General Question

chip_luv_nam's avatar

What do you think about why women expect less pay from the start in workplace?

Asked by chip_luv_nam (1 points ) January 23rd, 2012

Could you share some personal story about this. For example, do you think because women value life balance more, they can accept the work which is less pay but offer them more free time for family? I’m doing a paper at school about gender pay gap so if you are okay with being cited in my paper, please leave your name, age, and job. thank much

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29 Answers

global_nomad's avatar

I don’t think women necessarily “expect” less pay in the workplace, but many may accept the fact that they will get paid less. It is a sad truth that women and minorities still earn less than caucasian males in most professional jobs even when they have job skills that are equal to or greater than their male counterparts.

I think you should be careful in claiming that women “value life balance more”. There are plenty of stay at home dads and men that would like to start a family given the opportunity. Conversely, there are many women who do not want to have children. Take one of my good friends for example, she wants to focus on her career and does not see children anywhere in her immediate future. There are certainly some women who would accept a job with a lower salary and less responsibility leaving them more time for the home. At the same time however, there are many women who would be offended if they were offered a job that they were more than qualified for, if they felt they weren’t offered a job with more responsibility even if they were qualified.

I look forward to having kids and a family in the future, but I don’t think I would turn down a job or accept one with lower pay because of that. It is definitely difficult to find a balance between work and home life but I don’t think that in anyway requires women (or men) to accept a job that pays them less.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I don’t think women expect to be paid less, I think women simply are paid less. One part of this is the devaluation of care work (nursing, day care, cooking, etc), wherein the traditionally “female” jobs just aren’t considered that valuable, and continuing to value the public sphere over the private. Another theory is that women don’t ask for raises as much as men do – but then a recent study said that the evidence showed that it was that men don’t need to ask for raises to get them, and women who do ask for raises are often punished for asking.

picante's avatar

I welcome you to Fluther!, but I can’t agree at all with your thesis. Were Gloria Steinem in her grave, she’d surely be rollling over; and I’m glad she’s not in her grave.

Women (and men and all races and all sexual orienations and all [fill in the blank]) expect to be paid a fair wage for the position and the qualifications/experience they bring to the table. Period.

As others who type faster have pionted out, they may “take” less, but I don’t think anyone ever expects less. And traditional “women’s work” is devalued. My name is Picante, I’m 60 and I’m a chief executive officer. I spent the first 35 years of my professional life being paid less than my male counterparts. I’ll spend the next 10 making up for lost time and wages.

marinelife's avatar

I do not think that women expect or want less pay right from the start. I suspect that they do not know they are getting less pay than their male colleagues, I suspect that they think they are exceptions to the rule, or they are competing with only other women for their jobs so they think it doesn’t matter.

No Name Writer

LezboPirate's avatar

I have no idea what you’re talking about. I would gladly give up my free time if I could get paid more. In fact, I’m trying to do that very thing right now.

Although, on applications and such I always do put that I am willing to work for less than what my brother puts down. Because I’m willing to work for minimum wage and he is not. And guess who gets hired? That’s right. I do. Better to be paid minimum wage than nothing at all.

wundayatta's avatar

I respect the women who are giving you these answers, but I don’t think they understand what is going on. I have lived with a number of powerful women. These women all made more than I did. They are highly trained. Highly skilled. Any smart employer would kill to have them on board.

Not a single one was willing to ask for more pay than they thought they could get.

Women, I believe, are too nice. They want to play fair. They want everyone to have a good time. They want to make sure no one is hurt. These things are built into them. You can see it if you watch any first year women’s lacrosse team. The first time a girl is hurt, everyone else on the field will crowd around to see how badly she is hurt and to offer support.

You won’t see this on a male team. No one stops for the wounded until the play is over. The play comes first, then the player. Not so for women.

Women can be trained out of this, but they have to be given permission or even ordered to go for the goal. Ignore the wounded. Otherwise, their natural priority is the team—kind of. Really, it’s not the team, but the players on the team. They want everyone to be ok.

