General Question

jlm11f's avatar

Why is it that women are paid less than men for the same job even in this day and age?

Asked by jlm11f (12353points) May 12th, 2010

And what can we do to work to change this legally? Also, for us women, how do we demand equal pay as our male counterparts without compromising our jobs? And how do we go about asking a potential employer about whether the compensation is equal for both sexes?

Please read this article if you would like more info. It details the 25 best paying jobs for women and even in these do women earn only a fraction of what the men do for the same work. Physicians that are women for example earn about 65% of what the male physicians do.

What is going on???!??? How is this still happening? Surely women having motherly responsibilities can’t be an actual reason? People protest about everything and anything these days, why I don’t see this in the news more often?

Quick note – as some of you know, I’m not at the stage of looking for a job right now but this is something that has just always vexed me so I wanted to discuss it among the intellectuals on Fluther.

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79 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Well firstly, in some professions that gap varies – some professions allow a woman to make 70 cents per a man’s dollar, others 90 cents per a man’s dollar. I read this gets further complicated by race with Hispanic women making as little as 58 cents per a man’s dollar in some jobs. Why? Archaic policy and thinking plus BS people will give you about how a woman isn’t a good a bet as a man since she might have a baby and then demand to care for that baby sometimes and a man clearly doesn’t give a shit about having babies or parenting…riiight. Personally, I am disgusted to even describe this pattern to my children without giving a good explanation as to why such backward ideas are still around. Finally, this is a very clear reason why anyone saying they aren’t feminists when wanting equal pay all the same are delusional and they are feminists no matter how much you want to hate the term.

Trillian's avatar

According to an article that I read, during the initial interview, women are not as aggressive as men in negotiating for their starting salary. That one instance results in thousands less over the course of years, even with equal percentage raises.

Response moderated
Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Trillian I totally buy that – personally, I’ve always been a risk-taker and demanded a much higher salary than any of my peers because I know what I’m worth and I’ve obtained it – I have been told that I ask too much but who’s the last one laughing? Going along those lines, it’s been about a year at this workplace and I’m going to ask for a raise given that my numbers are higher than any of the big wigs expected – a move I am again cautioned against by some but life is too short to be cautious when it comes to your career and knowing your price.

Trillian's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir the article also said stuff about women walking a fine line between asserting themselves and being known as bitchy. A woman who dresses in a business-like manner is “uptight” and a woman who leaves some buttons open is a slut.
I say that until women stop allowing their worth to be “defined by their ability to attract multiple males” it will never get any better.

Partial quote by Gloria Steinem

marinelife's avatar

We could all work to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, which would make it unconstitutional for women to be discriminated against in terms of pay.

By the way, @PnL, my amazement and dismay that this is still the case in the 21st century matches yours!

lilikoi's avatar

I’ve heard that salary negotiating argument before and I think there is a lot of truth to that.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Trillian Well of course it’s either bitchy or slutty – a woman must be unremarkable (unless it’s her looks you’re talking about) – otherwise labels get put on her to subvert her assertions. You and dear Gloria are preaching to the choir with me here, :)

shilolo's avatar

In our household, even though my wife and I have the same job, she is paid 37% MORE than I am. It isn’t true everywhere, though there are those that argue that, in some cases, women demand equal pay (as they deserve), but also demand other things, like the ability to work part time, or from home, or take very long maternity leaves. The later points can put an extra strain on companies (and the people left behind).

Trillian's avatar

@shilolo There is that. Granted.

marinelife's avatar

@shilolo You are bringing up things that do not belong in the equation. Not all women do those things. So their salaries should not be less than those of men. Also, your wife is certainly an exception to the rule.

shilolo's avatar

@marinelife I disagree that they don’t belong. If someone is hired for a full time job, but then insists on manipulating the situation so that it becomes less than full time, it affects the other people around them who have to pick up the slack.

Siren's avatar

I agree with @Simone_De_Beauvoir that it is an archaic policy, but will be around for at least another generation, as more and more women break through (or attempt to break through) the glass ceiling, and even more women entrepreneurs open and run their own businesses.

I believe the reason we are still seeing this trend is that we are dealing with a demographic grandfathering effect, where there are still mostly men dominating top management positions in America and globally, and through personal comfort level, or however you want to justify it (like goes with like?), will pick men over women. As more and more women take to the workforce and establish long-term careers, my guess is that there will be an eventual change in this demographic.

To answer the other question as a woman, to ask for equal pay or to ask for a higher salary only requires the willingness to ask. I believe there are studies out there which confirm that men are more aggressive and more comfortable in simply asking for a salary increase than women. So, my suggestion to women out there is to simply just sit down with your employer and ask for a raise! It never hurts to ask.

