea that women are payed 75% what men are payed for equal work with equal experience is a myth. Finding the premise to be false can have sever effects on the humor of a joke. If you doubt this, please see this page of corroborating data.

    I am a Hedge

  29. @marilove: “Not necessarily. As others have pointed out, it’s not really as simple as straight-forward discrimination. A lot of it is just ingrained sexism in our society (mothers are primary care givers, etc), which includes discrimination but not always.”

    The data only speaks to the wages. A conclusion such as “sex-based wage disparity is due to ingrained sexism” is consistent with the data, but would require more work to justify. The study that says childless women do nearly as well in the workplace as men would argue the other way.

  30. @davew: “The data only speaks to the wages. A conclusion such as “sex-based wage disparity is due to ingrained sexism” is consistent with the data, but would require more work to justify. The study that says childless women do nearly as well in the workplace as men would argue the other way.”

    I agree. And re: Your last sentence. I think it’s just such a complicated issue. Why would women who do nearly as well (“nearly as well” meaning what, exactly?”) still make so much less, even if they are childless? Ingrained sexism? Outright discrimination? Something else>

  31. @marilove (way back up there in this discussion), when I was a contributing member of the workforce, I managed a couple of hotels. We had both male and female maids (whom we called housekeepers). They worked at very physically demanding jobs and were paid the same basic wages. They each had to change linens, vacuum, scrub toilets, etc. However, it was the men who were called upon to flip mattresses, move beds, move desks and use the very heavy carpet extractors. Perhaps in other locations these additional tasks ranked a pay difference. They would not, by virtue of discrimination laws, result in gender-specific differences in job description. I’m just saying…

  32. @Old Geezer: And those women were likely the ones that cleaned the toilets and srubbed the grout out of the shower stalls. Physical labor =/= harder work, just because it’s physical labor.

    Also, I’ve done housekeeping service. I have flipped beds. I’ve also worked in printing and did more lifting than most of the other men, because of my job duties. Some women ARE flipping beds and doing the harder labor, and STILL getting paid less.

  33. @marilove:

    Where that is true, it is despicable, no matter the industry. In the case of our hotels, the men and women did all of the same scrubbing, etc., and only the men did the heavy lifting. But I guess I’m just an enlightened manager. (BTW, I did the same stuff as well when needed.)

  34. @Old Geezer: *nod* I can understand that, but even so, it doesn’t explain the massive pay gap, especially considering many more women work in that industry than men.

    Still, for the most part, when men do the “hard labor”, women generally are stuck with the other work that is just as hard (if not harder), but because it’s not “hard labor” it’s not seen as “work”.

    “I’ve also worked in printing and did more lifting than most of the other men, because of my job duties.”

    And can I just say something somewhat off-topic that always bothered me? Whenever I would be doing such heavy lifting (LOTS of paper boxes, LOTS of heavy printing supplies and completed jobs…) and someone saw me doing it — usually a woman — they would almost always say, “OH! Why don’t you get one of the MEN to help you?! You shouldn’t be carrying that!”

    …”This is my job. I should be carrying this. I get paid to carry this. Not Jeff over there who has a completley different job than I do. It would be unfair to have him DO MY JOB.” (I usually said it nicer.)

    Sigh.

  35. @marilove: I don’t think you are going off topic at all. I think one of the symptoms of the problem is that people seem to think all women are delicate flowers and all men are muscular brutes. Delicate flowers are supposed to be pretty and smell nice. How can anyone give serious consideration to the value a woman provides when they are busy complimenting her frilly blouse? Likewise, it is sad that many times men are stereotyped as being nothing more than their lifting power. Much of the pay gap is probably a carry-over from a time when there were no machines to “help” with our labor and the more testosterone you had, the more likely you were to be able to do the necessary grunt work. We are rapidly evolving in our use of machines and very slowly evolving in our understanding of each other.

  36. @Old Geezer: This is a very good comment! The worst was when a man would walk up and START TAKING THE ITEMS FROM ME, “Oh, I can do this for you! You shouldn’t be carrying this!”

    OMG. I have been in bar brawls. I have been a detention officer. I CAN CARRY A BOX FULL OF PAPER JEEEZ. (For the record, I had awesome muscles because of that job. Too bad it didn’t pay enough.)

  37. @Old Geezer: No. Though the same guy would sometimes make similar comments, but they only attempted to take things from my hands once. I have this Look I give. It once caused a creepy man in a LESBIAN bar who was trying to rub up all on me to back sloooowly away from me and go outside.

    I am sweet as pie until you turn into a sexist jackass.

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