If you want everyone to be ok, then you cannot accept an advantage for yourself. If you cannot accept an advantage for yourself, you will not ask for one. If you do not ask for more pay that you think is reasonable, you will not get it. Men are much more willing to try to get themselves the best deal because they don’t have a problem with inequity on the team.

This is a generalization, of course, and it is not true for all women. But I have coached a number of women to ask for more, and not a single one has been turned down. Ever! That should tell you that they don’t ask for enough. And because they don’t ask for enough, they get less and indeed, I would say it is fair to say they expect less.

Almost every single woman here could get more for what they do if they pressed harder. Maybe one of you pushes the limits, but all the rest—you expect less than you can get. What’s sad is that you believe you are being a strong as you can be and doing the best you can, in terms of salary.

Now I think that the values of keeping things equal in the workplace are good values. I think it is an antidote to the increasing separation between rich and poor. But I think that women are probably better creatures than men because they have this innate understanding of the importance of equality. However, if they give into this instinct, they will always expect less pay, no matter how many techniques they may use to reduce the cognitive dissonance they experience between valuing themselves and valuing shared risk taking.

Bellatrix's avatar

I agree with the women who have said women do not expect to be paid less. They still are of course in some industries but I don’t think they expect this to happen or accept it is okay. I am lucky (or not in some ways) that I work in a very regulated field where pay is determined by the work you do not your gender. There are still disparities though when it comes to being promoted.

I disagree women will not ask for payrises too. I have certainly asked for and been granted pay rises. If I felt I was being underpaid and asked and the payrise was not forthcoming, I would change jobs. My daughter also recently asked for a pay rise and was granted one.

I agree with others that said if women are paid less than a male colleague in the same job, it is most likely they are unaware of the pay disparity. In my country, you can also appeal to government bodies to step in if you can prove you were being paid less because of your gender. Of course most women (and probably men too) would most likely just find another job in those cases. Most people don’t want to ‘rock-the-boat’ to that level.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Wundy, I think you might be mansplainin’ a little bit there…

rooeytoo's avatar

It seems to me that because of government intervention, there are now laws in place that require women and men to be paid the same for the same job. And I think in most cases, it does happen. The real problem is if an equally qualified woman and man both apply for the same job, most likely the man is going to be hired. And it isn’t surprising especially if the woman is of child bearing age. Why train someone who may become pregnant and leave and the employer is required to keep the job open and pay maternity leave while also paying someone else to do the work of the missing woman.

I also see disparity in upper level management positions, upper level opportunities in general. But I think that may be slowly changing.

Why will some women work for less??? Because they have been brainwashed by a male dominated society to believe that they are worth less, because they are crazed pms type bitches, they are from Venus and think differently, are less capable, etc.No matter how much some want it to be true, it is just not that simple; there are no clear cut and easy answers to why we do what we do, and why men and women sometimes have problems getting along.. If they were not told from conception (not to mention dressed in pink fairy dresses and given barbie dolls to play with) that they are different (read inferior) perhaps this situation would change.

tedd's avatar

I see no reason a woman shouldn’t be paid the same as a man. I am unaware of how frequently I encounter this as pay rates are typically confidential.

wundayatta's avatar

@Aethelflaed Was I not clear? Because if you like, we could meet for dinner somewhere and I could answer any questions you might have. ;-)

BhacSsylan's avatar

I will have to jump in a bit on you, @wundayatta. While I will agree overall that women will not ask for more on many occasions, and that they tend to be quite hesitant on putting themselves first, I will have to rage against your idea of it being ‘natural’. It’s been pretty well shown that these ‘natural’ ideas are nothing but social training that has been going on for centuries. Societies will lesser discrimination, say Sweden, tend to see these issues lessen, while countries with worse problems, such as Japan, see them escalate. If it was ‘natural’, would they not remain similar?