KatawaGrey's avatar

I think part of the issue is that there is almost nothing in place for men to be primary caregivers of children. My old school system allowed every faculty member, regardless of gender, six weeks paid parental leave. I knew a few male teachers who took this leave to be with their wives when a new baby came. However, many places, as far as I know, do not allow for men wanting to be home with a new baby. I think if there were more incentive for men to be home taking care of baby both in addition to and instead of the mother of his children, then the women wouldn’t necessarily be expected to be the ones sucking up company time when a new child comes.

@shilolo: I think this would call for a reduction in paid hours, not a reduction of pay on the hour. If a woman has no intention of getting pregnant or getting paid leave to look after a new baby, she shouldn’t have a reduction in pay because some other women do.

Siren's avatar

Oops, looks like this was discussed above. Well, I agree with the argument that women don’t ask as much as men for salary increases, promotions, etc. Men tend to look at work dispassionately enough to not let their emotions dictate their work needs, while women are more worried about the social implications (of employer, peers) in speaking out and speaking up.

shilolo's avatar

@KatawaGrey I agree, but many jobs are not paid on an hourly rate. If your salary is 50K, and mine is 50K, and we’re both expected to average 40 hours per week, but you only do 30, then you should be paid proportionately. However, the loss of time there (i.e. the missing 10 hours) may have a far reaching impact on your colleagues, to the extent that they are working harder during their time.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@shilolo: I agree with you there, but it is fair to pay two women for 30 hour weeks when one works 40 hours a week?

shilolo's avatar

@KatawaGrey No, it isn’t fair, and it is wrong. I never said I supported this situation, but the question is “why?”, and I was suggesting some possible explanations.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@shilolo: I understand that and I have pursued this line of discussion with you because I suspect companies use your logic to justify paying women less while ignoring mine which would cost them money.

Primobabe's avatar

The whole 65% thing is a statistic that masks a number of realities. For valid, personal reasons, many women choose to work part-time or less demanding jobs, which often means lower pay and possibly no benefits. These women may be trying to find a more comfortable balance between their family and professional lives. They may not have a financial need to work, but they work part-time because they enjoy doing so or want to keep their skills sharp and current.

I’m one of those women. I worked in a highly-skilled professional field, and I—along with quite a few of my female colleagues—chose the flexibility and less stressful demands of part-time work. We knew that we wouldn’t be compensated as well as someone who put in 60 hours per week. We were compensated through intangible means—a better quality of life and overall contentment.

No, none of the men worked part-time. There’s an area where you find some real gender discrimination. My own experience has been that employers are willing to accommodate alternative work arrangements for female workers, but disdainful when a man wants the same.

robmandu's avatar

I guess I gotta wonder how, on an individual basis, anyone is supposed to know how to get equal pay?

In my work, the terms of my compensation are confidential between myself and management. Neither I nor they are allowed to discuss my compensation with my peers at the company. If I break that rule, I risk corrective action.

The thing is, according to wide population statistics, women are paid less overall, but how, I ask you, as a man or woman, do you ensure you’re getting the same pay as your co-workers?

I can try to answer a bit: mainly, you research the industry standard pay ranges and try to get what you can when applying for a new job.

But note that you can only know ranges. Skippy down the hall might do a piss-poor job and still get paid more than you for an equivalent job description that’s in the same range.

My point is, I don’t think anyone’s truly researched the phenomenon in detail to determine how much is ignorance vs. evil. When applying for a new job, you simply don’t know the maximum someone is willing to pay you. That’s why it’s a negotiation where each side tries to get the best deal.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Primobabe: That still doesn’t account for women getting paid less on the dollar. Getting paid less per year because they work less, that’s one thing, but getting paid 10 dollars an hour for doing the same job as a guy who’s getting 11 dollars an hour makes no sense.

Blackberry's avatar

I guess for the same reason that religious people are still discriminating against gay people. The bible probably has something to do with it, It’s riddled with misogyny.

robmandu's avatar

@KatawaGrey, it does if you agreed to it.

Do you shop around? For example, do you buy jeans at The Limited exclusively… or do you go to Ross and look for the same pair on sale? They’re the same jeans, right? Would you pay Ross the difference in order to match price up to Limited levels? Of course not.

I guess it very could be that there’s a global man-driven conspiracy to lock women down with pitiful compensation plans, but isn’t there some chance that the reason some people are paid less than others for the same job (and yes, it happens to men, too) is that they’re willing to accept it?

Ross is going to get your money for those jeans. Not Limited. They won’t profit as much on an individual pair, but they’ll sell more to make up the difference.

If you’re trying to get a job and you want to price yourself as attractively as possible, then chances are you’ll be employed more steadily for a longer time.


That, or men just hate women.

kevbo's avatar

tl;dr for the moment, but I wonder if part of it is that women are generally shorter. Shorter men are affected similarly.

Primobabe's avatar

“That still doesn’t account for women getting paid less on the dollar. Getting paid less per year because they work less, that’s one thing, but getting paid 10 dollars an hour for doing the same job as a guy who’s getting 11 dollars an hour makes no sense.”