In short, I will agree with most posters that it is a combination of problems, most stemming from the idea that women are not as good as men, or ‘not worth training’ if they are in childbearing years (whether or not the actually want children), or being ‘bitches’ when they ask for raises. But it is certainly not ‘natural’.

picante's avatar

Wundy, your assertions are ludicrous, and they’re great examples of gender-bias.

I respect the women who are giving you these answers, but I don’t think they understand what is going on.

How interesting that you know us better than we know ourselves. By dismissing us, you have shown us no respect. You’ve painted all us with a brushstroke that says we’re “weaker” than men, always wanting fair play and equity. Our ability to gather around the injured lacrosse teammate somehow makes us want to accept less pay or not fight for more pay. It’s a huge leap you’re taking.

I love fair play, and that’s why I want the “fair” wage. I like equity, and I therefore want a salary that is equitable. I want more because I deserve more; and in my position of power, I’ll fight for better positions for anyone under me who is deserving (man/woman – doesn’t matter to me).

Frankly, this type of thinking IS the problem. The lacrosse team and I stand ready to whip your ass. Whip out your W2!

tedd's avatar

Are we talking about lacrosse now?? cuz I don’t even like that game.

seahorse's avatar

A woman accepting lower paying job in order to have more free time =/= a woman accepting the same job as a man and being paid less.

“Across all industries, on average, women have to attain a Ph.D to earn more in their lifetimes ($2.86 million) than men who have only attained a bachelor’s degree ($2.60 million). Similarly, women with bachelor’s degrees earn nearly the same—about $1.90 million—over the course of their careers as men with some college experience but no degree.” -U.S. News and World Report, August 5, 2011

The reason why I “expect” to be paid less is because I know I live in a patriarchal society where glass ceilings still exist. I don’t want to accept it, but what choice do I have?

wundayatta's avatar

@picante Ok. I know you from the outside. Perhaps I see more than you see from the inside. I think I do. Of course, I could be wrong. After all, it’s just my point of view.

I never said you were weaker and I don’t think women are weaker. You’re just wrong, there. I think wanting fair play and equity are good things; perhaps things that can save the American economy. But they do keep you from getting higher pay. They keep anyone who believes in them from getting higher pay, male or female. It’s just that, in my perception, women care more about fair play than men do. Lacrosse is just an example where there is evidence.

As to whether the trait of protecting the hurt instead of going for the gold is something built into women more than men, I’ll let the hypothesis stand until further evidence is gathered. From my perspective, I think it’s more than society, but I’m open to being shown otherwise.

I don’t think it’s a huge leap to go from the game to generalizations about female behavior. You do. Again, I don’t have scientific evidence, but I have lived a long life and I have coached many a woman about the workplace, and I have heard about other experiences of discrimination in the workplace, so I’m sticking with my theory.

All I can say is that you seem to agree with most of my “ludicrous” assertions. How does that work? You seem to agree with the notion of the value of fair play being a female thing. You say you want to hold onto it. Seems to me that suggests you are agreeing that you expect less pay as long as you can bring others up along with you. Am I missing something here?

And if you want your lacrosse team to play my W2, thank you, but no. My W2 has never been anything to write home about. The only time I ever made more money than my wife is now, and that’s because she “retired.” Mostly she made about one-third more than I did and at that, she still could have made more if she really wanted to. She asked for what she felt she could get. I kept on pushing her, but she never asked for as much as I thought she should. She, like most women I know, undervalued herself in the workplace.

I, on the other hand, have been told “no” most every time I asked for a raise. So clearly, I overvalued myself, or I was working for the wrong people. But, the wrong people allowed me to do work for causes I believe in, so maybe I was trading money for work I could believe in.

I don’t think my thinking is the problem. I think it is very helpful to see the whole picture. I do not think it is helpful to devalue women the way you seem to, without even being aware you are doing so. You raise certain values as if to say that because you hold those values, you don’t need to expect equal pay. Or as @seahorse does when she thinks she has no choice but to accept the glass ceiling.

This is bullshit. You do not have to accept lower pay because you hold certain values of equity. You don’t not have to accept the glass ceiling because that is the way society it. This is how women shoot themselves in their own feet all the time. If I didn’t think equality was so important for the lives of men, I’d be very tempted to look the other way every time I see women trying to keep themselves in cages of their own making.

Fairness and pay equity are important not just for your own group of workers; they are important for the whole company and the whole country and the whole world. They help create solidarity in work groups. They help build teams. People who have the skills to consolidate work teams should be paid more, along with teams they build. They will be more productive. I’ll bet you that female managed teams are more productive. Someone should try to study that.

Imagine a world where the lacrosse game does stop when someone is hurt instead of playing on until the official stoppage of play? Imagine a world where people care for each other more than they care for profit or a goal or whatever.

Such a world would be more safe and more profitable, I believe. It is a world that I think women can help usher in. They’ll probably do most of the work until men catch on and start realizing there’s gold in those particular hills. Once again, men will get the money and the glory for the work that women do. All because women don’t see the value of their own work. And a I say, I think that’s why they expect less money and they get less money.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@wundayatta Again, it seems somewhat dismissive of you to say that you know more than all the women on this thread, who are basically saying the same thing. It really comes close to saying, well, but obviously, as a man, I have superior insight into the matter. There are women on this thread who not only know about this subject from their own personal experience (inside), but from hearing other women talk about it, from being in positions to observe things they are not personally a part of, from reading studies on the matter (outside). And yet, you dismissed all that, saying you know more.

wundayatta's avatar

Come on @Aethelflaed. That’s a red herring. Deal with the issues. It doesn’t fucking matter if I think I know more or don’t. What matters is the actual insight (or lack thereof).

Do you think you value yourself as much as you should be valued? Do you think you fight for pay as much as the average male employee does? If so, why? If not, why not?

I hear you that you don’t like my attitude. Fine. I don’t care. Let’s talk about issues. We can do that whether I’m an asshole or not. An asshole, I might add, who is on your side. Do you want to stay a second class citizen?

BhacSsylan's avatar

And how, please, is saying that women are ‘naturally’ less able to fight for equal pay in any way helpful? That would be less helpful, as it says that it is ingrained into our biology. How is your hypothesis more plausible then the repeatedly proved assertion that it is the result of social conditioning, not ‘nature’? A glass ceiling can be fought against. Admitting its existence is not giving up.

And it’s not a red herring to say you came in here and say that you know how women really are despite the fact that quite a few women disagree. It’s patronizing and flat out wrong.

wundayatta's avatar

The lacrosse coach who brought this concept to my attention said that girls can be coached to behave differently.

I suppose it doesn’t matter whether it is “natural” or learned, now that I think about it. The important thing is that it is a behavior that stands in some women’s way. Most women, probably. But who’s counting? It can be overcome with training, whether it is instinctual or not. I think that if it is instinctual, then it is important to understand that because it means you can be more careful about how you approach situations where your brain is going to lead you down the wrong path.

Similarly, you can also use that understanding to learn about your strengths, and learn how to use those strengths to their best advantage.

As to how women really are—perhaps you are right @BhacSsylan. Maybe women aren’t like this. Maybe only the few I’ve had much to do with are something like this.

So I’ll leave it like that. It’s a theory. It may or may not be natural. Obviously the theory is wrong. So forget it. Sorry I bothered you. I won’t push it any more.

BhacSsylan's avatar

“The important thing is that it is a behavior that stands in some women’s way. Most women, probably. But who’s counting? It can be overcome with training”

See, that? No problem with that. It’s only when you start saying “this is why it is, and I know because I’m a man” (which, yes, is what you did when you said “Perhaps I see more than you see from the inside. I think I do.”) that people will get upset.