No, it certainly does explain an hour-by-hour pay differential. A part-time employee may do excellent work and make important contributions, but a full-time job comes with intangible expectations. A part-timer might not be at work, and thus not available, when there’s an office crisis or emergency. Full-timers are often viewed as being more vested in and committed to an employer. Part-time employees are less likely to get stuck working late into the night or over an entire weekend when workloads explode out of control.

Also, many jobs that lend themselves to part-time work—cashiers, receptionists, retail sales—simply don’t pay very well, regardless of whether they’re filled by men or by women.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

There is no excuse that justifies the salary gap between women and men doing work of similar value, other than seniority and greater experience in the position.

Men can no longer be assumed to be the primary source of support in the family. In is no longer reasonable to assume that women are in the workplace primarily to find a good husband and then they will withdraw or scale down their commitment to the company to raise children. This is true of some men and some women, but not all women.

It is long past due for the systematic discrimination against women in the areas of salaries and benefits to end. I support equalization of pay for work of equal value, even where men’s salaries must be reduced to bring women’s pay up to equality.

evandad's avatar

Why are there babies burning? There is no such thing as justice. Women have always been dealt from the bottom of the deck. I would like to see a woman as our next president. Not Palin though. Maybe Huffington.

Blackberry's avatar

Woot! Huffington 2012!!!

robmandu's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence wrote, “It is no longer reasonable to assume that women are in the workplace primarily to find a good husband…”

Since when was it ever? And why would that be a reasonable consideration in terms of pay for work?

There’s a lot of finger pointing going on here, but not much in the way of suggesting positive things individuals can do to increase their own pay scale.

I do not assume this problem is too big and can only be solved by government intervention. I do think there is a fundamental lack of education on what it takes to find a job and negotiate terms of compensation.

arpinum's avatar

Holy fuck people, these types of responses are going to turn Fluther into a piece of shit. I thought this was a site for answers, not conjectures.

Now, OP is suggesting that motherly duties surely can’t account for this effect. Yet if we look at the NSLY, the best data source availible by far to answer this type of question, and compare single childless males to childless females, the income gap drops to a level that is no longer statistically significant. Go Check for Yourself. Sorry OP, but having children is a big negative according to objective data.

To the others who posted: you are being less than helpful by cluttering the system with unconfirmed hypothesis.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@arpinum With that attitude, no one is going to discuss anything with you posting that link doesn’t take much, does it – not ALL women have children and not ALL men are childless…what makes you think that when a woman has a child, she is single and is the ONLY one having it?

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

@arpinum Thank you for that link. When I have the time and energy I will look at their data collection methodology and their methods of statistical analysis and then consider the conclusions that can be validly drawn from the data.

Reading the tables alone is not sufficient for me.

Figures never lie, but liars sure can figure!

The conclusions drawn from fairly current Statistics Canada analysis still support the salary disparity between women and men, even when family rearing is taken into account.

I doubt the US situation is as favourable as you report. I hope the analyses stratifies the comparisons by educational level and job status.

For example to male and female managers doing fully comparable jobs get paid the same whether they are parents of young children or not.

I do not question your integrity, I am suspect of the conclusions you drew from the NLS data available from the US Department of Labor.

tranquilsea's avatar

From my experience all the women in my family made more money than the men. But we also tend to demand more money. I had one manager who refused to pay me the same amount that a co-worker (who did less and had less responsibility) received because, “Bill has a family to support”. This was a woman too! I quit on the spot and found another job.

A couple of years ago I watched a video of someone giving a talk about pay equity. I wish I could remember who was talking and for what organization. They basically said that when you account for the jobs that men do fairly exclusively like mining and the such, which are dangerous, as well as part time work that the wage gap was not very big at all. They also noted where companies tended to pay both men and women less than they had in the past for the same job.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in equal work for equal pay. I just wonder how accurate those figures are.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

@robmandu I never considered it justified, but when women were systematically excluded from access to many types of work, especially in manufacturing and management, the lack of data supporting the conclusion that women can perform well in such position was a msjor factor in systematic pay inequity.

arpinum's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir The purpose of coding for unmarried (s21Q01c5) and childless(s21q05) is to compare males and females in a similar situation. I never said all women were married and all men are childless. But if you suspect that marriage and children have an effect, the proper thing to do is control for these variables. I really don’t know where you found me saying that all babies are had by single unsupported women. If you are referring to the fact that I use marriage as an indicator of support, it is the cleanest one we have.
Posting a link to the NLSY isn’t easy at all, i’m guessing most people don’t know about it, nevertheless know how to use it. But they can freely check from the original source what I am saying. You will be fascinated with what you can find there. I do it to be open about information.
My attitude is a desire to wake people up. I don’t want to see this place degrade.

@Dr_Lawrence Do you have a link for your Canada Statistics with relevant control numbers? Did you control for what I am specifying, both marriage and childless? I’m willing to check if you can give me a link. I should add that my data shows being married alone with reduce a woman’s salary, but most of the punch comes from having children.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@arpinum Personally I have no idea who you are at all (and I know 90% of the members, I’d say), whatsoever so forgive me the not understanding why you’d care for this to ‘degrade’ as you say but that’s neither here nor there Am I to understand that you’re one of those people that will fight for this ridiculous policy tooth and nail until you’re shamed into equality? I do not understand how you can support it because it was never so because of the children but because women were though inferior and it isn’t kept as law because of the children (no matter what the ‘official’ bs reason is) but because we live STILL In a sexist society – you are a part of that society, congratulations – you will argue about ‘objective numbers’ and ‘look at the facts’ when ideology, social patterns and WHO is in charge has everything to do with it and your numbers have very little to do with it and numbers can be found to undo your ‘proof’, okay? I don’t waste my time on these matters any more because I’ve done the research long ago but I can dig up an article diffusing all these numbers if you like – I just implore you to stop arguing for something that will hurt your daughters if you choose to have them.

JLeslie's avatar

I have a few guesses.

1. I think men are more likely to ask for more money.
2. I think men are more likely to change companies, which usually comes with a salary increase. Both men and women many times get used and abused and taken advantage of by companies they have been with for a long time.
3. Men are more greedy, and in professions where they make up their own fees, I would guess they shoot higher than women.
4. And, then of course some companies are simply horrible.

As a side note my husband is a comp and ben guy and most large companies evaluate how fairly people are being paid, including minorities (including women) against non-minorities etc., looking for biases.

arpinum's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir What is this policy you are referring to? What am I supporting?
I am responding to the OP about what is going on and why this is still happening. I am telling her what is happening. Being married and having children can account for most of the discrepancy. This is the lingering cost of sexism, it is found in the disproportionate burden men demand from females in the home.

This is a site for sharing, and I welcome your data showing that marriage and children do not account for most of this effect. Please make sure it contains a reference to the data.

btw, my numbers have EVERYTHING to do with it, we talking about monetary compensation here.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@arpinum People were providing perfectly good answers as to WHY it was happening because even your ‘supposedly better than anything else anyone’s provided’ numbers express that it costs women to do the expected gendered thing of them so not only is this a financial trap but gendered norms are a social trap. I am not saying that women do not get married and have children – they’re expected to do and so they do but I am saying that this is not a good enough reason for anyone to support a wage gap that exists for people doing the exact same job – leading to about a million of dollars lost over a woman’s lifetime…and what of women that never have children or jobs that they have when they’re not having children, what then?...I’ve been at my job for a year, I wasn’t pregnant and didn’t take maternity leave – why should I be paid less than a man who’s done the same job? It makes no sense.

arpinum's avatar

I never voiced support for anything, I am merely being descriptive and pointing out the apparent causal relationships. No opinions.
The answers ranged from not good to terrible. Guesses are not answers. Cries for justice are not answers. More questions are not answers. Mis-statements of facts are not answers. Some people guessed close, some guessed a contributing factor but failed to take into account it’s magnitude. These actions create noise, they don’t lead us closer to the truth.

And what of women who don’t have kids and don’t marry? Well the data does not give any evidence that they will be discriminated against.

I’m still waiting for your sources.

Now here are my opinions:
Do I find it terrible that women who have children are paid less? no. I expect it. If I had a personal activity that limited how much time I could work I wouldn’t expect to be paid as much either.

I’m surprised that employers aren’t paying less than they are. Given the potential financial burden a pregnant woman can cause, I wouldn’t pay them as much. Maternity leave is expensive, and I would lower their wage by the expected cost of that. Now If a woman wanted to contract with me that she would not have a child while she was employed with me I’d be all ears. Don’t think the government would allow that though.

Should you be paid less than a man doing the same job. Except for the previous fact, no. The data leads me to believe that women who are married and have children have commitments that prevent them from doing the same job as a single childless man. Or being in the right geographic area to do the same job, again back to being married. This is the only part that doesn’t make sense.

Yes it is a good enough reason to pay them less.

A married woman with a child is likely to make less, but they also have a child where the single childless male doesn’t. They both made their choices.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@arpinum You would lower the already lowered wage when compared to a man? I am sorry but this makes no sense to me and makes me even more reluctant to entertain you. All the data in this ‘debate’ speaks to women doing the same job for the same amount of hours therefore it is irrelevant if she has children or not. Maternity leave should be the same as paternity leave, imo and the possibility of having children shouldn’t affect how a woman is paid during the years when she’s not having children. Period. You can continue to wait for my sources – I will not be providing them. I have two children and they make it difficult for me to read and stuff…but it’d be good for you to read this

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@arpinum They’re being automatically discriminated against, on the assumption that they will marry, have kids, etc. That is, the assumption is that they will stay home, sacrifice their careers/wages. Men aren’t viewed the same way in terms of wages, they’re viewed as a permanent upward. I’m a stay at home dad, and I’d bet I can pick up my wages right where they left off or higher when I go back to work, purely based on that assumption.