DaphneT's avatar

I once worked for an organization where everyone with the same position title and code received the same pay per hour. There were annual ‘bonuses’, which is where the men got more than the women. I was there about 15 years, and about the last two years the management wanted to change the pay to ‘merit’ based pay, so that they could reward ‘those who did better’. Since this was a male-dominant organization this was seen as a clear attempt to eliminate equal pay for equal work. By the time merit pay was implemented it was definitely used for eliminating the equal pay for equal work concept. The women and minorities lost pay because of it.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@wundayatta Discussing this issues, linking to articles on the very idea that it’s just that women are too nice and don’t ask enough…

bkcunningham's avatar

Once, in my younger days, I went into my boss’s office and asked if I could talk to him. I shut the door and told him I hadn’t had my annual evaluation. I was so nervous my voice wasn’t working properly. I told him I expected a raise with my evaluation. I had heard some of the men I worked with say they’d received a nickle raise after their last evaluation. I told my boss, I expected more than a nickel an hour raise. My voice was shaking and it didn’t sound natural, almost like an out of body experience. “I will promise you this,” I told him, “If I get a nickel raise, I will bring you $4 in pennies every week and put it on your desk and you can have it back.”

Bellatrix's avatar

And what did he say @bkcunningham? Don’t leave us hanging!

bkcunningham's avatar

Sorry, I drifted off thinking about him. He was one of the worst bosses I’ve ever had and one of the nicest people I’ve ever known. Well, he sat there and said, ”(My maiden name), no one has ever talked to me like that.” I just sat there and smiled a dumb smile and asked if that meant I’d get a good raise. He laughed and said he’d see what he could do. I got a quarter raise.

wundayatta's avatar

@Aethelflaed I took a look at the study. I don’t think that you can conclude that it isn’t because women are too nice. The study doesn’t get into how people do the things they asked about. So while women may ask as much as men do, and they are not rewarded as much, we don’t know if that’s because they ask differently than men do. I suspect that the way women interact with bosses is different from the way men do.

They make a big deal about making sure bosses know what the employees have accomplished. That’s a very interesting thing to me because if I’ve heard one complaint more than any other, it’s that women complain that others take credit for their work. Somehow, men end up getting that credit.

I have to wonder whether women are making sure their bosses know what they did as well as they report they are. I also wonder how they do it. What do they do when someone else takes credit?

The survey methodology used in that study is problematic due to the difficulties in knowing how people are interpreting the questions. I would feel a lot more comfortable if it were followed by a qualitative study that investigates some of these areas of uncertainty so that better quantification methods could be developed.

There is a lot of behavior that doesn’t get measured by most of these surveys. I have to wonder what role those behaviors play in all this. I think some of the differences in the way men and women behave can account for or can portray differing expectations between men and women. It’s not as simple as asking, “What are your pay expectations.” There is more than what people say at play here. I don’t think our real inner bottom lines are reflected in what we say we want.

seahorse's avatar

@BhacSsylan “I do not think it is helpful to devalue women the way you seem to, without even being aware you are doing so. You raise certain values as if to say that because you hold those values, you don’t need to expect equal pay. Or as @seahorse does when she thinks she has no choice but to accept the glass ceiling.”

I didn’t mean that I would just acquiesce and let gendered society rule me. By acknowledging workplace inequality, I don’t think I am devaluing myself or women as a whole. I understand I don’t beam with optimism, but I think it is a long and slow process to topple historically deep-rooted patriarchal ways of thinking. I simply realize I do not have the power to erase anyone’s subconscious stereotypes. It is social conditioning that *does have the potential to change over time, and already has begun that transformation. I don’t feel paralyzed and struck with no choice but inaction; I can work hard and stand up for what I deserve. And I will. I’m just acknowledging that by being assertive and doing everything I can doesn’t necessarily guarantee anything.

I believe I’m being realistic and sensible by acknowledging these possible challenges, but maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps what I believe is acknowledgment-crucial to be realized by everyone in order for change to occur- is actually a step in the opposite direction? By not operating with an obstinate can’t-hold-me-down type of idealism, do you think I am actually devaluing myself?

BhacSsylan's avatar

@seahorse er, sure that’s supposed to be directed at me? If it is I have some problems with communication because I definitely wasn’t arguing against you.

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