arpinum's avatar

“I can dig up an article diffusing all these numbers if you like”. Hmm, honesty is not one of @Simone_De_Beauvoir strengths. Of course you do whisper an op-ed piece, not the blockbuster evidence I was expecting. Let me excerpt the best claim they seem to have:

“A variant on that theory is that women work less hard once they get pregnant or have children. But is that really true, or are women unfairly penalized just because, for no good reason, their bosses and colleagues assume that female employees can’t think both about daycare dropoffs and third-quarter deliverables? Men have children too, after all—and they’re rewarded for it, even if their productivity goes down during those early months of late-night feedings. Social scientists have documented a ’‘mommy penalty” and a ’‘daddy bonus” right after a child is born: Women’s wages go down, and men’s wages go up, simply because they have children. Do women choose a mommy track? Or are they ’‘mommy tracked” against their will—or subtly coerced into accepting less pay while working just as hard?”

I see a lot of questions, but no answers. No evidence. Some talk that men contribute to raising a child as well. But in the end, nothing.

@JeanPaulSartre I’m sorry, but I cannot find data to support your claim that unmarried childless women are paid less than unmarried childless men. I would have thought your reasoning to be valid until I looked at the data. Good intuition though.

I would lower the wage of a woman because there is a chance she could get pregnant, which would cost me money. Same as insurance companies charging more for teen drivers, they are likely to cost more money. I’m running a business, not a charity.

I’m sorry but the data does not describe the same job for the same amount of hours. That is simply false. There is no comprehensive dataset which does this. Of course it is funny when you say “all this data” when you refuse to provide any.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@arpinum I am obviously aware that it was an op-ed piece.
There are plenty of data showing same time worked, same full time leaving out all the part-time women work, all the time they take off. Same job, same amount of hours and still we have this

Women are more likely than men to work part-time. However, most gender wage comparisons leave out part-time workers and focus only on full-time, year-round workers. A close look at the earnings of women and men who work 40 hours or more per week reveals that the wage gap may actually widen as the number of hours worked increases. Women working 41 to 44 hours per week earn 84.6% of what men working similar hours earn; women working more than 60 hours per week earn only 78.3% of what men in the same time category earn (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics). Furthermore, women may work longer to receive the promotions that provide access to higher pay. For example, among school principals, women have an average of 3 years longer as teachers than men do (Source: National Center for Education Statistics). So it is hard to argue that women’s lower earnings are simply a result of women putting in fewer hours per week, or even fewer years than men. from here

I understand where you stand. To me you’re part of the problem. To you, I am. Thanks for talk and your own op-ed piece. See ya around.

arpinum's avatar

Its in the details, your data is for similar work. This is job description, level, and hours matching. It leaves out productivity. Same implies output matching. Of course output matching is economically impossible, that is why we don’t have the data.

Facts are your problem.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@arpinum Okay, so now you admit that there is data out there showing same hour worked comparisons. Good, baby steps. You go on to talk about productivity – what of it? Are you implying men are more productive and that you simply don’t hold the data showing such a sexist nuisance – maybe, when you grow up, this can be your project. Good luck with it. Though I do wonder why it’s impossible to test output…

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

…let alone that jobs that are generally considered “womans work” will pay less based on a male society putting more value on dangerous “manly” work.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

…and that part-time work isn’t calculated into these stats, so the gap is likely even higher since women are expected to stay home and take care of the children, often while working part-time… The problem here is that the data you’re asking for are incomplete.

arpinum's avatar

The immense difficultly in measuring output is explained in the classic Alchian and Demsetz article here.

I never denied there was data for similar work. I claimed that data for similar work fails to capture what is important, output. Employers hire based on perceived outputs, not title and hours you show up.

Sorry, ascribing to me thoughts of men being in general more productive is not only untrue, but again is ignorant of the facts, namely that I have repeatedly stated that single childless men and women earn approximately the same wage.

Remember, I already have sufficient data to make my point, the National Longitudinal Survey. It is your data which has been shown to be lacking.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@arpinum Employers hire wrongfully then because they don’t have output data so they’re just using their backward assumptions. And you, yourself, would be doing the same when you said you would expect to pay less a woman because she might have kids and be a ‘liability’ – it is this kind of thinking under the guise of ‘good economic sense’ that keeps the workplace a sexist place.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@arpinum I don’t find your single source of data sufficient at all. It’s built into the system. Part-time statistics aren’t in your data, and by saying single/childless people earn the same ignores that single childless people are younger and able to earn the same – but there’s a cap on womens wages.

arpinum's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre you make a good point about testing for age. Yes it is only a single data source, remember that it is also considered the best in the US for this type of data. It is a very large dataset and might be the most expensive one ever created. Yes, part-time data is included. The variable is T09124.00, or question 13–5. It reads “During 2005, how much did you receive from wages, salary, commissions, or tips
from all (other) jobs, before deductions for taxes or anything else?”

So, running the regression using the 79 cohort with a mean age of 60, min 57 max 64 years old. Seems to be a good range for height of a career.

With males and females never married no children 483 obs, male coefficient is 4,440, but with a t-stat of 1.05 earnings aren’t statistically different. A glass ceiling was not found. Good observation though on the age factor, I didn’t know how it would turn out.

A CSV file with the data can be found here . You will need to drop terms for those that weren’t surveyed about all the relevant questions that year (= -5 or -4).

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Yes, managers do have signals for output data, not perfect but they have it because they have skin in the game. But you know this, its in the article. Thats why you didn’t jump to a silly conclusion. Oh, wait!

jlm11f's avatar

I haven’t read the last 10 or so responses and I’m too tired right now to do so. But before I get to bed, I did want to clarify that the part where I say “Surely women having motherly responsibilities can’t be an actual reason?” was sheer incredulity on my behalf to show how ridiculous I find that notion. Thank you all for your answers, I’ve enjoyed reading the discussion so far and hope to continue it at a more awake time tomorrow :)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@arpinum Look, it’s morning now, I’m at work – I’m not going to waste any more of my time on this. Consider me defeated on all counts and occasions and enjoy your future. Thanks.

syzygy2600's avatar

Statically speaking, men take fewer sick days than women, work longer hours, and are more willing to relocate for their jobs. This explains some discrepancies, as those who work harder should be rewarded.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@arpinum Still lots of room for statistical fallacy there as I pointed out – averages and means are simply not a good way to determine things… the evidence you present is inadequate to support your claim. Especially since you yourself believe it would be logical to pay a woman less due to the possibility she may get pregnant. I think you should’ve conceded your point right there, frankly, as your neutrality was removed. But I know that’s not how it works on the internerds – I’m gonna move on, as well.

@syzygy2600 That’s also a skewed statistic, as men are not expected to provide a stable home life for children – when the kid gets sick, it’s unlikely they’ll take a sick day, the woman will – they also have to drop the kids off and pick them up from school, and usually work part-time.

Primobabe's avatar

It’s extremely difficult to quantify compensation. There are reasons why statistics about job salaries always provide ranges rather than absolute numbers.

Let’s set up the perfect situation for salary comparison. A man and a woman graduate from the same college, had the same college major, and get similar jobs at the same company. Their backgrounds and training are identical, and they get hired at the same salary. After that, though, all bets are off. She might simply be better at the job and soar up through the company’s ranks, while he struggles and never gets promoted. He may be very good at working the office politics, while she isn’t and gets left behind. She may quietly work 60 hours per week, thus learning more quickly and having copious, excellent work output, while he chooses to live a balanced life and enjoy his evenings and weekends.

I spent many years working in the petri dish of public accounting firms. CPA firms can be very nasty places, so staff turnover is remarkably high. Every year, a firm hires a new crop of recent college graduates, all at the same entry level and, yes, for the same salary regardless of gender. Most of the new employees get recruited and hired from the same schools. In other words, Day 1 is as egalitarian as it can be. But, look again in another year. Many of the newbies will have floundered and either quit or been fired, a couple might be hanging in there, and perhaps one will be on a successful career track.

Beware of simplistic answers to complex matters. That’s why I always look suspiciously at the whole $.65 mantra and question it.

arpinum's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre Please explain how to properly run a regression, since you find the techniques used in academic journals and by me to be woefully inadequate. Its hard to take your criticisms seriously. Point out where my evidence is inadequate. OLS regressions are in fact a good way to determine these things. Using the most comprehensive dataset ever created is a good way to determine things. The OPs question was statistical in nature, that men make more than women and wanting to know why. Well, looking at the data, 2 explanatory variables can account for most of the difference.

Why would you accuse me of statistical misconduct because I voice an opinion, especially when the data does not bare out my hypothesis? My guess was wrong, and I showed it. I provided the data I used, was more transparent than anyone really expects here.
Neutrality is not removed by having a hypothesis. In fact, every statistical investigation starts with one. If I wanted to bias my data, wouldn’t I have it conform to my original hypothesis?

I should concede my point because I thought there would be statistical signs of discrimination? Hello, this is why we use data. To get to the truth. I have no point to concede because I am only following the data.

I tolerated mis-characterizations of my point on and on, had people dismiss my claims based on statements I did not make, and frankly never took the time to stop and think. @JeanPaulSartre you came out and said my data didn’t include part time work. Did you ever look at the data, which I gave you every opportunity to do? Do you have any idea what the NLSY is? You are the way people work in the internet. You provide some conjectures, but don’t bother to check them. Your slipshod criticisms are a distraction.

syzygy2600's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre this whole topic is based on a skewed statistic.

KatawaGrey's avatar

Not gonna lie, didn’t read most of the above comment since I last posted, but I did read a bit of what @arpinum and @Simone_De_Beauvoir wrote.

@arpinum, I have a question for you. How do you feel about a 60-year-old woman who cannot have children and whose children, if she had them, are grown and gone getting less pay for the same work that a 30-year-old man with children is getting?

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@arpinum But I addressed other problems with the data that you are ignoring. As I said “Especially since you yourself believe it would be logical to pay a woman less due to the possibility she may get pregnant. I think you should’ve conceded your point right there, frankly, as your neutrality was removed.” Not because the data collection or analysis is bad – it’s as good as it can be done, but because your own view sexist. Also, from your own data: “average wage rate Men: 22.55 Women:18.24 Ratio:1.24”...

JLeslie's avatar

@arpinum I don’t see how you can pay a woman less because she might get pregnant. My husband changed jobs every two years for a while there, he was not more reliable for a long committed stay with a company than a woman. I think people should get paid for the job they do regardless of anything else. There is some wiggle room of course, but all within reason. Age, gender, race, marital status, how many children, none of it should really matter, what matters is what is the value of that persons work while at the company.

mattbrowne's avatar

Some researchers blame stereotypes and gender bias. Others point to evolutionary psychology: a competitive environment requires males to fight for the same female while the female chooses the male. Males establish a pecking order for efficient hunting. The pecking order is a result of ongoing competition.

I’m not sure if evolutionary psychology is a good explanation, but it might give a hint why there are so few female CEOs in large companies. I think many women resent the ugly parts that are required to fight your way to the top.

Here’s an interesting article

arpinum's avatar

@KatawaGrey Determining that the same work is being done is difficult. That said, if you are doing the same work, no matter age or sex, I don’t think there should be a difference in pay. I have no reason to believe a woman should be paid less just because she is a woman.

@JeanPaulSartre In my own data the average rate for unmarried childless men:41046, women:36753. Ratio 1:1.11. Don’t play fast and loose with numbers. Also remember that the t-stat is 1.05, so the difference between men and women is not statistically significant.
As to me being sexist, I have never advocated or endorsed a position that women should be paid less for the same expected amount of work. Don’t get sloppy and ascribe things to me I don’t believe.

@JLeslie I understand your concern over the difficulty in predicting who will stay and who will leave a company. Very few estimations of the future are likely to be perfectly correct. But when they can be useful in maximizing profits, they can still be used. Take car insurance. Younger people pay a lot more. But many of them will never get into an accident. The system isn’t perfect, but by following actuarial tables they can maximize profits.
What matters is certainly the value of the work, but that is something that needs to be estimated in negotiations as well. And if there is a greater chance a female will need to be paid for 12 weeks without producing output, that needs to be figured in. If they cannot work for more than 40–50 hours a week, that is factored in.

JLeslie's avatar

@arpinum If she is not able to meet the demands of the job you can fire her. If having a child makes her less able to accomplish her work, that is her problem. Although, having said that I do think companies should be flexible as long as the job is getting done. I want the flexibility myself and I have no children. Rigid rules like working exactly from 8:00 to 5:00 is bullshit to me for many jobs, but of course there are industries where people MUST be present at a specific time; it is up to the parent to determine what is feasible and be realistic.

I have heard arguments that requiring paid leave for maternity makes it less likely women will get hired in the first place. I am willing to listen to that argument, but not willing to listen to paying someone less money when they are actually doing the same job. The salary should be commensurate with the work. If I understand correctly, paid leave for the birth of a baby is typically using up vacation time she has earned, and possibly disability insurance, I don’t think women get paid their salaries while on maternity leave like they are working if I am not mistaken? It is not an increased payroll expense, unless the company has decided to have such a policy, but it is not the law, unless I am mistaken (I am talking about in America). As far as I know they are just guaranteed some time off and their position back in the company. Maybe I have misunderstood how that works?

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@arpinum You said “Now here are my opinions:
Do I find it terrible that women who have children are paid less? no. I expect it. If I had a personal activity that limited how much time I could work I wouldn’t expect to be paid as much either.

I’m surprised that employers aren’t paying less than they are. Given the potential financial burden a pregnant woman can cause, I wouldn’t pay them as much. Maternity leave is expensive, and I would lower their wage by the expected cost of that. Now If a woman wanted to contract with me that she would not have a child while she was employed with me I’d be all ears. Don’t think the government would allow that though.”

These comments are sexist, discrimination based on biology.

This doc that you posted: page 18.

So you can’t say statistically it’s not true – these numbers aren’t coming out of nowhere.

Now as far as the “childless/unmarried” argument… having children should not be relevant – or it should be balanced equally on men and women with children, which it isn’t. The burden of lower pay falls on women with children exclusively, and your own data supports that.

Basically I see the numbers, the same numbers, and interpret them from the perspective of someone who thinks having children shouldn’t impact women only, and you clearly support docking a woman’s pay for potentially having children, so yeah, that’s sexist.

arpinum's avatar

@JLeslie I appreciate your thoughts on the subject. Yes, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 affords 12 weeks of unpaid leave. I wouldn’t say this is zero cost to the employer, but maybe not large. You might have to fill that missing slot on a temp basis. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 I’m told is what costs employers the most. It essentially restricts the ability to lower the wage of a worker who is, or may become pregnant.

You said: ” If having a child makes her less able to accomplish her work, that is her problem”. Well, after 1978 it became the employer’s problem too, since any attempt to lower compensation could be seen as discrimination and open up the employer to a nice fat lawsuit. That is why I suspected employers would offer slightly lower wages when hiring, having to rely on probabilities. Anyway, my data failed to confirm this. It is very hard to sort out the effects through the layers of regulation. I’d like for the system to run how you describe it, but it might require repealing useful anti-discrimination statutes.

@JeanPaulSartre Not discriminating on biology. Like I said, if I could contract how I wanted, I would have no problem giving men and women equal pay. It is discrimination based on employee choice. If they wanted to get big into auto racing and put less time on the job I would pay less. If they want to spend time with a child and put less time on the job, I would pay less.

Gee, page 18, where no regression is run and there are no controls put in? Thats not how you conduct statistical analysis. Table one only describes the data used. Keep reading (p27 is a shocker!). Why do you think I’m always talking about controls such as marriage and children? Regressions are what counts.

The data does not balance the burden of children equally on men and women. Probably because one group tends to do more of the child rearing. If you think most people are raising children poorly thats a different argument.

Obviously you’re not seeing the same numbers, your looking at the wrong table in the Consad report. I know its long, but if you wanted to understand the numbers you could actually read the thing. And you’ve shown no sign of viewing orunderstanding the NLSY numbers either.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@arpinum In other words you support uneven pay for a woman who took a break to raise a child, but is now doing the same job as a man but making less. Data aside (which I still consider non-relevant to the discussion we’re having about equal pay for equal jobs, but since you appear interested in averages and skewed stats, it’s still disparate on any page in that report.) the fact is the pay is different for women. The question here is why: the answer is children – what we’re disagreeing on is if that’s fair, and I say, unless childcare is distributed evenly, I say no – but since it isn’t then it needs to be facilitated in other ways. Men, in power want to not take care of kids? Fine, but pay those that do with part of their time evenly. If you think it’s okay for one sex to almost exclusively take care of kids and then get paid less, that is sexism.

Response moderated
arpinum's avatar

No I don’t support uneven pay for a woman who took a break and is now doing the same work.
Its not just children. Being married will hurt a woman’s income as well.
If a man or a woman want to reduce their work level to take care of kids, I don’t see a reason why an employer would treat the two differently.
You don’t like the way men and women divide house duties and child rearing? Fine. But I don’t make it my business how two people freely choose to run their personal lives.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Sounds like someone didn’t have a very good prenuptial agreement! A college course? Well 3 really. And 2 phd stat courses.
I didn’t really need to force anything into a confidence interval. A t-stat of 1.04 with ~800 obs wouldn’t fit a 75% interval, let alone the standard 95%.

Response moderated
JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@arpinum It’s not always 2 people, and it’s rarely a man who takes care of the kids – you hear of single fathers almost never. It’s sexism in society that’s reinforced by work and pay.

Primobabe's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre About half of all marriages end in divorce, which means that many children get raised by a single parent. Divorce is a sad and painful thing. When the husband leaves the family household, everyone agrees that the situation is unfortunate. If the wife leaves, however, she’s considered to be a monster who’s abandoning her children. People assume that she must be an unfit mother or a bad person; they ask “what’s wrong with her?”.

JLeslie's avatar

@arpinum I know two women who were laid off when they got pregnant, both feeling the company chose them becuase they were pregnant. I cannot remember if it was in the middle of other lay-offs or not, which is probably important information. I could see if a company was having to lay off many people that they might be more likely to include the pregnant ones, becuase as they have to shrink their manpower, the idea of having to deal with that person being gone for several weeks would be annoying, but this is separate from what salary she is making in my mind. As far as once the children are born, how do you mean she is protected by law? There is a law stating employers must allow mom’s time to take care of their children? I am not talking about illness which would apply to spouses, parents, and others, but time off just because you have kids? Again, if the employee is not getting his/her work done then whether they have children or not seems irrelavant. I don’t think there are laws that protect employees for that. Not to mention that most states are at-will anyway.

Siren's avatar

@arpinum: Just had to make a comment on your comment way back there:

“To the others who posted: you are being less than helpful by cluttering the system with unconfirmed hypothesis”.

I think you’re forgetting the reason people post on Fluther. If this was purely a forum for scientific data, your comment would be valid. Seeing as how this is an opinion site, no one is obligated to offer any hard facts for their opinions and weigh-ins.

syzygy2600's avatar

@Primobabe Really? Because in my experience, when a man runs off on a woman, hes a scumbag, but when a woman runs off on a man, people assume he must have done something to drive her away.

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